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Field Marshal Franz Vahlen is the main antagonist of Sniper Elite III, serving as the commanding officer of a top-secret project codenamed Project Seuche, in North Africa.

Sniper Elite 3[]

Franz Vahlen's concept art.

Franz Vahlen is a Nazi officer with the rank of Generalfeldmarschall (Field Marshal, the highest of the German Army at the time) serving in North Africa with the Afrikakorps and its ally, the Royal Italian Army. An advocate of nerve gas in World War I, he is in charge of a top-secret project codenamed Project Seuche (meaning plague or epidemic).

Project Seuche is, in fact, a project to build a supertank codenamed Ratte (German for rat), which Vahlen is planning to use in order to push the Allies from Egypt all the way to the Middle East. Vahlen, however, starts getting megalomanic and dreams of conquering Europe after the Afrikakorps win in North Africa, and then toppling the Führer himself. Some of his officers, having discovered his plans, steal his diary - which contains details of his master plan - and try to send this information by courier to Hitler, warning him of Vahlen's betrayal. Unfortunately for them, the courier - part of "The Three Musketeers" - is intercepted in the Siwa Oasis by the NID sniper Karl Fairburne, nicknamed by the German troops as the Wüstengeist - the Desert Ghost.

Fairbourne ultimately tracks Vahlen down to the Ratte Factory, a complex encrusted into a cave, where the Ratte prototype is being built. Vahlen knowns the "Desert Ghost" is getting close and keeps pushing his team to work ever harder, enforcing double shifts and threatening then with ration reductions and death - he even throws a German soldier in the factory's chasm.

General Vahlen surprises Karl Fairbourne when he is leaving the control run in the top floor of the complex, heading for an elevator. Karl had just set charges in critical points of the area. Vahlen then starts a monologue about being the same as Fairbourne, "workers of war".

"Ah. The Desert Ghost himself?

The man who single-handedly tore through Halfaya, stole into Siwa, dueled with a Tiger in Kasserine. And crippled our supply lines... I am an admirer of your work. We are the same, you and I. We are both soldiers, workers of war.

We love our work."

Fairburne takes offense with such comparison, sharply answering "We are not the same" as he points to Vahlen. The demolition charges start exploding and Karl makes a run for the elevator, jumping into it as the charges blow up behind him. The elevator takes Karl down to the hangar holding the Ratte.

Karl Fairburne shoots Franz Vahlen with his own Luger pistol.

Agent Fairburne manages to destroy the supertank, with Vahlen only barely escaping the explosion and getting trapped under debris. When approached by Fairbourne, he pleads for help. Instead, Karl takes Vahlen's Luger, and tells him that the difference between them is that he remember's who he killed, hinting he does it himself instead of depending on others like Vahlen. Karl then empties the magazine and picks the bullet he saved for Vahlen.

Karl executes Vahlen at point blank range with a shot to the forehead, in cold blood.


Franz Vahlen has the standard feldgrau (field-grey) uniform of the German Army (Heer) in-game, having the tropical khaki uniform in the concept art. He has the rank Generalfeldmarschall and many decorations, including the coveted Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, and a silver lanyard. Correctly worn on the neck, his Knight's Cross is adorned with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds, the highest level of such award; with only 27 men being awarded with the Diamond in real life. On his chest he has a set of ribbons which would include decorations awarded in the First World War, where he was an enthusiastic advocate of nerve gas. On his left pocket Vahlen has a Iron Cross 1st class, and the ribbon of the Iron Cross 2nd class is worn from the second buttonhole in the tunic. On his right arm he has the Ärmelband (cuff title) with the inscription AFRIKAKORPS.

This cuff title was instituted in July 1941, in dark-green with a white and khaki border, to be worn on the right cuff by members of the DAK who had served a minimum of two months in Africa. This was a corps designation badge, not a campaign award, and personnel who permanently transferred out of the North African theatre no longer had the right to wear it. On 15 January 1943 the Africa cuff title was instituted by Adolf Hitler as a formal campaign decoration. This new Ärmelband introduced palm trees flanking the words AFRIKA. At first requiring six months of service in the North African theatre of operations (exception to men killed or wounded), this was eventually shortened to four months. The Afrika/Afrikakorps cuff title would be a common sight in Italy, as veterans would serve in reformed units during the Sicilian and Italian campaigns.

On Vahlen's shoulder boards he has the rank of Generalfeldmarschall with red Waffenfarbe and golden gallons with the crossed marshal battons. His neck insignia has the collar Litzen for Generalfeldmarschall.

Sniper Elite 4[]

Leutnant Ernst Vahlen in Italy as he appears in-game.

Franz Vahlen does not appear in the Sniper Elite 4: Italia, instead, a young officer with the name Ernst Vahlen holds a key in Allagra Fortress. His description identifies him as the son of the late Franz Vahlen.

In Sniper Elite 4 his title of Generalfeldmarschall is abbreviated as General.


Marshal Franz Vahlen is available in the Multiplayer of Sniper Elite 3 under the designation of "Vahlen" and with the following description:

"Cold-hearted and dedicated to the job. Everything is permissible in the business of war."


Concept Art[]