Nazi Protagonist

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In which "eminently reasonable" men do paperwork, present reports, eat cake, and plan a genocide.

Although Nazi Germany and individuals affiliated with the Nazi regime are typically cast as villains (and for good reason), there are occasional works of fiction where a Nazi, or a person who is associated with the Nazi-era German government or military, is the protagonist, rather than an antagonist. On occasion, the character in question is not a villain protagonist — mostly because they're a Nazi in name only, and react to their more objectionable orders by Bothering by the Book or actively fighting from the inside.

They are generally divided into types.

  • The Mole: Someone who signed onto to the party only to sabotage it from within. This type is most likely to get audience sympathy.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: A Nazi who does army work fighting the allies rather than atrocities associated with the Holocaust. He may idolize the Nazi Party, but is not aware of the crimes of the Holocaust. Expect Broken Pedestal to come up once he finds out the truth. This type can easily obtain have audience sympathy, especially if he isn't aware of the mass deportations of minorities.
  • Dirty Coward: A Nazi involved in or aware of the atrocities who feels what he is doing is wrong but is simply too afraid of what'll happen to him if he goes against orders. The Dirty Coward may receive a little bit of pity, but he is unlikely to get much audience sympathy.
  • Villain Protagonist: This guy does all the worst atrocities associated with the Nazi Party and feels no guilt. Unsurprisingly, they receive all of the audience's hatred. Expect him to die a Karmic Death at the story's end.

Be careful though, not All Germans Are Nazis.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. Rudolf Von Stroheim is not the protagonist, but one of the main good guys in Part 2. Notably, Stroheim isn't part of La Résistance, or otherwise opposing the system from within. Aside from being slightly less racist than your typical Nazi, he's a proud German soldier through and through. However, as there is a far more dangerous enemy present, he counts as one of the protagonists of Part 2 by nature of being an Enemy Mine.
  • Kinnikuman: Brockenman certainly wasn't the most heroic of Nazi characters, but Brocken Jr., while first harboring a grudge against Ramenman for killing his father, ends up becoming a valuable ally to the group of heroes.
  • In K, Klaudia and Adolf K. Weismann were scientists working on a supernatural experiment for the Nazi regime though it's never said out loud. As young science prodigies in Dresden at that time, they couldn't exactly refuse. Adi seems to not know much about what's going on, and he's horrified at the idea of his experiment being used for war. And, thankfully, it isn't finished in time for that. It makes him immortal during the bombing of Dresden, in which Klaudia dies, and he retreats to live alone in a blimp... until the antagonist body-swaps and memory-wipes him and he crashes to Earth in the body of a high school kid in 2013... as the protagonist, Yashiro Isana.
  • The first "out-of-body" segment of Tezuka's Apollo's Song features the main character Shogo as a Nazi soldier (with another Nazi questioning why an apparent ethnic German has a Japanese name) doing guard duty on a train full of soon-to-be Holocaust victims. He ends up helping a woman escape from them and later kills and is killed by a bunch of other Nazis, then the main part of the real story begins.

    Comic Books 
  • "Master Race", a very famous Bernard Krigstein EC Comics, had , in a Twist Ending, a Nazi war criminal protagonist. Up until that point, you would misidentify him as a Holocaust survivor.
  • Heinrich Augsberg of Requiem Vampire Knight, who in life was a Nazi soldier who committed many atrocities, but who in the Crapsack World of Resurrection has been reborn as one of the few vampires who still retain some kind of conscience.
  • The POV character in the two-page Sin City short story "Rats" is an escaped Nazi war criminal who served in an extermination camp. "Rats" is what he called the Jews he murdered there. At the end he is killed by a Nazi Hunter.
  • Garth Ennis' work features the occasional high-ranking Nazi pilot who's defending his homeland rather than actively murdering non-Aryans.
    • His run on Enemy Ace has the titular ace fight a losing war against the invading Soviets. One day, he's shot down over German-held territory but manages to eject, his parachute landing him in a big compound called Dachau... After he gets back to his squadron, he surrenders to Sergeant Rock.
    • Thor: Vikings has an Ace Pilot who resents that he's working for a madman, and that his plane has a swastika on it.
    • War Stories had an idealistic German pilot participating in the Spanish Civil War, and told by a Spaniard in no uncertain terms that this is a test run for a later conflict.
    • Preacher had an escaped Nazi spy living in hiding in the Deep South, extolling the virtues of the Americandream. In a subversion, he was an actual war criminal before coming over.
  • The mid-1970s DC Comics story Blitzkrieg follows three German soldiers throughout Nazi-occupied Europe. While they're not explicitly shown to be members of the Nazi party, they're not simply the "just fighting for my country" type either, engaging in various atrocities such as the Malmédy massacre of Allied prisoners of war and the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto. They also hold much of the same racial viewpoints, showing marked disdain for Poles and Jews.
  • Caballistics, Inc.: Solomon Ravne is one of the main characters, and an ex-Nazi Mad Scientist. He's even older than that, though...

