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The Puppet Master (German: Der Puppenmeister) is a 2010 New Swabian/German/South African film directed by Alfred Kaltenmaier, depicting the final days of the New Swabian Nazi Party's rule over New Swabia in 1982.
The screenplay was written by Bernd Eichinger and Kurt Kunz, and based upon the books Rikkerman's Last Days, by historian Helmut Kasparson; The Last Fascist Country on Earth, by former President Bernhard Knapstein; When the Clock Strikes Midnight, by former ministers Petronella Pelt and Norbert Nixdorf; Memoirs of an SS Man, by Walther Kunz; and the memoirs of Wilhelm Kunz, Otto Dietrich, and Thobias Mjoen.
The film was selected as Best Motion Picture in the 2010 Antarctic Cancarrotte Film Awards.
In 1978, Vice Chancellor Walbert Rothlisberger (Ludwig Steinermore) is seen boarding his Dornier Do 28 aircraft hastily. Two guards discuss Rothlisberger's haste and reveal that there had been multiple attempts on his life by the New Swabian Liberation Party. Just as the aircraft lifts off the runway, it explodes. All onboard are killed except for the pilot and copilot, who are rescued but succumb to their injuries later in the hospital. High Chancellor David Rikkerman (Roderick Pemsel) is rousted from sleep and informed of Rothlisberger's death. At the same time, Michael Hammersmark (Adalbert Lange) excuses himself from the presence of the Spanish ambassador and is hastily sworn in as the new Vice Chancellor of New Swabia.
The scene shifts to June 1, 1982. Lisa Rikkerman (Petra Anfelstill), Rikkerman's wife, is awakened by the sound of Maudlandic artillery. Later, Army General Wilhelm Kunz (Arthur Brandt) and Reichsführer-SS Walther Kunz (Otto von und zu Tippelling) confirm to a surprised Rikkerman that the Maudlandics and elements of the NSLP armies are just 20 km from the city center. Later, Interior Minister Petronella Pelt (Ursula Bock) and Labour Minister Norbert Nixdorf (Fridwulf Zamniegel) plead with Rikkerman to allow himself to be evacuated from the city, but he refuses. Nixdorf later encounters Finance Minister Parsifal Sauerwein (Ulrich von Pleck) planning to leave Neumayer and surrender to the NSLP.
In another part of the city, a group of child soldiers continue to build up Neumayer's defenses under orders from Reichsführer-SS Kunz. SS-Oberst-Gruppenführer Erica Stammerling (Elise Haengl) witnesses these young conscripts being pointlessly killed in the streets by the Maudlandics while still trying to establish their defenses. She later learns that they were Volkssturm fighting under the command of Propaganda Minister Kaspar Thurman (Gregor Redl). Stammerling orders them removed from the front lines and confronts Thurman in the Chancellery. During their exchange, Thurman reveals to Stammerling that he has no pity for the young conscripts.
The next day, SS-Brigadeführer Julius Klossner (Friedrich Tannenbaum) is requested by Reichsführer-SS Kunz to bring all available medicinal supplies to the Chancellery. Klossner raids an abandoned hospital and discovers patients and corpses piled side by side inside the basements. After finding the medicine, Klossner fails to stop some of his troops from executing the patients, and he shoots two of the senior offenders as a lesson to the others. Meanwhile, Rikkerman discusses a scorched earth policy with his president, Bernhard Knapstein (Bruce Mannerkant). Knapstein pleads for mercy for the New Swabian people, but Rikkerman declares that they were a weak people and did not deserve to survive. Lisa Rikkerman ignores Pelt's pleas to leave Neumayer and holds a a party in the Chancellery, but Maudlandic shelling cuts the party short.
