Karl Schneider is a German-born citizen of Rapture, born in 1903.
Karl was born in the small town of Ramstein in Germany in January 1903, the third of five children. His father, Otto, was a retired soldier and war veteran (now a farmer) and his mother, Martha, was a teaching assistant at the local school. His early life was fairly good, his family had a comfortable, stable middle class existence and while his parents were occasionally aggressive, argumentative or drunk, they were loving and supportive. Karl was a friendly, popular child who had keen interests in history, geography and other cultures, and had an ambition of being an explorer and adventurer. He was often found at the bottom of a tree with bruised knees, having tried to climb to the top with his friends. He also always placed pride in obedience, patriotism and not being nosy, virtues that he would one-day come to hate.
Karl was only 11 at the time the Great War started, and while originally the concept of war intrigued him and he envied his conscripted elder friends and relatives (his father, in his mid-50s, avoided the draft this time round), as he got older, he saw the affects it was having and got more cynical. However, he developed an enthusiasm for military tactics and weaponry and he developed another ambition; to be a soldier, despite his own misgivings about war itself, he loved the travel, the experiences and the excitement it provided.
The later years of the war and the early years of the Weimar Republic were hard for the Schneider family; the family, a family of savers, were ruined in particular by the hyperinflation of 1923. Karl, now a young man, joined a local military academy and began training for army service. He also became a supporter of a small centre-left political party in Germany and became an active debater and campaigner, having a low view of political extremism (such as Nazism and communism) yet still wanting change to help Germany out of the post-War problems, for example the problems created by the Treaty of Versailles.
Karl settled into the army quickly, and became a popular member of his division viewed by his superiors as a loyal, good man with a lot of potential. He did very well in training and written tests, and mastered the firearms available quickly. While he saw hardly any real action, except for the occasional violent protest getting out of hand, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant within a couple of years. He also met a girl named Anna, a girl from an aristocratic, fairly wealthy background who was great at playing the piano, at a bar in 1925, and the two began talking and hit it off. The relationship was successful and they got married in 1927.
In between 1927 and 1929, Anna and Karl brought a comfortable home in Munich, Karl received a couple more rank promotions, and tragically both Otto and Martha Schneider passed away peacefully in their sleep at the ages of 68 and 70 respectively. Just as everything was going fine for Germany, the Wall Street Crash struck, and the country was reduced to poverty, mass unemployment and political instability. Civil war was a serious threat at one point, and Karl and Anna suffered a lot from the economic chaos in Germany (Anna losing her job at an office and the couple almost losing their house at one point), both watching helplessly as the situation worsened.
The Nazis used these problems to seize power. Karl watched in disgust and concern as the extremists went into power, but ultimately went on with his life. He didn't think they were being that harmful, and mostly viewed them as a fad, at the time anyway. He thought there was nothing he could against them anyway. He even cuckolded his siblings as they left Germany. He cut off links to the political party he supported in his youth as he was busy with other things (like family, work and other interests), unaware this may have saved his life as the Gestapo smashed the now-outlawed party to the ground shortly after he left.
Path to WarEdit
Karl, while not supportive of war and holding a low opinion of Nazism, did appreciate the extra funding and support the armed services were receiving, and did support some of the more mundane economic Nazi policies. For the most part, he was appalled as Nazi policies got more aggressive and hostile, yet failed to do anything about it, like most Germans, being too scared and too patriotic and ignorant of the full extent of Nazi policies and believing he couldn't stop anything. For the most part, he got on with his life, becoming an avid landscape painter and he and Anna had a boy (named Wilhelm) in 1934.
When the Nazis began invading other countries, Schneider was disgusted and appalled in every possible way and temporarily tried getting out or protesting the actions, but was repeatedly shot down and was posted on the front lines. Resigned to the wars, he decided to get on with his job, for Germany, but tried doing it humanely. He achieved a good reputation; his platoon won several key skirmishes and captured large numbers of POWs. They also received a reputation of being very respectful and non-violent towards civilians and noncombatants. He remained a harsh critic of German policy and warmongering, telling his views to anyone who would listen.
