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"Captain Blazkowicz. I've heard a lot about you. We have the same name, you and I. Wilhelm, William. But...You call me "Deathshead". I don't like it. I'm a happy man, you see? It doesn't sound right in English. Say it...correctly. Toten...kopf."
―Deathshead in Blazkowicz's flashback.[src]

Oberstgruppenführer Wilhelm "Deathshead" (Totenkopf) Strasse was a leading member of the German Armed Forces, a gifted researcher and doctor who heads the SS Special Projects Division. He is the arch-nemesis of the series' protagonist William J. Blazkowicz and the main antagonist of the Wolfenstein series (RtCW - New Order).

Return to Castle WolfensteinEdit

Oberführer Wilhelm "Deathshead" Strasse was the man behind the creations of both the Lopers and the Übersoldaten; towering cyborg soldiers that were heavily armed and armored. Unlike the other SS antagonists, Deathshead is not keenly interested in the occult and would prefer to arm the Nazi war machine using advanced technology, but has been ordered to provide his creations to Operation Resurrection by Heinrich Himmler himself. He is first encountered in the Secret Weapon Facility.

Himmler has also asked him to join the resurrection ceremony but Deathshead declined due to his lack of care in the occult. Deathshead continuously taunts Blazkowicz during his duel in the lab with an Übersoldat, while commenting on the perceived superiority of his creation. After the protagonist wins the fight, Deathshead narrowly escapes in a rocket plane and goes into hiding, and not to be seen again for the rest of the story.

WolfensteinEdit

Wilhelm Strasse was promoted to Oberstgruppenführer (as seen on his collar). He is revealed to be the main antagonist of the game. Many believed he had been summoned from Berlin to replace the deceased Oberstgruppenführer Viktor Zetta, as it was apparent that Deathshead had immediately resumed the latter's research into Veil technology in order to create new weaponry.

  • Based on some of the letters from Central Command, however, it can be surmised that Zetta was actually Deathshead's subordinate, and that Strasse himself had been in charge of the operation for a long time, as the real mastermind behind the projects.

Employing the formidable Hans Grosse as his bodyguard, Deathshead orchestrated the capture of Kreisau Circle leader Caroline Becker and held her hostage at his castle base. While constructing a Veil Portal, Deathshead had the opportunity to exact revenge on Blazkowicz as he arrived to save Caroline. Unfortunately, he missed out on it as Caroline's interference destroyed his portal, forcing him and Hans to flee the area while Blazkowicz is busy dealing with the Queen Geist.

Having done enough work on Veil technology, Deathshead constructed a Veil weapon on his large zeppelin and planned to test it on Isenstadt before unleashing it on the Allied Powers. With Hans behind him, Deathshead entered the Black Sun Dimension where the weapon was installed and is greeted by Blazkowicz. Already expecting the American to follow him, Deathshead revealed to Blazkowicz an armored and Veil-empowered Hans and returned to the zeppelin to oversee the weapons test, ordering Hans to kill Blazkowicz. To his shock, not only did he see an alive Blazkowicz emerge from the portal, Deathshead noticed that his enemy had also destroyed the Veil weapon and severely damaged the zeppelin causing it to crash into the castle base in a fiery wreck. While Blazkowicz hoped his archenemy had perished, he had a feeling that the mad doctor survived.

Unbeknownst to him, a battered and bruised Deathshead emerged from the zeppelin wreckage and screamed in anger at his failure in the final cutscene.

The New OrderEdit

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Wilhelm Strasse in Wolfenstein: The New Order

Strasse returns in Wolfenstein: The New Order. He is the main antagonist in the game and through the introduction of several inexplicably advanced technology, was responsible for turning the tide of World War II in the Nazis' favor. Strasse is shown to have been badly scarred since his last appearance, likely due to the wounds he sustained from the zeppelin crash.[1]

1946Edit

Even after their seemingly crippling defeat at Isenstadt and the loss of their access to the Black Sun Dimension, Hitler's war machine suddenly gained a tremendous footing in the European Theaters by way of extremely advanced technologies, believed to be the handiwork of Strasse himself. Through the intel gained from Helga von Schabbs' documents, the Allied forces and OSA Command have managed to pinpoint the location of and ordered a siege on Deathshead's Baltic compound. Agent Blazkowicz is sent in as a commanding officer, to be in charge of a strike team which, through Deathshead's many machinations, suffers many casualties as they fought their way into the castle. After an accidental fall into an incinerator, Blazkowicz's squad is captured by Deathshead and his Super Soldiers, where he is forced to choose one of his teammates, either Private Probst Wyatt III or Fergus Reid, to sacrifice to the mad doctor's cruel experiments. Deathshead then takes the one chosen by Blazkowicz and vivisects him on the spot before leaving the others to die an agonizing death.

