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Likely Real-Life Inspiration for ‘TotenKopf’ aka ‘DeathsHead’ in RtCW

December 31, 2020 4 comments

A few years ago, I wrote a post about the character of Ernst Blofeld in the original James Bond novels was based on Otto Skorzeny. I based my analysis on how that character was portrayed in the novels, as opposed to the movies. Here is another post in that same vein.

I am sure some of you have played an old and very influential video game called ‘Return to Castle Wolfenstein‘ which was released in late 2001. In the single-person campaign for that game, your chief adversary is a Nazi technocrat known as Wilhelm Strasse or “Deathshead” (Totenkopf). Curiously he survives the end of that game and returns in “Wolfenstein: The New Order” which was released in 2014. I always thought that his character was one of the most balanced and realistic video game antagonist since the guy is clearly very rational and amoral rather than cartoonishly evil and grandiose- similar to Hans Landa in “Inglourious Basterds“.

While I initially thought that character of “Deathshead” was an amalgam of many high-ranking Nazis with a dash of literary license, it is now my opinion that he was largely based on one person- Hans Kammler. Here is why.. in both games he appears in, ‘Deathshead’ is portrayed as technocrat (with some scientific background) who was involved in running the development programs for many breakthrough advanced weapons systems. Can you guess Hans Kammler’s official job description? Yes.. he was the most well-known technocrat associated with running and overseeing the Advanced Weapon Projects of Nazi Germany.

From Wikipedia article: ” Kammler is know to have been associated with the Nazi’s advanced weapon projects in 1942. Early evidence of this is a letter – in which Kammler is named – from Pohl to Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler which refers to an interdepartmental memorandum on the manufacture of weapons in concentration camps. Kammler was charged with constructing facilities for various secret weapons projects, including manufacturing plants and test stands for the Messerschmitt Me 262 and V-2.” And here is another link that gives a quick overview of his work. And he is connected to a lot more- from programs to develop advanced diesel-electric submarines to research on novel aircraft and anti-gravity propulsion.

One of the most interesting parts of this man is what happened to him after WW2. The thing is.. the circumstances surrounding his final fate are shrouded in mystery. There are too many conflicting accounts of how he disappeared or died. There is no positively identified body and to be quite blunt- it is very likely that he surrendered to Americans and was given a new identity- because, let us face it, he was far more more valuable alive than dead. In any case, here is a short YouTube clip about this brutal but very interesting man who was likely the main inspiration for character of ‘Deathshead’ in RtCW and Wolfenstein: The New Order.

What do you think? Comments?