Müller and Schellenberg

For the Russian-speaking readers (all 3 of them), I finally figured out why I liked our German hosts Hubert and Jochen so much. Hubert is exactly like Müller in the Stirlitz TV series. And Jochen is exactly like Schellenberg.

For those who are not Soviet, this was a famous TV series about a Soviet spy in the Nazi Germany. The series was criticized for portraying high-ranking Nazis as charming, funny, complex, human, and even endearing.

I’m obviously not saying that our hosts are “like Nazis.” They are anything but. They are passionately anti-AfD and the elder host goes out at night to destroy AfD billboards in spite of his age and girth. But the affect, the intellect, and the personality are spot-on. We grew up with these characters, watched the entire series at least a dozen times, so these characters are like family members. God, I hope the hosts don’t read the post and hate me for comparing them to Nazis. Which I’m not doing! I’m comparing them to famous, talented, superstar actors.

Those were really fantastic actors who played these characters if they could do Germanness so well.

Here are the characters in the photo. The Soviet spy is the one who has his back to the camera. The series is a masterpiece, folks. It was a very risque move back in the 1970s for the genius (female) director of the series to avoid portraying any Nazi atrocities and show Germans – both Nazis and anti-Nazis in such a very human way. Plus, the most hardcore wonderful character was a pastor. A real religious Christian person. Like, when did you ever?

You can’t imagine, folks, what it meant to the Soviet people to see this series. We all grew up on a steady diet of movies about Nazis that portrayed them as piggish, ranting maniacs without a glimmer of reason or intellect. And here all of a sudden there were brilliant, profound, and sympathetic Nazis.

Just think about it, is there more glory in defeating a bunch of brainless rage machines or in outsmarting a group of very intellectually sophisticated folks?

Those who are interested can see the whole series with English subtitles here.

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6 thoughts on “Müller and Schellenberg”

  1. Yes, I agree, it was highly unusual to portray high-ranking Nazis in this human way. But I disagree that they were portrayed as particularly smart. One of the main points of this TV series was that the Soviet spy Stierlitz was outsmarting them again and again, and sometimes in very unbelievable ways. And Stirlitz himself was so high-ranking Nazi (SS Standartenfuehrer) that Mueller and Schellenberg were dealing with him and questioning him personally… This is the side of the story that became the subject of the multitude of the “Stierlitz jokes”…

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    1. Well, of course, the Soviet spy is smarter. Imagine them trying to portray him as dumb. Although many of those Stirlitz jokes were about him being a total doofus.

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      1. I do not see a contradiction here. These jokes portrayed Stierlitz as dumb exactly because the movie portrayed his opponents as unbelievably dumb. So Stierlitz could be dumb, or careless, and still not get caught (like in the joke where he refuses to stand in the line and wait for his turn in the Hitler’s bunker dining hall, because “the Heroes of the Soviet Union should be served first”)

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        1. The ones I prefer were a lot more off-color. 🙂

          When I say they were portrayed as intellectually sophisticated, I mean it in comparison with the regular portrayal of Nazis in those times. You know, the jackbooted “кура-млеки-яйка, schnelle, schnelle, russische schweine” type of guys.

          And the ones in Stirlitz were cultured, charming and positive geniuses compared not to Stirlitz but to the typical portrayal.

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