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Ernst Vogel: "What is in the book, that miserable little diary of yours? We have the map, the book is useless; yet you come all the way back to Berlin to get it. Why? What are you hiding? What does the diary tell you that it doesn't tell us?"
Henry Jones: "It tells me that goosestepping morons like yourself should try reading books instead of burning them!"
―Vogel interrogates Henry Jones in 1938[src]

Standartenführer Ernst Vogel was an imposing and ruthless Nazi officer in the SS-Leibstandarte, the Führer's personal bodyguard detachment who served as the Nazi liaison to find the Holy Grail in order to grant Hitler immortality.

In 1938, Vogel teamed with American industrialist Walter Donovan and Austrian archaeologist Elsa Schneider to acquire the Grail. During the journey, he developed a rivalry with Indiana Jones and his father Henry when they first met at Castle Brunwald which continued when Jones dumped him out of a zeppelin window while he was trying to arrest them.

In the Republic of Hatay, he broke away from Donovan and Schneider as they traveled towards the Canyon of the Crescent Moon where the Grail Temple lay to face Indiana Jones in one final battle. However, the fight on board his Mark VII tank would be Vogel's undoing when the tank was carried over a cliff, taking the Colonel with it.


Search of the Grail[]

Colonel Ernst Vogel[2] was assigned to help recover the Holy Grail in 1938. He and Doctor Elsa Schneider tricked American archaeologist Indiana Jones into releasing his father's Grail diary, rumored to contain a map of the Grail's resting place. When Jones and his father escaped from captivity, it became Vogel's mission to hunt them down and kill them under order of Hitler himself, a task which he undertook with great zeal.[1]

Vogel and a Gestapo agent halted the takeoff of a zeppelin, believing that the fugitives might be trying to escape on it. Both Joneses were on board and Vogel discovered the elder one reading a newspaper upside down and smugly greeted him in German only to be asked for a ticket by a steward. After said steward stayed behind him, Vogel turned to ask him what he wanted and quickly realised that this steward was Indiana Jones in disguise. Before the startled officer could react, Indy punched him across the face and threw him out the window into a large pile of suitcases below. Upon noticing the startled passengers, Indy excused his actions by saying that the colonel did not have a ticket, prompting them to immediately start brandishing their own tickets in panic to avoid being thrown out the window themselves. As the zeppelin took off, Vogel declared that they had not seen the last of him.[1]

Leading the Nazi expedition to the Grail Temple, Vogel recaptured Jones Sr in the desert, locking him inside his tank with the captive Marcus Brody. After Indiana Jones reached the tank to rescue the prisoners, following a failed attempt by Vogel to shoot him with the tank's guns, three Nazi soldiers reinforced Vogel, but Jones managed to take out them with a single bullet. Vogel took the opportunity to strangle Indy with a chain with the help of another soldier. However, after giving his pistol to his father, Indy freed himself and managed to kill Vogel's aide. Due to the ensuing explosion of one of the Nazi trucks at his father's hand, Jones caught up on one of the side guns at the mercy of Vogel, who hit at him with a shovel and ordered the tank's driver to continue on in order to crush the archaeologist against a stone wall.[1]


Vogel plummets to his death at the bottom of the canyon.

Unfortunately for Vogel, the efforts of the elder Jones and Brody caused the death of the driver, pulling the tank away from the wall towards a nearby cliff. Indiana took this opportunity to knock out Vogel, but just when Jones' companions emerged from the tank's hatch, Vogel reappeared with the shovel, causing Jones to accidentally knock Brody off the tank and Vogel sent Jones Sr into the tank's treads, but Sallah appeared just in time to save the older Jones. Now just the two of them, Indy pinned Vogel's left arm behind his back and hammered his face into the tank's turret repeatedly before the tank carried them both over the precipice. While Jones managed to get away in time, Vogel clutched onto the back of the tank turret, screaming as he fell into the canyon, and was killed when the tank landed and rolled over him several times on the sharp rocks below.[1]

Personality and traits[]

"Put down the gun, Doctor Jones. Put down the gun, or the fraulein dies!"
―Vogel threatens to shoot Elsa[src]

