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|“||This is not murder. This is mitzvah.||„|
|~ As Meyer, Wilhelm's most famous quote.|
|“||The Wolf forever wished to be Meyer. He learned everything there was to know about him, except the things that couldn't be taught. And because he couldn't become him, he tried to kill what made Meyer so special: his soul, his light. And in that moment I realized, The Wolf had succeeded. And so I made myself a pledge that I carry to this day, years after Meyer left me and ran off that fateful November 4th: I will find The Wolf, and I will deliver justice until he is nothing. For this is a duty of the past. This is a matter of the soul.||„|
|~ Ruth Heidelbaum writes of how The Wolf had broken Meyer.|
|“||30 years I lived as a Jew. I saw as a Jew, I thought as a Jew. You know, I finally woke from the coma of hatred, and saw the evil I had done to your grandparents... and realized that I was the villain of my own story. You don't recover from that.||„|
|~ Wilhelm explains himself to an incensed Jonah Heidelbaum.|
Wilhelm Zuchs, known throughout the series as Meyer Offerman and by the moniker "The Wolf", is the anti-villainous deuteragonist and one of the overarching antagonists (alongside Adolf Hitler) of the Amazon Prime original TV series Hunters. He is a former Nazi doctor who stole the identity of a Jewish man and formed the titular Hunters team that sought to bring down the Nazis that escaped to America, and is the archenemy of The Colonel. He is presented as a flashback antagonist until he's revealed in the finale.
Throughout the series, he is believed to be Meyer Offerman, a Holocaust survivor and the grandfather of Jonah Heidelbaum. However, his identity was exposed by Jonah in the season finale, and he was killed by him as retribution for the lives he ruined, which ironically resulted in Jonah earning Wilhelm's respect since he deemed his death a necessity.
In the series' present, he was portrayed by Al Pacino, who also portrayed John Milton in The Devil's Advocate, Big Boy in Dick Tracy, Michael Corleone in The Godfather trilogy, Tony Montana in Scarface, David Fisk in Righteous Kill, Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, Richard III in Looking for Richard, Carlito Brigante in Carlito's Way, Lefty in Donnie Brasco, Willy Bank in Ocean's Thirteen, and Roy Cohn in Angels in America. He's portrayed by Christian Oliver in flashbacks, who also played Snake Oiler in Speed Racer, and Steiner Bogdanow in Sense8.
Wilhelm, unlike most other villains in Hunters, is not motivated by Nazism or evil, and can even be considered one of the least vile of the other antagonists, in spite of his crimes. According to him, he wasn't a devotee of Nazism or the master race ideology and only joined with the Nazis for the power they would give him in the Auschwitz laboratory. It was this power that would corrupt him and turn him into the monster known as The Wolf.
When speaking with Ruth, Wilhelm maintains a kind demeanor but is noticeably upset when she rejects his offer. This demeanor is not faux affability, and he genuinely is nice to others. He only gives up on being the nice guy when he is upset or angered, which he shows he easily is. He's also very determined, doing whatever he could to destroy Meyer's light, learning every detail he could about him. Even Wilhelm has his limits, however, giving up on torturing Meyer after nine hours, and even drinking while doing so, so as to alleviate the pain of inflicting pain, which indicates that he's not a sadist, but is still tenacious and would go to extreme lengths to get what he wanted.
After taking on Meyer's identity, Wilhelm would, in his words "awake from the coma of hatred", as living life as a Jew opened his eyes to his heinousness, and he came to realize that he was the bad guy. Wilhelm developed a black and white view of the world, believing the Nazis he would eventually kill, as well as himself, were truly monsters, incapable of redemption and unworthy of life. He claims to Wiesenthal that his methods of punishment are righteous, and it is actually Wiesenthal who is in the wrong because his process is not immediate and does not provide true justice. Wilhelm believed that the killing was necessary, even though it is admittedly difficult. He scolds Jonah for not doing "what is necessary", even claiming he's not fit to lead because of his inaction.
Overall, Wilhelm Zuchs is not evil. At heart, he is not totally hateful and is perhaps the only Nazi in the series portrayed as having any kind of redeeming qualities. However, he is a man with a short temper who doesn't take "no" for an answer, and his actions as a result of this behavior ensure that he's still a villain.
- Eleven unnamed prisoners (indirectly; forced upon Meyer Offerman) - Shot by Meyer Offerman as ordered by Wilhelm, lest he kills Ruth.
- Several other prisoners at Auschwitz-Birkenau - Presumably tortured to death.
- Meyer Offerman - Killed in his sleep.
- Heinrich Kraus/Karl Peters
- Alise Wagner/Irmgard Becker
- Lieselotte Müller/Edie Klein
- Helmut Haas/Felix Hippler
- Pieter von Schtaub/Hans Fischer - Teeth ripped out and car wrecked.
- Hannah von Schtaub/Gretel Fischer (ordered; perpetrated by Joe Mizushima) - Gassed in her shower.
- Heinz Richter/Gene Martin - Stabbed through the back of the neck.
- Karl Holstedder/Eric Folsom (indirectly) - Shot by Joe Mizushima.
- Dieter Zweigelt/Victor Dillman (ordered; perpetrated by Joe Mizushima) - Throat slit.
- Tilda Sauer/Karen Ballinger - Shot in the head.
- Wernher von Braun (ordered; perpetrated by Joe Mizushima) - Shot in the head.
- Jason Schmidt - Shot in the head.
- Katarina Löw, several Schidler Corp employees (indirectly; planned the operation) - All burned by the pathogen and blown up.
- Friedrich Mann - Stabbed through the back of the neck.
- There were several hints throughout the episodes as to Meyer's true identity as Wilhelm Zuchs, some of which Jonah recalls as he figures it out for himself.
- Tilda Sauer calls Meyer "the biggest charlatan of them all", as well as the "great pretender". Before she can elaborate further, Meyer shoots and kills her, a move that shocks Lonny and Roxy.
- As Meyer looks at Oskar Hauptman's prescription, the shot lingers on the bottle, which bears Friedrich Mann's name. The Ghost, similarly to Meyer, had undergone plastic surgery by Mann to not be recognized.
- Murray tell Jonah that "you can never really know a person", and that "we wear different faces", alluding to Meyer not being who he says he his, and his literal change of face.
- In a flashback sequence, Ruth tells Meyer that he looks different than what she remembers of him.
- Friedrich Mann notes how the stitches on Jonah's wound are expertly done. Since Wilhelm Zuchs was a surgeon, he was an expert in mending wounds.
- Friedrich Mann exclaims "It's you!" before Meyer kills him, recognizing him as the man he performed surgery on.
- Al Pacino himself is not Jewish, unlike the other actors who portray Jews, which makes Meyer's reveal as a "pretender" somewhat justified.
- Wilhelm is one of the only Nazis in the series not brought to the United States via Operation Paperclip.
- Wilhelm taking on Meyer's identity is similar to Klaus Braun from CSI: NY taking on the identity of Abraham Klein, a Jewish Holocaust survivor.
- Though Wilhelm claimed he didn't seek absolution, his philanthropic actions indicate otherwise, having donated to several Jewish charities.