Suddenly, Nazis

It’s always the same: as soon as (usually American) script writers run out of ideas, they add something about Nazis, usually set either in Germany or at least with some lines of German. If you aren’t German, well, you’ll likely not notice anything suspicious. If you are German, however, this often enough becomes an absolute riot and makes the whole thing so much more entertaining. That’s exactly what happened on the two most recent episodes of The Blacklist, a show I enjoy mostly for James Spader and less for the ridiculous story.

It started in episode 14 of the current second season. When Tom Keen – who isn’t dead despite being left for dead twice already – gets asked how his German is, I instantly knew this would become great, campy fun. Apparently, Tom is supposed to go to Dresden and infiltrate a gang of neo-nazis. Well, at least Dresden certainly has an abundance of neo-nazis, so that’s quite realistic. For this job he has to prepare.

First, put on German music, in this case “Major Tom” by Peter Schilling. It’s a track from the 80s and not related to Nazis in any way, but I guess the writer did like the play on the protagonist’s name.

Second, shave your hair:

Image (c) NBC
Image (c) NBC

Sexy.

Third, get inked while smoking and chilling to the haunting tunes of Major Tom.

Image (c) NBC
Image (c) NBC

The SS symbol is VERBOTEN in Germany and will get you arrested if the cops notice it. Well done, Mr. Keen, this should look convincing! Unless anyone bothers to check out his other tattoo …

Image (c) NBC
Image (c) NBC

The SS logo on the right is mirrored, but that’s not what I’m getting at. You see, the neo-nazis use the slogan “Deutschland den Deutschen” to protest against foreigners in Germany. Translated into English, this would … ah, let’s do a little experiment, shall we.

  1. Go to Google Translator.
  2. Enter “Deutschland den Deutschen” into the left hand field, put it to “detect language”
  3. Put the output language to English
  4. Voilá, we get “Germany for the Germans”
  5. Now, reverse it …
  6. Aha, “Deutschland für die Deutschen”!

Funny how it works sometimes. With a tattoo like that, (Major) Tom would be discovered quite quickly. Hell, he’d be likely arrested on the spot when trying to enter Germany.

Fourth, he needs a passport:

Image (c) NBC
Image (c) NBC

As you might have noticed, there are a few … problems … with this passport. Let me break them down to you:

  1. on EU passports, the photographs aren’t glued on, they are embedded into the passport and cannot be replaced without destroying the whole thing
  2. the color and background suggests its a passport from Poland, not Germany, but all text is in German – on a Polish passport, the main language would be Polish, of course. German passports are greenish and bear the “Bundesadler”.
  3. Tom Keen … sorry, Mr. Mannheim … is born on April 26th, 1979. Now while dates in the EU would be written either as 1979-04-26 or 26.04.1979 or 26/04/1979, the passport issue and renew before date are wrong as well. Unless Mr. Mannheim got his passport on his birthday in 1999, of course, but even then, the renew before date would be 2009, not 2019, since EU passports for ages 24 and up have to be renewed every 10 years.
  4. This is hard to read on the screen cap, but they managed to write “Unterschrift des Bearer” (Bearer’s signature) instead of “Unterschrift des Ausweisinhabers”. Any customs or police officer would spot that in an instant because the word’s length doesn’t match and it makes no fricking sense.
  5. Another obvious error: the number should be 790426 as its derived from Mr. Mannheim’s birthday.
  6. Oh, and just to add insult to injury, the personal card of modern EU passports don’t bend because they are made from plastic instead of paper.

The main question, however, is – why does Tom Keen have a Polish passport if he’s supposed to be German? Why does his birthplace sound Polish? Given the history between Poland and Germany during WW2, wouldn’t that kind of detail make people suspicious?

Oh, and before I forget – in Germany, you don’t use your passport to identify yourself, you use your ID card. The passport is only for travel outside of the EU. It would be rather suspicious to a German police officer would you identify yourself with your passport, which by the way is called “Reisepass” in German – “travel passport”.

So, Tom Keen is no more. Born from his ashes is Christof Mannheim the neo-nazi. He arrives in Dresden, Germany, and quickly finds new friends:

Image (c) NBC
Image (c) NBC

Honestly? They just look like bikers to me. Here’s a picture of real neo-nazis demonstrating in Germany:

Image (c) taz.de
Image (c) taz.de

Hrm. Okay, this might be me nitpicking more than usual, but …

Image (c) NBC
Image (c) NBC

… oh look, ZZ Top is there as well!

Oddly enough, they are not just drinking while listening to cliché metal music, oh no – they are playing games! What games, you might ask? Manly stuff like arm wrestling maybe? Or illegal nazi fist fights? Ah, you’ll be sorely disappointed:

Image (c) NBC
Image (c) NBC

They are trying to drive nails into wood with one strike of a hammer. For cold, hard Euro no less. What kind of Kindergarten nazis are they? Do they have rug time? I loved rug time!

Anyway, Tom Christof quickly does the one thing I’d never do among an illegal group of hooligans – he introduces himself. His name is Christof. “Fair enough”, you say, “his name is Christof, so why not tell them?” Because he’s not content telling them his first name:

Image (c) NBC
Image (c) NBC

Might as well wave his fake passport around. Why would he tell them his last name, so every undercover cop in Dresden is aware of him? Great start there, Tom Christof.

Did I mention they all speak terrible German? None of them would pass for being German with that kind of mangled grammar, the pronunciation is way off, and they all sound like they have to try really hard to utter one coherent sentence. Shouldn’t be hard and/or expensive to find a few people in New York City who speak better German than these tools.

