In the tavern scene where Archie's disguise is blown through his English hand gesture, he is initially questioned by Cprl Willhelm about his unusual accent. Can the German visitors to this site confirm if his accent did sound iffy, and did Stiglitz and the other chaps accents match to where Major Hellstrom guessed?

  • However his English accent was a trifle stilted! But not at all bad considering Deutsch is his Muttersprache. I struggle to imagine how a German speaker, born in the Rhein valley, can invent a strange German accent which would elude the identification of the mother-tongue of the speaker. Perhaps it is tinged with Irish-English. His English is only slightly accented.
    – user25972
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 23:41

2 Answers 2


I, being a German and having heard a wide variety of different German dialects, can confirm to you that his accent was indeed a bit strange. And while Michael Fassbender didn't have too strong an accent, it was IMHO still identifiable as slightly English-based and thus was likely to arouse the suspicion from the Germans in that bar.

Yet the accent wasn't completely weird, given that there might still be hidden places where people speak accents I haven't heard yet, like at the Piz Palü. So I would say that Cpl. Wilhelm would probably not have spoken about it to a higher ranking officer, hadn't he been as drunk as he was, and maybe asked him out of mere curiosity rather than actual suspicion. But they didn't plan to stumble across such a highly suspicious security officer as Maj. Hellstrom, who had all the reasons to request some clarification from Hicox.

But I also have to say that I don't have as good an ear as Maj. Hellstrom and wouldn't really have been able to classify the other two German Basterds according to their home towns as easily as he did, since they spoke pretty clear High German. So that part was maybe a bit exaggerated (or he had really just far better trained ears than I have). Yet looking at the two actors, they were indeed born or grew up at or near the places attributed to their roles by Maj. Hellstrom, so it is pretty reasonable to assume that he was right in his assumption.

  • 3
    German accents and dialects were much stronger before media, especially TV, equalized them. So it is likely that the characters would have actually spoken with a recognizable accent but the actors don't. And it would sound strange and exaggerated to a contemporary audience if the actors would use a broad accent all the time. (You don't hear people in movies about the medieval times speaking in middle high German all the time also.)
    – his
    Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 5:40

Yes, it is very instantly recognizable, but not because his wording is bad per se.

Though born in Germany, Fassbender left when he was 2 years old and spent most of his upbringing in Ireland, speaking Irish. The Irish tongue is almost diametrically opposed to the German one: Germans use a (comparatively ) slack/backwards jaw and tongue when speaking, whereas the Irish (and Scotts as well) have this very clenched way of using their jaw-muscles in almost everything. And while he knows the right words, and what they should sound like, it's when he gets angry that this comes out the most.

What is interesting though, is his "rolling of the r", something that is very particular to specific areas of Germany, but also tied to those WWII speeches via the radio: using it for dramatic effect. You can hear this very clearly when listening to the German band Rammstein; their singer (Till Lindeman) doesn't have this "r" by nature, but uses it for a lot of dramatic effects when singing. Outsiders would very much associate this with those infamous arousing speeches from the WWII era, but also "classical German".

The two German actors in the team speak very little. Sgt. Stiglitz (Til Schweiger) is from Freiburg which has a very distinctive tongue. Gedeon Burkhardt (Cpl. Wicki) speaks to our ears as outsiders probably closer to what we perceive to be "standard" not just because he is from Munich, but he is also a well-known national star which makes many prone to soften their accents towards more "High-German".

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