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Captain Hans Dietrich is the main antagonist of the TV series The Rat Patrol. He was portrayed in all of his appearances by Hans Gudegast, who would later change his name to Eric Braeden.
Dietrich was a Heer officer fighting in World War II serving in the Afrika Korps under General von Helmreich. Dedicated to winning at any cost, Dietrich was an extremely pragmatic officer. On the battlefield he showed no mercy, and wasn't above stooping to dirty tricks in order to win, but he nonetheless lived by a strict code. He considered himself honorable; if he gave someone, even an enemy, his word, he intended to keep it, feeling it was his duty as a German officer. This put him staunchly at odds with the other Germans serving in Africa, particularly the SS and the Gestapo. He considered such men without honor and had little patience for them.
Most of Dietrich's time seemed to be spent fighting the Rat Patrol, an elite Allied attack force commanded by Sergeant Sam Troy of the US Army. Troy and his companions Jack Moffitt, Mark Hitchcock and Tully Pettigrew used their Jeeps to perform ambushes and lightning quick raids against the Afrika Korps, and it was usually Dietrich they went up against. Dietrich considered them worthy foes, and over time developed an amiable enough relationship with Troy despite their status as enemies.
More than once, Dietrich cooperated with the Rats to achieve a common goal. While escorting Arab dignitary Abu Hassan in an effort to negotiate with a group of Bedouins, hoping to persuade their leader to come into the war on the German side, Dietrich encountered the Rat Patrol, but before they could begin fighting, the Bedouins attacked, pinning both groups down. Dietrich was forced to enter into an uneasy truce with Troy in order to survive. Although Hassan was killed, the two sides managed to cooperate and fend off the attackers. After their common enemies were killed, Dietrich left with his two surviving men, Heine and Hans, declaring the shaky truce over. It wasn't the last time he'd work with the Rats.
When a young Arab girl named Kiri fell down a well during a battle between Dietrich's men and the Rat Patrol, Dietrich agreed to a truce with Troy because of the pleadings of Kiri's mother, Marisha. Dietrich even gave his word to Troy that he'd let them go after the child was rescued. Even when his colleague Captain Bruener arrived, Dietrich refused to let him take the outnumbered Allied soldiers prisoner, since he'd given his word. Bruener stupidly tried to capture them anyway, leading to a shootout that left him and all of the Germans dead except for Dietrich, although Marisha and her daughter were saved. Dietrich didn't mourn Bruener's death, considering him an irresponsible idiot.
When Troy was captured by Rettig of the Gestapo and beaten up by his agents, Dietrich objected, insisting that Troy be treated as a prisoner of war, and extended every courtesy reserved for such men. Nevertheless, when Moffitt and the other Rats captured Rettig and offered him in a prisoner exchange, Dietrich made the trade, although he wryly mentioned that the Rats were getting the better deal, as he didn't like Rettig. As the Allies drove off, Rettig foolishly grabbed a rifle from one of Dietrich's men and tried to shoot them, and was gunned down by Moffitt.
Later, Dietrich had been assisting some Swiss doctors in distributing typhus medication to some local villagers. He'd signed a document giving them permission to be in the area. Despite this, Captain Wansee of the SS stole the medicine and also kidnapped two of the doctors, in an effort to trap the Rat Patrol. An angry Dietrich demanded that Wansee return the medicine and the physicians. Wansee killed one of the doctors and then talked Dietrich into capturing Moffitt for him. Dietrich brought Moffitt to Wansee with the understanding that if he gave the Allied sergeant to the SS, Wansee would allow the surviving doctor to go back to the village with the medicine. However, Wansee broke his promise, and when he was about to shoot Moffitt, Dietrich killed him. He then escaped as Troy and the others arrived.
He showed his more ruthless side once when Troy was captured while undercover with the French Resistance. When Troy refused to give up important microfilm, Dietrich sentenced him to death, showing that his good graces with regard to his longstanding enemy only extended so far, and that he was willing to kill if he considered the reasons justified enough, but Troy escaped.
Dietrich's final encounter with his longtime enemies came when he was escorting General Koenig to Koorlea. It was his job to protect Koenig and his family. Troy and his men, assisted by British sniper Freebairn, kidnapped Koenig from his Koorlea villa, despite Dietrich's attempt to stop him. He was wounded in the process, but survived and could only watch as his foes escaped with Koenig.