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Ernst-Günther Schenck

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Ernst-Günther Schenck
Schenk2
Schenck enquires about the burning.

Born

3 October 1904

Died

21 December 1998 (aged 94)

Nicknames

Herr Professor
Little Jodl
Bald man

Portrayed by

Christian Berkel

Notable for

Being one of the few good Nazis in Berlin, his bald pate

“This is madness!”
Clausewitz, not Sparta.

Prof. Dr. Ernst-Günther Schenck [IPA: ɛɐnst gyːntɐʃnɛk] (3 October 1904 – 21 December 1998) was a German Standartenführer (Colonel) and doctor who joined the SS in 1933. Because of a chance encounter with Adolf Hitler during the closing days of World War II, his memoirs proved historically valuable, and they were included in the 2004 film Downfall.

Background

Schenck was born in Marburg. He trained as a doctor and joined the SS. During the war, Schenck was actively involved in the creation of a large herbal plantation in Dachau concentration camp, which contained over 200,000 medicinal plants, from which, among other things, vitamin supplements for the Waffen-SS were manufactured.

In 1940 he was appointed as inspector of nutrition for the SS. In 1943 Schenck developed a protein sausage, which was meant for the SS front line troops. Prior to adoption, it was tested on 370 prisoners in Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp, some of whom died of hunger edema. In his own memoirs, Schenck stated that his only concern was just to improve nutrition and fight hunger. However, a report in 1963 condemned Schenck for "treating humans like objects, guinea pigs". In the Federal Republic of Germany, Schenck was not allowed to continue his medical career.

In April 1945, towards the end of the war, Schenck volunteered to work in an emergency casualty station located in the large cellar of the Reich Chancellery, near the Vorbunker and Führerbunker. Although he was not trained as a surgeon and lacked the experience, as well as the supplies and instruments necessary to operate on battle victims, he nonetheless assisted approximately 100 major surgeries. During these surgeries, Schenck was aided by Dr. Werner Haase, who also served as one of Hitler's private physicians. Although Haase had much more surgical experience than Schenck, he was weakened by tuberculosis, and often had to lie down while trying in vain to give verbal advice to Schenck.

During the end time in Berlin, Schenck saw Hitler in person twice, for only a brief time: once when Hitler wanted to thank him for his emergency medical services, and once during the "reception" after Hitler's marriage to Eva Braun. Schenck was captured by the Soviet Army during the Berlin "break-out" of 1 May 1945. He was released from Russian captivity in 1953 and returned home to West Germany.

Prior to writing his memoirs, Schenck was interviewed in depth by James P. O'Donnell for his book, The Bunker, who recorded his memories of Hitler's last days. Schenck died on 21 December 1998 in Aachen.

In Downfall

Schenck was first introduced in the Schenck and the burning of documents scene, just after Clausewitz took effect. He obtained permission from Tellermann to stay in Berlin; as a physician he serves the Wehrmacht which was still firmly defending Berlin as the Schutzstaffel pulled out and headed north.

He later received an order from Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke, who was in charge of the government district's defence, to bring first-aid supplies down to the Reich Chancellery bunker, where a makeshift military hospital is set up. He ventured into an abandoned military hospital in search for first-aid supplies, but not before encountering sick elderly women left to dead as the military hospital staff evacuated the building.

Night falls, and as he and his adjutant were delivering the supplies loaded on a truck, they were stopped by fleeing Volkssturm members - two elderly men being pursued by a Greifkommando squad tasked to shoot deserters - and later involved in a Mexican standoff with the squad leader.

Arriving in the Chancellery's bunker, he witnessed the commotion of the place, which is full of injured soldiers and needy civilians. He met Werner Haase there and helped with emergency operations involving mainly amputations.

On 30 April, Schenck, along with Haase and nurse Erna Flegel, were summoned to the Führerbunker to see Hitler. As Haase tested the cyanide pills on Blondi, Schenck consoled Erna, who burst into tears after meeting Hitler and joined a drinking party round a table.

After the death of the Hitlers and the Goebbels, Schenck bid farewell to Haase, who stayed behind, and joined Mohnke's breakthrough group. Once in a safe house, Schenck tried to talk Hewel - who stumbled into the group on their way - and Stehr out of suicide, but ultimately failed.

In the parodies

Despite being one of the main characters of the original Downfall movie, Schenck actually appears in the parodies very rarely. This makes Schenck unfortunately one of the most unappreciated Downfall characters by the Untergangers as few people use him for parody making - probably because of his good nature. Bald as Jodl, but having more charisma and supposedly being more handsome than him, Schenck doesn't like to waste time on bothering Hitler like Jodl. He does only what he is good at, like: lecturing officers for burning papers instead of recycling them (10:50; all the moments are from "Extended" Downfall version), messing around in the Nazis' headquarters, watching Franz Schädle eat a Walther PPK without flinching, and showing his good example to the other evil Nazis (he'd probably be on the Good Nazis' List).

In a few parodies, he is an addict and he's risking his own life to get some drugs from the hospital being captured by Soviets (35:10). He claims that he's just a doctor, to be exact an "internist", but he's also called "Herr Professor" too (11:25). Therefore his education remains a mystery. He meets Der Führer right before his suicide, but his leader prefers to say goodbye to the dark-haired nurse. (1:53:30) .

His Mirror Parody Universe is Kcnehcs Rehtnüg-Tsnre, who unlike his Downfall counterpart is not a good Nazi, quite the contrary, he's among the most evil persons in the film. He is also Rellüm Xam's adjutant.

Trivia

  • Although he is depicted as complete bald in Downfall, in real life, Schenck was only partially bald.
  • Even though he was a Standartenführer, he wore an Obersturmbannführer uniform throughout the film.
  • Since KakashiBallZ is now a real-life Chemistry professor, some Untergangers jokingly called him "Herr Professor", a reference to Schenck who has the same nickname in the film.

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