Eduard Roschmann is the main antagonist of the 1974 film, The Odessa File, and the novel it is based off of. He was a Nazi SS commandant of the Riga Ghetto, who managed to escape from Allied custody and live on as a vanished fugitive.
He was portrayed by the late Maximilian Schell.
During World War II, Roschmann worked as an SS commandant of the Riga Ghetto, where he was responsible for the deaths of 80,000 people. He showed rather cruel and ruthless methods in killing the prisoners. One of the prisoners who would remember Roschmann was Saloman Tauber, a German Jew, who would record Roschmann's actions in his diary. On October 11, 1944, the Red Army was approaching the outskirts of Riga, sending the Germans into retreat. As wounded Wehrmacht soldiers were being loaded on a ship by camp prisoners (One of them being Tauber), Roschmann arrived to commandeer the ship for the SS. This caused a heated argument between Roschmann and the Wehrmacht Captain in charge that lead to the Captain striking Roschmann. In retaliation, Roschmann shoots and kills the Captain, who's medal falls in the snow, a Knight's Iron Cross with an Oak Leaf Cluster. Tauber later recorded this in his diary. It was then stated in the diary that Roschmann fled the camp with two other officers, disguised as an army corporal.
In 1947, Roschmann was captured by the British, but he managed to escape by jumping from the train carrying him. In the process, his leg was injured, leaving him with a limp for the rest of his life. He managed to get help from ODESSA, a secret organization made up of former SS members, who gave him a new idenity as Hans Josef Kiefel. He then went on to run an unknown high-tech company knwon as Kiefel Electric, which is secretly helping ODESSA build radio gyroscopes and biochemical war heads to Egyptian leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser, to use against Israel. He was seen a couple of times aftwerwards, once in 1954 in South America, where he was photographed, and another time in 1963 by Saloman Tauber, who spotted him exiting an opera house with some friends. Tauber attempted to report him, but the police said he had no evidence, causing Tauber to commit suicide. Tauber left behind his diary of Roschmann, which was found by German reporter, Peter Miller. Upon reading the diary, Miller commits to finding Roschmann.
Despite ODESSA's attempts to stop Miller, he eventually discovered that Hans Kiefel was Roschmann. Roschmann attended the Kiefel Electric trade fair as the guest of honor. He was spotted by Miller. When Roschmann left the trade fair, Miller pursued him to his estate and confronted him with a pistol. Roschmann and Miller got into a very heated argument, in which Roschmann proudly exclaims his mission was to create a strong German race and bring about the greatness of Germany, accusing Miller of being impractical and unrealistic. Miller, however, has none of it, stating that what Roschmann did was sickening and accuses him of being a mass-murdering butcher, something that infuriates Roschmann. Miller then brings up Tauber's death and the diary, explaining the event in which Roschmann killed the Wehrmacht Captain at the Riga docks, holding up a picture of the Captain. When Roschmann confirms that that was the man he shot, Miller reveals that that Captain was his father. Roschmann then starts passing the blame of the atrocities on another man named Kurt Krause, something that disgusts Miller, who decides not to kill him. However, while Miller is distracted, Roschmann pulls a pistol from his desk and fires it at Miller, but the shot misses and Miller shoots Roschmann to death.
Infamously called "The Butcher of Riga", Roschmann was an exceedingly brutal, sadistic, and dangerous individual, described by Tabuer as someone who "like to destroy human beings, first their soul, then their body". He was said to have brutally killed 80,000 at his camp and he also enjoyed cruelly toying with his victims and killing them in the most sadistic ways possible. He was even creative in ways for them to die, such as converting a van into a gas chamber by feeding the exhaust pipe into the van to suffocate the prisoners inside, which is how he killed Tauber's wife, Esther. He was also arrogant and concieted, contantly believing that he and the SS were the best of Germany. Despite his vituperative, ruthless nature, he was eventually shown to be somewhat pusillanimous and spineless. When Miller cocked his gun at him, Roschmann, in a cowardly attempt to save himself, started passing blame for the atrocities on another commandant named Kurt Krause, something that disgusts Miller. When Miller was turned away, he attempted a sneak attack on him with his Walther PPK, but was shot by Miller as a result.