In Berlin, Germany in 1906, a shoemaker named Wilhelm Friedrich Vogt (at the age of 57) pieced together a second-hand uniform of the captain of the Prussian First Guard Regiment. On the morning of October 16, wearing this military uniform, he swaggered through the city and arrived at the army swimming pool in Plotzensee, west of Berlin. He ordered a few soldiers who had just completed the changing of the guard to go with him. Soldiers who don’t know what’s going on dare not disobey this bossy “sir”. So they followed Vogt by train to the city of Kopenik near Berlin (now part of the southwest part of Berlin). Vogt told the soldiers that he was on a “special mission.” After they arrived, they quickly “occupied” the city hall of the place-there was no military garrison there, only a small police station. Then he arrested the local mayor and director of the Finance Bureau in “the name of the Kaiser”, confiscated more than 3,000 marks, and even issued a receipt. Vogt divided the remaining soldiers into two groups. One group escorted the “prisoners” to Berlin for investigation, while the other group was ordered to stay there. The “captain” himself changed into his normal uniform and disappeared without a trace.
Vogt was captured by police 10 days later. The court sentenced him to serve until 2016. Interestingly, Kaiser Wilhelm II pardoned him in 1908 on the grounds that this incident showed that the German army was “strictly disciplined and loyal to duty.” The story came to be known as “The Captain of Koepernick.” In 1956, the Federal Republic of Germany Skommer company made this story into a movie. The Shanghai Film Translation Factory translated it into Chinese in 1985. In 1996, a bronze sculpture of “Fake Captain” was even erected in front of Koepernik City Hall.
The army has always had a special status in Prussia, and the people have a strange and romantic imagination about soldiers and uniforms. The reason why such a crime that is close to “performance art” can be successful is not only because the perpetrators are “highly skilled and bold”, but also because ordinary people and even low-level soldiers are so obedient to a uniform, which is also intriguing. After decades of ups and downs in the sea of people, Vogt understands it as: “Only look at the clothes, not the people.”
However, hateful people must have pitiful place. Vogt had served a prison sentence before this incident. Because of this experience, he couldn’t find any job in his hometown, went to relatives but couldn’t get a household registration, and couldn’t even get a passport to go abroad to make a living. So he had the idea of committing a crime again. In the movie, “Captain” has a line: “I love my hometown too, just like you and everyone else, but my hometown must first let me live, and then I can die for my hometown.”