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German Tank Commander

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The German Tank Commander is a minor villain in the 1970 film Kelly's Heroes. He was played by Karl Otto-Alberty.

Biography

A sergeant in the SS, the tank commander was a stocky, blonde man with a jagged scar down the right side of his face. He was the commander of one of the three Tiger tanks assigned to guard Colonel Dankopf's gold shipment in a bank in Clairmont, but he didn't know just what was in the bank; just that the bank wasn't to fall into the hands of the Americans. The tank he commanded was Tiger 115; the other two were Tiger 112 and Tiger 113. The day that Kelly and his "heroes" infiltrated Clairmont to rob the bank, the commander was seen talking to his superior, an SS major, regarding the dire fuel situation and the whereabouts of Dankopf.

When the Americans attacked, the SS officers and guards were killed and Tiger 112 was taken out instantly by a blast "in the ass" from Oddball's Sherman. Displaying a great deal of dissonant serenity, Tiger 115's commander calmly slid down inside the hatch of his tank and shut the cover. The remaining two Tigers proceeded to hunt the Americans through the town in an effort to find and kill them. After Tiger 113 was destroyed by a point-blank blast from behind, Tiger 115 returned to the town square, where it sat in front of the bank, refusing to move, its commander ordering the gun to rotate and randomly blast at the surrounding buildings, either as a challenge to the Americans or a show of defiance. In any case, the commander refused to budge, even though he and his crew were the only surviving Germans in Clairmont.

Eventually, the shooting stopped, and the Tiger sat deathly still. With the Americans' Sherman broken down and incapable of being fixed, Kelly and the gang were at a loss for what to do. "Hustler" Crapgame suggested making a deal with the German commander. Oddball considered this plan dangerous, insisting the German was a "full fanatic freak" because he hadn't fled while he had the chance. Big Joe stuck up for his unseen opponent, insisting, "All he's doing is guarding the bank like he was told." "Yeah," mused Kelly, thinking Crapgame's suggestion over, "but I wonder if he knows what's in it...?"

Kelly, Big Joe and Oddball then all three approached the Tiger. Although the gun turned and pointed at them, it didn't fire. Eventually, the commander emerged from the turret hatch and came out to see what the Americans wanted. He showed no fear, apparently knowing that if anything befell him, his crew, still inside the tank, would immediately retaliate. After refusing a cigarette offered to him by Joe, he also refused to leave, insisting he had orders not to let the bank fall into American hands. Finally Oddball dropped the bombshell, revealing that there was $16 million worth of gold bars inside the bank, whereupon the commander's eyes widened. Kelly offered him and his men an equal share of the gold if he'd use his tank's gun to blow open the reinforced doors of the bank.

One explosion later, the commander entered the bank with his new American friends and partook of the gold just as he'd been promised. He sold his Tiger to Oddball, and the two also traded jackets. When saying goodbye to Kelly, the commander momentarily committed a faux pas of giving the Nazi salute, but quickly corrected himself with a sheepish grin. Bidding farewell to the Americans, he and his crew quickly left the town with their share of the gold.

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