A Guide To The Many Main Characters On Babylon Berlin

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Babylon Berlin is, far and away, Netflix's most compelling alternative to a history textbook. The epic show takes place in the Weimar Republic, the German state that existed between WWI and the Nazi party's takeover in 1933. And who knew the Weimar Republic was this racy? In large underground clubs, groups of people dance late into the evening, and visit shadowy basements to indulge in all manner of sexual curiosities. And in the streets, communist workers clash with police forces, both fighting over the future of the country.
When he's transferred from Cologne to Berlin, police inspector Gereon Rath (Volker Bruch) lands right into this social and political turmoil. In his position on the vice squad, Rath comes in contact with just about every axis of Berlin's counter-culture. This level of plot and historical detail can lead to confusion. You might find yourself asking which of these people is a communist, and which one is a traitor, and which one is a police inspector, again?
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We're here to help. Here's a guide to all the main characters in Babylon Berlin, and what they want.
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Gereon Rath
Played By: Volker Bruch

Who is he? Gereon is a 29-year-old police detective who was transferred from Cologne, a city in Western Germany, to join the vice squad in Berlin. Gereon is well-connected in the world of law enforcement — his father is abut to become the Police Chief of of Cologne. After serving in WWI, Gereon develops PTSD (then called shell shock) and a morphine addiction.

What does he want? He is trying to get to the bottom of a Berlin-based pornography ring, and has personal motivations for doing so.
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Charlotte Ritter
Played By: Liv Lisa Fries

Who is she? Charlotte (called Lotte by her family) is terribly poor, like many Berliners of the time. But she's also extremely resourceful, self-sufficient, and positive. She works as a stenotypist for the homicide department, and eventually becomes Rath's assistant. Lotte leads a double life — each night, she visits Moka Efti, a massive nightclub in Berlin, and works as a sex worker, especially catering to customers with BDSM fetishes.

What does she want? She wants to work her way up the vice squad, and become an investigator like Rath.
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Bruno Wolter
Played By: Peter Kurth

Who is he? Wolter is Gereon Rath's volatile, unpredictable partner on the Berlin vice squad. He is at once aggressive and corrupt, and loyal and kind. Wolter operates outside of the conventional rule structure.

What does he want? Wolter doesn't quite trust Rath, and wants to figure out why Rath was transferred from Cologne.
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Svetlana Sorokina
Played By: Severija Janusauskaite

Who is she? Svetlana is a Russian countess and a singer. In the Berlin party scene, Svetlana is known for being a performer at the Moka Etfi nightclub, where she performs an elaborate routine in drag. She's actually involved with an underground group of Russian ex-pats who want to oust Stalin, and put Trotsky back in power. Her lover, Alexander Kardakov, is the leader of the group.

What does she want? She definitely doesn't share Kardakov's ideal objectives. She looks out for herself, and hides her motives from everyone. Above all, she wants her family's gold.
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(Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)
Alexej Kardakow
Played By: Ivan Shvedoff

Who is he? Kardakow is a Russian violin virtuoso. Extremely charismatic and politically motivated, he organizes a group of fellow Trotskyists. He and his lover, Svetlana, try to smuggle her family's gold into Berlin. Coincidentally, Kardakow is the former tenant of the room in which Gereon Rath now lives.

What does he want? To bring Trotsky out from exile in Istanbul, and reinstall him in power.
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Elizabeth Behnke
Played By: Fritzi Haberlandt

Who is she? After her husband dies in the war, Elizabeth supports herself by renting out rooms. Kardakov stays in one bedroom, but leaves suddenly without paying a month's worth of rent. Rath takes Kardakow's room.

What does she want? Her rent! She is one of many people who wants Kardakow found.
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Greta Overbeck
Played By: Leonie Benesch

Who is she? Greta and Charlotte had met on holiday in 1922. In the present day, they run into each other in the streets of Berlin. Charlotte takes her under her wing, and discovers that after being manipulated and then abandoned by a lover, Greta is homeless.

What does she want? Greta's desperate to find a way out of her situation, and recognizes, quite intelligently, that Charlotte can help.
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Alfred Nyssen
Played By: Lars Eidinger

Who is he? Alfred Nyssen is the heir to a German steel dynasty (must be nice). He works for a secret organization and is in love with Svetlana.

What does he want? Svetlana, mostly — even though he doesn't know her true character.
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Photo by Gisela Schober/Getty Images for GALA
Edgar the Armenian
Played By: Misel Maticevic

Who is he? Edgar is the leader of a gang. In the first episode, we get a glimpse of his brutal tactics. His restaurant's alcohol provider gave them low-quality booze, so he served him his brother's tongue.

What does he want? Power!
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. (Photo by Isa Foltin/Getty Images)
Franz Krajewski
Played By: Henning Peker

Who is he? After WWI, Krajewski tried returning to the police force. However, he was too emotionally scarred from the war, and dropped out, becoming a heroin addict. From there, he became involved with underground pornography. At the start of the series, Krajewski almost kills Rath during their raid of the porn filming. Wolter recruits Krajewski to be a spy.

What does he want? We don't know what we wants; we know what he's forced to do — and that's work with the vice squad.
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