    Fan Works 
  • The stories in the Uplifted series are primarily told from the point of view of Joachim Hoch, an officer in the Waffen SS, who is assigned to conduct a charm campaign for the stranded Quarians. An ardent nationalist and anti-Semite, his views gradually soften through the course of the series, ultimately falling in love with one of the Quarians. Erwin Rommel could fit the same category in the sequel, where he plays a major role alongside Hoch. Hoch would qualify as a true protagonist, not a villain protagonist. Admittedly the stories take place in the context of an Alternate History where the Quarians decide to uplift humanity in a desperate bid to end the exile.
  • Heimlich Ritter from Never Again. He is absolutely nothing like the other Nazis, being a kindhearted All-Loving Hero who is in love with a Jew and even goes so far as to successfully reform Hitler!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Triumph of the Will stars Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring, Heinrich Himmler, Joseph Goebbels, and many other Nazis in what's considered to be the greatest propaganda film ever made.
  • In Downfall, the events are told from the point of view of the Germans during the last days of the Third Reich. Hitler's secretary Traudl Junge, SS medical officer Ernst-Gunther Schenk, and Peter, a young German boy inducted into the Hitler Youth to defend Berlin, are the three main protagonists, though Junge was not herself a member of the Nazi Party.
  • Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS features a sadistic Nordic Baroness as one of the protagonists. At times, she's actually a sympathetic character.
  • The Night Porter centers around the sadomasochistic, romantic relationship between a former Nazi and a Holocaust survivor. Unlike most of the other examples on this page, he's an unrepentant Nazi, which is awesome.
  • Schindler's List. Oskar Schindler is a member of the Nazi party, and at the end of the movie tells the Jewish workers he has saved that he'll have to go into hiding while they are rescued due to that fact. Its made pretty clear that he joined for the perks, as did many ordinary Germans, and is not a true believer, and he turns against them once he witnesses the horrors more devoted Nazis like Amon Goeth are capable of.
  • North Face is the true story of two Bavarians and two Austrians scaling a mountain. All four men are shown to support the Nazi regime, the Austrians looking forward to the Anschluss. Through out the movie, Nazis are shown as just regular people, not expressively good or bad.
  • Joseph Goebbels in Jew Suss: Rise and Fall.
  • The protagonists of Before the Fall are all teenage Nazis in training.
  • All the main characters in Conspiracy are German officials of the Nazi regime.
  • Kurt Gerstein from Amen is member of the SS, and a former Nazi. He was expelled from the party in 1936, before the events of the film.
  • In Das Boot the entire crew are members of the Kriegsmarine and the protagonist, Werner, is a war correspondent from the German propaganda ministry. Actual pro-Nazi feelings amongst the crew are low, however, as the crew of the U-96 consists of the "old guard" of pre-Nazi sailors.
  • Sam Peckinpah's Cross of Iron. The only "evil" Nazi in the film is none other than Captain Stransky. Triebig on the other hand, is an Anti-Villain.
  • The Night of the Generals is about an Abwehr Major named Grau investigating the murder of a prostitute in German-occupied Warsaw in 1942. The three major suspects turn out to be three German general officers.
  • Played with in the opening sequence of Frostbite.
  • The Empty Mirror is a surreal psychological drama which revolves around Hitler himself as the protagonist, as he interacts with shadows from his past in a Purgatory-like location. His mind slowly unravels over the course of the film as he tries to justify his warmongering legacy.
  • Hornets' Nest gives a lot of screentime and character development to the character of Captain von Hecht, although this is a huge aversion as he's only a Nazi in the sense that he serves in the Wehrmacht - he has nothing but disdain for the SS and their way of thinking. What it's interesting is that although he does some morally questionable things, not only is he better than the SS - he's arguably better than the American soldier who is nominally the hero!
  • In Powell and Pressburger's 1941 propaganda film 49th Parallel seven survivors from a U-boat sunk in Hudson's Bay attempt to escape Canada across the titular line of longitude to the safety of the then neutral United States. Their leader Lt. Hirth (Eric Portman) is a fanatical Nazi willing to do anything (including execute one of his own men) to achieve his goal.
  • The 2017 French film HHhH has a good portion showing the life of Reinhard Heydrich and his rise From Nobody to Nightmare, from the day he was fired from the German navy in 1929 because of a sex scandal to the infamous Wannsee conference where he participated in the planning of The Holocaust and his death in a Czechoslovak resistance attack.

