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Colonel Gortz

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Colonel Gortz is a main antagonist in the film Von Ryan's Express. He is played by John Van Dreelan.


Following the surrender of Fascist Italy, the Italian military abandoned many of its prison camps. Gortz and his men are sent to the one commanded by Major Battaglia to ensure that its inmates remain incarcerated. They find it deserted, save Battaglia who is locked up in the sweatbox, who they release. He tells them where the prisoners went and the SS quickly round them up. They coldly kill the sick and the wounded, and then stick the living ones, including US pilot Colonel Joseph Ryan and British officer Major Eric Fincham, onto a prison train commanded by Major von Klement.

Ryan and Fincham staged a revolt and took over the train, and headed for neutral Switzerland. Gortz again was tasked with bringing them in. He and his men commandeered a troop train and gave chase. At the border, the prisoners and the SS engaged in a firefight. A broken rail prevented the prison train from crossing into Switzerland, so, while half the prisoners fixed the tracks, the other half, led by Ryan and Fincham, held off Gortz and his men.


Gortz (center) watches in impotent anger as the prisoners escape.

When the track was finished, the prisoners who'd been holding the Nazis off ran for the back of the moving train. Fincham made it. Ryan, who'd stopped to try and assist his fatally wounded fellow American Bostick, was lagging behind. The SS looked on in anger as their prey escaped, and Gortz, enraged, grabbed an MP40 from one of his men and fired off a burst into the fleeing Ryan's back. The American fell dead across the tracks. But it was only a pyrrhic victory; although Ryan lay dead, all Gortz could do was watch as the prison train safely made it out of Italy and into Switzerland.

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