Archive

Posts Tagged ‘wolfenstein’

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?

Understanding the Real History Behind ‘Wolfenstein’ Video Game Series

January 28, 2019 8 comments

Almost anybody who has played video games, with some regularity, over the past two decades has gone through at least one release in the long-running ‘Wolfenstein‘ game series. My personal favorites in that series are Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Wolfenstein: The New Order. Perhaps some of you might be aware that the overall plot and environment of most games in that series is based in a somewhat fanciful extrapolation of reality. While nobody is claiming that reanimated mummies, the raised undead or fire zombies are real, a lot of what is found in the most popular releases of that series (specifically Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Wolfenstein: The New Order and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus) are based in real events, facts, persons and possibilities.

For example, one of the central elements of ‘Return to Castle Wolfenstein’ involves the player trying to stop attempts by Nazis (especially Heinrich Himmler) from resurrecting ‘Heinrich the Fowler‘- who also happens to be final boss of that game. It just so happens that Himmler was deeply into a lot of mystical BS and had a peculiar obsession with that particular Saxon king from 10th century AD. Similarly one of the mini-bosses in that game, Marianna Blavatsky, is a sendup of Helena Blavatsky– a real life “psychic” medium from late 19th century whose teachings had a major (if unintentional) influence of development of the belief system behind certain parts of Nazi ideology. In fact, here is a post which talks about some of this from 2006.

Himmler, when he was not planning mass murder, was into a lot of mystical stuff. For example, he was a big supporter of pre-ww2 expeditions into Tibet and other “archaeological” projects to establish the veracity of his beliefs. He was also a big supporter of what is now called ‘Nazi archaeology‘. It is also true that many senior scientists and engineers in that regime found Himmler’s forays into mysticism amusing, to put if mildly, but never confronted him publicly because of his position. Did I mention that Castle Wolfenstein is based on Castle Wewelsburg, though its location is influenced by that of Kehlsteinhaus. Furthermore, many of the advanced weapon systems depicted in the 2001 game are based in reality.

Similarly, later releases of that game such as ‘Wolfenstein: The New Order’ (2014) are based on pretty decent extrapolations of what might have happened if funny-mustache guy and his flunkies had been more competent. While we are unlikely to have seen giant robots driven by brains or super laser guns- the game does a pretty good job of capturing the type of society and world which would have resulted from Nazi Germany wining WW2 or achieving a stalemate that was equivalent to victory. In that respect they do a much better job at writing believable alternate history than ‘The Man in the High Castle‘ series by Amazon.

Now let me ask you a question.. Have you ever wondered about the convergence of personalities, zeitgeist and events which ultimately led to the Nazi Ideology? As it turns out the answer is not straightforward and it all starts about 50 years before they came to power. To make a very long story short, the original impetus for popularity of mystical beliefs which would one day become Nazism started out as a reaction to socio-economic displacement caused by Industrial revolution in Germany. The initial popularizers of those ideas, such as the Helena Blavatsky, were probably into it to become famous and make a few bucks. In fact, this moment should be seen as German equivalent of the spiritualism craze that swept Britain between the 1870s-1930s.

Racism and belief in Eugenics were also not unique to Germany, during that era. Some of you might know that Nazi Germany got a lot of its ideas about Race and Eugenics from USA. Social Darwinism, too, had its roots in Britain and USA. Which brings us to the next question- Why did Nazism develop in 1920-145 era Germany and not.. say.. in USA or Britain? The answer to that question requires us to understand something important and relevant, even today.The precursor to Nazi regime, aka the Wiemar republic, was fine with then contemporary levels of racism, anti-semitism, eugenics etc. But they slowly lost, over a period of over ten years, all of their credibility with most people in that country. Also the rich in Germany preferred fascists over socialists.

And that is how funny-mustache guy and his flunkies got in power. It certainly helped that were able to combine all those new-ish currents of belief and ideology into a somewhat coherent ideology. While a lot of videos on YT suffer from YouTube face, overenthusiastic presenters and poorly researched bits by idiots with a British accent, some are better. So here are two long clips (unfortunately containing poor quality footage) which do a very good and objective job of explaining how various streams of Nazi ideology combined into their final form. They are a bit on the longish side, but totally worth the time.

Clip 1 (about 51 minutes long)

Clip 2 (about 54 minutes long)

What do you think? Comments?