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Kessler is a television series produced by the BBC in 1981, starring Clifford Rose in the title role.Contents
The six-part serial is a sequel to the Second World War drama series Secret Army, set in contemporary times.
The story begins when a self-serving Belgian journalist, Hugo Van Eyck broadcasts a documentary about Nazi war criminals and along with West German intelligence operative Richard Bauer investigates the whereabouts of the former Chief of Gestapo and SS of Belgium, Standartenfuhrer Ludwig Kessler (Clifford Rose). Kessler has changed his name to Manfred Dorf and is now a wealthy industrialist, who manufactures plastics, explosives and pharmaceutical compounds in his factories. His Belgian mistress, from the war, Madeleine Duclos (Hazel McBride) has died by this point, but in the years in between, the pair have married and produced a daughter called Ingrid (Alison Glennie). Kessler is part of an organisation called the Kameradenwerk which is formed of Nazis on the run, trying to evade capture for their war crimes and is led by a close friend of Kessler, Colonel Hans Ruckert (Ralph Michael) (who is based on Luftwaffe ace Colonel Hans Rudel). Ingrid is sleeping with her father's manservant, Franz Hoss (Nicholas Young), and the pair are part of a group of young Nazis who dream of leading Germany back to Nazism.
Van Eyck invites three other Secret Army characters to his studios: Albert Foiret (Bernard Hepton) Monique Durnford (née Duchamps) (Angela Richards) and Natalie Chantrens (Juliet Hammond-Hill) (some of the serial's first scenes take place outside the Restaurant Candide in the Grand Place in Brussels). The trio meet again and reminisce about their wartime activities running the resistance organisation Lifeline. Monique and Natalie are certain that Dorf is Kessler, but Albert claims to be less sure.
Van Eyck and Bauer meet a young Israeli soldier called Mical Rak (Nitza Saul). Mical's mother's family were sent to Dachau to be killed on Kessler's orders. Mical breaks into Kessler's home to see him, but is discovered and forced to flee. Her companion Ruth Lieberman (Ishia Bennison) is murdered by the Kameradenwerk and Van Eyck becomes their next victim. Mical is kidnapped and beaten by Franz and thrown into the Thames. Fortunately she survives and is rescued. Mical and Bauer team up to get Kessler. Bauer's agents break into Kessler's home and find a photo album which proves he is Kessler. When it is discovered, Kessler, Ruckert, Franz and Ingrid travel to Paraguay and Bauer and Mical set off in pursuit. After a brief detour in Buenos Aires, the pair arrive in Ascunsion.
Kessler and Ruckert stay with a Nazi-sympathizing Paraguayan aristocrat, Don Julian Yqueras (played by Guy Rolfe, who previously appeared in the Secret Army episode, Russian Roulette as Oberst von Elmendorf). Yqueras is based on the former President of Argentina Juan Peron, Juan Peron, a famous Nazi sympathizer who welcomed war criminals into his country and prevented their extradition, and Paraguayan President Alfredo Stroessner - still in power in 1981 - who also allowed his country to become a safe haven for Nazi war criminals. Mical and Bauer stay with pigeon fancier Jose Garriga (John Moreno) who quickly charms them and wins their friendship.
Ingrid and Franz meet with their fellow Nazis and discuss a plan to convince Kessler to take over their group and give them 48 billion Deutschcmarks which is used to keep the exiled Nazis. Kessler and Ruckert also meet with their comrades under the command of Martin Bormann (we do not actually see him, only his arm). Whilst there, Kessler is repulsed to meet Dr Josef Mengele (Oscar Quitak), Auschwitz's Angel of Death. In real life, Bormann had died in 1945, but this was not revealed until 1998. Similarly, Mengele had died in 1979, but this was not revealed until 1985.
It is here that Kessler realizes that the Kameradenwerk are just too old and too tired to lead Germany back to Nazism and care more about the safety of their members rather than building a new Nazi regime in Germany. After much soul-searching, Kessler decides to turn his back on them and links up with the young Nazis, and agrees to give them the Nazi fortune.
Deciding Mical has become too much of a threat, Ruckert orders his followers to kill her. Ingrid and Franz go there as well for the same reason. After killing Garriga, the assassins mistake Ingrid for Mical and shoot her and Franz dead, thereby killing the only people who could have resurrected Nazism. Mical and Bauer find their bodies and proceed to blow up the Nazi convoys, but Ruckert escapes. Bauer and Mical corner Kessler. After discussion of the Holocaust and Communism, Bauer informs him of Ingrid's death. Realizing his dream of a new Nazi dawn is over, and having lost the one thing he has left of Madeleine, Kessler shoots himself. Mical and Bauer leave, knowing the Nazis will never get hands on their fortune and will never be able to return to power.
Many other former Secret Army production personnel were involved with Kessler, most notably producer Gerard Glaister, writer John Brason and directors Michael E. Briant and Tristan DeVere Cole.
Kessler was released on DVD (Region 2, UK) by DD Home Entertainment, who had previously released the complete (barring "What Did You Do in the War Daddy?") series of Secret Army.Credits Cast