There's No Place Like Home (part 4)
Linda Groundwater

Chapter Thirty-Six






Kinch handed Hogan a clipboard full of his scribblings and watched as the Colonel looked it over. “Well that’s something, but it still leaves us plenty in the dark,” Hogan said with a sigh. He moved to the desk in his office and sat down. “We’ve got to get more; this isn’t enough to make a solid judgment on.”


“London says they didn’t hear anything about him after that until we told them he was here,” Kinch informed his commander.


Hogan shook his head. “There has to be more,” he said. He stayed silent for a moment, thinking. Suddenly he snapped his fingers. “Got it. Kinch, remember Major Hans Teppel, Abwehr?”


“You mean that Morrison fella, the American?”


“That’s right—Robert Morrison, from Milwaukee. He’s been with Abwehr for ten years. If Eichberger was with military intelligence, he’s bound to have come across him. Let’s see if we can’t get a little information from a former superior officer.”


“How are we supposed to get through to him? It’s not like I can say I’m just curious about my new Kommandant.”


You can’t… but someone else can,” Hogan said. “How about this: get Newkirk to put on one of his Kraut accents and call Abwehr Headquarters. Have him ask for Teppel, and tell him General Burkhalter wants a meeting here at Stalag 13, to review recent events. Use the code I have so he’s knows it’s us. Then have Newkirk ring Burkhalter to suggest the same thing. We should be able to make contact with Morrison while he’s here and fill him in. He’s bound to be able to give us some background information.”


“And what happens if Burkhalter finds out he’s been set up for a phony meeting? Won’t he go off his head?”


“In front of Abwehr?” Hogan asked. “Not a chance. We’ll just have to make sure we get to Teppel first.”


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Newkirk came up from the tunnel, heaving a sigh as he approached Hogan’s office. Hogan met him on the way out, and frowned at the downcast look on the Corporal’s face. “What’s the matter?” Hogan asked, concerned.


“No go, sir. Teppel’s on rest leave.”


“Rest leave!” Hogan echoed. “That’s great; that’s just great. When is he supposed to be back?”


“Not for two weeks. All I could do was leave a ruddy message.”


“You made sure they took down the code?”


“Yes, sir. He’ll know for sure it was us when he gets back from his holiday.”


“And by then, we’ll have dug ourselves in even deeper.”


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


Hogan took a moment to let his eyes follow Hilda as she walked around the desk outside the Kommandant’s office. In his life as senior POW officer under Klink, Hogan had often had time for some brief rendezvous with the attractive blonde secretary. And she had willingly responded to his attention—sometimes for nylons, or perfume, or chocolate, and sometimes just for her own pleasure. But since his arrest and subsequent return to camp, Hogan had been pre-occupied, and flirting had been the last thing on his mind. Until this morning. I must be feeling better, Hogan thought with some mischievous satisfaction.


Hilda turned from the filing cabinet she had swayed to and looked Hogan in the eye. “Captain Eichberger is in conference this morning, Colonel Hogan. I don’t think he is ready to see you yet today.” She smiled coyly at him and went back to her desk.


“Conference?” Hogan repeated. “But there’s no one in there with him, is there? I didn’t see anyone come into camp.”


“No,” Hilda confirmed. “But he is on the telephone with Major Hochstetter.” She made a face. “I don’t think things are going very well. He has raised his voice more than once.”


Hogan furrowed his brow. “Hochstetter, huh? How long have they been at it?”


“About fifteen minutes. Why?”


“Just wondering. Klink couldn’t last two minutes with ol’ Wolfie. I was curious about how long Eichberger could hold out.”


Hilda paused in her paperwork. “It was very different working for Kommandant Klink than it is working for Captain Eichberger,” she said.




Hilda shrugged. “Maybe it is because the Captain is new, but he spends much more time talking with Berlin. He does not seem to be happy trying to run things himself. At least Colonel Klink had some independence.”


Hogan let what Hilda was saying sink in. “Well, he probably needs more help. After all, a lot happened here that never happened when Klink was around,” he said slowly.


Hilda shrugged. “Perhaps. But all that shouting.” She shook her head distastefully.


Hogan smiled and came in closer to the desk. “You need to get your mind off your troubles,” he said in a low voice.


My troubles?” she asked. “I don’t think I have any troubles, Colonel Hogan.” But Hilda smiled winningly at Hogan all the same.


He sat down on the corner of the desk. “Mm, that’s too bad,” Hogan said smoothly, happy to be feeling somewhat normal again. “I was hoping to help you forget all about them.” He leaned in closer as Hilda looked up at him from under her fringe, and he was about to claim the first female comfort he had had in almost longer than he could remember, when the door to the office opened suddenly and nearly threw him off balance and onto the floor.


“Ah, Colonel Hogan, I was hoping you would come by this morning. Please, come in.” Eichberger’s voice sounded far more cheerful than Hogan felt, now deprived of the pleasures of Hilda. She shrugged innocently and returned to her typewriter as Hogan sighed and pulled himself away from the desk and into the inner office.


“Your timing stinks,” Hogan complained, as Eichberger closed the door behind him and went around his desk to sit down.


“Well, how was I to know you were in… cahoots… with my secretary?”


“Are you kidding?” Hogan asked. “You’re in a prison camp, Eichberger. Anything in a skirt is fair game. Kraut secretary or not.” He crossed his arms. “I hear you’ve been having words with Major Hochstetter.”


“Ah, yes,” Eichberger said, clearing his throat. “I don’t mind telling you that he’s been making my life rather miserable for the last few weeks. He wants to have words with you, Colonel Hogan. Badly.”


“He wants more than words, and I’m not about to let him do that. Are you?”


Eichberger shook his head. “I promised you that would not happen, Colonel. And it will not. He is applying as much pressure as he can, but I am getting the support of General Burkhalter, and that is helping.”


“Burkhalter’s backing you up?” Hogan asked, surprised.


“He does not want this camp’s routine disturbed, Colonel. I have convinced him that I am a by-the-book, thorough man, whose only interest is in keeping you and the others in line. And that includes strict adherence to all camp rules, and even stricter disciplinary measures when necessary. That is why, of course, I had to keep you in the cooler for the full thirty days. It would have done my position no good for Burkhalter to find you wandering around the compound after only a week.”


Hogan nodded. “It wouldn’t have hurt mine any.”


Eichberger smiled briefly. “Actually, I daresay that being in the cooler gave you a chance to recover from your escapades, albeit it in a bit colder climate.” Hogan did not appear convinced. Eichberger shrugged. “Ah well, we do what we must, yes? And I did. So now, Colonel Hogan, it is time to cause some more headaches for the Third Reich.”


“What have you got this time?”


“This one will require a more delicate touch,” Eichberger said. “A very important scientist, Klaus Schoendorfer, is coming to Stalag 13 on Friday on his way to a meeting with some of the brass in Berlin. He will need lodging overnight and is staying in camp. He is carrying with him plans for a special experimental rocket fuel. Now, the Nazis have tried this kind of thing before and failed. But this one is supposed to be just the ticket. And unlike the other geniuses, this man has it all written down.”


Hogan knitted his brow. “Sounds too easy,” he said.


“I haven’t gotten to the delicate part yet. Schoendorfer isn’t your friendly sort. He speaks to no one, and I mean no one. So finding out where the stuff is will be tricky.”


“Why is it this regime attracts all the nuts? Where are you planning on putting him?”


“I was considering the VIP hut.” Eichberger paused. “If that’s convenient for you.”


“What would be convenient is Schoendorfer deciding that he wants to defect and just handing the formula over voluntarily.”


Eichberger shook his head, amused. “You constantly amaze me, Colonel. I understand now how you have survived in this war so long.”


“You mean it isn’t my charm and good looks?” Hogan quipped, not yet at ease.


Eichberger laughed out loud. “Hogan! You are a wonder. So the VIP hut is acceptable.”


“It’s fine. And don’t worry; I’ll make sure he’s handled delicately.”


“Schoendorfer has to remain in the German system, Hogan. His disappearance would cause such an uproar as to bring all of the Third Reich down on us. And at the moment we cannot afford that.”


Hogan sighed. “So we don’t dispose of him, we just steal the plans.”


“Dispose of…Colonel Hogan, were you considering assassinating him?”


“If we had to, but obviously it appears we can’t. I can’t think of any other way that a dead rocket fuel stays dead.” He mused for a moment. “We’ll just have to make sure the Allies get enough information to be able to discredit it or find a way to counter it.”


“You think so far ahead, Colonel, it is hard to keep up.”


“If I don’t think so far ahead, I could be dead.”


“How are we going to handle it?”


“There won’t be a ‘we’ this time, Eichberger. Leave this one to me.”


“You and your men will do this?”


Hogan hesitated. He was going to need someone else with him, but he was still reluctant to expose anyone else to Eichberger. “I’m going to need some help. Some of the people I use won’t even be aware that they are doing anything out of the ordinary. I’ll keep you posted.”


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


“Where else do we have contacts?” Kinch wracked his brain trying to think of other ways to get more information on Eichberger.


