July 20 (Bloomberg) — The grandson of a German anti-Nazi hero, who’s played by Tom Cruise in a film being shot near Berlin, has been given a cameo role in the movie.
Cruise, 45, is playing Claus Schenk Count von Stauffenberg, who was executed in 1944 after a failed bid to kill Adolf Hitler. Philipp von Schulthess, 34, a son of Stauffenberg’s youngest daughter Konstanze, will play a military officer in the film “Valkyrie,” according to Petra Schwuchow from the LimeLight PR agency, which is representing the film in Berlin.
“The grandson has been given a small role as an adjutant,” Schwuchow said in a telephone interview today.
Germany’s Bild newspaper hailed Schulthess’s decision to join the production as “a sensation,” after Stauffenberg’s eldest son, Berthold Count von Stauffenberg, 72, expressed anger over Cruise’s membership in the Church of Scientology.
“I don’t like the idea of a Scientology member playing my father,” Berthold Count von Stauffenberg, said in an interview with the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper on June 22. “I’m afraid only awful kitsch will come out of it.”
Schulthess is a Swiss-based theater actor who studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Bild said.
Schwuchow confirmed details in the Bild story and said Schulthess was not immediately available for comment.
Count Stauffenberg was executed by firing squad after a bomb he planted in Hitler’s Wolf’s Lair headquarters in former East Prussia on July 20, 1944, narrowly missed killing the Nazi leader. Stauffenberg led a plot by German officers to assassinate Hitler.
German politicians have also expressed concern over a Scientology member playing one of the country’s most iconic figures of the 20th century. Cruise and director Bryan Singer have been told they can’t film “Valkyrie” scenes at Berlin’s Bendler Block, where Count Stauffenberg was executed. Filming began this week outside Berlin, where a mock-up of the Wolf’s Lair has been built in a forest.
The German state, which raises billions of euros in taxes annually to fund mainstream Lutheran and Catholic churches, has long taken a dim view of offshoot religions such as Scientology.
Scientology has a “totalitarian structure,” says a report posted on the Web site of the German embassy to the U.S.
The U.S. State Department has criticized Germany’s treatment of Scientology. “Discrimination against certain religious minorities remained a problem,” said the State Department’s chapter on Germany in its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2006, released last March.
“Federal and some state authorities continued to classify Scientology as a potential threat to democratic order, a view that led to employment and commercial discrimination against Scientologists,” the report said.