The Exception

The Exception” is a recent movie with an interesting premise.  I did not know that Kaiser Wilhelm II, who was the German King during WWI, and who was ousted in 1918 at the end of the war as part of the Allies demands on Germany, actually continued to live in exile in Holland.  When Hitler took over as Chancellor in 1933 he continued to pay the Kaiser his civil salary.  But, when the Nazis invaded Holland, they sent an SS officer to ensure that the Kaiser was protected.  In the movie this SS officer is a sympathetic character who has suffered during the fighting on the Eastern Front, and is having doubts about the Nazis.

He encounters a pretty young new maid in the Kaiser’s household, with whom he has an affair.  Although she is Dutch, she has a dark complexion, and I immediately realized she was Jewish.  If I knew, then why didn’t the characters in the movie, including the SS officer, the Kaiser, played admirably but too sympathetically by Christopher Plummer, his wife and his Chief of Staff also have their suspicions.  It also turns out that she is a British agent sent by Winston Churchill no less.  It stretches the border of credulity to believe that the British would send a Jewish girl to contact the Kaiser, but its a movie.  I suppose in war-time, they needed someone who spoke Dutch and knew the area, etc.  OK, so if we accept that premise, then the movie is well done and entertaining.

Her mission is to contact the Kaiser and persuade him not to throw his lot in with the Nazis and then after the War the British might consider restoring him to the throne.  At the same time the Nazis appear to be offering him a possible restoration, but he would have to move to Berlin.  This is a ruse by the Nazis to take control of him, and he is warned and decides not to go.  So mission accomplished.  It so happens that the Kaiser died in 1941 and the monarchy was not restored in Germany.

What happens to the characters in the movie is engrossing, but this particular SS Officer is supposed to be “the exception” in that he is humane.  There were in fact a few documented cases of so-called humane Germans: Kurt Gerstein in the play “The Deputy” by Rolf Hochhuth was an actual SS Officer who wrote a report about the gas chambers in Auschwitz and died under mysterious circumstances; the Wehrmacht Officer Wilm Hosenfeld portrayed in the movie “The Pianist,” basically saved the life of Wadyslaw Szpilman, who was the pianist.  There may have been a few more, but they were really exceptions.