- Erwin König
Heinz Thorvald (died c. 1942) was an alleged , yet famous, German sniper, best known from the memoirs of Vasily Grigoryevich Zaytsev and the book Enemy at the Gates (not to be confused with the movie mentioned below) as a skilled sniper that Vasily killed during the
Battle of Stalingrad. He was apparently identified by documents from his body, although the Germans had no records of Heinz Thorvald. Allegedly he was a high ranking officer and had hundreds of kills, as many as 400, the amount of exaggeration is indeterminate. This "sniper duel" was used by the Sovietsfor propagandapurposes. Thorvald's existence is itself unconfirmed, so it is currently unknown if the "duel" took place.
A fictionalized account in the movie "
Enemy at the Gates" portrays Heinz Thorvald (under the name of Erwin König), played by Ed Harris, as the head of the Wehrmacht Sniper School. He is sent to Stalingrad to take on the increasingly aggressive Soviet sniper division. In this, he is at first highly successful. He is depicted as a ruthless, somewhat aristocratic Bavarian, pitted against Vasily Zaytsev, the top Russian sniper and propaganda darling. In the film, König is killed at the Stalingrad train yard after Zaytsev fires a Mosin-Nagant( 7.62x54R) bullet through the German's left eye.
The name Heinz Thorvald was arrogated by author David L. Robbins in his 1999 novel "
War of the Rats", although he argues that Thorvald was an SS colonel ( Standartenführer), and was originally an instructor at the Wehrmachtunderground headquarters in Zossen. However, no records of the SS ever being in Stalingradhave been found, and no active sniper was ever given a rank so high, as snipers in the German Army were not employed in formed units of snipers, but were rather deployed in small groups. The Red Army, conversely, deployed snipers in units as large as a battalion, and Vasily himself was a Junior Lieutenantand eventually Captain.
* [http://www.snipercentral.com/konig.htm Sniper Central - Thorvald and/or Konig]
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