What do you want to learn? Miller, or the other thing too?
~ The Master

The Master is the main antagonist in the German fantasy novel Krabat by Otfried Preußler and the 2008 movie of the same name where he is played by Christian Redl (who also played Alfred Jodl in Downfall). He also appears in the 1978 Czechslovak cutout animated film, Krabat – The Sorcerer's Apprentice (Czech: Čarodějův učeň), directed by Karel Zeman where he is dubbed by Jaroslav Moučka.

The master is a German miller and a master in black magic. The people who want to learn both, being a miller and black magic, have to grind the corn in the mill, but the corn seems to reproducing, because it doesn't become less.

It is revealed that the master has a deal with the Grim Reaper to stay alive forever as long as he offers someone every year to die in his place. That's why he keeps twelve apprentices in his mill. He doesn't tolerate love and prohibits romantic relationships with girls, because if an apprentice's girlfriend would ask for his freedom at the night after Sylvester, everyone would be free and he would die.


When the master needs a new apprentice, he calls an orphan named Krabat telepathically to his mill. Krabat joins the other boys, not knowing the truth about his new master. Krabat soon finds out the skill he is meant to learn is black magic. However, the first spells the master learns him are harmless, for example the ability to turn himself into a raven. One night, the mill is visited by Goodman, who may be the devil. This and other peculiarities of the mill makes Krabat think about who his master really is.

During one of the rituals (on Easter), Krabat travels to the nearby village Schwarzkolm where he meets a young girl and falls in love with her. Another apprentice and Krabat's best friend named Tonda has a girlfriend in the village, too. He warns Krabat that the master must never know the name of his girl.

Unfortunately, while protecting the village from soldiers, Tonda makes an error and his girl's name (Worschula) is revealed to the master. The next day, Worschula's body is found in the creek. The master then chooses Tonda as his next victim. On Sylvester midnight, Tonda is viciously murdered and the master remain young again.

The master Krabat Cartoon

The Master in animated film

Later, Krabat meets the girl he loves again. He doesn't let the girl tell him her name, fearing for her life. Instead, he calls her Kantorka (choir leader). Another apprentice named Juso tells Krabat that if his girl asks for him on the first day of the year, everyone would be free and the master would die. Krabat tells Kantorka about it and she promises to do so.

On the day after Sylvester, Kantorka arrives to the mill to asks for Krabat. However, the master tells her to pick out Krabat who was transformed into a raven from all the other transformed students. At the end, she succeeds. The mill start burning and the boys with Kantorka escape. The master is left inside and eventually dies in the burning mill.


  • "I choose who's dying."
  • "Death is the master of us all."