David Schwimmer’s character, Captain Herbert Sobel, is infamous among the men of Easy Company in HBO’s Band of Brothers for his strictness and seemingly malicious nature towards the men under his command, but was his real-life counterpart as bad as the television show portrayed him? Much of the focus on Captain Sobel takes place in Band of Brothers episode 1, “Currahee,” due to his role as the company’s drill instructor, as he was not a combatant. Band of Brothers portrays Sobel as a cruel and sometimes petty man who revoked weekend passes to the men under his command for infractions such as having dirty sights on their rifles.
Since Band of Brothers is based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Stephen E. Ambrose, David Schwimmer’s performance as Captain Sobel is based on the recollections of the surviving members of Easy Company. Questions surrounding the work’s historical accuracy arise as with any film or television adaptation of a real story. Since David Schwimmer’s performance as Captain Sobel is overwhelmingly negative, it would initially seem that his portrayal of the character in Band of Brothers is somewhat inaccurate.
Band Of Brothers’ Real Sobel Was Disliked In Real Life
Just as Band of Brothers portrays in “Currahee,” Captain Sobel was notorious among the men he trained for his pettiness and harsh treatment of those inferior in rank to himself. The scene where Sobel orders Easy Company to run up and down Currahee Mountain immediately after eating spaghetti in the mess hall is taken from real life. Many men did throw up but were forced to keep running by Sobel, as depicted in Band of Brothers. Due to this, and many other examples of harsh treatment, most members of Easy Company heavily disliked Captain Sobel.
However, there was a silver lining to Captain Sobel’s harsh treatment of Easy Company during training. Many members of Easy Company credit their survival of the Second World War with the preparation that Sobel had provided them, intentionally or otherwise. Major Richard Winters, played by Damian Lewis in Band of Brothers, even stated that “one of the reasons that Easy Company excelled was undoubtedly Captain Sobel.” While Band of Brothers’ depiction of Sobel as cruel but effective as a training officer is accurate, the show’s nature as a miniseries meant that it had to leave many of Captain Sobel’s real-life nuances out.
How The Real Sobel Was Different Compared To Band Of Brothers
The usually detailed Band of Brothers miniseries does not touch on Sobel’s private life, instead utilizing his character as an antagonist for the men of Easy Company to unite against. In real life, after the war, Sobel became an accountant and raised a family. He continued to serve in the Army reserve but eventually, became estranged from his family.
Sobel died at 75 in 1987 in a Veterans Affairs nursing home in Illinois. No funeral was held. However, his youngest son Michael defended his father’s actions at Currahee in the book We Who Are Alive and Remain. Many of the soldiers trained by Sobel, as depicted in Band of Brothers, have also posthumously defended Sobel, including the oft-subject of Sobel’s ire and mockery, Donald Malarkey. Captain Sobel’s cruel treatment of Easy Company may be accurately depicted in Band of Brothers, but the miniseries could not include the nuance of the man David Schwimmer’s character was based on.