Hogan sighed again, one in a collection that he noticed was starting to wear him down. Maybe he should just close up shop and get out anyway; he could use the rest. “Everywhere. But no one seems to know about our mystery man. We’re going to have to piece it together ourselves.”


“That is a dangerous undertaking, Colonel,” Le Beau observed.


“No more dangerous than anything we’re doing now,” Hogan replied. He took a deep breath to collect himself. “Let’s go through what we have as absolute fact so far: Black Forest is dispatched from London fourteen months ago to infiltrate the Abwehr and work with any agents we have there. Seven months ago, he disappears without a trace. London worries that he’s been found out and killed. They wait for the fallout in case he talked before he was executed, but nothing happens. About a month later, Eichberger shows up in the Luftwaffe, fresh with a transfer from the Abwehr, looking to work his way up the ladder, and when the opportunity arises, he wheedles his way into Stalag 13, where he reveals himself to me and starts taking an active role in sabotage missions. He’s awkward, but he seems sincere, and so far, he’s kept his promises to keep the Gestapo—and Burkhalter—at bay.” Hogan ran his hands over his face to give himself time to think before concluding, “I’m worrying over nothing. It all sounds perfectly logical.” He looked down at his cup of coffee, quickly going cold before him on the table. “Sorry, fellas. My judgment’s been all off-balance lately. I just can’t seem to get back in the rhythm of it. Maybe it’s time I hand over.”


Concerned looks spread over his men’s faces. “What?” Newkirk blurted out before he could stop himself.


“Not a chance,” Carter added.


“You’re just feeling out of sorts after everything that’s happened,” Kinch declared. “That’s normal, Colonel. It doesn’t mean you’re supposed to step down.”


Oui, Kinch is right,” Le Beau agreed. “The operation is not worth running without you back in command, Colonel.”


Hogan rubbed his forehead slowly, closing his eyes to try and blot out the current and remembered images playing before him. Finally, he stopped and put on a wry smile. “I must be the only guy in the world whose retirement is dictated by his employees.”


Le Beau exhaled in relief. “Let’s get back to work,” he suggested.


Hogan nodded and shook himself out of his mood. There have been too many moods lately. “Okay. We have this Schoendorfer to worry about. There’s not going to be a chance to build any rapport with him. The best we can hope for is to distract him long enough to go rifling through his things and see if we can find the formula. Eichberger’s agreed to organize a nice dinner for Herr Schoendorfer in his quarters, which means the VIP hut will be vacant for awhile. Kinch, I want you and Carter to sneak in there while I’m wining and dining Mr. Charm to see if you can find the papers. Le Beau…”


Oui, I know. Kitchen duty.”


“Absolutely. And Newkirk, you, too. I’m going to need you to pat him down in case he’s carrying the documents on him instead of leaving them in his quarters.”


“Right, Colonel.”


“Meanwhile, Kinch, see if you can’t raise the Underground. We need to get Klink out of here, and London’s not being helpful at all.” Hogan thought of the Kommandant, stuck for what seemed like forever in an underground world he did not understand. “This is dragging out for him, and believe it or not I actually feel a bit sorry for him.”


Carter nodded. “It must be scary for him. He doesn’t know how he’s gonna be treated, no matter what we say to make him feel better.”


“We did whisk him away from his own world pretty quick,” Kinch admitted.


“If we hadn’t, he’d have been in another world anyway; I have no doubt about that,” Hogan said. “Hochstetter wouldn’t have taken the time to interrogate Klink before convincing a jury to find him guilty of treason.” Hogan paused as his own “interrogation”, ever-present in the recesses of his mind, came hurtling to the fore. He felt his stomach bottom out in that sickening way it did often now, and he was sure he had paled visibly.


The others couldn’t help but notice the change in their commanding officer, but they could think of nothing reassuring to say. Wilson had warned them that Hogan’s psyche would have been badly damaged by his experiences—the belief that he was going to die, the torturous lead-up to it that would have left him no hope of reprieve—and that only time would heal some of the more superficial mental wounds. Some of the more serious psychological injuries would never leave him, and over the coming months and years, he would have to find ways to cope with them. But for now, they simply left Hogan paralyzed, speechless, and his men could only watch, and hope for him, and try to support him in his pain.


“Well, then, he’s lucky he found us then, isn’t he?” Newkirk quipped, trying to lighten the mood in the room. Hogan looked at him gratefully. “I mean, not every prisoner has three meals a day served to him by people promising fine treatment and an all-expenses paid trip to London!”


“Via the scenic, underground route,” Kinch added.


Hogan nodded, desperate to latch onto the forced change in atmosphere.


“He is a lucky man,” Le Beau said. “I wish we could all head to London.”


“We will, Louis,” Carter said. “As soon as the war is over.”


All that was left then was to dream of when that would be.


Chapter Thirty-Seven



A Hero is Made



“Well, Herr Schoendorfer, I’m sure you will enjoy the wine and the company here this evening,” Hogan said heartily, trying to get the older man’s attention. Schoendorfer looked at the bottle held aloft in Newkirk’s hand, and at Hilda, dressed in a pretty but simple dress, and shook his head. Hogan shrugged at Hilda’s almost hurt look, and she turned to sit down on the sofa.


Newkirk raised his eyebrows at Hogan. “Now what?” he muttered under his breath.


“Food. Maybe food. Tell Louis to get moving on the meal. We have to find something that interests him.” Hogan smiled broadly as Newkirk moved away. “Herr Schoendorfer, even a man of your intellect must have something that brings him pleasure. Now what might that be?” Hogan wondered, steering himself toward the scientist, who had turned away and was looking at a portrait of Hitler on the wall. “Ah, the Fuhrer. Well, I imagine he is a great inspiration for you,” Hogan continued. “I must admit he doesn’t do much for me. But he does seem to inspire others—like Churchill and Patton and Eisenhower!” Hogan laughed, and even Eichberger lifted the edges of his lips in a smile. But Schoendorfer stayed unaffected.


Hogan heaved a sigh. “Oh, boy!” he said softly. “Tough room.” He turned to Eichberger. “How about some music, Kommandant?” he suggested.


Eichberger immediately came to his side. “A splendid idea, Hogan. Nothing like music to lend a lovely ambience to any setting.”


Hogan rolled his eyes toward the ceiling. Overacting was something he didn’t need. He met Eichberger over at the radio, while Schoendorfer seemed oblivious to the fuss being paid to him. “Careful, Eichberger,” Hogan cautioned him. “Ham isn’t one of my favorite meals.”


Eichberger gave a brief nod and turned on the radio. The strains of “Lili Marleen” met their ears. Hogan frowned momentarily, then put his hand out to turn off the noise as the unexpected voice of Axis Sally penetrated the room, starting to announce the names of Allied soldiers most recently taken prisoner by the enemy in Italy. “How did we end up with this?” Hogan asked acidly. He hadn’t been aware of Klink ever listening to propaganda broadcasts; Eichberger must have doctored the radio to be able to tune into this higher frequency, with broadcasts intended to wear down the Allied forces. Why he wanted to do this was a mystery Hogan refused to contemplate.


But as he started to turn the knob, he was surprised by a hand over his, stopping him. It was Schoendorfer, who stood, fascinated, listening. As Sally’s smooth, calming voice filled the room, Hogan watched Schoendorfer smile. Hogan looked at Hilda and raised an eyebrow. She nodded and sidled up to the scientist, offering her arm and guiding him over to the sofa to listen. He accepted the gesture and moved with her, never taking his eyes off the radio.


“Surely he’s seen a radio before?” Hogan said softly. Eichberger nodded. “Must be Axis Sally he likes.”


Eichberger shrugged his ignorance of the matter.  “Whatever it is, I think you have your insurance policy to keep him here.” He glanced at the clock on the wall; it was six forty-five. “This garbage stays on till seven thirty.”


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


Carter very slowly and quietly moved the plank that covered the tunnel leading into the VIP hut. The room was dark and, he was satisfied after a moment of listening, empty. He pulled himself up and into the room, then turned back and drew in the flashlights being held up for him to take. Finally, he helped Kinch climb in, and the two got to work.


“What are we looking for?” Carter whispered as the pair started rifling through the things Schoendorfer had brought with him to camp.


“Rocket fuel plans, Carter. You know—scientific formulas, numbers, letters, stuff like that?”


Carter grinned in the darkness. “I know that bit,” he said. “I mean, what will it be in?”


Kinch shrugged. “Could be anything. But it’s written down, so it’s gotta be somewhere.”


“I hope the Colonel can manage to keep Schoendorfer away from here long enough for us to look. I mean he didn’t seem like much of a party guy—did you see him when he came in?”


“Carter—concentrate on looking. We can work on his social skills after we track down his formula for the fuel.”


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


“You dance very nicely, Herr Schoendorfer,” Hilda said encouragingly, as Bruno and the Swinging Tigers played “Tomorrow is Another Day.” In truth, his moves were rather awkward, and Hilda felt herself being jerked around the room, but she had promised to do her best to keep the scientist happy—however it was he expressed that emotion—and so she determinedly kept up with his anything but fancy footwork. “How do you find time for it with your important work?”


