Karl Ruprecht Kroenen
Appeared in Hellboy
Actor Ladislav Beran (film)
Adam Fulton (Zinco Epilogue)
Gender Male
Species Human
Occupation Nazi scientist

Karl Ruprecht Kroenen was a relatively unremarkable Nazi SS scientist, whose most distinguishing characteristic was that he always wore a gas mask and protective bodysuit, possibly due to severe obsessive-compulsive disorder and fear of bacteria.

Director Guillermo del Toro created a significantly expanded biography for the character, to appear as a villain in the 2004 film adaptation.


A German scientist working for the Nazis, and a member of the Thule Society, Dr. Kroenen became one of the top scientists for Project Ragna Rok, and a close disciple of Grigori Rasputin, along with Ilsa Haupstein and Leopold Kurtz. He was present with Rasputin at the secret ritual in Scotland that brought Hellboy to the world.

Kroenen, Haupstein, and Kurtz were frozen inside a secret Nazi base, until they were resuscitated by industrialist Roderick Zinco, acting on Rasputin's orders. Kroenen resumed work on several of his former projects, including making an "Apocalypse Army" by combining corpses with robotics. He also convinced Zinco to retrieve the head of his colleague, Herman von Klempt, from South America. Kroenen retained an affection for his colleague, though Rasputin had rejected von Klempt as unsuitable for Ragna Rok. When von Klempt's head was re-animated, he tried to convince Kroenen to abandon Rasputin's plan - to awaken the Ogdru Jahad - and instead to use the Army to retrieve von Klempt's work in South America. Overhearing, Kurtz became furious and attacked von Klempt's head, screaming, "Rasputin is master!" In a panic, Kroenen seized a knife and killed Kurtz. When their plan failed, an enraged Rasputin struck Zinco blind. Wandering around, Zinco accidentally pressed a self-destruct button in the base, destroying it completely and taking Kroenen with it.

Kroenen apparently survived this explosion, as many years later, he appeared in a meeting room of the Zinco Corporation with Leopold Kurtz.

Other mediaEdit



In the movie adaptation of Hellboy, Kroenen's character is altered to have him as an assassin and Thule Society member renowned for his swordsmanship and using signature swords of his design. Guillermo Del Toro provided an expanded biography which appeared in a series of comic panels in the book Hellboy: The Art of the Movie, as well as in the special features of the film's DVD).

Born in Munich Germany in 1897, Karl Ruprecht Kroenen was a musical prodigy with angelic features and blonde hair who toured the capitals of Europe singing opera until his voice deepened with the onset of puberty. From a very early age, Kroenen demonstrated symptoms of masochism, whipping himself with a fresh branch of oak each day, and finds pleasure in pain. By his teenage years, feeling awkward, Kroenen's masochism developed into an extreme form of body dysmorphic disorder (termed "surgical addiction" in the film). In his obsession with physical perfection, Kronen conducted brutal experiments on his own body, including surgically removing his own eyelids, lips, and his toe- and finger nails. He also designed a tight-fitting gas mask to filter out germs, which he wore almost permanently. Kronen was quite adept with mechanical devices, believing that fusing mechanical constructs with living bodies would help create perfection. One of his early inventions was a clockwork nightingale that sang a Mozart aria perfectly.

In 1930, Kroenen met the resurrected Rasputin for the first time and quickly became his most loyal disciple. He subsequently joined the Nazi Party, and rose quickly through the ranks, joining the Schutzstaffel in 1933 and achieving the rank of Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel). He was awarded the Iron Cross for services to the Third Reich, including a tour of duty as commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp, where he served with distinction. Kroenen became head of the Thule Society, a group of German aristocrats obsessed with the occult. He helped them to spearhead Project Ragna Rok, engineering the portal generator that would conjure the Scarlet Beast, Hellboy, in October 1944.

