Real Name: Hans Klauber
Identity/Class: Human (German, World War II)
Occupation: Nazi general
Group Membership: Nazi Germany
Affiliations: Adolf Hitler
Enemies: Dr. Ludwig Fritsch
Known Relatives: None
Aliases: Johan Heintz
Base of Operations: Berlin, Germany
First Appearance: Strange Tales I#10/4 (September, 1952)
Powers/Abilities: None, Klauber was a military official whose face was surgically altered.
History: (Strange Tales I#10/4 (fb) - BTS) - The past of Hans Klauber is unknown, but he eventually became a general in Hitler's army. At some point, Klauber ordered thousands put to their deaths in an eastern concentration camp.
(Strange Tales I#10/4) - In 1945, as the Allied forces began an all-out assault on Berlin to bring about the downfall of the Third Reich, Klauber was with Hitler in his bunker when the demented demagogue blew his brains out with a luger pistol. Morbid fascination forced Klauber to watch as the soldiers carried Hitler's body to the courtyard above, drenched it with kerosene, and set it afire (see comments). Klauber realized the end was near -- it seemed as if Gotterdammerung had arrived.
With American troops at Berlin's gates in the west, and the Russians in the east, Klauber didn't know which way to turn; he found himself running through the streets in a blind frenzy, fearful to face Russian revenge for his war crimes. But suddenly a sign in a window caught his eye... a sign indicating the home of famous plastic surgeon Dr. Ludwig Fritsch. As two German soldiers went by just at the right moment, the Nazi official saw a way out at last. General Klauber ordered the soldiers to follow him into the doctor's home. Klauber tried to buy Fritsch's cooperation, but when the doctor refused, Klauber ordered his soldiers to take Fritsch's wife and children from the room, then told the doctor that he would order them executed unless Fritsch altered Klauber's face completely -- seeing he could not refuse, Fritsch relented.
Dr. Fritsch had no operating room in his home, but in this emergency, he was able to set up a makeshift area in the cellar to perform the surgery. As the operation proceeded, the patient sank into a deep slumber, comforted by the knowledge that when it was all over, the face of Hans Klauber would have vanished forever, and he would be safe.
Two days later, Klauber--his entire head hidden in a wrapping of bandages--was ready to leave. With the cannonading growing louder, Klauber knew the enemy must be entering Berlin, and he had to find a place to stay until his scars healed. As he was preparing to leave Dr. Fritsch's home, Klauber asked Fritsch if he was sure the Russians wouldn't recognize him, and Fritsch assured him that his own mother wouldn't recognize him. Klauber then pulled out his gun and shot Dr. Fritsch, since he was the only one who could identify him as Klauber (although he did regret having to deprive the world of the doctor's great talent).
To salve what conscience he had, Klauber ordered his victim's family set free, and he dismissed the soldiers before seeking refuge in an attic room of the small deserted Staats Hotel, in a poorer section of the city. Finding some porter's clothes in a closet, Klauber now had everything he needed to give himself a new identity--he would be Johan Heintz, a poor innocent hotel porter! After changing clothes, Klauber went to the hotel's furnace and threw his uniform in, destroying every last shred that might point to his true identity. Living on what stale food he could find in the hotel's kitchen, the man with the bandaged head awaited the enemy with a confidence that grew each day.
But one morning, Klauber was startled out of his sleep by the sound of marching feet and rumbling wheels. Looking out the window, he saw Russian soldiers in the streets and shuddered in terror. All through the day, Klauber stayed in the attic, trembling at the sounds of Russian firing squads taking vengeance on trapped Nazi officials and officers, and he blessed the clever disguise which would save him from a similar fate.
Finally, he heard the approaching footsteps of soldiers headed up the stairs to his attic hideout. Swiftly removing the bandages from his head and face, Klauber again thought of his new identity--He was Johan Heintz, a poor stupid porter...surely they would not harm a simple workman!--he even thought to throw the bandages out the window, lest they betray a hint of plastic surgery.
As the soldiers kicked the door in, Klauber was ready to reveal himself to the enemy with his new face...
Unfortunately, a quick glance in the mirror told the horrified Klauber that his new face was not quite as unrecognizable as he had hoped it would be...
Comments: Created by an unknown writer and Ed Winiarski.
Hans Klauber's final fate is unknown... However, considering the time and circumstances this story is set in, I wouldn't be too optimistic about the life expectancy of anyone who had more than a passing resemblance to "Schickelgruber".
In regards to Hitler's suicide: Although it was shown that Hitler was set afire by the original Human Torch (@ Young Men#24/Saga of the Original Human Torch#3), he did ask a loyal follower to tell the world he had committed suicide; perhaps this "suicide" was staged shortly after Hitler's immolation by the Torch, using a duplicate body created by geneticist Arnim Zola, so that the egotistical Führer could have the "death" he wanted.
Or maybe this story occurred in an alternate reality without the interference of the Human Torch.
And since Hitler was really alive (see Hate-Monger), perhaps that's actually Klauber who appears in those "Hitler in Hell" stories (Uncanny Tales#17, Adventures Into Weird Worlds#21, etc.).
Here's another real world parallel: When the Allies finally did invade Berlin, there really was a photograph of a body with Hitler's face used to identify him as dead, but it was discredited once the news was released Hitler was cremated after death. I think it was proposed that that the ever paranoid Hitler used doubles (he was scared to death of assassination attempts and never stayed anywhere for very long).
And a BIG Thank You to Atlas Tales for getting me the scans of this story!
Profile by John Kaminski
General Hans Klauber has no known connections to:
Strange Tales I#10/4, p1, pan2 (main)
Strange Tales I#10 (September, 1952) - Ed Winiarski (artist), Stan Lee (editor)
Last updated: 10/28/06
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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