The scientist didn’t answer her, but smiled vaguely and tried to awkwardly twirl her around. As Newkirk passed by with an arrangement of flowers to place on the dinner table, Schoendorfer backed into him and nearly dropped Hilda, as Newkirk nearly dropped the vase. What followed was an almost frantic and confused ten seconds of apologies by Newkirk and a steadying of footing, ending in Hilda smiling a thank you to the British Corporal for getting her out of this terrible pairing.


Hogan drew up next to Newkirk as he placed the flowers on the table. “The papers aren’t on him, sir,” Newkirk said under his breath. “I just had a good feel for them. They must be in his quarters.”


“Good work. Have Le Beau bring dinner out, then get word to Carter and Kinch. Now it’s all up to them.”


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


Hogan was waiting for Kinch and Carter as they came back through the tunnel to the area under Barracks Two. Anxiously, he looked for any evidence of success, and he breathed a sigh of relief when he saw a smile on Kinch’s face. “Mission accomplished, Colonel,” he said. “It took awhile but we found the formula. Carter got a lot of photos of it.”


“Good work. Get to work developing them right away. We’ll get them to the Underground and they’ll get them out to London.”


“Right away, Colonel,” Carter said.


“I tell you what, Kinch,” Hogan said, as Carter zipped ahead of them toward the dark room. “I’d almost have rather spent the night with Klink. Schoendorfer had the personality of a piece of cardboard.”


Kinch laughed lightly. “That exciting, huh?”


“And his dancing is abominable. I’m going to owe Hilda a lot more than a pair of nylons tomorrow. Her feet won’t be in any condition to step into them.”


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


Hogan spread a now-rare, genuine smile across his face as he examined the negatives of the film Carter and Kinch had brought back from Schoendorfer’s quarters. “This is beautiful, fellas, just beautiful,” he said. “London’s gonna have to be pleased with these. You did a great job.”


“They’re ecstatic, Colonel,” Kinch said, coming up beside him. “They said to pass on the message, ‘Capital, old boy, simply capital.’”


Hogan shook his head once, always amused by the way Allied High Command showed its approval. “That’s more than I could have hoped for,” he quipped. He pulled the negatives down and handed them to Carter. “Get these ready to go. Kinch, what’s the Underground say? Can they take Klink and the prints at the same time?”


Kinch shook his head. “No go, sir. They can take the photos but they say the network is still uncomfortable taking someone like Klink.”


“They’ve taken bigger fish than him before!”


“They didn’t have the Gestapo hanging around the area before.”


“I thought they’d pulled out,” Hogan said.


“They have, mostly. But they said they won’t take a chance on Klink yet. They’ll take the negatives, but not the man.”


Hogan’s temper, now quicker to flare than before Hochstetter’s visit, and already simmering from the lack of help on London’s part in this matter, came to a boil again. His eyes flashing, and his voice shaking slightly, Hogan burst, “What do I have to do to get a little cooperation around here?” And, tugging at the bottom of his jacket angrily, he disappeared down the tunnel, leaving the others to quietly watch his retreat.


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


Colonel Klink looked up with surprise as Hogan walked stiffly down the tunnel, grabbed a chair roughly, and sat down, putting his elbows on his knees and his forehead down to his fists. Even without hearing any of the conversation that had transpired just before Hogan appeared, Klink could tell that the American was extremely agitated. In fact, he had rarely seen Hogan this upset, and was at a bit of a loss as to how to react. Finally, he decided just to plunge in, no matter how badly worded the attempt.

“Is something wrong, Colonel Hogan?”


Hogan sat up at once and crossed his arms. “No,” he said shortly, not trying to sound convincing. “No, nothing’s wrong.” He looked away, obviously still seething.


Klink put down the book he had been reading and tried to look Hogan in the eye. “With all due respect, Hogan, you are a terrible liar.”


Hogan smirked at the irony in Klink’s words. Oh, I don’t know about that, he thought. But he remained silent as his mind returned to other things.


“Hogan,” Klink started again hesitantly, “I may not be the person you want to confide in, but at least I am an officer. If something is troubling you that you cannot talk about with your men…”


“Why would my troubles interest you?” Hogan asked.


“We are trying to be friends, are we not?” Klink reminded him. Hogan nodded briefly. “And I understand that the burden of command can be heavy at times, even if you are running circles around the enemy.”


Hogan noted the edge in Klink’s voice and chided himself for not paying more attention to the Kommandant after his rescue from the cooler. True, there really hadn’t been time for coddling, but Hogan felt he at least owed Klink something for all the trouble Hogan and his men had caused in the name of the Allies. And in the name of decency, to thank Klink for the chance he had taken in trying to keep Hogan from meeting an untimely end. “You don’t know the half of it,” Hogan said before he could stop himself. Then he added, “Actually, Colonel Klink, it’s you who’s giving me the trouble.”


“Me?” Klink asked.


“Yeah. I can’t seem to find anyone willing to take a chance on you.” Hogan sighed. “London seems to be too busy to send anyone around to get you out, and the Underground is still too wary of the Gestapo to lead you out themselves. I may have to do the job myself. And that wasn’t part of the plan.”


You would get me out of Germany?” Klink said.


Hogan shrugged. “I’ve gone out before.”


“You’ve left Germany? Since you’ve been a prisoner here?” Klink wondered.


“More than once,” Hogan answered. “And it looks like I’m going to have to do it again. Every minute you’re in this tunnel is a minute more that countless agents are in danger. If the authorities are still looking for you, and they even suspect that we know what’s locked up inside your head, they could call up that list and pull everyone on it before we have a chance to warn them, just to prove a point. And then we’d lose God knows how many good people.” He paused, thinking. “You’ve got to go soon. I just wish I could figure out how.”


Klink stayed silent, still unable to fathom his importance in this whole mess called World War Two. Especially after people like Burkhalter and Hochstetter had always made a point of drilling into him just how unimportant he was. At least Schultz had always, at least outwardly, seemed to consider Klink important. Which brought another thought into Klink’s mind. How much did the guard actually know, that Klink himself had never guessed? “Hogan, how much does Sergeant Schultz know about all of this?”


Hogan took a moment before responding. He hadn’t really given the guard much thought lately, other than making sure everything in camp ran smoothly, and making sure Schultz didn’t suspect that Eichberger might be working with Hogan in some sabotage missions. “Schultz knows nothing,” Hogan said, not anxious to spill the Sergeant’s secrets.


“Hogan, I heard one of your men telling Schultz that he always knew more than he let on to. And I know the Sergeant actually saw one of your men come out of the tunnel and into the barracks. How can he know nothing?” Klink persisted.


“We don’t tell him any more than we have to,” Hogan replied. He noticed a sharpness creeping into his voice. Don’t get riled up. You’re just worried…and tired. God, you’re so tired. “Schultz just has selective blindness once in awhile.”


Klink snorted. “He must have a very wide selection,” he said with some sarcasm. If he could ignore a big thing like a man coming out of a tunnel in the barracks, Klink could only imagine the myriad small things that the guard had chosen not to see.


“He has good reason,” Hogan answered. “But those secrets aren’t mine to tell.” He pinched the bridge of his nose. “What do you need to take with you?”


Klink considered all he had left behind. In his unexpected unseating, and his even more unexpected removal from the world above ground, Klink had had a lot of time to think about what he would miss, what he would not, and what he would savor and regret. So Hogan’s question was easy to answer. “I have some special decorations that were in a locked drawer in my office from the last war. I would like to take them. And an address book that can keep me in touch with the people I hold most dear. Everything else is unimportant.”


Hogan nodded. “You’ll get them. Then I’ll figure out how to get you out of here. I’m sorry I haven’t been more helpful while you’ve been down here. There’s just an awful lot I have to organize at the moment, and it hasn’t been easy. I hope you’re not claustrophobic.”


Klink smiled briefly. “No, Hogan, anything but. Closed in places make me feel quite safe. And your men have been kind. I understand you have been preoccupied.”


“You’re very accommodating for a man whose whole life has been turned upside down.”


“It appears we are, as you say, in the same boat, Hogan. Things are not quite the same for you either, are they?” Klink shook his head. “No, Hogan. I am almost content. Perhaps I am just happy that the war, at least for me, is over. Or it will be, when your Allied leaders are done with me. Certainly there are still things that bother me, even that make me angry. But what is the point of holding onto that now?” he asked, shrugging. “I will have many years to contemplate my obviously many oversights. History will judge me a fool.”


“Or a hero,” Hogan countered. Klink said nothing, but looked at him questioningly. “What you risked for me, Kommandant, was just as heroic as anything my men or I have done.” Hogan stood up. “I’ll get you out of here soon; I’ll just have to organize the route and take you myself.” Hogan started to turn away, rubbing his eyes, but he stopped and said, “Sorry if I seemed abrupt when I first came down here tonight. I’m just tired, and the Underground’s uncooperativeness didn’t help. But we’ll get around it. And I’ll make sure we get those things you wanted.”


