January 11, 2013
‘Who can play Nazis better than us Jews?’
Pretty bad-sounding Operation Eichmann (1961):
The film features Werner Klemperer in a rare starring role as the titular fiend. He delivers an outstanding performance that never sinks into parody or over-acting.
Curiously, one of his co-stars is John Banner, who would play Sgt. Schultz opposite Klemperer’s Emmy-winning portrayal of Col. Klink on Hogan’s Heroes several years later. It is morbidly fascinating to see these two future icons of TV comedy on screen in such a somber tale. Banner plays the commandant of Auschwitz and wines and dines Eichmann at his family dinners even as the ovens are being constructed and the gas chambers are running at full capacity.
As you probably know already, all the German characters on Hogan’s Heroes were played by Jewish actors; a number of the cast members had fought the Nazis in various branches of the service or been concentration camp inmates; and Werner Klemperer’s father’s diary of the creeping power of the Nazis in Germany is considered an indispensable classic.
What you may not know is that there is a German language version of Hogan’s Heroes.
This isn’t it, however. (CONTENT WARNING):