The Ogre/Der Unhold (British-French-German, 1996)

Figure 1.--

A French simpleton named "Abel" becomes manservant of Field Marshall Goering during World War I at Goering's hunting estate, and, later, at a Hitler Youth school. "The Ogre" stars John Malkovitch and was directed by Volker Schlondorff. The Ogre is a joint British-French-German production), about a Frenchman during World War II. The German title is "Der Unhold". I believe the French title is something like "The Monster". The film open in a Paris suburb of 1925, at St. Christopher's School for Boys. The boys are shown as wearing brown smocks (over shirts and short pants), fastentened in back with three buttons. "The Ogre", which stars John Malkovich is an intense film. The last half or so of this film is set at a German Napola in World War II. The Napola, were NAZI party training schools. They were boarding establishments which were run like military schools.


The Ogre (Der Unhold) was released in 1996. It was Based on the novel, "The Erl King" by Michael Tournier. Th screenplay was written by Jean-Claude Carriere & Volker Schlondorff. The film was directed by Volker Schlondorff.


The film begins in France just before World War II. The first scenes are at a French boys orphanage/school and ended up at a Hitler Youth school.


The Ogre starred John Malkovich and Armin Mueller-Stahl


"The Ogre" is a grotesque fairy tale about Hitler's Germany in which a nanve mechanic comes to symbolize the seductive appeal of the NAZI regime. The film is the life story of an abused orphan, Abel. The movie opens at St. Christopher's Boys School, 1930s France, when Abel is about ten. Abel's only friend is an obese boy named Nestor, whose father is the school janitor, allowing the boys access to the entire school after-hours. Abel's relationship with Nestor is one of co-dependence; Abel follows Nestor's lead, doing anything Nestor commands, including licking Nestor's wound (received during a game of jousting) clean, reading to him while he eats in the middle of the night after stealing away to the kitchen, or wiping Nestor's behind in the lavatory. Abel takes the blame for Nestor's infractions, but Abel is oblivious, and takes the punishment, for he believes that he has "special gifts." After an infraction during Mass, when Nestor drops a cigarette lighter, Abel is banished to the upper level to receive punishment. He prays to have the school destroyed; minutes later, Nestor and his friends continue to play with the cigarette lighter, re-fueling it, and causing a fire that destroys St. Christopher. Unfortunately, Nestor dies in the conflagration.

Years later, Abel (John Malkovich) is an adult. He works at a mechanics shop and plays with the children after school lets out. He is an amateur photographer, and takes their pictures. He pays particular attention to one little girl, Martine. Abel drives the little girl home one afternoon, but forces her to read from his favorite book (a story about a wilderness adventure through Canada, that was Nestor's favorite story), but the girl "doesn't like the story," and refuses to read it, then tries to play with his camera, which he almost violently objects to. They have a verbal fight, and the girl runs home after he lets her off. She falls into trouble in an alleyway and calls for help. Abel rushes to save her, fights off an attacker and sees to the girl when the police arrive. She accuses Abel, and he is arrested for child abuse. Instead of going to prison, Abel is forced into the military just when the Nazi's invade and occupy France. His unit is captured almost immediately. He is then placed in a prisoner of war camp, where he makes friends with the guards. Occasionally, he wanders off into the wilderness, but always returns to the camp at night. Once, he discovers a cabin, and creates home-away-from home. Like the adventure story he's fond of, Abel dreams of living free in the woods as a trapper. Within his own world, this becomes reality, until he is discovered by the cabin's owner, who takes a liking to him, although the owner bans him from the cabin. Weeks later, the cabin owner, secretary to Herman Goring, arrives at the prisoner of war camp and takes Abel to a job at Goring's hunting lodge. Abel makes a home for himself there, until Goring is called to the Eastern Front, and Abel is set free. Abel asks the Secretary for a letter of recommendation to Kaltenborg Castle, which is scarce miles away. He had met Graf Kaltenborg during his stay at the hunting lodge, and it is here that Abel discovers his destiny.

For Kaltenborg Castle is an elite training school for The Hitler Youth, with an occupancy of 400 boys. Even though he is French, the letter of recommendation for Goring's secretary clears the way to become a custodian at the HJ School. Abel shares a wing with 200 HJ boys during the night, and it is his job to keep the fireplace going during the night, as well as making certain the boys behave. His affinity for children, and his beliefs that he is a magical being pay off at Kaltenborg castle, where he is most comfortable, and where the boys instantly form a kinship with him. One day while gather food and supplies for the boys, Abel comes across boys on an afternoon outing. Abel tells them tales of the wonderful Hitler Youth and of all the boys at Kaltenborg. He recruits them to the castle, and the Obergebietsfuhrer commends him, commanding him to go out and recruit every boy he comes across. Abel begins his travels across the countryside, riding a black stallion while holding onto the leashes of two muzzled Doberman pinchers. Soon, tales of an Ogre coming down from the high country to steal the children sweep over the land, but Abel is not deterred. However, the escalating war poses problems, for a contingent of HJ are sent off, and forcing the need for new recruits at the Castle.

