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|“||You Jews... you think you know how to kill because for eons you've been massacred. But you don't see the cows running the slaughterhouses, do you?||„|
| ~ Heinz Richter's cold response to Jonah Heidelbaum's threats.|
Heinz Richter is a minor yet pivotal antagonist in the Amazon Prime series Hunters. He was a former Auschwitz prison guard, and one the many escaped Nazis brought to the United States via Operation Paperclip and was infamous for constructing a large chessboard and using Jewish prisoners as chess pieces.
He was portrayed by Kenneth Tigar as an elderly man and Calvin Knie in flashbacks.
The Chess Board
Heinz Richter had aspired to be a great chess player but was defeated multiple times by the Jewish Markus Roth in tournaments. When the Holocaust started, Markus became the prisoner of Richter at Auschwitz. One morning, Richter rounded up Markus and 32 other Jewish prisoners and lead them into the woods, where he had constructed a giant human chessboard. He had the Jewish prisoners act as chess pieces, equipping them with blades used to "capture" (kill) the other prisoners. He forced Markus to command the white pieces while he himself commanded the black. This torment would continue for a week until Markus, unable to take it anymore, made an attempt on Richter's life in vain with one of the blades. Before he was shot dead, Markus lacerated Richter's throat in the shape of an "X". Richter survived, and escaped punishment for his crimes when he was brought to the United States via Operation Paperclip. He then became an acolyte of the Fourth Reich under The Colonel
Richter ended up on the Hunters' list of targets, and was being pursued by Ruth Heidelbaum, who's sister Chava was killed in one of Richter's human chess games, and Meyer Offerman. Unfortunately, he discovered she was following him, and broke into her home one night and shot her dead as her grandson, Jonah Heidelbaum, watched in horror. Jonah, stricken with grief and rage, opts to find her killer and kill him. Later, in the home of Meyer Offerman, Meyer tells him the story of Richter's human chess board. In a hidden room, Jonah discovers a photograph of a man in black, the same man he saw kill Ruth. Infuriated with Meyer for concealing this information from him, Jonah steals the photograph and runs from the house. Analysis of the photograph would lead Jonah to the Red Balloon Toy Store. There, he confronts the owner, Gene Martin, and accuses him of killing his grandmother, but Gene vehemently denies any wrongdoing. Jonah notices the scar in the shape of an "X" on Richter's throat, and realizes he is Heinz Richter. Richter shocks Jonah unconscious with a taser and ties him to a chair in the back of the store.
When Jonah awakens, Richter laments that he couldn't torture Ruth for hours more, and tortures Jonah by throwing darts on his body, in an attempt to extract information on Ruth. Richter taunts him further, but is forced to halt his interrogation when someone knocks on the door. When he returns, Jonah has freed himself, stabbing Richter in the eye with a dart, and attempting to escape. Richter attacks Jonah and pins him to the ground, but just before he can kill him, Meyer arrives and shivs Richter through the back of the neck, proclaiming vengeance for those he killed. Richter slinks to the floor dead, finally the recipient of the karma he had coming.
Richter's death would be investigated by FBI agent Millie Morris, who discovers his Nazi past. The neo-Nazi Travis Leich also investigated his death, discovering Jonah's involvement through the name tag on his jacket.
In spite of his one-shot appearance and short time on screen, it's made obvious that Heinz Richter is much worse than many of the other Nazis. While many of the others were sadistic and vile, performing inhumane and terrible acts and experiments, they usually did so in the name of Nazism, truly believing what they were doing was just. Richter goes as far as to make a literal game of killing, likely having killed more than a hundred people, given how many pieces are on a chessboard, and how long his game went on for. He also enjoys senseless torture, both physical and verbal/psychological, throwing darts on Jonah's body and taunting him by saying he wished he could've tortured his grandmother for hours, then provoking him further by mooing like a cow after comparing him to such.
- Despite being a minor character, Richter still played a large role in the series. By killing Ruth, he unintentionally set Jonah on the path that would lead to his own downfall and his subsequent membership in the Hunters.
- Richter's game of human chess is referenced in the intro to the show, which depicts the main characters as chess pieces on a chessboard.
- The human chessboard was the subject of controversy, it's inclusion being called "dangerous foolishness", and that it "welcomes future deniers" by the Auschwitz Memorial on Twitter.
- Interestingly, Richter's actor, Kenneth Tigar, also portrays Heinrich Himmler in The Man in the High Castle, which is also an Amazon Prime original series centered around Nazis.