A high-ranking Schutzstaffel (SS) officer, Vogel was a ruthless and brutal person, sometimes with violent tendencies.[1] Sadistic and ruthless, Vogel would had stopped at nothing for the Führer's prize.[3] However, Vogel cared more about his orders than for the older Jones' Grail Diary or the Holy Grail itself.[4]

Vogel's appearance was also striking, wearing a uniform with medals, leather gloves and boots, and an officer's cap. Vogel was also known to have showed Nazi and Aryan ideology, being a shrewd and merciless officer. He also had a short-fuse, as demonstrated when he got enraged after Henry Jones taunted him.[1]

Vogel nursed a special hatred for both Indiana Jones and his father, and sought to kill them on numerous occasions in Austria and Hatay.[1] Immediately, upon realizing the secrets hidden by the Grail Diary that his allies could have possibly imagined, Vogel turned his evil intentions to capturing and interrogating the two Joneses.[3] He carried a swagger stick to note his authority and used a Luger P08 pistol when in combat, also utilizing anything he could fight with that was close to hand, such as a shovel, in the fight that led to his death.[1]

Behind the scenes[]

Ernst Vogel was played by Michael Byrne in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Vogel's name (which means "bird" in German) is never mentioned in the dialog of the film. The forename "Ernst" was first given in the Marvel Comics adaptation.

Before Byrne was cast in the role of Vogel, Britsh actor Julian Glover originally auditioned for the part, unsuccessfully, but producer Robert Watts called him back in order to be interviewed to play Walter Donovan.[5][6]

In earlier versions of the film's script, written by Jeffrey Boam, Vogel actually makes it to the Temple of the Sun instead of Donovan, then called Chandler, who was to die aboard the tank, but once at the temple, Vogel is crushed by a rock while trying to steal the Holy Grail from its chamber. His death was later changed to that of being beheaded by the Grail Temple's traps (a death which would later go to a Hatayan soldier) before ultimately finding his fate with the tank on-screen.[7]

Comic panel revealing Vogel's first name as Ernst.

At one point during the film, Elsa Schneider addresses Vogel as "Herr Oberst". Oberst is actually a rank in the Wehrmacht, and Vogel was a member of the SS, which had its own system of ranks. Vogel would have been properly addressed as "Herr Standartenführer". This is possibly confusion on the screenwriters' part, perhaps because both the Army rank of Oberst and the SS rank of Standartenführer represent the rank of Colonel. It could also be interpreted as an error on the part of Elsa herself. Another answer to this might be the possibility that Colonel Vogel was both an SS and an Orpo man thus allowing him to have both the title of Standartenführer and Oberst.

Insignia on Vogel's uniform would indicate that he served with distinction in the Imperial German Army during the Great War and received the Iron Cross, first and second class. In the postwar period, he joined the Nazi Party. By 1932 or after, he had achieved a high rank in the SS-Leibstandarte, Adolf Hitler's own bodyguard formation and the foremost unit of the SS-Verfügungstruppe, the first SS paramilitary formations that predated the establishment of the Waffen-SS in 1940.

In the German dub of The Last Crusade Vogel is always referred to as a Obersturmbannführer (the SS equivalent of a Lieutenant Colonel).

On the cover page of the Last Crusade comic book adaptation, Vogel (who is depicted as a younger man with blond hair) and Indy are depicted as still fighting aboard the Mark VII Tank as it falls into the Canyon of the Crescent Moon. In the Read-Along Adventures' adaptation of the film, Vogel's role is reduced solely to that of his presence at Castle Brunwald before vanishing from the narrative without explanation. The zeppelin sequence and the Tank Chase are omitted from the story.

No Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade toyline was made in 1989 following Kenner's closure, but Hasbro later released a 3 3/4" action figure of Vogel for their toyline in 2008.

Vogel in LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures.

In the movie and in LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures, Vogel's desert uniform is khaki, but in the sequel, he wears the same black uniform during the convoy level as he did in Austria. However, in the Wii edition of the game, his uniform is in khaki just like the original game. The reason for the different uniforms in the level is unknown. He is also equipped with an RPG when in the movie the only weapon Vogel carries is a Luger P08. However slight, it's possible that Vogel could have survived in the second game, as he falls after the tank instead of with it.



Notes and references[]