Burgdorf as portrayed by Justus von Dohnányi
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Wilhelm Emanuel Burgdorf was a German Army officer who served through both world wars until his death in 1945. He joined the Reichsheer in 1914 as an officer cadet and was commissioned as an infantry officer in 1915. He continued service during the interbellum under the Reichswehr; in 1935 he served as a training instructor at the military academy in Dresden and was appointed adjutant to the staff of IX corps in 1937. Burgdorf served as the commander of the 529th Infantry Regiment from May 1940 to April 1942; in May he joined the upper echelons of the Army Personnel Office and in 1944 was appointed chief of the agency and Chief Adjutant to Adolf Hitler.
One of Burgdorf's first assignments as adjutant concerned the death of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, who had been implicated in the 20 July plot but whom Hitler determined could not stand trial in a People's Court without provoking a national scandal. On 14 October 1944, Burgdorf and General Ernst Maisel arrived at the Rommel household under instructions from Wilhelm Keitel to deliver a choice: take poison, receive a state funeral, and obtain immunity for his family and staff, or face a trial for treason. Rommel drove away with Burgdorf and Maisel. Rommel's family received a telephone call 10 minutes later informing them that Rommel had committed suicide.
Burgdorf joined Hitler in the Führerbunker when the Soviets assaulted Berlin. On 28 April, after Hitler learned Heinrich Himmler was negotiating a backdoor peace, Burgdorf became part of a military tribunal including SS-General Wilhelm Mohnke, SS-General Johann Rattenhuber and General Hans Krebs to court-marshal Himmler's liaison Hermann Fegelein. Fegelein was deemed too drunk to stand trial, and Mohnke turned him over to Rattenhuber. The following day Burgdorf, along with Krebs, Joseph Goebbels and Martin Bormann witnessed and signed Hitler's last will and testament. On 2 May, Burgdorf and Krebs committed suicide by gunshot to the head; their bodies were recovered by the Soviets.
In the Downfall universeEdit
Burgdorf is portrayed by Justus von Dohnányi, a veteran actor whose comedic character in the Männerherzen films became the foundation for a series of meta-parodies. Ironically, von Dohnányi's grandfather Hans von Dohnányi was a jurist and resistance fighter, and his great-uncle Dietrich Bonhoeffer was one of the founding members of the Confessing Church; both men were executed by the Nazi regime.
In Downfall, Burgdorf is frequently seen drinking, and thus in the parodies he is commonly portrayed as an alcoholic. He is shrill and short-tempered, particularly with Fegelein; like Krebs he oscillates between supporting and conspiring against Hitler but is more often a loyal, even fanatic devotee. Krebs and Burgdorf frequently appear together, and are occasionally depicted as a (b)romantic couple. His forum handle is Burger Boy.