Colonel Herman Dietrich is the secondary antagonist in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.
He was portrayed by Wolf Kahler.
Dietrich was a German Nazi Commanding Officer in charge of the 1936 excavation by René Belloq of the Ark of the Covenant in Cairo, Egypt. Dietrich was assigned the task of finding the Ark by SS officer and member of Hitler's inner circle, Eidel. Eidel explained the Führer's interest in the artifact and specifically needed Dietrich for his acquaintance with archaeologist Belloq. Despite Dietrich's misgivings over how much the Frenchman could be trusted, Eidel informed the colonel that that would be something he'd have to deal with, as any other parties interested in finding the Ark would be.
After meeting with Belloq in Marseilles, France, Dietrich and the archaeologist traveled to Berchtesgaden, Germany for a debriefing with Hitler at his mountain retreat before finally making their way to Cairo where the excavation was already in progress.
Dietrich and his fellow Nazi commander Major Gobler were unaware that the excavation was being done in the wrong place, until Belloq noticed the a group of diggers a good distance away from the main dig site. They descended upon the diggers led by Sallah and claimed the Ark for themselves, sealing Marion Ravenwood and Indiana Jones inside. When Belloq protested Marion's imprisonment, as he wanted her for himself, Dietrich replied that the girl was of no concern to him; and that Belloq appears to have forgotten that only the mission to his Führer matters.
When Indiana and Marion escaped, Dietrich, Belloq and Gestapo agent Major Toht were in a car escorting the truck transporting the Ark to the nearest airport, and were caught up in a skirmish with Indiana Jones' successful effort to capture the truck.
Eventually, the Nazis caught up with Indy and the Ark at sea, and transported it to a remote island between Crete and the mainland of Greece, aboard the U-boat Wurrfler. Being a Nazi, he asks Belloq if it really is necessary to hold a "Jewish ritual" to reveal the contents of the Ark, to which Belloq asks him if he would prefer the risk of opening an empty Ark in front of Hitler in Berlin. There was a tense moment when Indy threatened to blow up the Ark with a bazooka in a desperate attempt to rescue Marion Ravenwood, but the archaeologist was convinced by Belloq to surrender rather than destroy a monumental piece of history.
Dietrich and Toht watched on as Belloq performed his ritual at the Tabernacle, and was at first enraged upon finding only sand in the Ark. His frustration turned to surprise and wonder as ghostly apparitions began to emerge from the Ark. Dietrich was not sure what to make of the experience; as an angelic spirit turned to face them, and suddenly transformed into a decaying, corpse like entity, baring its fangs and howling at them. Dietrich and the others became frozen to the spot with terror, as a fireball rose from the Ark and engulfed Belloq, using him as a conduit to shoot forth fire bolts to strike down the assembled Nazis. As he trembled in fear, Dietrich was killed when the fires emanating from Belloq hollowed his skull, Toht's face melting from his skull, and Belloq head exploding. His collapsed remains were then swept up and incinerated by the following firestorm.
- Sideshow Bob (The Simpsons)
- In 2009, Hasbro planned to release and action figure of Dietrich, but the toy line was cancelled before it was made.
- In LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Trilogy, Dietrich's fate is loosely based in his original fate. His head ins't shrunked, but his legs, like Toth's legs, seem to melt off-screen. After the dissapearance of the ghosts, Dietrich's body is never seen.
- In LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues, Dietrich's fate is very different to his movie's fate. After seeing that Belloq has become a powerful ghost monster, he hides under a barrel and escape from the scene. After that, he wasn't seen again, but is implied that he survived Belloq's madness.
- In the earlier scripts of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Dietrich's name would be Schliemann. Also, in the original script, he didn't die when the Ark was opened. After Belloq's and Toht's death, he and other Nazi guards survive and pursue Indy and Marion through tunnels in mine carts. The idea was dropped, but the mine chase was used later in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.