The Hateful Life & Spiteful Death Of The Man Who Was Vigo The Carpathian
October 27, 2015 1:54 PM   Subscribe

You’ve seen a painting of Norbert Grupe. A heavy, creased brow and shoulder-length hair framing a frightening scowl, the massive work hung in the fictional Manhattan Museum of Art in Ghostbusters II. [...] Most people will only ever know Norbert Grupe as Vigo the Carpathian. But Norbert Grupe—a Nazi soldier's son, boxer, professional wrestler, failed actor, criminal, and miserable human being who was never so happy as when he could make someone hate him—was once a man so beautiful that other men wanted to paint him.
posted by Faint of Butt (16 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
I caught this! This is a great article.

One of the commenters, interestingly, has an argument for why Richard Grupe was not just another young man swept up in the war and was probably a more involved Nazi than he claimed to be. I don't have the knowledge on that, but it seems like a puzzle piece. Without it, you're left wondering, how could a man who was so widely beloved have a son who was pretty much a psychopath?
posted by Countess Elena at 1:59 PM on October 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


It seems to me that Norbert's emotional lability could have been caused by brain damage from his years boxing.
But we'll never know.
Interesting article, thanks.
posted by Floydd at 2:04 PM on October 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm sure the boxing must have damaged Norbert's brain, but there is also the fact that his mother appears to have abandoned him. The article mentioned Norbert wondering why his mother wouldn't speak to him. I'm sure that had to cut deep, and was probably at the root of at least some of his troubles.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:11 PM on October 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


So wait- what happened to Winfried?
posted by selfnoise at 2:46 PM on October 27, 2015


This should so be made into a movie.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:03 PM on October 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wikipedia has his father as "a baker by profession." No source there, though. It also says the moved to the USA, which would be a difficult thing for a Nazi party member to do.

I was looking into it because "Nazi Soldier" is sometimes erroneously (lazily) used as shorthand for "German Soldier" and there's no reason to tar the Wehrmacht with the Nazi label, if Wehrmacht he was.

Also, focusing on Ghostbusters II buries the lede: "Homburg made his big screen return in the action thriller Die Hard (1988) with Alan Rickman and Andreas Wisniewski. Homburg plays James, a member of the German terrorist group that plans to rob the Nakatomi Tower, meeting his demise courtesy of a DIY bomb from John McClane (Bruce Willis)."

I presume that this was McClane's C4+CRT Monitor+Elevator shaft bomb. Looks like he's the guy assisting the guy with the missile launcher. YTL
posted by Sunburnt at 4:10 PM on October 27, 2015


Okay, I'm getting to a deeper read now, and one of the comments makes the case that in order for him to have ended up at the unit guarding Buchenwald, his father had to be a Nazi in some substantial respect.
posted by Sunburnt at 4:28 PM on October 27, 2015


I want to see the painting.

If this most recent kick of 80s nostalgia is good for anything, its more in depth articles like this one.
posted by kittensofthenight at 5:03 PM on October 27, 2015


My name is not important. The answer is Ghostbusters II.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 5:03 PM on October 27, 2015 [9 favorites]


My name is not important. The answer is Ghostbusters II.

Kinda surprised that took so long.
posted by orrnyereg at 5:11 PM on October 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


This. Is. Fascinating.
posted by shmegegge at 5:46 PM on October 27, 2015


According to Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1937-1945: A Guide to the Permanent Historical Exhibition, a Luftwaffe unit was incorporated into the SS guards in 1943; so while he may have known more than he lets on, he might not have volunteered for guard duty (or, at least, not guard duty in a concentration camp, with knowledge of what was going on in them).
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 6:18 PM on October 27, 2015


"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

-Leo Tolstoy
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:44 PM on October 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


Without it, you're left wondering, how could a man who was so widely beloved have a son who was pretty much a psychopath?

Did you read the description of Norbert's childhood?
posted by kenko at 9:07 PM on October 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


This interview the day after his last fight and retirement from boxing is amazing. It could a scene in a Wenders or Tarantino movie, and is clearly the progenitor of Between Two Ferns.
posted by zippy at 2:14 AM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


touché.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 8:21 AM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


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