Hogan bade him good night, and Klink nodded wordlessly, still marveling at how Hogan always seemed to be able to turn himself around even in the face of hopelessness. He watched as Hogan walked, much more relaxed than the way he had arrived, back down toward his men. He is determined. And he is incredibly strong, despite the fear he tries so hard to hide from his men. He really is a true hero, Klink thought. And it was only then that Klink began to accept what Hogan had said—that Klink himself was a hero, something he had never honestly thought he could be.

Chapter Thirty-Eight



Doing the Rounds



“Colonel Hogan, I have thought about what you said.”


Hogan was surprised a couple of days later after roll call by Sergeant Schultz. He turned and squinted in the early rising sun. “What did I say, Schultz?” Hogan asked.


Schultz watched Hogan’s men filter away before answering. “You said I should think about whether I want to know where you were and where the Kommandant is.”


“Oh, that,” Hogan said, trying to sound offhand. “So, what do you think, Schultz?”


“I think I do not want to know.”


“That’s a very sensible decision, Schultz,” Hogan answered. “The less anyone knows, especially you, the better for everyone involved.”


“I do not want to know where he is, but I do want to know if he is safe.”


Hogan rubbed the space between his eyes, then ran his hand across his face. Despite his decreasing doubt about Eichberger, he was still close-mouthed about Klink to the Captain. And telling Schultz anything that the Sergeant might spill in an unguarded moment was a chance Hogan didn’t like taking. But no harm could possibly come from him telling Schultz that Klink was out of harm’s way, could it? “It’s okay, Schultz. He’s safe.”


“When did you last see him?”


Schultz,” Hogan said strongly, “you may not want to know some of this.”


“I don’t, Colonel Hogan, I don’t. But the Kommandant was my commanding officer for a long time, and I worry about him.”


“I know,” Hogan relented. “And he’s asked about you, too.”


“He has?” Schultz asked, obviously pleased. Hogan didn’t want to tell him it was in connection with Schultz’s knowledge of the prisoners’ activities that the Sergeant’s name came up. “Oh, that is so nice.”


Hogan smiled without teeth. “Yeah, nice,” he agreed, non-committal. “Look, Schultz, don’t tell anyone else about this, will you?”


Schultz smiled sagely and put a finger to his lips. “I know nothing, Colonel Hogan. Nothing!”


“I was hoping you’d say that,” Hogan replied. “Now make sure you keep it that way.”


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


Schultz approached Sergeant Carter, who was busy doing laundry outside the barracks, humming happily as he scrubbed and then hung the clothes on the makeshift clothesline strung up between buildings. “Laundry day, Carter?” observed the guard.


“Sure is, Schultz. You know, with Colonel Hogan back there’s more than ever. Officers like their clothes done just so. Not too much starch, extra crisp collars—you know the routine,” Carter replied.


“I leave all of that to my wife,” Schultz said. “I could never do laundry. I could only do toys.”


“Oh, yeah, that’s right—you told us you had a toy company before the war, didn’t you? Here hold this.” Carter handed a dripping shirt to the German, who fumbled to hold it properly before finally giving up and leaning his rifle up against the building so he could stop from getting himself completely soaked. Carter put the wooden wash bucket he had been using on the ground and replaced it with another that he had waiting, filled with clean water. He took the shirt back from Schultz and plunged it into the new bucket. “Thanks, Schultz.”


Ja. Ja, I bring my own laundry back home whenever I get there. I don’t think I would have survived as a prisoner of war myself,” Schultz admitted, watching Carter warily in case he asked the guard to do more washing duties.


“I was always domesticated,” Carter said cheerfully. “I like doing this kind of work. It gives me time to think, you know?”


“I do not want time to think,” Schultz responded. “I would rather forget everything at the moment.”


Carter paused to look directly at the guard. “Been pretty tough, huh?”


Schultz nodded. “Colonel Hogan says the Kommandant is safe. But I worry about him. And I worry about Captain Eichberger, because I do not trust him—you will not tell anyone that, will you, Carter?” Carter shook his head. “He seems nice but I just don’t like him. Maybe because I miss Kommandant Klink. And I worry about you boys. And Colonel Hogan. He is not the same as he was before.”


Carter shook his head again. “Don’t worry about us, Schultz. And don’t worry about Colonel Hogan; he might be a little different now, but we’re working on him.” He paused. “How would you feel if you couldn’t go home again, Schultz?”


Schultz looked surprised at the question. “Couldn’t go home?” he asked.


“Yeah. I mean, Colonel Klink isn’t here, and he hasn’t been seen around here. I wonder what it’s like for him… wherever he is.”


Schultz nodded understanding. “Oh. Ja. It would be very frightening. But he would be strong, I think. He could survive where he had to.  Me? I would want to go home. I do not always get along with my wife, you know,” Schultz said, knowing full well that the men had witnessed some rather strong encounters between himself and his wife. “But I would still need to be there, for her and for my kinder. Someone would need to be here to look after them. It would be too frightening for some of my littlest ones if I was not here, Carter. You know I already do not have my brother here.” He got a sudden look of fear on his face. “You are not thinking of sending me to England with Ludwig!” he whispered fiercely.


“No, Schultz. Just curious,” Carter answered, wringing out a shirt and hanging it on the line.


“Oh,” Schultz said, relaxing and almost laughing. “You had me worried. I almost thought you were going to tell me that Colonel Klink was in your tunnel…and that I had to go down there with him!”


“I would never tell you that, Schultz,” Carter said.


Schultz kept smiling as he turned to continue his rounds. “Sergeant Carter, you are a good boy. And I will not worry about you any more. But, Carter, please work on Colonel Hogan. I miss hearing him laugh. Even for an enemy, it is sad to see a man so changed.”


“We will, Schultz.” Carter watched thoughtfully as the guard started to walk away. “Oh, Schultz!” he called suddenly.


Schultz turned back to the American. “Ja?” he replied.


Grinning sheepishly, Carter said, “You forgot to take your rifle.”


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


“It’ll be a relief when we can finally tell people what we did here,” Newkirk was saying later that afternoon, as he and Le Beau and Kinch relaxed for a few minutes in the sun bearing down on the camp. It wasn’t terribly warm, but any sunshine was a welcome diversion, since as of late they felt like they were spending all their time underground.


“Yeah. Right now my letters home sound pretty boring,” Kinch admitted. “It’s always so tempting to give my family some kind of inkling that I’m actually still fighting.”


“I am just glad that I do not have any children yet,” Le Beau put in. “They would think all their daddy did is stay in the kitchen! ‘What did you do in the war, Papa?’ ‘Oh, ma petite, j'ai cuisiné pour les boches.’”


“Well, one day it’ll be different, mate,” Newkirk predicted. “Then you can tell your kids you blew things up for them, too.”


“Look out, here comes Schultz,” Kinch warned.


The group started breaking up as the guard approached. “Out and about a bit today, eh, Schultzie?” Newkirk said.


Schultz sighed as he stopped beside the prisoners. “I am always on my rounds, Englander. You know that I have my work to do.”


“What kind of work do you have to do today, Schultz?” asked Le Beau.


“The Kommandant wants me to inspect all the barracks and make sure that everything is in order. We are having company in the next day or two and he wants everything to be perfect. And that means no monkey business,” he added, with as serious a look at his charges as he could muster.


“Visitors, Schultz?” Kinch probed. “Who’s coming?”


“That I do not know. What I do know, is that if anything is out of place, Captain Eichberger has said it will be my responsibility. So you are going to raus, and make sure that your quarters are neat and tidy.”


“Yeah, we’ll get to it, Schultz,” Newkirk said with a stretch.


“Yes,” Schultz added. “You will get to it now! Come on now,” he ordered, his voice suddenly turning him back into a guard. “Schnell!”


“Aw, Schultzie, when did you turn into a Kraut, anyway?” protested Newkirk, as the others grumbled along with him. Still, he pulled away from the wall and headed inside the barracks, to make sure everything they didn’t want visitors to see was hidden from view.


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


“Sergeant Schultz, is everything in order?” Eichberger asked.


Jawohl, Herr Captain. The barracks are in perfect condition, and the camp is looking quite spiffy, if I may say so,” Schultz added, with a touch of pride.


“Very good. Go get Colonel Hogan for me; I want to tell him that some old friends are coming to town.” He dismissed the Sergeant and followed him out the door. Schultz couldn’t help but shudder when he heard Eichberger’s order to Hilda: “Hilda, please get Major Hochstetter and General Burkhalter on the phone and tell them that I will be glad to have them in camp first thing in the morning.”

Chapter Thirty-Nine



Confronting the Past



Hogan walked back to Barracks Two, shivering both from the cold of the evening and from the news that Eichberger had delivered. Hochstetter coming to camp tomorrow? Eichberger’s reasoning had been solid enough; there was only so long he could hold back the Gestapo Major from doing an inspection. If he delayed any longer, it would look suspicious. And Burkhalter was coming because as a Luftwaffe General he wanted to keep an eye on what Hochstetter was doing. Hogan was not sure whether he should take comfort in that or not. But he was starting to feel distinctly uneasy about the prospect of facing either man again.


