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Major Schultz

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The general command in Belgrade sent me to ensure that the confiscation of works of art and precious objects be carried out as quickly as possible. And I expect my orders to be obeyed.
~ Schultz

Major Schultz is the main antagonist of the 1986 film Bridge to Hell (original title: Un ponte per l'inferno). The film is cobbled together using stock footage from 1969's Savage Bridge (original title: Most), and although the credits list the names of different actors, they don't match them up with any character names. Schultz was portrayed by an uncredited Branko Djuric, and shots where Djuric's face is not visible is recycled footage from Savage Bridge featuring actor Maks Furijan.

Biography

Schultz is an SS officer in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia, holding the rank of major (sturmbannführer). As part of the Nazis' scheme to rob conquered nations of their valuables, the high command has dispatched Schultz and his men to start rounding up priceless works of art and other valuables. In particular, Schultz has his sights set on the Saints' Chalices, a group of golden, jeweled chalices kept in a (apparently Greek Orthodox) church. Schultz himself is an inactive villain, never meeting the protagonists face to face and preferring to remain in his office and delegate through an SS captain apparently serving as his second in command. However it is his SS troops, as well as regular Wehrmacht troops under his command, that dog the heroes throughout the film.

His captain sends Sergeant Herzog of the Wehrmacht to retrieve the chalices from the church, but Herzog never returns. What the SS don't know is that Herzog and his men were attacked by a group of soldiers from various armies at the church. American lieutenant Bill Rogers, Italian sergeant Mario "Spaghetti" Espozi and Austrian Wehrmacht deserter Blinz, as well as Yugoslavian partisan fighter Vanya, who killed the Germans and advised the nuns at the church to conceal the chalices, which until then had been on display for everyone who visited the church to see. When Schultz's captain came by to question the nuns, they told him that they'd given the chalices to Herzog and he and his men had departed and that that was the last they'd seen of them or the chalices.

Reporting back to Schultz, the captain said he trusted the nuns, and so the two Nazis concluded that what had happened was that after leaving the church with the chalices, Herzog and his men had been waylaid by partisans who took them prisoner and stole the chalices. Schultz then decided to lead an armored column to hunt the partisans down, recover the chalices and (hopefully) rescue the hypothetically captive Germans, sending his captain to inspect the fortifications of a German-held bridge over a ravine because Schultz wanted to ensure it was well protected in case the partisans tried to cross it while fleeing from Schultz's column.

But although the captain inspected the bridge and found its defense satisfactory, Rogers, Spaghetti, Blinz and Vanya attacked the bridge as soon as he left, arriving wearing purloined uniforms and driving a stolen German troop truck. They took out the radio in the command bunker, resulting in Schultz, heading back after failing to find the partisans, being unable to get the bridge's commander on his radio. After being informed of the sounds of gunfire coming from the bridge, he ordered his column to make all haste to the bridge, but they arrived too late. By the time he arrived, the heroes had already blown up the bridge. He could only watch impotently as they escaped in a truck on the other side of the ravine.

Notes

  • He is similar to some other Nazi villains: his quest to rob Yugoslavia of its national treasures calls to mind Colonel Franz von Waldheim from The Train, whilst the fact he survives the story and is last seen watching in impotent anger as his prey escapes and goes where he cannot follow recalls Colonel Gortz in Von Ryan's Express.
  • His being in an armored scout vehicle and the proximity to a doomed bridge also call to mind General Zimmermann from the novel Force 10 from Navarone. Unlike Zimmermann, however, Schultz survives because he isn't on the bridge when it's destroyed.

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