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Wilhelm Voigt
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Outlaw
    (February 13, 1849-January 3, 1922)
    Born in Tilsit, Prussia (now Sovetsk, Russia)
    Birth name was Friedrich Wilhelm Voigt
    Shoemaker and petty criminal
    Wearing a second-hand uniform, impersonated a Prussian officer and took command of a group of 11 soldiers (October 16, 1906)
    Led them to the Berlin suburb of Köpenick, occupied city hall, ordered the mayor and treasurer arrested, and seized 4,000 marks from the treasury
    Arrested 10 days later
    Sentenced to four years in prison for forgery, impersonating an officer and wrongful imprisonment
    Pardoned by Kaiser Wilhelm II (1908)
    Known as 'the Captain of Köpenick'
    At 14, he was expelled from school and spent two weeks in jail for stealing from his classmates.
    He spent a total of 25 of the next 30 years in jail after being repeatedly busted for theft and forgery.
    He died broke, having lost his money to post-WWI hyperinflation.
    He took advantage of German soldiers being indoctrinated to obey orders without questioning.
    He became a folk hero among much of the public, who were amused by his audacity.
    The Kaiser reportedly called him 'an ingenious fellow' while pardoning him.
    After his release, he made a living re-enacting his exploits on the stage.

Credit: C. Fishel


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