Better to do it now and get it over with, he considered, as he entered the barracks. Watchful eyes looked expectantly at him, waiting to hear what news Eichberger had delivered. Hogan pasted on a nonchalant smile and made the announcement: “Hochstetter and Burkhalter are coming for a visit tomorrow.” Was he mistaken, or had he detected a slight waver in his voice? Steady, boy.


Le Beau was on his feet instantly. “They will not take you again, Colonel! I will lay down my life—”


Hogan held up a hand. “Easy, easy, Le Beau,” he said. Le Beau stopped. “I appreciate the gesture. But Eichberger says they’re just coming here on inspection. A lot has happened here, and they want to make sure I’ve been put in my place.” He grimaced at the words, but accepted their necessity.


Newkirk spoke up. “I don’t like it, sir.”


“Neither do I,” Hogan agreed. “But I wasn’t likely to be able to go the duration of the war without seeing either of them again. And if Eichberger was planning anything, he wouldn’t have made the mistake of warning me the way Klink did. This time I’d be completely unaware, especially since he could have had his pick of times in the last few weeks to just pluck me—or any of us—out of here.” Hogan sighed. “No, this is just something I need to face. And better now than later.”


“What do you want us to do, Colonel?” asked Kinch.


“Nothing. And I mean nothing. As long as they’re in camp I don’t want any activity at all. You’re just ordinary prisoners of war. See if you can’t fake that for a day, could you?”


Hogan’s men grinned. “That’s quite an acting job you’re asking for,” Kinch declared.


“It should be a breeze for Hogan’s Traveling Troupe. Just don’t travel outside of Stalag 13 for a bit, okay?”


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


A knock on the office door interrupted Eichberger as he was making his guests comfortable with an offer of a drink or a cigar. “Come!” he called, as Hochstetter made little show of hiding his disapproval of either offering.


The door opened and Hogan took a confident step inside. “You wanted to see me, Captain?” he asked politely, refusing to look at either Hochstetter or Burkhalter.


“Actually, I wanted to see you, Hogan,” Burkhalter said.


Hogan turned with effort and nodded in the General’s direction. “Good afternoon, General,” Hogan said. He felt his stomach twist into a knot. Easy, man. Take it easy.


“I just wanted to see you for myself. After all, the last time I saw you, you were not in a state to have visitors,” Burkhalter said.


Hogan fought the thrill of panic running through him. He couldn’t remember seeing Burkhalter at all while he was in Hochstetter’s hands. The lack of control frightened him. Steady, now; we’re just talking. “So I’m told,” was all he said.


“It was of great interest to everyone how you managed to escape from solitary confinement,” Burkhalter continued.


Hogan swallowed. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Hochstetter moving in. Involuntarily, he tensed.


The Major noticed. “Yes, Hogan, I was very curious myself about how you escaped from a locked cell.” He came closer. Hogan looked straight ahead. “Obviously, you had help. I suspect the came from your beloved Kommandant Klink. But as you can see, he is not here, either.”


Hogan remained silent, a small bead of sweat tracing a path down his temple.


“Would you care to enlighten us, Colonel?” Hochstetter persisted.


Hogan turned to Eichberger, stone-faced. “Hogan, Robert E., Colonel, US Army Air Corps. Serial number 0876707.”


Eichberger laughed loudly as Hochstetter balled his fists in frustration. “You see, gentlemen? It is exactly as I told you: you will not get a single word out of Colonel Hogan that he does not want you to know, so you might as well give up.”


Hogan took a second to try and look Eichberger in the eye. But the Captain was quite clearly enjoying the advantage he had over the others, and was not paying attention to his senior POW. Hogan turned back to Burkhalter. “So what brings you to our little corner of paradise today, General?” he asked, continuing to pay as little attention as possible—at least on the surface—to Hochstetter.


“We were invited here to take a look around, Hogan. To inspect the camp and see how well things are running under the supervision of Captain Eichberger,” Burkhalter replied. “I am pleased to note so far that everything seems to be going well.”


Hogan noted the word: invited. “Nice of you to drop by,” he said coldly. He turned to Eichberger. “May I go now?”


“Please prepare your men for inspection, Colonel,” Eichberger said formally. “We will be over momentarily.” Eichberger smiled. “We may even have a roll call. So don’t go escaping on me between now and then, will you?”


Hogan nodded stiffly and offered Eichberger a salute. Then without looking at the others, he turned on his heel and quickly left the office. He was about a quarter of the way across the compound when he succumbed to the trembling and sank down on one knee.


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


“The Colonel!” Le Beau cried, peering out the door of the barracks. From where he was standing, the Colonel had just virtually collapsed in the middle of camp. He immediately opened the door to run out.


“Wait!” Newkirk ordered, firmly stopping the door from opening wide enough to let Louis out. He looked outside to judge for himself. Hogan wiped his face with the back of his hand, then drew himself up to his feet and continued heading toward Barracks Two. “He’s just pulling himself together. Give him some space,” Newkirk concluded.


Le Beau agreed reluctantly and moved to the stove to prepare a hot cup of coffee for Hogan. At least that might help steady the Frenchman’s own nerves. He couldn’t stand the inability to take action for long.


Hogan appeared a minute later, looking a shade paler than normal but putting on a calm face. “They just wanted a bit of a show,” Hogan said. “Probably roll call in a couple of minutes. Get Kinch upstairs; they’ll be on their way soon.”


Carter nodded and headed for the tunnel. Le Beau pushed a cup of steaming coffee into Hogan’s hand. Hogan nodded his thanks and gratefully sat down at the table. “What’s going on, Colonel?” Newkirk asked.


“Burkhalter says he and Hochstetter were invited to camp,” Hogan said, disturbed to find his voice still carried a slight tremor.


Newkirk gave a start. “Invited?” he exclaimed. “You mean that bloody Kraut asked that pair to come here?”


“That sounds pretty suspicious, Colonel,” Kinch said, as he followed Carter back up into the room.


“Well, I’ll give Eichberger one thing: it was great to watch someone get the better of Hochstetter. He laughed right in his face.”


Carter grinned. “Well, he can’t be all bad, then, can he?”


“They are all bad,” Le Beau muttered.


Footsteps outside brought Hogan to his feet. He looked over to make sure the tunnel entrance was closed, then he nodded and Carter opened the door. Schultz appeared. “Roll call,” he said smartly. “Everybody out for roll call.”


Hogan sighed. “We’re coming, Schultz; we’re coming.”


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


“What made you think I’d feel like being paraded in front of those two maniacs?” Hogan asked Eichberger that evening, exasperated. “You told me they insisted on coming—Burkhalter says you invited them!”


Eichberger waved a hand dismissively. “Burkhalter—he is just as big a fool as Hochstetter. He rang to ask about the progress of the camp under my care. I casually mentioned that he had not seen it in some time, and he latched onto it as a personal invitation. I did not want him here. And I certainly could have lived without seeing Major Hochstetter myself.”


Hogan relaxed, just a little. “Well, it was a lovely shade of red he turned when you laughed at him,” he admitted. “I think I needed that.”


“I think you did, too,” Eichberger said. “Now that you have faced your demons, you can move on.”


Hogan nodded. There was sense in what Eichberger said. And much as he hated to admit it, he knew that if he had never seen Burkhalter and Hochstetter again, he would have wondered if he ever could have stood in their presence without fear. Now he knew the answer: he could stand in their presence. But there would always be fear.


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


“News from the Underground, Colonel,” Kinch said as he hopped up from the tunnel a couple of days later.


Hogan felt his stomach tighten again. “And?”


“And they’re willing to accept the route you’ve picked to take Klink out. But not for another couple of weeks.”


Hogan nodded, waiting for the knots to loosen; they did, but only slightly, and very reluctantly. “Why the delay?”


“They say they want to put a few other people in place to help,” Kinch said. Then he added, “I think they feel guilty for dumping out on you before now. This time they want to make it just right.”


Hogan nodded and allowed himself a small smile. “Great. Looking forward to seeing some of them again. I just wish it could be under better circumstances.” He stood up. “I’d better tell Klink what’s coming up. And we’re going to have to get into his belongings; there are a couple of things I promised him I’d get.”


Chapter Forty



Big Business



“And once we’re out of there, it’s straight to London.”


Hogan sat back in the chair, allowing Klink to examine more closely the small map the American had drawn for him. So this was how Klink was going to finish off his part in the war—running from one house to another, hiding out in tunnels, caves, and barns, until he was finally picked up by a group that could hold him until the Allies came for him. “Are you sure this will work?” Klink asked.


Hogan nodded, rubbing his eyes. “That’s the plan,” he answered. “London says they’ll get a sub out there for you within a day.”


Klink said, “It seems to be the first time they have listened to you, Hogan.”


Hogan nodded, unhappy to admit that Klink was right, but knowing it was true. “Sometimes the people behind the big desks forget that it’s the little guys who are taking all the chances. I’m just glad they finally came around.”


“What will become of you after the war, Hogan? Will you go back to civilian life?” Klink asked suddenly.