When Allied Forces stormed the island off the coast of Scotland where Project Ragna Rok took place, Kroenen killed several American soldiers attacking the base before a grenade is thrown under the portal device by a young Professor Trevor Bruttenholm. Kroenen tried to retrieve the grenade, but his left hand was ripped apart by the portal before being blown away and impaled through the chest by a length of concrete reinforcing rod (or rebar). Though this severed his spine, Kronen somehow managed to disappear in the aftermath of the battle. Twelve years later, with dental records apparently confirming it, it is assumed that Kroenen died and was buried in an unmarked grave in Romania was found.

Kroenenface hand

Kroenen unmasked

However, Kroenen reappeared in 2004. Thanks to the inexplicable powers of science and black magic, Kroenen "repaired" himself with a prosthetic mechanical hand, a steel rod replacing the broken part of his spine, and a clockwork heart operated by a wind-up key implanted in his chest. By cranking the key, he was able to increase his speed and reflexes. After long decades, the blood in his veins dried up completely, leaving only dust, and rendering him virtually invulnerable to gunshot wounds. He could also turn the key to "switch off" his body (literally), remaining in a dormant state and appearing dead, until he was reanimated. He used this deceptive technique to infiltrate the BPRD headquarters. After critically wounding BPRD Agent Clay, he faked his own death and lay beside Clay, and they were both taken into the headquarters. Once inside, Kroenen drew Rasputin there, and personally killed the now elderly Professor Bruttenholm, before disappearing with Rasputin.

The BPRD tracked Rasputin to his own mausoleum beneath Moscow. Hellboy seemingly avenged Bruttenholm's death by throwing Kroenen into an impalement trap — a spiked pit hidden beneath a trapdoor. Skewered on the stakes, Kroenen then watched helplessly (though laughing before he realised his unfortunate fate) as Hellboy dropped a giant cog on top of him, his fate afterwards remains unknown.

The Zinco EpilogueEdit

He was set to reappear in the third installment, as an alternate ending meant to set up the start of the third movie was made. It had Zinco being led by Russian Mercenaries to his pit. After Zinco betrayed the mercenaries by having his men gun them down, he returns to Zinco Enterprises with his body in tow. However, his company is not willing to do the procedure as not only was it illegal, but borderline occultist. He then decides to go to the Arctic, where a remnant of the Project Ragna Rok base was located. After nearly being killed by a collapsing Ice Shelf, he then inserts Kroenen's head into a machine dome. Completely revived by the machine, Kronen laughs insidiously and tells his "master" that this was just what he promised. Zinco is initially confused as to why he called him Master, until he heard someone coming behind him. It turns out that Grigori Rasputin somehow returned from the grave and he tells Zinco and Kroenen that they have served them well and that he has one more task for them.

Weapons and equipmentEdit

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Karl wore the mask in the first picture when he is at the base, fixing himself. The second mask was shown when he needed to fight and readying for battle. The third mask made its appearance when Kroenen went to fake his death and kill Clay.

Kroenen's comics version is a fairly ordinary scientist, who seems to possess some surgical training.

In his initial appearance, while wearing a Schutzstaffel black uniform, Kroenen wields a Luger P08 pistol against the attacking U.S. soldiers, and then a pair of Katar (कटार)-like (shodo) daggers that extend from the sleeves of his trench coat.

In his later appearances, he wields a pair of tonfa blades, and also has several other daggers strapped to his suit.

Kroenen is also briefly seen in his workshop, which many disturbing gadgets and several different versions of his gas mask are seen.


  • Kroenen's battered gas mask can be seen several times in Hellboy II in a display case along with a golden mask that resembles the head of Sammael.
  • Kroenen has killed Allied troops, BPRD agents, and Trevor Bruttenholm, the man who threw the grenade which took his hand.
  • This portrayal in the film is radically different from the comics. Kroenen, who originally played the part of a meek character, who Del Toro describes as someone who is likely to say "Aargh! Don't break the machine!" is here portrayed as a murderous soldier who is inhumanly loyal to Rasputin.
  • In the original script for Hellboy, the young Professor Bruttenholm describes Kroenen as "one of the Reich's top scientists, and head of the Thule Occult Society." In the film release, the line was re-dubbed so that the first phrase was replaced by "Hitler's top assassin."
  • The film incarnation of Kroenen bears many striking similarities to Voldo of the Soulcalibur series of fighting games.


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