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Oskar Schomburg was a Nazi Kriegsmarine officer and sailor who commanded the Wurrfler in 1936.

Schomburg was in command of the U-boat when she was used by German forces to intercept the pirate smuggling freighter Bantu Wind, captained by Simon Katanga, and apprehend the Ark of the Covenant.


Oskar Schomburg[2] was a Nazi Kriegsmarine captain, officer and sailor, most notably in command of the German U-boat Wurrfler in 1936. That year, Schomburg allowed Nazi Colonel Dietrich, French archaeologist René Emile Belloq, Gestapo agent Major Toht and a contingent of German soldiers and officers to use the Wurrfler to pursue American archaeologist Indiana Jones and bar owner Marion Ravenwood who were in possession of the Ark of the Covenant, recovered from the Nazi digsite at Tanis outside Cairo, Egypt.[1]

Jones and Ravenwood planned to use the Bantu Wind, a pirate smuggling freighter captained by Simon Katanga, to transport the Ark from Egypt to England. However, the Wurrfler quickly intercepted the pirates. Schomburg remained inside his submarine as Dietrich and his men completed their task alone. Soon, the Nazi party returned to the U-boat with the Ark and a captive Ravenwood, with Jones allegedly having been murdered by Katanga. Oskar left the task of sailing across the Aegean Sea to his officers, little realizing that Jones had attached himself to the U-boat's periscope using his bullwhip and was travelling with them.[1]

When the U-boat arrived at the secret Nazi island base of Geheimhaven, Schomburg stood in the vessel's conning tower with one of his men as Belloq, Dietrich, Toht and the other Nazis disembarked, preparing to accompany the Ark for its opening ceremony at the Tabernacle. Schomburg and his crew did not attend the opening of the Ark.[1]

Behind the scenes[]

The uncredited role of the submarine captain, named in Lawrence Kasdan's script as "The Wurrfler Captain", was portrayed by the late Michael Sheard in Raiders of the Lost Ark.[1] Sheard had originally auditioned, unsuccessfully, for the role of Major Toht, but lost out to his friend Ronald Lacey, though felt in retrospective that the filmmakers did the right thing in casting Lacey as the devious Gestapo agent.[3] Sheard later played Adolf Hitler in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.[4]

The captain has additional scenes in the film's script but, according to Sheard, these scenes were never shot and his character only appears on-screen standing in the conning tower of the submarine.[3] This happened due to a change in weather which resulted in the film's crew moving onto Tunisia while Sheard traveled to Scotland to fulfill a commitment that he already had with another production.[5] By his own admission, Sheard didn't even remember the name of his Raiders character when interviewed about his role in 2003.[3] To compensate his brief appearance in Raiders, director Steven Spielberg promised Sheard to find a part for him in the future, which resulted in his casting as Hitler in Last Crusade.[6]

The Raiders of the Lost Ark Sourcebook later identified the Wurrfler captain as Oskar Schomburg,[2] though the historical Schomburg commanded U-26 in 1938 and 1939. U-26 was captained by Werner Hartmann in 1936.[7]



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