For me, Hardy Kruger really stood out in only two films — the model-plane engineer in The Flight of the Phoenix, of course, and Cpt. Potsdorf in Barry Lyndon. Kruger was always a convincing actor, but he never blew the roof off. Which is fine. He was who he was, stood his own ground.
I think it’s important to post this portion of his Wiki page, for clarity’s sake:
“From 1941 [when he was 13], Kruger attended an elite Adolf Hitler School at the Ordensburg Sonthofen. At the age of 15, Hardy made his film début in Alfred Weidenmann‘s The Young Eagles.
“In March 1945, Krüger was assigned to the 38th SS Division Nibelungen and was drawn into heavy combat. The 16-year-old Krüger was ordered to shoot at an American squad. When he refused, he was sentenced to death for cowardice, but another SS officer countermanded the order. Krüger described this experience as his break with Nazism. He afterwards served as a messenger for the SS, but later escaped and hid out in Tyrol until the end of the war.
“He was a member of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation and frequently spoke publicly against extremism and for democracy, citing his own experiences.”