1960Edit

By 1960, Deathshead has become a revered figure within the Reich, and continues to create more advanced weapons and machines. All the while improving some of his much older projects, such as the Super Soldiers and Panzerhunds. At this point, he is one of the most powerful and influential figures in the Nazi regime. Since unlike Hitler, he still maintains both his physical and mental health through the usage of personally developed biotechnology. While Hitler, on the other hand, has transformed into a paranoid elderly man, suffering greatly from bodily and psychological aging.

Download-0

Deathshead commits suicide with a grenade to kill BJ once and for all.

After the fall of the London Monitor, his forces manage to storm the Kreisau Circle's headquarters, capturing some of their members. Prompting Blazkowicz and the remaining members of the resistance to utilize their captured U-boat and Da'at Yichud technologies to mount a rescue and storm the Baltic fort. At the top of the fort, Deathshead greets his long time nemesis with a disturbing revelation: he had been preserving the brain of the teammate Blazkowicz had him kill years ago. Maintaining his brain in a special device that, when fitted into a Prototype Robot, will grant him a very powerful and intelligent soldier. The robotic menace is unleashed on Blazkowicz, but eventually falls. Irritated, Deathshead hops into an enormous mech and combats B. J. himself. After an intense battle, Blazkowicz manages to defeat Deathshead and stabs him several times before the mad doctor pulls out a hidden grenade and blows himself up. The blast killed Deathshead, but badly mauled Blazkowicz.

LegacyEdit

Because of his death, the German army begins to lose its advantage in advanced technology and weaponry since Deathshead cannot produce them for the Nazis and the fact that his death cripples the entire Research Division of the Nazi.

However, despite his death, the Nazis still have a firm grasp on the world and the Germans already have dozens of scientists who are gifted enough to replace him. Furthermore, his death also makes BJ become the number one person wanted by the Nazi party.

During an Ubercommander assassination in The New Colossus, a soldier states that a new generation of elite super soldiers (i.e. the super soldier body BJ's head was attached to) were prevented from being developed due to The Kreisau Circle's attack; this means that while the assassination of Deathshead was described as a short lived victory, the scale of the projects prevented means that the assassination was beneficial in preventing the development of superweapons that could have been unbeatable for the Allied Resistance. However, it is debatable since the Nazi still has large arsenal of nuclear weapons and the sun beam satellite to compensate for that.

Personality & TraitsEdit

Deathshead, despite being a revolutionary Genius in the fields of AI, biology and leadership, is known to be a ruthless, unethical and sadistic man with no sense of morality, which is reflected in the way he conducts his many experiments (and often times the end results as well). He claims that compassion is nothing more than pointless human instinct and should be ignored. He thoroughly enjoys experimenting with the human body, and doesn't care what happens to the subject, as long as they yield favorable results, though occasionally he would strive to preserve the parts he considered "vital" or "exquisite" such as the brain and eyes.

He also enjoys seeing his enemies suffering great losses, as well as writhing in pain from being tortured. Deathshead is as brilliant as he is wicked, with most of the technological advancements displayed by the Hitler regime in the series being attributable to him. Despite his prior defeats, Deathshead is known to never tolerate failure, especially from his own men.

Above all else, Deathshead is a hypocrite; while completely amoral and unwilling to care for the lives of his men and test subjects, he will still accuse him of trying to reduce the order that Deathshead has built to anarchy. He will also hypocritically berate and belittle Blazkowicz for any collateral damage he causes; most vividly seen in the battle between the two in which Blazkowicz destroys the two zeppelins providing Deathshead's shield.

Throughout his life, Deathshead has proven to be a very dedicated Nazi and researcher for the Third Reich. Though earlier evidences have suggested otherwise, Strasse is deeply loyal to the cause and Adolf Hitler, as evident in his many quotes and tributes found throughout The New Order. Like most Nazis, he believes in the superiority of the Aryan master race.

Even at the age of 100, Deathshead's thirst for bloodshed and suffering has not changed however he seems more jovial when torturing his subjects and it seems his sadistic nature and brutalty has only worsened. Even in the face of death he is fearless and does not care if he lives or dies, only his legacy and the continuation of Hitler's New Order matters to him. Despite his sadistic and amoral nature, Deathshead has also proven to be somewhat cowardice when it comes to his troops or experiments failing him and has known to run from the opposing force before they can either capture or kill him. Like other Nazis, he has shown that he's not always a patient man when it comes to progress. Despite his seemly cowardice, in the last moment of his life, he musters enough courage to commit suicide to kill BJ with a grenade. He is shown to have strong will and will achieve anything, no matter how horrifying to complete his life's mission.

