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He is a Nazi Colonel who assisted Walter Donovan in discovering the Holy Grail for Adolf Hitler. He was a sadistic colonel who enjoyed tormenting Indiana Jones and his father and made it a priority to kill them both. He engages in battle with Jones aboard a tank heading towards a cliff where he fell to his death.
Col. Vogel first appears in the film when he holds Elsa Schneider at gunpoint, threatening to kill her unless Indiana surrenders. Henry called his bluff, knowing that Elsa was a Nazi but Indiana fell for it, learned the hard way and got them captured. Vogel wanted to personally kill them but was denied. After receiving orders from Hitler to kill the Jones duo, he anticipated to kill them but they had already escaped. After sneaking onto a zeppelin departing from Germany, Vogel boards it to find them. He finds Henry but Indy walks up behind him and throws him out the window claiming that he had "no ticket".
After receiving provisions and an Ottoman tank from the Sultan of Hatay, the Nazis moved forward to Alexandreta where they were close to the canyon of the Grail. Vogel captures Henry and Marcus Brody and holds them hostage in the tank and tries to shoot Indiana, trying to get close to the tank. Vogel engages in a duel with Jones and begins to choke him with a chain. After Henry blows up a truck full of Nazis, the explosion causes Indiana to fall off the tank and hold on for dear life on the gun. Vogel tries to push him off but has the tank driver ram the tank into the mountain to kill him. Indiana gets back on top of the tank and fights Vogel again. Vogel swings a shovel at Henry who Indiana tries to save. After Sallah arrives and rescues Henry, Indy grabs Vogel and repeatedly bashes his head on the trapdoor. As the tank gets towards the cliff, Indy tries to get off but the tank goes over the ledge and Vogel falls to his death and gives out one final scream. Miraculously, Indy managed to get off the tank and survives.
Ernst Vogel was a ruthless and brutal person, sometimes with violent tendencies. Sadistic and ruthless, Vogel would had stopped at nothing for the Führer's prize. However, Vogel cared more about his orders than for the older Jones' Grail Diary or the Holy Grail itself.
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.
Vogel nursed a special hatred for both Indiana Jones and his father, and sought to kill them on numerous occasions in Austria and Hatay. 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.
In Jeffrey Boam's earlier drafts of the film's script, Colonel Vogel was intended to actually make it to the Temple of the Sun instead of Donovan, who was going to die in the tank chase. Once there, Vogel would be either crushed by a rock while trying to steal the Holy Grail or beheaded by one of the temple's traps. However, when Tom Stoppard was brought to rewrite the script, Donovan's fate was given to Vogel and Donovan survived until the scene of picking the correct Grail.
In the German dubbed version of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Vogel's line "This is how we say 'good-bye' in Germany, Mr. Jones!" before hitting Indiana Jones was changed to "This is how we say 'good-bye' at the SS!". It's likely that the line was altered to not sound too racist.