Hogan considered only briefly. It was a topic that had often tickled the corner of his mind, but one that he chose not to contemplate. If it was never going to happen, he did not want to hope. “I don’t know,” he said simply. “Can you go back to what you were before a war?”


“Before this war, Hogan, I would have said yes,” Klink answered. “Now, I’m not so sure.”


“Neither am I.” Hogan sighed. “Right now, I’m just looking to get past the next two weeks.”


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----



Hogan smiled at Hilda and looked deeply into her eyes. “Go on, Hilda. Say it. You know the words I want to hear.”


Hilda smiled back, thrilled with the full attention of the American. Enemy? Maybe. But what a way to commit treachery. His deep brown eyes shone brightly, and she sighed, a feeling of contentment washing over her. “The Kommandant will see you now,” she said breathlessly, as his lips brushed her forehead.


Hogan let his smile get even more charming as he slid back off the desk. “You’re an angel, you know that? An angel.”


She lowered her head almost shyly. “And maybe you have a touch of the devil in you, Colonel Hogan,” she said.


Hogan considered a couple of comebacks but thought them inappropriate to say, and turned, still grinning, toward the office. He knocked once and opened the door, then entered and sat down in front of Eichberger’s desk. “Good morning,” he said, relaxed after his little game in the antechamber.


Eichberger raised an eyebrow at Hogan’s informality. “Guten morgen, Colonel Hogan,” he replied. “You seem very cheerful today.”


Hogan shrugged. “Must be the weather,” he said, still carrying the scent of Hilda in his memory.


“Sleeping well?”


Hogan frowned. “Fine. Why?”


Eichberger smiled. “Because I’m hoping you’ll want to interrupt your sleep next week for some more fun.” Hogan let his eyes ask the question as thoughts of Hilda faded away and the stale aroma of old cigars invaded his senses. “How would you like to catch a traitor?” Hogan didn’t react. “What’s the matter, Hogan? Not up to the challenge?”


Hogan bit his tongue to stop himself from saying the first thing that came to mind. “What did you have in mind?”


“We’ve got wind of a British agent selling secrets to the Nazis.”


“‘We’ve?’” Hogan repeated.


“German Intelligence.” Hogan listened but said nothing. “A Colonel John Abington has approached a couple of German officers, offering to pass on sensitive information like troop movements and whatnot. Apparently, he has access to some of the most delicate information available about war tactics in this area.”




And I think it would be fantastic if we could get him to unburden himself to someone who’s not going to use the information to help the Germans get ahead. I think it would be a great coup if we could get him to confess to you instead.”


“What makes you think he’ll talk to a Prisoner of War?”


“He won’t. But he’ll talk to a German officer.” Hogan tilted his head. “There’s a dinner party next Friday night at a private home a couple of miles north of Hammelburg. A lot of German brass is expected to be there. You could blend in as one of them and round up Abington in one fell swoop.”

“What will he be doing there?”


“Abington is expected to be sneaking in that night to try and set up a deal.”


“And you want me to make that deal.”

“Exactly. We need to capture him and have him sent back to England. You can manage that, can’t you, Hogan?” Eichberger asked. “I mean, all you have to do it pass him on to the local Underground and they can look after the rest, right?”


Hogan shook his head. “Too dangerous for them. I don’t want them taking these kinds of chances with an unknown. I’ll have some other people do it. They’ll come out with me.”


“Other people from the camp,” Eichberger clarified. Hogan did not respond. “You know, you have never pointed out any of the others involved in your operation to me.”


“Let’s just say they prefer to remain anonymous,” Hogan replied. “All you need to know is the jobs get done. Just don’t have any unannounced roll calls that night.” Eichberger wisely stayed silent. Hogan ran a hand along his chin. “It’s risky,” he said slowly. “But it’s tempting.  How do I get into this party?”


“I have been invited, as the local Kommandant. You will be an observer from Berlin, a Major Huber.” Hogan raised an eyebrow. “I will make sure your papers are drawn up.”


Hogan nodded. “I’ll need a uniform.”


“I will make sure you have one.”


“And I’ll need to get out of camp in it without being shot.”


Eichberger smiled. “That will be arranged. I presume you will want to meet me.”


Hogan nodded acknowledgement. “That’s fine,” he said, glad that Eichberger was starting to accept that Hogan would not tell him the location of his tunnels. “I’ll get to work on my German,” he said. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt me.

Eichberger laughed. “I had nearly forgotten that!” he declared. “You can see I am still new at this sort of thing. I’ll see that you have help. Speaking of which, do you think it was the local Underground that was responsible for the bridge that went up last night about three miles from here?” He lowered his voice. “Or were you and your men up to something that you didn’t bother to tell me about?”


Hogan remained stoic. “I didn’t know about it,” he said. You don’t have to know quite everything.


Eichberger sighed deeply. “Colonel Hogan, when will you trust me?” he asked, sounding more than a little bothered by Hogan’s lack of confidence in him.


“After this war, I doubt I’ll trust anyone, ever.” He stood up. “Get me a couple of German language books as soon as you can. I’m going to take a walk in the sun.”


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


Hogan asked Kinch and Newkirk to try again to find out if Morrison was back from his rest leave at Abwehr, and Kinch later reluctantly reported that he was not. Hogan tried to keep himself distracted from that by organizing another act of sabotage—this time a signal box on another line about five miles outside of camp. It was Hogan’s plan to keep up the disruption of the German war effort, without necessarily telling Eichberger every move they made. No matter how friendly and helpful the man was, there were some things Hogan felt that were his alone, and one of them was the operation. If Eichberger wanted to help, he could certainly do so. But as long as he wore a German uniform and played the part so well, Hogan was not going to fully trust him with his men.


Hogan also had Kinch find out what he could from London about Colonel Abington. The answer was disheartening to them; he was indeed a very learned man in the way of Allied tactics, and he was in the area at the moment. Hogan crumpled up the paper on which Kinch had scribbled London’s response, disappointed. Though he was glad to know that Eichberger was telling the truth, it bothered him that anyone could think of trading in secrets that held the lives of hundreds—thousands—of men, for personal gain.


Meanwhile, Hogan started making a plan of action. Once Eichberger gave him the exact location of the party, he start poring over maps, drawing up routes and then abandoning them; in short, trying to leave absolutely nothing to chance. “Here’s the layout of the house,” Hogan said to Kinch, pulling out a large, rolled-up document. “If I can get Abington out on the terrace here alone,” he said, pointing, “one of you can grab him from behind, and we can get him out of there.” Hogan scanned the paper, then ran his finger along another section. “There’s a railroad track there, and a road that runs along it near the woods. If we can meet our contact there, we can get Abington through channels and back to England all in one night. Make sure our people know what’s expected of them.”


“Right, Colonel,” Kinch said.


“Colonel,” Newkirk piped up, “with all the waiting we’ll be doing, a bit of underhanded activity comes to mind.”


“From you?” Hogan asked, trying to sound surprised.


Newkirk smiled. “Well, I know it’s unlike me to consider anything not aboveboard, sir, but… well, with the railroad line right there, sir, and a station just… there,” he said, indicating another nearby spot on the map, “could we give that a good going over?”


Hogan nodded, considering. “Actually, Newkirk, that’s a great idea,” he agreed. “Let’s see if we can’t find out if anything is scheduled to run along the track that night—we might be able to avoid anyone looking for Abington if we can prove that he blew up with the track.”


“You mean make it look like he sabotaged the track, and botched the job so he went up with it?”


Hogan nodded. “That’s right. A double double-cross. A British officer joins the Nazis so he can betray them. But it backfires, and he goes up with the blast.”


“Why not?” Le Beau said, nodding.


“Okay, then it’s a go. Carter, how would we go about destroying the track?  Remember we need to consider timing as well as a possible train.”


“Gee, that’d be easy, Colonel,” Carter answered. “First you place plastic explosives around the track, set to go off when the wheels of the train first hit them. When they blow, you destroy the track and at the very least derail the entire train. But if we’re lucky, we blow it all sky high.” Warming to his subject, he continued. “But it really depends on the cargo. If it’s carrying fuel or gunpowder, the whole thing would go ka-BOOM!”


Hogan involuntarily cringed as Carter imitated the explosion. “Sounds like you’ve got it all under control,” he said, patting the Sergeant on the shoulder. “We’ll go with whatever you think works best.” He glanced at the others. “This is a big one. If Abington tells what he knows, a lot of our boys won’t be getting home for the holidays.”


Le Beau nodded. “While he goes merrily on.”


“Exactly,” Hogan said, rolling up the maps. “We have to get this right.”

Chapter Forty-One






Klink held the small box with a slightly trembling hand. He didn’t even think of opening it. “Thank you, Hogan,” he said, softly.


Hogan nodded. “It’s okay,” he replied, also quiet.


“You know, these small things, Hogan, are all that a man has to depend on in difficult times,” Klink said. “A few memories. A few names. That is all we are in the end.”


“You’re sounding rather morose, Kommandant,” Hogan observed, not unkindly.


