?Say, ?auf Widersehen? to your Nazi balls!? ?Hugo Stiglitz
Before we get into the heavy stuff, let?s start off with the basics. Inglourious Basterds is a World War II film that takes place in Nazi-occupied France. There are plenty of intriguing characters in this film, however, none more intriguing than Hugo Stiglitz. Hugo Stiglitz (played by Til Schweiger) is a German soldier who murdered thirteen Gestapo officers. Rather than killing him on the spot, the German government wanted to make an example out of him back in Berlin. Upon hearing this news, Lieutenant Aldo (Brad Pitt) saves Stiglitz from death, recruits him for The Basterds, and becomes one of three soldiers in The Basterds that is not Jewish. He is a man that ?everybody in the German army?s heard of.? Quentin Tarantino chose to name this character ?Hugo Stiglitz? to pay tribute to the famous Mexican actor of the 1970s and 1980s. That was a mouthful, but although Hugo Stiglitz may not be a major character in the film ?Inglourious Basterds,? there is more to Hugo Stiglitz than meets the eye.
?Slaughter? by Billy Preston chimes in simultaneously.
When the narrator (Samuel L. Jackson) introduces Hugo Stiglitz, not only does ?Hugo Stiglitz? appear on the screen in Futura Condensed Bold font, but Billy Preston?s song ?Slaughter? (which happens to be the theme of the movie ?Slaughter?) screams shortly after. In the film, it catches the viewers by surprise as it is heavy rock, so when Hugo?s character is introduced, it is a bit alarming but very memorable which may explain the reason that Quentin Tarantino chose to use this song for Hugo Stiglitz?s introduction. Additionally, many factors, such as the song choice and the whipping scene, suggest that Stiglitz was a Blaxploitation hero. The song ?Slaughter? was used as a theme song in the film ?Slaughter? which was a Blaxploitation film of the 1970s. As mentioned before, Sitglitz is whipped (most likely by German officers) much like African Americans were whipped during the Jim Crow Law era emphasizing the distaste and hatred the Germans had for Hugo Stiglitz- similar to the distaste and hatred white Americans had for African Americans. Although Hugo Stiglitz dies in the tavern scene, he was still able to shoot Major Hellstrom and get his revenge.
As the title suggests, Hugo is ?a badass.? It was almost unheard of for someone to go against Hitler and the German army during World War II, and then fight for the opposing side. In a way, the film almost implies that Stiglitz is a psychopath. Shortly after Stiglitz?s startling introduction, Stiglitz appears on the screen on the front of ?Stars and Stripes? followed by the photos of all thirteen of the Gestapo officers. Some of these tactics include using a garrote to strangle and choke an officer, suffocating another with a pillow and then stabbing him in the face with his knife, and choking a third by shoving his fist in his mouth and down his throat instead of just wrapping his hands around the officer?s neck. Not only that, but Hugo Stiglitz seems to find such great joy killing the officers. From the ways he chose to murder the Gestapo, we can assume that there is a lot more to Hugo Stiglitz than just a guy in the military. His detest and his anger towards the Nazi army becomes prevalent and distinct. The scene ends with a close up of Stiglitz and we witness the hate and rage in his face, the only emotions Hugo Stiglitz ever really expresses.
Hugo Stiglitz on the cover of ?Stars and Stripes.?Three of the thirteen German officers.Hugo Stiglitz chokes an officer by shoving his fist down the officer?s throat.A close up of Stiglitz?s face- strong emotions of anger and hatred.
As mentioned before, Hugo Stiglitz uses a knife to stab an officer, but this isn?t just any knife. He steals this SS (Schutzstaffel, German for ?Protective Echelon? and ?defense?) dagger from the Germans before he leaves. During the tavern scene after shooting Major Hellstrom (August zdiehl) in the balls, Hugo Stiglitz stabs him with the knife and then sticks it into Major Hellstrom?s neck. The motto of the Schutzstaffel (?Meine Ehre heisst Treue? meaning ?Loyalty is my honor.?) is written on the knife which is ironic because Stiglitz is not loyal to the German army at all. This is important, however, because he murders his own soldiers with their own weapons- the ultimate kill.
Despite the fact that Hugo Stiglitz is not a main character in ?Inglourious Basterds?, Quentin Tarantino writes his backstory into the film. In an interview with Tarantino, he claims to have given Hugo Stiglitz a backstory and not the other supporting characters simply because he did not want the movie to last 3 hours. However, Tarantino states he needed to provide a backstory for Hugo Stiglitz to explain to the audience why Stiglitz, a German soldier, was on The Basterds? side and not the German?s. None of the other characters needed an in-depth explanation for why they were where they were or why they were in the movie, but Hugo Stiglitz needed a clarification which, after watching the movie, we understand.
Although it seems absurd for a German soldier to turn against the German army and Hitler?s commands during World War II, it did happen. For instance, after Franz Halder took over Chief of Staff when Hitler forced Ludwig Beck to resign, Halder started to create plans to try and overthrow Hitler. Colonel Hans Oster and Hans Bernd Gisevius were part of the coup that they were planning against Hitler, and Franz Halder asked Colonel Hans Oster to take over the design for this overthrow. Franz privately referred to Hitler as ?the incarnation of evil.? Many other German soldiers supported and participated in these plans including General Erwin von Witzleben who was the army commander of the Berlin Military Region. These were just a few examples of German officers from within the army who were against Hitler. So as for Hugo Stiglitz fighting against the Germans, he definitely was not the only one.
Hugo Stiglitz- a minor yet essential character to the film ?Inglourious Basterds.? From killing thirteen German soldiers (thirteen of his own men) to joining The Basterds (Jewish Army) to getting his revenge by shooting Major Hellstrom in the crotch, Hugo Stiglitz becomes a memorable character from the film who plays a much more significant role than the audience believes. Through his few short scenes in the film, he establishes himself as a badass.
Joachim Fest, Plotting Hitler?s Death: The German Resistance to Hitler 1933?1945, 86