Whe saw Hardy Krüger in the cinema, especially in the more thoughtful roles; who would later listen to him talk about the world as he saw it on television; Anyone who read his books or only paid attention to his voice in the many radio plays he recorded could not only learn a great deal about Hardy Krüger. If he was lucky, he also learned something about himself, about his own intellectual and political origins – at least if he or she was descended from the grandfathers and great-grandfathers under whom Hardy Krüger, born in 1928 in Berlin, in Wedding, grew up. Those Germans who first put him in an elite Nazi boarding school and, when he was sixteen, drafted him into the Waffen SS. In other words, those Germans whom Hardy Krüger resisted, which in itself was always reason enough to admire and revere him.
One does not have to be a good person to be a good actor, and in the history of this art figures like Gustaf Gründgens and Heinrich George are among the more interesting. And perhaps one is only wiser in hindsight if one believes today that one can recognize the opportunism and moral indifference in their acting and their films in addition to their ability. But the fact that their opposites, namely a decent character and stable morals, can almost become an actor’s tools in the cinema is something you think you can clearly see in every scene in which Hardy Krüger plays: You don’t leave your heart in the cloakroom, before entering a film set, and the images are far too large, the camera comes far too close for a role to be able to be mastered with mimicry, pretense and well-trained emotion simulations alone.
Such blondness, such straightforwardness
And that is precisely why Hardy Krüger was a singular and at the same time contradictory figure in German post-war film. Most of these films weren’t so dull and almost sterile because directors or cameramen suddenly forgot their craft. It was the stories they dared not tell. Above all, it was due to the people who populated it. They were men, always men, who lacked depth and strength for one reason only: because they had nothing to fear like where they had been ten, fifteen years ago. And what they had done and seen there.
Hardy Krüger was a hero, he didn’t need to be afraid of such questions. He was fifteen when he was not cast for his first film but actually recruited from the Ordensburg Sonthofen, where his parents, who were convinced Nazis, had sent their son Eberhard. He looked younger, and with his blondness and straightness he seemed to fit perfectly into the youth drama Junge Adler, a film whose purpose was to make propaganda for the Hitler Youth and the merciless Nazi drill.
Herbert Reinecker wrote the script and Alfred Weidenmann directed the film – two men who embodied the opposite of Hardy Krüger. They just carried on after the war as if they had known nothing, seen nothing, heard nothing: from Alibi (the drama in which Kruger played a thrilling role) to the never-ending series Derrick.