The Captain follows a German army deserter who discovers an abandoned Nazi Officer’s uniform. What he does next feels like a mix between Shoah and an 80s’ comedy. But, one of those comedies where the Holocaust is a constant backdrop instead of someone playing Walkin’ On Sunshine. But, this film is about Willi Herold. Herold is better known as the Executioner of Emsland. Emsland is where Willi put his newfound uniform to use by executing captured deserters and other prisoners.
Are you seeing the irony? This all very much happened, because a coward refused to admit to a lie. So, he spent the next 12 weeks executing prisoner after prisoner to keep the prison camp running at full speed. No one bothered to check his credentials or question any of his orders. Eventually, they had to abandon the camp and make their way back to Berlin. Along the way, they executed civilians and some Dutch prisoners for disagreeing with them.
Eventually, Willi was picked up by the authorities. It was in that time, Berlin fell and Willi slipped out unnoticed. It would be months before the Executioner and faux Captain was arrested for stealing bread. A local prisoner ID’d him as the Executioner, so the occupying British army ordered him back to the prison camp to dig up the bodies of the men he killed. The British Army put him to death by the guillotine.
What the film manages to do amazingly is show how complete incompetence turns around with the slightest bit of authority. The real Willi was a terrible paratrooper who got bounced around a lot during the early days of the War. There is a degree of black comedy at play, but knowing the facts makes watching an idiot fall upward so soul crushing.