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It was you who betrayed me. You had access to all the information. Now, you will pay the penalty.
~ Stromberg, to his assistant, before the shark kills her.
Observe, Mr. Bond, the instruments of Armageddon.
~ Karl Stromberg's most famous line.
Karl Stromberg is the main antagonist in the 1977 James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me. He is an evil megalomaniac bent on destroying human civilization as we know it and creating a new one beneath the sea.
He was portrayed by the late Curd Jürgens.
The webbed-fingered Karl Stromberg is a successful self-employed businessman as head of his own shipping firm and chain of laboratories called the Stromberg Shipping Line. Stromberg's obsession and passion is the ocean, where he lives in his futuristic palace called Atlantis. Located off the coast of Sardinia, Italy, Atlantis has everything to support life above and below water for any length of time. Stromberg also owns a huge tanker, Liparus, that serves as his headquarters away from Atlantis. Aboard the tanker he has a small army of red-suited soldiers. In Christopher Wood's novelization of the film, Stromberg is Swedish and his first name is Sigmund.
Although Stromberg has a passion for the ocean and its various species, he despises the human race, not unlike Jules Verne's Captain Nemo. Stromberg, however, is much more diabolical and has no interest in benefiting the world. He has a congenital condition in which his hands are webbed like those of aquatic birds or mammals. It is his personal mission to start over with a new civilization underwater via complete anarchy against the "surface world". After contracting two scientists (Dr. Bechmann and Professor Markovitz) to create the technology to track nuclear submarines, Stromberg uses this technology to capture a Soviet nuclear submarine and a British submarine. By tracking the subs, Liparus sneaks up on the subs, forces them to the surface through methods using some kind of high frequencies to disrupt the sub's electrical system and captures them inside the tanker. To investigate the disappearance of their submarines, the Russian and British government send the agents Anya Amasova and James Bond, respectively.
While Bond and Amasova are briefed about their task, Stromberg meets with Dr. Bechmann and Prof. Markovitz, the scientists who developed his submarine tracking system. He tells them that he has paid 10 million dollars each into their bank accounts. Before dismissing them, he tells them that he regrets to inform them that someone has been attempting to sell the plans to competing world powers and that only someone close to the project could have done so. He tells his assistant to leave the room while he discusses with the men, but as she enters the elevator, Stromberg pushes a button and the bottom of the elevator opens, dropping the girl into a water tank occupied by a swimming shark. Over a PA system, Stromberg reveals that woman was the one responsible for trying to sell the project as she had access to the information and watches with little to no emotion as the woman ends up being devoured by the shark. The two scientists then leave the room and Stromberg heaves Atlantis, his underwater palace, out of the ocean. He then calls two henchmen, Sandor and Jaws, and tasks them with the recovery of the tracking system, telling them to eliminate everyone who came into contact with the system.
Stromberg then watches the helicopter with the two scientists leaving Atlantis and, with them having outlived their usefulness, blows them up. He then swiftly cancels the transaction and tells a secretary to inform the two men's families that they have met with an accident and are "buried at sea".
Eventually, Bond and Amasova find a microchip leading them to Stromberg's marine research laboratory on Sardinia. Their governments decide that Amasova and Bond will be sent to investigate together. Under the cover of a marine biologist and his assistant, Bond and Amasova are granted "an audience" with Stromberg. Sent by Stromberg, his secretary Naomi picks up Bond and Amasova and she brings them to Atlantis. When they arrive at Atlantis, Stromberg watches them via hidden cameras. While Bond enters the elevator to meet Stromberg, Naomi volunteers to show Amasova around. After exiting the elevator, Bond meets Stromberg, who tests Bond's cover by asking him about the fishes in his aquarium. Bond manages to avert this by correctly deducing a certain species of fish, much to Stromberg's surprise. Bond and Stromberg briefly talk about Stromberg's obsession with the ocean before Stromberg parts with Bond, claiming to have urgent business.
While Bond and Amasova leave, Stromberg meets with Jaws, who confirms that his two guests were the ones he fought on the train. Stromberg then tells both Jaws and Naomi to let them get to shore before killing them. However, Bond and Amasova manage to escape the hit, and Naomi ends up being killed, though Jaws manages to escape alive.
Capturing another vessel
When Stromberg's men capture an American submarine with the help from a cargo ship called the Liparus, Bond and Amasova are inside amidst the crew. As the submarine is placed inside the Liparus, Stromberg talks to the captain via intercom, telling him that he and his crew will be exterminated via cyanide gas if they do not open the hatch. Without an alternative, the hatch is opened and the men leave the ship. Stromberg then orders the crew to be imprisoned with the crews of the other submarines. However, while the men are walking off, Stromberg recognizes Bond and Amasova and tells his men to bring the two to him. When Bond and Amasova stand before him, Stromberg reveals his true plan to fire nuclear missiles from the stolen submarines at Moscow and New York City, thus framing each other's government and starting a nuclear war, which would wipe out every last human being on Earth and allow Stromberg to create a new civilization under the oceans. He reveals that he considers the modern world to be corrupt and decadent, and that he plans to destroy it to make room for his new oceanic civilization.
His two submarines then set off. After witnessing their departure, Stromberg orders his men to imprison Bond with the rest of the crew while he takes Amasova for himself and enters a speedboat wit her to return to Atlantis. However, Bond manages to free himself on the way and frees the American, British, and Soviet crews from their cells. After arming themselves, Bond and the crews takes over the Liparus, killing the remainder of Stromberg's men. After gaining entrance to the control room, Bond is able to trick the stolen British and Soviet submarines to fire their nuclear warheads at each other with the same tracking system, obliterating both submarines and Stromberg's crews onboard. Using the American submarine, Bond and the remaining crew members escape as Liparus sinks to the bottom of the ocean.
Death at Atlantis
When the captain of the submarine gets orders from Washington to destroy Atlantis, Bond manages to convince him to wait one hour to allow Bond to enter Atlantis and save Amasova. After Bond arrives, Stromberg addresses Bond over the PA system and tells Bond that he will send the elevator down for him. Planning to drop Bond into the shark tank, Stromberg is surprised to see that Bond evaded his trap by keeping his feet off the floor. Arriving safely at Stromberg's living quarters, Bond sits down at the table, opposed to Stromberg. Stromberg then tries to shoot Bond with a hidden torpedo gun attached under the table, but Bond evades the missile and returns fire.
Bond exercises his licence to kill by shooting Stromberg two times in the crotch and once in the chest, finally killing him. Bond then proceeds to rescue Amasova and they evade in an escape pod before Atlantis is torpedoed and sunken to the bottom of sea, giving the deceased Stromberg a burial at sea.
Stromberg dismisses his assistant moments before feeding her to sharks
His scheme is actually a recycled plot from a previous film, You Only Live Twice, which was similar in that by stealing space capsules it would start a war between the Soviets and the Americans. The idea of commandeering two nuclear missiles and attempting to fire them at two major cities likewise recalls the plot of Thunderball. The scheme in which the villain wishes to destroy mankind to create a new race or new civilization was also used in Moonraker, the next film after The Spy Who Loved Me (as opposed to For Your Eyes Only, as was originally billed during the credits of The Spy Who Loved Me). In Moonraker, the villain Hugo Drax has an obsession with creating a new human civilization in outer space, although Drax plans to eventually return to Earth, unlike Stromberg. The film Moonraker was also written by Christopher Wood. Both Drax and Stromberg have hired Jaws as a henchman.