    Literature 
  • The Big Time by Fritz Leiber has a sympathetic Nazi, though in a completely alien context. (It takes place in a background of Time Travel and changed timelines, in a recreation station between dimensions.)
  • The police detective in Robert Harris's Fatherland, despite the novel being set in an Alternate History where the Nazis won World War II, isn't a Nazi himself — it's mentioned that his career has suffered because he refuses to join the Party. He is, however, a member of the SS, albeit a version of the SS that has been transformed into what is pretty much a civilian police force.
  • The Draka series of novels by S.M. Stirling, in which the Nazis are fighting against the eponymous society (which is even worse than the Nazis).
  • Harry Turtledove's World War series depicted an invasion of Earth by space aliens in the middle of World War II. The series focused on the response by the five main human powers (the United States, Great Britain, the USSR, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan) to this attack. Among the human protagonists were Jaeger, a Wehrmacht tank officer, and Otto Skorzeny. Yes, that Otto Skorzeny.
  • Apt Pupil, by Stephen King. The two main characters are an ex-Nazi and a young boy who wants to learn everything about his time in Germany.
  • The Conformist by Alberto Moravia has Marcello Clerci living in Fascist Italy and conforming to its new rule.
  • J Robert Janes's St Cyr and Kohler detective novels, set in World War II France. Hermann Kohler is a policeman in the Third Reich, and hence by default a Nazi. He isn't by any means an ideological enthusiast for Nazism, though, and does his best to protect innocent people from both the ideological Nazis and the straightforward crooks and psychos who prosper under the regime.
  • Watch on the Rhine and the sequels co-written by Tom Kratman features rejuvenated Waffen SS troops brought back from senescence to fight off the Posleen invasion of Germany, as much of the Bundeswehr off fighting on other worlds and what remains isn't up to the task. With a few rare exceptions, however, the revived SS troops have no particular love for Nazi ideology, and those exceptions for the most part wound up dead by the time of The Tuloriad.
  • Maximilien Aue from The Kindly Ones.
  • One of the main point of view characters in Bitter Seeds, book one in the The Milkweed Triptych, is one by default, as he and a bunch of others are the result of twisted scientific Nazi experiments in an alternate WWII setting. Their opinions on whom they serve vary, though Klaus is more on the just-trying-to-survive end of the scale.
  • The Pearl and the Carnelian features a downplayed example; Lady Lucy Fitzmartin is more of a "moderate Nazi sympathizer protagonist".
  • Er Ist Wieder Da: The premise of the book and its film adaptation is Adolf Hitler being plucked from 1945 and awakening in modern day (2011) Berlin.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
    • The episode "Judgement Night" reveals in its twist ending that the protagonist, Karl Lanser, was a German Uboat captain who torpedoed a civilian ship against the advice of his men. As Hell's punishment, Lanser is forced to live through the moment as a amnesiac passenger, and then be killed himself by his own past self. Oddly amnesiac Lanser is shown to be hurt by the passenger's deaths, perhaps due to the change in perspective showing them as people rather than targets.
    • The episode "Death's Head Revisited" centered around a former concentration camp officer at Dachau who revisits the camp to relive his memories of the many atrocities he committed during the war. He eventually receives karmic justice from the souls of his victims.
  • Seventeen Moments of Spring: while the protagonist is a Deep Cover Agent and a Colonel Badass of Soviet State Sec, he is an SS-Standartenführer in RSHA's 6th department (Foreign Intelligence) and spends the bulk of the time surrounded by other SS/SD members. Who, in a change from earlier Soviet movies, are people.
  • The Man in the High Castle has Obergruppenführer John Smith as one of the main characters. He is responsible for crushing the resistance in the Nazi-Occupied United States and has done some pretty grisly things in the past to achieve the goals of the Nazi Party. Despite that, he manages to come off somewhat sympathetic due to being an impeccable (though strict) family man and his utter belief that he is doing the right thing.

     Video Games 
  • Pretty much every single WWII shooter or RTS with multiplayer will usually allow you to play as the Germans.
  • Many Japanese strategy games, such as the Advanced Daisenryaku series, puts you as a Nazi commander. You can still play as the Allies, though.
  • Panzer Front bis.
  • Nimdok from I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream is a former Nazi doctor who worked alongside Joesph Mengele. AM's simulation puts him in a concentration camp and tasks him with bringing a golem to life to exterminate the "Lost Tribe," and he can either go through with it or redeem himself by relinquishing control of the golem to the Lost Tribe. Who, as he is fully aware, will promptly kill him for his crimes.
  • Gran Turismo series allows the players to drive Auto Union Streamline, Volkswagen Kubelwagen and Schwimmwagen, which were made in Nazi-era Germany.
  • Bugs Vs Tanks asks the player to use their own name as commander of a Nazi Panzer in charge of entirely sympathetic German officers Joachim and Ernst.
  • Redcon - Player controls a Commander who serves empire that resembles Nazi Germany in many ways.

     Web Original 
  • One Creepypasta entry features a Nazi medic as the protagonist. He and his group are sent out in true We Have Reserves fashion, and he goes insane trying to keep them alive on the Russian front with no resources, eventually dying after using his own blood to give a blood transfusion to his patients. The kicker is he's just a rudimentary doctor from a small farming community, and is completely uninvested in Nazi ideals, making this a rare case case of a Nazi protagonist being the hero. This is also Truth in Television as, by that point in the war, all capable German men who were physically capable were being put on the frontlines as Germany ran out of the aforementioned reserves.
  • The Hitler Rants, being a direct spoof of Downfall, naturally uses this trope as well. Not all of them though; only when the focus is specifically on Hitler and his staff.

     Western Animation 

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