“I have been under the ground for…how long?... weeks,” Klink replied. “And while your men have not been cruel, Hogan, you must admit it is not the same as being with your own people. And I was in command of a prison camp. A Colonel in the Luftwaffe reduced… to…” He did not finish, letting a tiny gesture of his hand taking in his surroundings finish for him.


Hogan understood. “It’s not the same,” he agreed. “Sort of like being in solitary for a month,” he said.


Klink’s eyes widened as he started to absorb the implications of what Hogan had said. Yes—he, Klink, had sentenced men to as much time away from the only life they knew in the prisons. No wonder Hogan had pushed so hard to get them out! “It was so easy to mete out punishment,” he said ruefully. “Now I am being punished myself.” He sat down, disheartened.


“It wasn’t meant to be a punishment, Kommandant. It was meant to save your life.”


Klink nodded listlessly. “I know, Hogan. And believe it or not, I am grateful.”


“You don’t need to be.”


“Oh, yes, I do,” Klink countered. “Because no matter how much I play the loyal, willing soldier, Hogan, the truth is I am scared of dying. I do not wish to be shot down as a traitor. Nor do I wish to be shot trying to escape.”


“I won’t let anyone shoot you,” Hogan answered matter-of-factly.


“I have had a lot of time to think down here, Hogan, and I have sadly come to the conclusion that you are by far the better man.” Klink looked up at the man who only weeks earlier he had considered to be his prisoner. “I have tried to avoid that deduction, but everything points to it. You fight for your beliefs. I hide mine. And that makes me nothing but a coward.” He shook his head. “I could have lived without knowing that for a little bit longer.”


Hogan shook his head insistently. “You didn’t hide from them the day you warned me about the order to execute officers.”


“One moment of glory,” Klink laughed without humor. “And look where it got me!”


“Next time you’re near a mirror, Kommandant, take a look at what looks back at you. I’ll bet you can look yourself in the eye.” Hogan came forward and gently tapped the box he had handed the German. “You didn’t get those for nothing.”


Klink stared hard at the box, unwilling or unable to look at Hogan’s face. Then Hogan hopped up the ladder and headed upstairs.


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


“Your uniform is here and ready to fit you just nicely, Colonel Hogan,” Eichberger announced a few days later. He nodded toward a smart-looking jacket hanging on the coat rack in near the door. “I think you will find it to your satisfaction.”


Hogan glanced briefly toward the clothing. “Okay. You’ll have to get someone to bring it to the Barracks and tell us it needs altering by our tailor, Newkirk. I can’t just walk it back there. And make sure you hide the pips—there are no German Majors wandering around Stalag 13 so it would look pretty suspicious otherwise. We don’t tend to run an alteration service here.”


Eichberger smiled. “You think of everything.”


“I stay alive.”


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


“London on the line, Colonel.”


Hogan looked up from the papers on his desk inquisitively. “London?” he echoed.


“They say they’ve got information for you.”


“Thanks, Kinch.” Hogan got up, frowning in thought, and headed down to the tunnel. He glanced around; Klink was nowhere in sight. He picked up the microphone and a headset as Kinch manned the controls. “This is Papa Bear, repeat Papa Bear. Over.”


He listened. And as he did, his eyes widened. He motioned to Kinch for the clipboard and a pencil, and he started scribbling down some code that Kinch couldn’t translate offhand. Obviously, Hogan could, since his face was paling slightly and his expression, which had started as stunned, was quickly changing to concerned and determined. He pressed the clipboard back into Kinch’s hand. “Repeat it back,” he said hoarsely.


Kinch did as ordered immediately, nodding as confirmation was given. Yes, it was all correct. And yes, it needed Hogan’s attention as soon as possible. Hogan signed off and sat down, nearly colorless, on the cot near the radio.


Kinch waited a long minute before speaking. “Colonel Hogan, are you all right?” he asked simply.


Hogan didn’t answer right away, his mind obviously still working on something else.




Hogan snapped to reality. “What?”


“Are you all right?” Kinch repeated.


Hogan nodded absently. “Yeah. Yeah I’m fine.” He chewed his bottom lip. “Kinch,” he started. But he didn’t continue.


“Yes, Colonel?”


Again Hogan remained silent. Kinch knitted his brow and waited. Finally, Hogan said, “Kinch, that mission to blow up the railroad track just got more involved.”


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


“Blimey, you must be kidding!” Newkirk exclaimed when Hogan broke the news to the men a short time later. “That kind of makes getting Abington a bit of a side job, then, doesn’t it?”


Hogan nodded. “They’re both pretty important. But if Hitler’s train is scheduled to be running on that track the same night, then it takes number one priority.”


“Every inch of that railroad’s gonna be under heavy guard, Colonel,” Kinch said.


“It’s gotta keep moving, Kinch, and there are only so many people they can have watching the train when it’s not at a station. We’ll just have to make sure we don’t lay the charges too early, and make sure we get out of sight, fast.”


“Is London sure about this, Colonel?” asked Carter, whose mind was already running toward ways that he could make his explosives better, faster, smaller.


Hogan picked up the coded message he had scribbled down earlier and nodded grimly. “Underground reports credible source informs that Fuhrersonderzug is traveling along targeted railway line same night as Abington party, twenty-two hundred thirty hours. Priority one.”


“‘Credible source.’” Le Beau pursed his lips. “I wonder who that is.”


“Probably someone closer to the action than most of our regular contacts. Whoever it is, we’re not about to be given their name. London obviously considers it reliable enough to go with. So we’ve gotta go with it, too.”


“But, Colonel,” Le Beau said in a hushed voice. “Hitler!


Hogan nodded. “I know. It’s big. Probably the biggest. And the train is Hitler’s traveling headquarters, so there might be others on board who are worth getting rid of, too. We’ve got to get this right. Carter?”


“Yes, sir?” The young man’s enthusiasm nearly bowled Hogan over.


“You’re going to have to refine. And we’re going to have to play it close to the mark. If we’re going to try something this bold, we’re going to have to cover every angle.”


“I’m your man,” Carter declared. “I’ll go downstairs right now and start plotting.”


Hogan allowed himself a brief grin. Then he said, “Just make sure you keep Klink out of it. I’m not sure he’d be thrilled to hear about our plans for the Fuhrer.”


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


“Colonel Hogan, I have just been told the most amazing news,” Eichberger said.


“What’s that?”


“Tomorrow night, while we are at the party, Hitler’s special train is supposed to be traveling through the area on its way to a private meeting!”


Hogan tried to look astounded. “Hitler? So the party’s being called off?” he asked.


Eichberger shook his head, smiling. “No, no—not for a five minute passing by. I was just thinking that it might make for a marvelous opportunity! Imagine—getting that mad Corporal!”


“And how are we supposed to do that?” Hogan asked. “In case you’ve forgotten, I’m supposed to be at the party with you.”


“Of course, of course,” Eichberger admitted. “But you must have people who can do something!”


Hogan paused to think. Eichberger was sharing sensitive information, information that had already been independently confirmed. He had been straightforward and helpful throughout his tenure at the camp, and although a couple of things hadn’t rung genuine in Hogan’s head, Eichberger had done nothing but what he promised from day one. Hogan knew he had been more cautious than normal all along, and he had always put it down to his horrific experience when Hitler’s execution order was put in place.


But now he knew it was time to trust again.


“We can do something. Just leave it up to me.”


Eichberger smiled broadly. “Thank you, Colonel Hogan. I can’t tell you what this will mean to me.”


Hogan nodded. “It won’t be bad for my morale, either.”

Chapter Forty-Two



On the Brink



Colonel Hogan was a light sleeper.


It was almost impossible to sneak up on him, even in the middle of the night. One creak of a floorboard or a pencil-thin shaft of light and the American’s senses were on full alert, and you could swear he had never been asleep at all. Not only was he aware of your presence, but he knew who you were, and exactly where you were. And, if he was particularly on edge, he was also armed.


But that was before.


Now, after his near-fatal meeting with Hochstetter, uninterrupted, peaceful slumber was still a stranger, and when Hogan finally did succumb to his tiredness, he slept deeply, and it was difficult to rouse him. So when Kinch came into Hogan’s quarters in the wee hours of the morning, he walked right up to his commanding officer’s bunk and gently rocked his shoulder. “Colonel Hogan?” he called softly.


Hogan was instantly awake, but was slow to become alert. “Kinch?” he asked. Hogan propped himself up on one elbow, rubbing his eyes to help wake himself up.


“Colonel, London’s on the radio. They want to talk to you, right now,” Kinch said.


Hogan frowned. “Now?” he repeated, yawning. “What time is it?”


“About two, sir.”


Hogan groaned sleepily and swung his feet over the side of his bunk. “Uhhn… this couldn’t wait till morning?”


“No, sir,” Kinch replied. “They said now.”


Hogan frowned again, then nodded. “Tell them I’m coming,” he said blearily. Kinch disappeared back into the barracks, and Hogan groggily started getting dressed to head downstairs.


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


Hogan began to wish he hadn’t woken up as he listened to the tirade coming in from London. Kinch watched as Hogan’s face changed from simply tired, to confused, to angry, to almost outraged. “No, it wasn’t a practical joke. How did you expect me to know that?” Hogan retorted.