However, in the span of the games there was a change in his mannerisms. In RtCW, he seems to be well sophisticated and calculative, he was amoral when it comes to his work, but not exactly sadistic. For example, in the X-Labs cut scene, despite being informed of B.J. infiltrating the facility, he seemed to have a well placed plan in case an intruder would get in, even a form of escape which was a Bachem Ba317 "Kobra" Rocket Plane. In Wolfenstein 2009, he seemed more maniacal and and overconfident that his work will ultimately prevail and even getting "revenge" on B.J. At the epilogue after the credits, he digs himself out from the rubble of the Zeppelin and screams into the air, by this point, it's most likely that Strasse has lost all traces of sanity that he had left and would set up his more psychotic and 'damaged' mind-set. The state of his face in The New Order may also be from the result of the blimp crash as well. It could be seen as when the games progressed, so did his loss of sanity and social stability. In Wolfenstein: The New Order, his mannerisms are almost completely opposite from what his original ones in RtCW. Even his interactions with B.J. are different, most likely because at this point, he is beyond his once sophisticated self and in place is a sadistic mad scientist who wishes vengeance upon the O.S.A. agent.

Through their many encounters, it is apparent that Deathshead holds a lot of respect and fascination for his nemesis, especially for Blazkowicz's resolve and tenacity, though being a Nazi, he is not at all pleased when the American agent transgresses on his researches and operations. At his core, he is also arrogant and tends to underestimate his enemies, which in most cases has resulted in his downfall and B. J. getting the upper hand. However, it should be noted that Deathshead is the only Nazi takes BJ seriously while most of the Nazi underestimates him.  

Despite his division's collaborations with the SS Paranormal Division, Deathshead is a non-believer of the occult and the supernatural, asserting himself as a man of science.

It is implied that when he was a boy he was shy and alone, yet very smart and creative. He wanted to create a robot to accompany and comfort him when frightened. This may have resulted in his future genius in the fields of Robotics AI Surgery Military and a high IQ. His past childhood loneliness and ambition seems to mirror Hitler's.

Military RanksEdit

Throughout his career as a Nazi, Deathshead has been known by many ranks and has achieved various promotions.

  • Oberführer (RtCW)
  • Oberstgruppenführer (Wolfenstein 2009, Wolfenstein: The New Order)
  • Third Reich's Minister of Advanced Research (Wolfenstein: The New Order)

QuotesEdit

TriviaEdit

  • Deathshead along with Irene Engel are currently the only recurring antagonists of the series.
  • His name was most likely derived from Wilhelmstrasse, also written as "Wilhelmstraße", a major thoroughfare in the central Mitte and Kreuzberg districts of Berlin.
  • It also seems that his name is a reference to the Strassers. One of them Gregor Strassers was murdered during the Night of the Long Knives. The other Otto Strasser made his own Fascist Party that withdrew and split away from the Nazi party.
  • The name "Deathshead" originated from the officer cap insignia of the SS. Shaped in the image of a skull and crossbones, the symbol was dubbed "Totenkopf", meaning "skull" or "death's head" in German.
    • Strasse himself prefers the German version over his Allied codename, due to it "not sounding right" in English.
  • Strasse has some similarities with the Marvel Comics and Captain America villain Red Skull. Both are high ranking Nazi officers, have a skull themed name/alias, develop advanced weapons, and (to vastly different degrees) have a skull like appearance.
  • Deathshead has had an interesting career in the Wolfenstein games over the years. In his first outing, Deathshead was an SS Oberführer while in the Wolfenstein 2009 he was promoted to a Obergruppenführer (General), albeit with the wrong collar tab insignia (his was that of an Obersturmführer). By the time of The New Order, Herr Deathshead has apparently been transferred from the SS to the Wehrmacht, as his uniform is that of a high ranking army staff officer. It is unknown why this is the case, as screenshots and trailers for the game show other characters (Frau Engel) with SS uniforms.
    • It can also be noted that while the soldiers at the start of the game are listed to be Wehrmacht, they all use the SS collar rune. This, combined with the uniforms worn by Deathshead and Frau Engel imply that the Wehrmacht has been absorbed into, or taken over by the SS.
  • In the French version of Return to Castle Wolfenstein and The New Order, Deathshead is known as 'Le Boucher' (The Butcher) although his real name, Wilhelm, remains the same.
  • Deathshead is almost always seen wearing his signature monocle, though it only has a brief appearance in The New Order, being featured only on some of his paintings and during the short period of time where he is about to vivisect Private Wyatt/Fergus Reid.
  • By the time of Wolfenstein: The New Order, Deathshead is the oldest living character in the series, at 100 years old.

Return to Castle WolfensteinEdit

  • According to the Return to Castle Wolfenstein manual, he is based on Doctor Schabbs. He has much in common with him: both are doctors who are very scientifically educated and both have developed ultimate creations; Strasse's technological brainchild is the Übersoldat and Schabbs' biological masterpiece is the Übermutant.