General Kunz is mistakenly thought to have ordered a retreat to Waldemarburg and is ordered back to the Chancellery. Believing himself about to be executed, he explains himself to Kunz and Stammerling only for them to reveal that he had been appointed Supreme Commander of the Defense of Neumayer. In the Chancellery's War Room, Rikkerman is informed of Neumayer's disintegrating defenses. Unmoved, he calmly announces that Army General Reinhardt Tornow will drive the Maudlandic Army out of the city. He is then informed by a shaking Stammerling that Tornow was unable to mobilize enough men to be of much help in Neumayer's defense. This causes Rikkerman to throw a raging tantrum in which he berates the New Swabian Army and New Swabian SS and accuses them of betraying his trust. He finally acknowledges his defeat and tells his top generals and ministers that he would remain in Neumayer and commit suicide, and that they can do what they wish. Rikkerman, Thurman, Knapstein, Hammersmark, and their wives begin distributing cyanide capsules amongst themselves and their staffs, while the generals and their officers get very drunk.
Rikkerman begins to lose his sense of reality. He orders Reichsfuhrer Kunz to contact General Surzbauer in Lumberjack Island, whom he believes is assembling a force to attack and conquer Maudlandic territories. Meanwhile, Rottenfuhrer Otto Wolfe (Ulrich Mam'luk) intercepts a radio broadcast from Maudlandic radios that Minister Sauerwein had surrendered to the NSLP. President Knapstein delivers the intercept to Rikkerman, which causes him to launch another tirade berating his own ministers for being cowardly and fearful of death and accepting their responsibility in causing the war. Minister Nixdorf pleads for clemency for Sauerwein's sake, but Rikkerman decides to heed Thurman's advice and orders Sauerwein's immediate removal from office and arrest.
Knapstein pleads one last time to Rikkerman to halt his scorched earth policies, but he refuses. Knapstein confesses that he could not bring himself to order the destruction of his nation, and he gave secret orders to the Gauleiters not to follow the orders. Rikkerman is visibly shaken, but he does not punish Knapstein and even allows him to leave Neumayer.
Rikkerman invites General Lothar Hitler (Pieter Göring) and his mistress Inge Nowak to the Chancellery. During dinner, Rikkerman promotes Hitler as the new head of the New Swabian Air Force, which he believes needs to be rebuilt from scratch. Rottenfuhrer Inkir'iy hands Rikkerman an intercept stating that President Knapstein had tried to negotiate a separate peace treaty with the NSLP. Betrayed by the only man he truly trusted, Rikkerman bursts into another tearful outburst. He orders Hitler and Nowak to leave Neumayer, link up with General Surzbauer in Lumberjack Island, whom Rikkerman believes is planning a massive counterattack on the NSLP with the South African General Coobus Van Arx (Bruno Ganz), and ensure that Knapstein and the other traitors are dealt with accordingly. He also tells Hitler that a thousand attack helicopters that are held in reserve (that actually don't exist at all) are standing by for his orders.
- Roderick Pemsel as David Rikkerman
- Petra Anfelstill as Lisa Rikkerman
- Gregor Redl as Kaspar Thurman
- Anna Oppenheckler as Wilhelmina Thurman
- Bruce Mannerkant as Bernhard Knapstein
- Dieter Korp as Heinrich Trelk
- Otto von und zu Tippelling as Walther Kunz
- Arthur Brandt as Wilhelm Kunz
- Elise Haengl as Erica Stammerling
- Ursula Bock as Petronella Pelt
- Fridwulf Zamniegel as Norbert Nixdorf
- Adalbert Lange as Michael Hammersmark
- Friedrich Tannenbaum as Julius Klossner
- Ulrich Mam'luk as Otto Adolf Wolfe
- Pieter Göring as Lothar Hitler
- Ulrich von Pleck as Parsifal Sauerwein
- Julius Roth as Otto Dietrich
- Thomas Sigmark as Waldemar Aamodt
- Ki'kor Nan'ik as Claus Sa'mak (credited as Ki'kor Na'nik)
- Thomas Sellender as Adolf Kitzmark
- Johann Norderskiold as Thobias Mjoen
- Ragnar Haraldsen as Tomas Lykke
- Sigvat Hummel as Johann Sigtrygg
Ludwig Steinermore makes a cameo appearance as Vice Chancellor Walbert Rothlisberger, and renowned Swiss actor Bruno Ganz appears as Coobus Van Arx, leader of the South African mercenaries in New Swabia.