The Captain of Köpenick

On October 16, 1906, an out-of-work German shoemaker named Wilhelm Voigt donned a second-hand military captain's uniform he had bought in a store, walked out into the street, and assumed control of a company of soldiers marching past. He led them to the town hall of Köpenick, a small suburb of Berlin, arrested the mayor and the treasurer on charges of embezzlement, and took possession of 4,000 marks from the town treasury. He then disappeared with the money. The incident became famous as a symbol of the blind obedience of German soldiers to authority — even fake authority.

The police tracked him down nine days later, and he was sentenced to four years in jail. But he proved to be such a likable character (and popular hero) that the Kaiser pardoned Voigt after he had served less than two years. Voigt subsequently pursued a career in show business, where he entertained audiences by re-enacting his stunt on the stage.
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