About Herr Kruger

Eberhard August Franz Ewald Krüger was born in Berlin in 1928 and, as the son of ardent party officials, was active in the HJ. Then, at age 15, he appeared in a propaganda film (Junge Adler) and by March 1945 was a foot soldier in the cobbled-together last-ditch SS-Grenadier-Division “Nibelungen,” thrown into the meatgrinder with the Germans burning the last of the seed corn. Deserting and hiding out in Austria at the end of the war, he later joined the anti-far-right Amadeu Antonio Stiftung group late in life and decried fascism and assorted right-wing parties.

However, most do not know Kruger for his war record or anti-Nazi activism. No, “Hardy” Kruger was for years Hollywood’s prototypical blonde Prussian officer and/or South African hard case.

After a string of West German rom-coms in the late 1940s and 1950s, he made his big splash over here in 1962’s Academy Award-nominated (losing to Lawrence of Arabia) Hatari! as retired German race car driver Kurt Müller, following that up in The Flight of the Phoenix as the arrogant but brilliant German aeronautical engineer Heinrich Dorfmann opposite actual WWII B-17 bomber pilot Jimmy Stewart.

Then came stints as a German officer in The Battle of Neretva, A Bridge Too Far, and others.

In Kubrick’s oft-overlooked period epic Barry Lyndon, when the eponymous character spends his miserable time in the army of Fredrick the Great, it was at the hands of Kruger’s Captain Potzdorf.

Then, of course, his appearance as an unreformed South African merc in The Wild Geese.

Kruger, a Good German, died last week in Palm Springs, aged 93.

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