After returning with a few boys, Abel assists the doctor with the physicals and orientation; the doctor is outraged at one boy in particular, one from weak, Slavic stock. The Obergebietsfuhrer, however, saves the boy from being summarily expelled, because of the need for soldiers as the war rushes to a close. Abel befriends the boy, becoming his guardian angel. During the swearing-in ceremonies, Abel babies the boy, going as far at pulling up his slouching socks as the Obergebietsfuhrer hands him his dagger and scabbard. Tragedy occurs, however, during weapons practice. The boy wanders behind another boy firing an anti-tank gun, the backfire consuming the child in flames. Abel stays at the boy's side in the infirmary until he dies.

Soon, Russian soldiers arrive. The Obergebietsfuhrer hasn't been seen in weeks, and the doctor escapes before the Russians lay siege to the castle. Abel tries to help the boys, tells them that they need to run away into the mountains, but the boys are fully dedicated to Hitler and the Hitler Youth. They will stand and fight and die for the Fatherland. Abel protests,. but is attacked by a group of older boys, who pummel him to the ground. The Obergebietsfuhrer returns and rallies to boys to prepare for true battle. Abel journeys through the night, trying to decide what to do, when he comes along a mass of escaping Jews, wandering around the night like phantoms of vampires. A small group of fleeing Wehrmacht kill all they can. Abel discovers a young Jewish boy among the dead, and hurries him back to the castle, where, under the cover of night, he hides him in the infirmary. Abel pledges himself to this child. He is discovered, but simultaneously, the Russians lay siege. The HJ boys fall under the invading army, and Abel flees into the bog with the Jewish boy on his shoulders, and together they survive.

Depiction's of Boy's Clothing

There were various outfits in the different settings of the film.

St. Christopher's Boys School

Basic institutional uniform: white long sleeve shirt, black shorts, knee stockings, ankle boots, black smock which button in the back, three top buttons. White nightshirts and long johns for night wear. Abel's nightshirt has pinstripes and a collar, while Nestor's is plain white.

Kaltenborg Castle

Everday scenes: Brown Shirt, Black shorts, gray knee socks, black ankle boots, black tie, belts, shoulder strap. During swearing rally, the HJ musical band wears white knee socks, while soliders continue to wear gray, but with white crew socks with tops cuffed over boot tops. Black campaign caps. Exercise sequences: black shorts, white tank top (undershirt) with diamond HJ symbol emblazoned on chest; sometimes shirtless; sometimes with knee socks and ankle boots, sometimes barefoot or black slippers/plimsols. Military (anti-tank) training sequence: main HJ uniform, with with black, waist length coat, metal Wehrmacht helmets and munitions belts. Peasant Boys. Mostly plus two knickers, variety of shirts, sweaters, overcoats, sometimes with boots and socks, sometimes barefoot (several seasons presented in film).

Historical Accuracy

There were three types of training schools for the NAZI Elite: The Adolf Hitler Schools, under the direction of the Hitler Youth, the National Political Institutes of Education, and the Order Castles -- the last two under the aegis of the party. The Adolf Hitler Schools took the cream of the crop from the Jungvolk at the age of twelve and gave them six years of extensive training for leadership in the party, and in the public services. Ten such schools had been founded by 1937, the main one being the Akademie at Brunswick.

At the top end of the system were the so-called Order Castles, the Ordensburgen. In these legendary Castles with their atmosphere of the Order of the Teutonic Knights, were trained the elite of the Nazi elite. The knightly order was based upon absolute obedience to the Master, the Ordenmeister, and devoted to the German conquest of the Slavic lands to the east. Only the most fanatical young National Socialists were chosen to attend, usually from the top ranks of the Adolf Hitler Schools and the Political Institutes. There were four Castles, and a student attended all of them successively. The first six years were spent studying the "racial sciences" and other aspects of Nazi Ideology, with an emphasis on mental training and discipline, with some physical training. Roles were reversed in the Secondary year at a Castle, where sports and athletics were at the forefront. The third Castle, where the boys spent the last year and a half, offered political and Military instruction. Finally, they are sent to fabled Marienburg in East Prussia to to complete their training in all aspects of total commitment to The Fatherland.

The Kaltenborg Castle sequences were shot in Marienburg Castle. When Abel first arrives at the Castle, the HJ boys are in formation and singing, and most of the HJ training sequences are filmed as if they were propaganda films of the Third Reich. Director Volker Schlondorff comments in an interview: "The Challenge was to stage these rallies and to film them convincingly as possible, to the point where it hurts. When we feel how powerful such seductive devices are even today, when we feel sick of it, only then is the goal achieved." The songs include: "Badenweiler Marsch", "Schwarzraun ist die Haselnuss" (Dark Brown is the Hazelnut), "Flamme Empor", and "Die Fahne Hoch" (Hort-Wessel Lied).

NAZI Secondary Schools

HBC has developed some informatin aboyt NAZI education. The NAZIs maintained the basic structure of German secondary education inherited from the Weimar Republic. There were three categories of state secondary schools which offered a total of up to 9 years of instruction. The best known was the Gymnasium which offered a classical curriculum. The other two, the Real-Gymnasium and the Oberrealschule, offered a curriculm giving greater emphasis to the sciences and utilitarian courses. The NAZIs while not changing this basic structure, added new schools that were designed to train the future leaders of the Third Reich. Two new types of secondary schools were created. The first was Nationalpolitische Erziehungsanstalt (NPEA or NAPOLA) schools. The second was the Adolf Hitler Schools. The difference between these two schools is not altogether clear and sems in part to reflect the intermable beureaucratic infighting so prevalent in the Third Reich.

Jeffrey A. Stadt


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