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Oh, you're going to be infamous, boy, take my word for it. And do you know what such a scandal can do? It never goes away. Not for you, not for your parents. And besides, lying to judges and reporters isn't as easy as you think. You'd have to be brilliant. Can you do that? I know I can.
~ Dussander threatening Todd.

Kurt Dussander is the main antagonist in the Stephen King novel Apt Pupil as well as the 1998 film adaptation of the same name.

He is portrayed by Sir Ian McKellen, who also portrays Magneto in the X-Men films.


Dussander is a former Nazi who commanded the Patin concentration camp. Under his watch the death count at Patin went from two thousand a day to 3500 a day before the camp was liberated, causing Heinrich Himmler to deem him an "expert in efficiency." When items were confiscated from inmates, he was under orders to send the spoils to Berlin, but often withheld the spoils for himself, using forged documents to prevent his superiors from finding out. He was also pleased with himself for inventing more refined ways of torturing inmates, such as bringing them into his private office and showing them a delicious stew that he kept out of reach, which tormented them into revealing information.

He now lives under the name of Arthur Denker, leading a very private life so as not to bring attention to his true identity. For years, he has feared being discovered, having nightmares of his former victims taking revenge on him. However, Dussander's 16 year old neighbor Todd Bowden, an emerging sociopath who is fascinated by Nazism, gathers clues about him and discovers who he really is. He blackmails Dussander into telling him gruesome stories about his work at the extermination camps by threatening to otherwise turn him in to the police, and Bowden later acquires an SS uniform from a costume shop which he forces Dussander to wear. Despite claiming he was just following orders, Dussander finds himself becoming excited by his former atrocities as he is forced to remember them. Bowden visits Dussander more and more often but at the same time, he begins to do badly at school and his social life begins to wither. When Dussander realizes that Bowden's grades are rapidly dropping, he poses as his grandfather to attend a meeting at Bowden's school, telling the guidance counselor that Todd's poor grades are due to problems in the home, and arranging for Bowden to constantly study in his presence in order to restore his grades. Knowing Dussander would tell his parents about his recent delving into Nazism, Bowden is forced to comply.

Dussander later gets drunk and cooks a cat alive by throwing it into his gas oven, but in the film it attacks him and manages to escape. In the book, he also begins murdering homeless men by luring them into his home and butchering them in his kitchen. However in the film, he is spotted by a homeless man whilst wearing the SS uniform and eventually tries to kill him by stabbing him in the back before locking him in his cellar. During the act, Dussander suffers a heart attack and immediately phones Bowden, telling him to come to his house and call for an ambulance. When Bowden arrives, Dussander locks him in the cellar with the homeless man, who wakes up in a startled manner but is quickly killed by Bowden with a shovel. An ambulance then arrives and carries Dussander to the hospital, where he shares a room with another man who happen to be a death camp survivor. The man recognizes Dussander as the Nazi responsible for the death of his family and, after initially breaking down, has Dussander arrested. Realizing that his true identity has been exposed and that he will soon be extradited to Israel, Dussander commits suicide by giving himself an air embolism (pumping air into his heart). However in his last moments, he realizes to his horror that in death he will never be free of his nightmares. The doctors and nurses desperately attempt to revive him, to no avail.

In the book, Todd's guidance counselor sees an article about Dussander's death and realizes he had posed as Todd's grandfather. He goes to confront Todd, who murders him before going on a five-hour shooting spree and is killed by police. In the film, however, Todd is interrogated by the police about his relationship with Dussander, with Bowden successfully convincing them that he was completely oblivious to Dussander's criminal past.



  • Despite being a Sturmbannführer during the war, the reproduction uniform Todd bought Dussander had the rank insignia of an Obersturmbannführer.


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