Onto the next episode, 2×15. The relevant segment of the episode starts like this:

Image (c) NBC
Image (c) NBC

This could really be anywhere, so the subtitle is a nice idea to establish location. The security camera (top right) makes me wonder why neo-nazis would party there, but hey, maybe their Bier got stolen once too many.

Anyway, the scene is set to a Rammstein song I can’t identify because I don’t really listen to Rammstein – but neither would neo-nazis as they tend to enjoy music way worse than that. But it has German lyrics so it fits, right?

The Nazis are discussing their weapon procurement issues and in that context, they mention they don’t want to cross borders because that could spell trouble. That doesn’t seem to concern Tom Christof who quickly suggests he knows a guy in Salzburg – which is in Austria, across borders. No wonder his idea gets axed quickly, but that doesn’t get him closer to winning the Nazi’s trust, so he has to devise a different approach: he’s going to kill their arms dealer and bring in his own to save the day. Genius!

Image (c) NBC
Image (c) NBC

Here are the arms dealers dealing arms. Again, this could be absolutely anywhere, so this picture is just there for your enjoyment. But look, they must be in Germany because they are driving a BMW!

Image (c) NBC
Image (c) NBC

However, with a license plate like that they are just inviting the cops because that’s not a German license plate, that’s just nonsense. This is how a real license plate from Dresden, Germany looks like:

(c) olavsplates.com
(c) olavsplates.com

Also, while the BMW is a German car – but they do have foreign cars in Germany, in case you are wondering – the model they use is the US version of the 528i xDrive. You can clearly see the car has space for the differently shaped number plates used in the US, as opposed to the German version which looks like this:

(c) auto-news.de
(c) auto-news.de

If that wasn’t enough proof, the next street scene shows yet another car with bogus Dresden plates, and from the small white stripe underneath the plate you can see its yet another US version. Also, the pickup truck in the center background proudly sports US plates just for the heck of it.

Image (c) NBC
Image (c) NBC

Tom Christof shoots the driver and flees the scene on his bike, leaving the driver-less car careen into the next wall. The entire scene doesn’t look like it could be set in Dresden to anyone who was even remotely near Dresden in the last decade, but you can’t blame them for trying. Look, there even is Bernds Brauhaus (brewing house, usually a place to drink freshly brewed beer) in the background, because as anyone knows, these things are like Starbucks in Germany – literally everywhere. And look, the building is “ZU VERMIETEN” (to let) as well! Looks legit!

Image (c) NBC
Image (c) NBC

What’s with the red arrow, you ask? Oh, that … I wonder what “Aperture” means and why it would be written across the facade of a Brauhaus in Dresden?

Image (c) Google
Image (c) Google

Oh, it’s the Aperture Foundation located at 550 W 27th Street in New York City? Huh, someone must have mixed up the footage there. Whoops!

And let’s just take a look where the car ended up after the driver died:

Image (c) NBC
Image (c) NBC

Right in front of a delivery truck covered in German graffito, if anyone still had any doubts about the location.

13 comments

  1. I found your blog/article very interesting. You caught discrepancies in the Blacklist that most people or Americans would probably never catch. I am from Europe, from Hungary, to be precise. So I am replying with this note, simply because I happened to notice one more such discrepancy in the discussed episode of Blacklist. There is a brief night-view image of a river with a lit up bridge and with “Dresden, Germany” written on the screen. Well, it’s not Dresden, but it’s Budapest, Hungary and the night-vies of the Chain Bridge over the river Danube. It’s clearly recognizable (at least for me, who is from there), that the left side of the screen shows the hillier Buda side of the capital of Hungary with the lit-up view of the King Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion in the background. I checked, and while there is a river near Dresden, Germany, and even a bridge, neither of those match the sight that’s on the screen trying to tell the viewer that they are seeing the view of Dresden. While I am enjoying the show tremendously (I actually like the story line), this little “hick up” makes me feel the American screen writers and directors need to pay closer attention to details like this. I assume, they’re planning on eventually airing the show in Hungary too (if they haven’t yet), but they need to know that people in Hungary, and in Europe will recognize the places on the screen and won’t like the misrepresentation.

    1. Hey Gabriella, thank you for your reply!

      I must admit I didn’t even spot that discrepancy, likely because I have never been to Budapest or even Hungary in the first place. The show’s creators must have just seached for a stock video from “some European city with a river” and the first one they liked was from Budapest … well, considering how little care went into these two episodes, I’m not surprised!

  2. Pingback: TV Fails
  3. That thing with the number plates on the cars really made me cringe… :-/
    Oh, and they maybe took a “Rammstein” song b/c there are still a lot of people who claim that Rammstein actually is “Nazi music” or is somehow glorifying Nazis or has a nazi style or whatever, which of course is complete BS.
    And yes, I am am from Germany and I can judge this. 😉

      1. I watched it again and I am pretty sure that the song they used in this scene *pretends* to be Rammstein (or R.-style), but it is not one of their songs (maybe due to licensing issues or because Rammstein were already completely fed up with all that uhh-you-make-nazi-music-shit years ago).
        Even this detail is as cheesy as the whole episode… 😉

  4. Actually, the Google map is indeed Berlin (you can spot Alexanderplatz & the Jüdisches Museum in the map)..
    I am disappointed, I expected some town called Berlin tine the US.

    But your list of fails is really impressive ! I guess Europeans are not the core demographic here.

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