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Friedrich Von Schoenvorts

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I'll put the fear of God and the Kaiser into them!
~ Friedrich von Schoenvorts

Baron Friedrich von Schoenvorts is a minor antagonist in Edgar Rice Burroughs' novels The Land That Time Forgot and Out of Time's Abyss. In the film adaptation, he was played by John McEnery and dubbed by Anton Diffring.


Von Schoenvorts was a German freiherr who served as a lieutenant in the Imperial German Navy. He commanded the submarine U-33. Prior to World War I, he'd been engaged to marry Lys La Rue. During the war, von Schoenvorts practiced unrestricted submarine warfare, sinking civilian and military ships left and right. By sheer coincidence, he sank the cruise liner carrying his own fiancee as well as American submarine builder Bowen Tyler.

After the sinking, von Schoenvorts ordered the sub to surface and had his crew shoot the survivors in the water. Only Bowen and Lys escaped and were picked up by a passing British tugboat. The tugboat's captain attempted to ram the U-33, but failed and the ship sank. Bowen, Lys and the tug's crew managed to board the German sub and take it over by force. Von Schoenvorts was taken prisoner and locked up in his cabin, while his crew cooperated with their captors in Bowen's plan to sail to a neutral port. However, British crew member Benson turned traitor and sabotaged the compass so that they sailed south and ended up in antarctic waters.

Here, they stumbled across a lost land filled with dinosaurs and cavemen called Caprona. After being released, von Schoenvorts agreed to a proposition put forth by Bowen and British lieutenant John Bradley, that to survive in Caprona the different groups had to forget the war and cooperate. Von Schoenvorts agreed, but secretly planned to betray his erstwhile allies the first chance he got. During this time, his relationship with Lys fell apart. While in Caprona, von Schoenvorts was known to mistreat his men and punish them harshly for minor infractions. He drove Schwerke to kill himself, and whipped Plesser.

One day von Schoenvorts and his crew returned to the U-33 and used it to shell the British camp. They took several prisoners and used them as slave labor to re-provision the sub. Sometime later, Bradley and Co-Tan came upon the Germans marching the British prisoners back to the U-33 and attacked them. The erstwhile captives overthrew the Germans, killing two of them. Von Schoenvorts was taken prisoner, but Plesser, enraged over the death of Schwerke, stabbed von Schoenvorts with a bayonet and killed him.


Von schoenvorts

Von Schoenvorts in the film.

Von Schoenvorts is a much different character in the 1975 Amicus film. He is a captain instead of a lieutenant, and an honorable man who only sinks the British ship because it is carrying illegal arms to Europe. He also forbids the killing of survivors. Aside from one attempt to retake the sub, he is friendly and cooperative with Bowen Tyler even before the group winds up in Caprona. Most of his more negative character traits from the novel are transferred to his second in command, Dietz, who eventually betrays and kills him.

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