WolfensteinEdit

  • In Wolfenstein, Strasse's name is alternately spelled "Strauss". This is a mistake in the 2009 game; Strauss and Strasse are very different names with different meanings.
  • The insignia on his collar in Wolfenstein lists him incorrectly as an Obergruppenführer(Lieutenant General) instead of an Oberstgruppenführer (General).
  • In the last mission of Wolfenstein, it's possible to chase and shoot him, though he cannot be killed.
  • During the mission Castle, Strasse has a painting of himself in the dining hall, rather than one of Hitler. This might indicate that he views himself higher than the Führer. He has a similar painting at his compound in The New order.

The New OrderEdit

  • Deathshead wears a mechanic's overall over his uniform, implying that he spends more time creating war machines and weapons than leading troops.
  • According to the Wolfenstein: The New Order website, Deathshead is 100 years old in 1960. As he does not seem to have aged at all since Blazkowicz last encountered him in 1946, it is likely that he had invented a method of slowing or stopping his aging process entirely.
    • This would mean Strasse was 83 years old during Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Wolfenstein, and 86 during Wolfenstein: The New Order's prologue.
  • During his final battle, Deathshead yells "Die, allied schweinehund!" at Blazkowicz. This is a throwback to Mecha Hitler in Wolfenstein 3D, who used the same quote and fought Blazkowicz in a quad-chaingunned power armor.
  • Deathshead appears to have become a leading Nazi figure since their victory in the war due to the fact he is personally involved in many major projects (Both civilian and military) such as the London Nautica and the Lunar Base.
  • Deathshead is featured in all of The New Order's loading screens.
  • During Chapter 13, "Lunar Base", as the player exits the space shuttle into the arrivals lobby, an audio speech by Deathshead can be heard where he says that he is the Minister of Advanced Research.
  • According to his dialogue, he preferred to dissect Wyatt over Fergus, but will go with the latter with an equal level of glee if chosen by Blazkowicz. 
  • His calm demeanour, sadism, obsession with vivisecting and blue eyes as well as gouging them out might be a reference to the infamous SS researcher Josef Mengele.
  • He seems slightly​ similar to The Major from Hellsing. Both men being Nazis but having their own agendas, both having a strong will, both being extremely intelligent, ruthless, calm and seeing everyone under their authority as pawns. They both also seem to be feared by other Nazis as well as working on paranormal projects and intent on creating an army of super soldiers.
  • He is also slightly similar to Rotwang the inventer the Main Antagonist of the 1927 film Metropolis. He like Rotwang is a mad evil German Scientist who believes that the Machine men are the future as well as making his creations perform evil tasks. Him calling his prototype robot (Fergus/Wyatt) "Machine Man" may be a possible reference or nod to this. He also claims earlier on that he would unleash his Machine Men.
  • Despite his official height being stated as being 6 feet (about 180 cm), in-game, Strasse has a much shorter stature, being a whole head shorter than Blazkowicz.
  • In Deathshead's image his Eyes are blue but in game they are darker, closer to green.
  • Curiously, the grenade used by Deathshead to destroy both himself and Blazkowicz is pineapple-shaped, rather than the bottle-shaped "potato-masher" ones seen throughout the game.
  • In Deathshead's image his collar insignia is the rank of a Untersturmführer (Second Lieutenant) even though his confirmed rank is a Oberstgruppenführer (General).
  • In the epilogue scene of the previous part: Wolfenstein (2009), one can clearly see that he survived the airship crash physically undamaged. Therefore, it is unknown where his many scars and the missing part of his ear come from. It could well be that an experiment led to it, or Deathshead even became a witness to the Global Nuclear War, by which the Nazis conquered the world and was too close to an atomic explosion, which could explain the burns. But the more likely it is that the developers simply changed his appearance without a major reason because such an appearance fits better to a villain, and more reminding of a real skull than Deathshead's look in Wolfenstein.

Doom II GBAEdit

  • Paintings of Wilhelm Strasse appear in the WWII themed levels of Doom II for the GBA.

GalleryEdit

Return to Castle WolfensteinEdit

WolfensteinEdit

Wolfenstein: The New OrderEdit

Doom II GBAEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Europe, 1946. World War II rages across Europe. Where once the Allies pressed advantage, the Nazi forces have turned the tide in dramatic fashion behind the technologically advanced war machine of General Wilhelm Strasse -- Deathshead. When a final Allied assault on Deathshead's compound fails, the Allies’ greatest hope falls with it.
    General Wilhelm "Deathshead" Strasse, a gifted and devoted researcher, is head of the SS Special Projects Division. Utterly devoid of any moral scruples, the General's experiments in new technology gave the Nazi war machine the edge it needed to win the war and force the world into submission. During the war, Deathshead almost perished in a zepplin crash. This near death experience gave him a fresh outlook on life and he loves every minute of it.


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