Riddle Me This: Inglourious Basterds


Early in the film, through a Samuel L. Jackson voice-over, we get a brief history of Hugo Stiglitz, a former Nazi sergeant who murdered several of his superior officers, was arrested, only to be freed by the Basterds. We are lead to believe that Stiglitz has quite the infamous reputation in and around Germany for his psychotic, murderous rampage, his story landing on the cover of German newspapers, picture and all.

However, during the brilliant basement scene, he seems to slip by rather unnoticed. It's perfectly understandable that the lower-ranked soldiers Bridget von Hammersmark celebrates with are oblivious, but when such a high-ranking officer like Hellstrom doesn't immediately recognize Stiglitz, I have to wonder just how good he is at his job. I know it's before the age of social networking, but when Landa sees Stiglitz's dead body later, he recognizes him immediately. I've considered Hellstrom being privy to Stiglitz's identity, but kept up the ruse to fish for information from Hicox and Bridget, yet he still seems pretty damned surprised when it all hits the fan, so I'm not convinced.


How could someone as powerful as Hellstrom not recognize someone as nationally infamous as Stiglitz?


  1. Two things:

    Hellstrom is an officer. That means he worries about giving orders, keeping men in line, etc. He's not a cop. The fact that Hugo is wanted by some of the brass does not mean every officer has a copy of his photo (remember Germany controls a lot of real estate at this point).

    As for Landa, there is evidence he is hunting the Basterds so it would not be shocking that he would recognize Stiglitz' body. He's more if a cop than an officer.

    1. Since I'm not completely familiar with the inner workings of the military, especially back in the 1940s, I can't argue. Thanks for the insight, Pat!


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