Character page for the film Das Boot.
Kapitänleutnant Henrich Lehmann-Willenbrock, aka "Der Alte" / "Herr Kaleun"
The commanding officer of the U-96 U-Boot.
- All Germans Are Nazis: Averted. He's cynical about the Nazi regime and openly critical about how the war is being handled, especially with the lack of naval air cover. He also makes several jabs about their bosses in Berlin.
- A Father to His Men: He's at least only a decade older than most of the crew (and he even lampshades it), but still cares for them.
- Badass Boast: As the submarine emerges from the depths of the Gibraltar Strait while the Royal Navy forces believe it to be lost for good.Der Alte: They are in the casino, celebrating our sinking... Not yet kameraden, not yet!
- The Captain: Commanding officer of the U-96 submarine. He is addressed as "Herr Kaleun" (Kapitänleutnant) or "Der Alte" (the Old Man).
- Historical-Domain Character: Based on a real life U-Boot captain.
- Just Following Orders: He's not happy about it, but he's out in the Atlantic to sink British ships because that's what his orders are. He tells Werner that, if he has a problem with that, he should bring it up with their bosses in Berlin, who started the war in the first place.
- Never Gets Drunk: Type 1. At the party in La Rochelle before U-96 takes the sea, he doesn't drink more than one beer, while most of his crew gets drunk with wine and Champagne aplenty. He also helps his friend Thomsen, who has gone semi-comatose in the toilets after his speech.
- Older and Wiser: He's the oldest man on board the U-96, and while he's only about 40 and one decade older than most of his men if not more, he is the most experienced, having gone through more U-Boot patrols than them all.
- Red Alert: Whenever he shouts "ALARM!", the crew immediately reacts, either in exercise maneuvers, combat maneuvers or enemy-avoiding maneuvers.
- Seadog Beard: Grows one of the most prominent beards in the film. He even advises Werner to take more pics when they return, to not give the British the impression that they're having to fight young boys.
A naval war correspondent from the Marine-Kriegsbericht assigned to document the voyage.
- Author Avatar: Lothar-Günther Buchheim (the author of the original novel) was himself a World War II naval correspondent who spent time on the real life U-96 as a Leutnant zur See, and the novel was heavily based on his own experiences.
- Butt-Monkey: Some of the enlisted resent him because he's not a combat officer.
- Naïve Newcomer: He has naval experience on surface ships but this is his first voyage on a submarine.
- Tagalong Reporter: He is on U-96 as a war correspondent for the express purpose of chronicling the crew's exploits.
- The Watson: Werner is on board as a journalist, thus it's his job to be inquisitive about everything. The crew and officers sometimes pause to explain what they're doing to him but he often has to figure it out by observation.
Leitender Ingenieur Fritz Grade
The chief engineer of U-96.
- Adult Fear: His wife is very sick and he worries about her. In the uncut version, while listening to the Wehrmachtbericht, they hear about an air raid on Cologne, where his wife is, and he needs to be consoled by the Captain.
- The Engineer: His role on the boat.
- Hidden Depths: He breaks out a crossword puzzle to help pass the time. Played with as he's not very good at it.
- Mr. Fixit: Spends much of the last act working to repair the damage.
- Number Two: He's responsible for the functionality of the boat and coordinates emergency dives.
- Seadog Beard: Grows one that rivals that of his Captain.
1st Watch Officer
The first watch officer of U-96.
- The Lost Lenore: His fiancée was killed in an Allied air raid.
- The Neidermeyer: He's even more despised by the crew than Werner.
- Non-Idle Rich: He was raised in some wealth by his step-parents in Mexico, and returned to Germany to fight in the war.
- Perma-Shave: Unlike the rest of the U-96 crew, he always shaves.
- The Stoic: The 1WO is all about this in the initial stages of the film, being new to the war effort and a dedicated Nazi. He remains immaculately dressed and clean shaven for most of the film while the rest of the crew all become steadily filthier and more bedraggled with every scene. It is only in the latter stages of the film when even he cannot keep on top of it all and slowly becomes disheveled and unshaven too by the end of the film.
- Those Wacky Nazis: Out of all the crew, he's the most ardent supporter of the regime, listening with glee when the radio reports on the recent victories of the German army on land.
2nd Watch Officer
The second watch officer of U-96.
- Fiery Redhead: He is as loud and vulgar as his hair is red, and provides much of the lighter elements of the film.
- Mr. Exposition: He explains a lot about submarine operations and tactics to Werner.
- Plucky Comic Relief: His role is very much that of the fun guy in the crew.
- The Prankster: During the party before the start of U-96's Atlantic patrol, he gets drunk, takes a water siphon and sprays the intimate area of Monique (the French singer/hooker) with it while she sings on a stage.
The navigator and third watch officer of U-96.
The chief mechanic of U-96.
- Determinator: He never gives up.
- Grease Monkey: He is in charge of the submarine's engines. He doesn't like to go outside and take fresh air most notably, as the first thing he does when getting his head out of the sub is spitting, then going back in.
- Mr. Fixit: Chief mechanic, whose skills save the day when the submarine lies inoperable on the sea floor.
- The Quiet One: He rarely speaks.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Despite being a veteran of nine patrols, he cracks under the pressure during a depth charge attack.
An officer cadet that Werner befriends.
A multi-tasked officer.
Pilgrim and Frenssen
A pair of Maat (petty officers).
- Establishing Character Moment: Pilgrim first appears piss drunk, banging on Der Alte's car.
- Nautical Knockout: During the storm, Pilgrim gets swept off his feet and thrown into the support railing.
- Those Two Guys: They're best friends and are hardly seen apart.
- Vulgar Humor: Their preferred style of humor.
Kapitänleutnant Philipp Thomsen
The captain of another U-Boot and a friend of Der Alte.
- The Alcoholic/The Drunken Sailor: Surviving patrols in the Atlantic long enough with always an impending doom waiting at the corner made him look for ways to forget it.
- Hero of Another Story: He's another submarine captain and was recently decorated with the Ritterkreuz (Knight's Cross).
- Seadog Beard: He hasn't shaved even since he returned from his last U-Boot patrol.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: When a telephone rings in the French club, he shouts "ALAAAAAAARM!!"
- Take That!: At the party before the start of U-96's Atlantic patrol, he gets drunk and climbs on a stage and makes a speech. He goes on a rant and looks like he's about to roast Hitler... then twists the joke at the last possible moment, aiming it at Winston Churchill. It's still very clear he was not truly aiming the joke at Churchill.
- Uncertain Doom: He's deployed to the Atlantic sometime after U-96, and the two boats meet each other while on patrol. In the uncut version, it's clear that Thomsen has not reported in afterwards.
A middle-aged French hooker and singer who entertains German submarine crews as they throw a party in La Rochelle before their Atlantic patrol starts.
- Belly Dancer: She dances very suggestively as the party gets wilder... until the second watch officer sprays her panties with a water siphon.
- High-Class Call Girl: She sings at a party where there's much Champagne to drink and arouses German naval officers.
- Intercourse with You: Her second song, "Mon Gars" (My Guy) is about, well, a call girl who lures a man, has sex with him, asks to be paid, then rebuffs him as he starts falling in love — "You and me it's not for life, just for one night".
- Lady in Red: She wears a red evening dress.
- Stocking Filler: Her evening dress lets everyone see her garters.