Eventually, when the war was in full swing, Schneider was posted in Africa under Rommel, where he became an officer well-known for his honour, dignity, kindness and respect for human life. Schneider was a member of the Afrikakorps, well-known for never being found guilty of war crimes and for not obeying orders to kill Jewish POWs, among other things. He heard an occasional rumour amongst other ranks and the POWs of the atrocities in Europe, and he could not believe it simply because of the scale, cruelty and implausibility of the atrocities.
When the war in Africa began turning against Germany, Schneider was captured by the British and thrown in a POW camp. He was a good prisoner, cultured and friendly and always looking for a good chat (he particularly enjoyed political debates and exchanges of war stories, both with Axis and Allied soldiers), yet still retained his patriotism and his naive refusal to believe the (still rare) vague, sketchy rumours he heard now and again about various atrocities committed in Europe in Germany's name. He had never seen any proper evidence for the claims, and refused to believe them and thought them impossible.
The war ended in 1945, and Schneider returned home. In the post war confused mess that was Germany, it took Karl a few weeks to find his family and his home. Anna had moved to Berlin with Wilhelm as the war got worse. Unfortunately, Wilhelm was given a uniform and a weapon in the Battle of Berlin as German commanders got more desperate and cruel, and he was slain by a Soviet tank shell. Karl spent so many days mourning the loss of his beloved son and trying to get his life back into order, it took him a short while to pay attention to the news and the talk on the street; the rumours were real. The Nazis had murdered at least 12 million civilians in one of the biggest mass murders in history.
Schneider could not believe how easily he had been duped, both by propaganda and his own disbelief and lack of curiosity, into ignoring the rumours. He was shocked, and blamed himself for not trying to stop them, despite Anna trying to comfort him and assure him he couldn't have done much and he couldn't have found out without hindsight or luck. Schneider could not get over the shock of what he had been fighting for; not prosperity, not security, not Germany, but he had been fighting in ignorance for murder. His son had died, at the age of 11, in the name of genocide and death. Schneider never recovered from the guilt, pain, anger, sadness, self-hate and disgust he felt.
Schneider was a mess, and could not bear the surface world any more, especially as the victors of the war began carving Germany and Berlin up. He considered suicide, but Anna talked him out of it. Eventually, and to his death, he had no idea how, she procured two tickets to Rapture. They could now escape the horrors, regrets and memories of the surface world.
The two sold off their assets and went down to Rapture, where they were able to start an antiques store. Anna worked at the front off the store, socialising and selling products. Karl, on the other hand, spent most of his time alone in the back of the store, drinking, painting, writing, thinking, keeping an eye on the news (in paranoia that Rapture may go the same way Germany went) and managing the business finances. When he did talk to others, he avoided discussing his past, his background or his politics. He mostly ignored the creation of ADAM, however Anna became an avid and keen Splicer, splicing up with all the latest plasmids and tonics. Schneider did however become addicted to smuggled-in cocaine.
As time went on, Schneider observed how society fell. He noticed that Ryan was becoming increasingly draconian and Hitleresque, with public hangings and rumours of gulags and concentration camps down at Apollo Square. Determined to put a stop to this madness and to not just sit back for the second time in his life while a dictator committed great evils, he began Splicing up, planning on transforming himself into a one-man army to take down Ryan and return order and peace to Rapture. However, splicing was not good for someone with the dark memories and mental instability like Karl had.
Karl was completely crazy, like most of Rapture. However, he still retained his morals and his memories, like most Splicers. And when he saw Anna (the two had become increasingly separated from each other recently, and the marriage was on the rocks) obviously working as a prostitute for extra money, he was overcome with rage. When she went back home to play on the piano, he slit her throat and left her sitting in her chair, slouched over the piano. He locked the door, and never returned to the room again. The guilt, depression and paranoia had taken him over completely, and he spent the rest of his days being a crazed, violent Splicer marching through the abandoned corridors of Rapture, muttering "links zwo drei vier" to keep in step.