Baron Von Dorf was a ruthless commanding officer in the German army during World War I with considerable power and intelligence, utilizing some of the most advanced military tactics and technology of his time in order to inflict incredible suffering on those that opposed him. Amongst his most infamous tools of war was a massive personal zeplin and a terrifying mustard gas factory, he was also able to inflict personal casualties on almost all the central characters in the game's story - which would prove his own downfall in the end.
Despite his considerable villainy Von Dorf was not killed in action, instead he was demoted by his own army due to his continual failures but to a man such as Von Dorf demotion was a fate worse than death.
Von Dorf has the appearance of a stereotypical commanding officer in the German army of World War II era and has obviously underwent many years of service as his uniform is highly decorated : he also has a skull on his busby cap, an traditional symbol of the Prussian army associated with the Death's Head Hussars and the Shock Trooper units towards the end of World War I.
Von Dorf was a ruthless military genius who thought little of the use of what we would now consider highly illegal modes of warfare : such as chemical warfare and mass bombings.. even for his time period he was an ambitious commander and had his men kidnap a top scientist in order to try and create ever more complex engines of war in order to ensure victory.
He was also not one for personally engaging in combat unless absolutely necessary, valuing his own survival over those of his fellow German soldiers - when forced into combat he tended to do so while piloting a war-machine so as to give himself an advantage over his enemies.
- he is likely very loosely based on a real commander in World War I but his actions and character are unique for the game in order to allow for a more personal enemy and story.