Kinch ran his tongue along his lips, trying not to listen but not having much of a choice. “No, we didn’t study it first. We’re not rocket scientists here; we’re soldiers. There was a lot going on, and we thought it was important to get it to you as fast as possible, not sit on it so we could have a look on our own.” Hogan was nearly shaking with emotion. “The next time, I’ll make sure we label it ‘For Amusement Only’ before we send it,” he said sarcastically. A silence from Hogan, then, “Well, enjoy it,” he said. “We’ll be working on that big project for you tomorrow night while you sit back and laugh.”


An even longer pause. Hogan fumed, then his face seemed to whiten as some reprimand obviously came down the wire. “Yes, sir,” Hogan replied respectfully. A short silence. “Yes, sir, but I’m sure you can appreciate what’s going on over here…. No, sir, I won’t.” Hogan’s eyes told Kinch that the Colonel was feeling beaten. “No. No, sir, we didn’t know.” Hogan closed his eyes. “It’s a great disappointment to us, too, sir…. Yes, sir, I’ll pass on your best wishes…. We’ll let you know when, sir.” He opened his eyes. “Thank you, sir. Papa Bear, over and out.”


Drained by the transmission, Hogan slowly dragged the headsets off and put them on the table, then turned away. Kinch picked them up and carefully put them away, and when he turned back he saw Hogan rubbing his temples as though trying to erase a headache. The answer was obvious, but Kinch knew he had to ask the question if Hogan was going to speak up. “Something wrong, Colonel?”


Hogan let out a short, humorless laugh and drew his hand down. “Wrong?” he asked. “Nothing could possibly be wrong.” Hogan shook his head. “Except that the supposed formula for the rocket fuel we sent back to London had enough alcohol in it to get the entire Eighth Air Force drunk for a week.”


Kinch’s eyebrows shot up, and he gave Hogan a questioning look.


“Alcohol can be used in rocket fuel,” Hogan explained, not without irony in his voice. “And had we had time to translate all that gobbledy-gook that we got from Schoendorfer, apparently we would have discovered that we risked our necks for a really nice cocktail, but not much else.”


“It was useless?” Kinch asked, amazed.


“Oh, not necessarily,” Hogan said with a wry smile. “All those chemical compounds will make for a pretty potent punchbowl come Christmas time at Headquarters.”


Kinch shook his head. Oh, boy. “What does it mean, Colonel?”


Hogan shrugged and tried to smile. “It means we’ll have the Germans to thank for the hangover we suffer through when we finally get home.”


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


Hogan blinked, deep in thought, as he pushed his feet into the tall brown boots and smoothed out the blue-grey tunic that formed part of his cover for the evening. The insignias he wore indicated honor and sacrifice, and Hogan listened carefully as Klink explained exactly why some of the medals adorning Hogan’s chest would have been awarded. Shaking his head unbelievingly, Klink fingered the pieces Hogan called “costume jewelry” and asked just one more time, “And you’re saying Eichberger got these for you?”


“That’s right,” Hogan answered. “Think I’ll fit in, in a roomful of officers at a fancy dinner party?”


Klink nodded. “And every woman who is considering an increase in status will be after you,” he said. “You will make a very attractive picture to social climbers, Hogan. For your sake, I hope you do not have to answer many questions about how you acquired those honors.”


Hogan nodded, understanding. “So do I. Otherwise I’ll just have to let Major Huber’s natural modesty take over.” He stopped for a moment as he brought his focus on the work ahead. “Sergeant Wilson will be down here tonight to make sure you have everything you need, Colonel,” Hogan informed him. “Since we’re all heading out tonight, you need someone here who knows what’s going on, and he’s it.”


Klink nodded. Part of him was feeling the rush of adrenalin that Hogan must be starting to experience as he prepared to head out; the rest of him was feeling a very real fear. What would happen to him if something went wrong? “Hogan,” he started hesitantly, “are you really going to try to assassinate the Fuhrer?”


Hogan paused in the adjustments of his uniform to look Klink straight in the eye. “If we can at all manage it, you bet,” he said.


“Hogan… how will you do that?”


“There are several ways: we can blast the track while the train runs through a tunnel. We can throw a suitcase of explosives off the platform as the train runs through a station. We can blow the tracks in front of and in back of the train so it’s stranded and then blow the train up. There are a lot of ways. Which way is being left open at the moment.”


Klink stood open-mouthed, astounded as the list seemed to just roll off of Hogan’s tongue. “You seem to have it all… thought-out.”


Hogan nodded grimly. “We do. Get rid of old Nut Brain and we may get rid of the war.”


“I doubt it is that simple, Hogan.”


“So do I. But it’d sure have to help.”


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


Hogan tightened the sash on his long coat and surveyed his men with a serious eye. The knot that usually appeared in his stomach before a mission was there now, and larger than he could remember in a long time. Not even any room in there for a cup of coffee to calm my nerves, he thought fleetingly. The men looked back at him, equally serious. Hogan could see the intense eyes peering out from the faces dark with polish and soot from the stove. He ran his eyes up and down them for what seemed like the fiftieth time, trying to make sure that he had not missed anything that could put them in any more danger than necessary, trying to make sure that he really needed to have them all out there with him.


Trying to make sure that he could remember their faces in case he never saw them again.


Hogan swallowed and made sure he could control the steadiness of his voice before he spoke. “Now we’re all clear,” he said. “Are there any questions?”


The team shook their heads slowly. Hogan’s tension was noticeable and they were starting to feel it, too. “I’ll go out through the tunnel and meet Eichberger in the usual spot to drive to the party. Newkirk, you come with us—in the trunk. Don’t let anyone see you, especially not Eichberger. I want you to be ready to grab Abington, and if Eichberger sees you, he’s so new I think he’d be so busy looking at you that he’d give you away.”


“Right, Colonel.”


“Now we’ve seen the layout of the house; I want you waiting near the terrace. When the time is right, I’ll draw Abington out there on the pretext of some serious talk, then you grab him and we’ll make tracks. Eichberger knows we’ll find our own way home.”


“Right, sir.”


“Kinch, Le Beau, Carter—you won’t be sitting on your laurels while we’re out there. You know what you have to do. Carter, you’re the man in charge—you know what’s best. And make it good—we may never have a chance like this again.”


Carter looked earnest. “I took a good look when I went out the other night, Colonel. I know just where to take us.”


Hogan nodded. “Good.” He looked at Kinch and Le Beau. “Make sure he doesn’t get carried away. We only have tonight.”


The pair smiled at Hogan’s order. Thank God he’s got some humor back, Kinch thought.


“Now the train’s scheduled to go through the area at twenty-two hundred thirty hours. Our meeting point is the barn about a mile east of the camp, no later than twenty-three hundred fifteen. Keep yourself hidden; even in the confusion, there’s bound to be a search, and if you’re in danger, don’t hang around: it’s back to the camp on the double. Don’t even think about stealing a car; a racing vehicle would attract way too much attention. Newkirk and I will try to meet you there, but if we don’t, your orders are to move out. The operation comes first.” Hogan turned around to where Wilson was observing quietly. “Joe, you keep an eye on things here. We’ll need you to play lookout. I’d like to avoid anyone needing you in a professional capacity tonight. But be ready, just in case.”


No one could answer. A collective nod was all Hogan saw in response.


It was enough.

Chapter Forty-Three



Double Exposure



Hogan got out of the car and shut the door with a bang, adjusting his gloves as he passed the trunk and joined Eichberger to walk toward the house. He didn’t look back, instead looking all around him at his surroundings, mapping out trees, buildings, lights, in his head for future use.


“A lovely evening,” Eichberger observed as the pair walked.


“A bit cold,” Hogan replied shortly. At least his German overcoat provided some protection from the night air.


“Is everything in order?” Eichberger asked.


“We discussed this in the car. It’s all fine,” Hogan replied. “All you have to do is make sure I know when Abington arrives. And make some excuse for us not leaving together when the time comes.”


“I will,” Eichberger confirmed. “What about the train?”


“It’s under control.”


Hogan’s tone signaled an end to any further discussion as they approached the front door. Hogan braced himself as he heard laughter from inside, and the sound of music and tinkling glasses, the symbol of some decadence during a time of frugality and hardship. “Guten abend, Kapitan, Major. Lassen Sie mich bitte Ihre Mäntel nehmen.”


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


Newkirk opened the trunk of the car just a crack and listened. Nothing except the crisp sound of the winter night air, a strange silence that one could hear if he grew up with it. He twisted and turned until he could see out the opening he had made. Again, nothing. And parked conveniently so that the back of the car faced away from the road, making it easier to get out unnoticed. Thanks, gov’nor. Newkirk opened the trunk wide and slipped out to escape onto the grounds of the house.


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


Kinch, Carter, and Le Beau said goodbye to Wilson and took off through the tunnel a few minutes after Hogan. Though it would take them about half an hour to get to the part of the railway line Carter had targeted for destruction, they knew they would lose track of time. Their minds were on too many things to think about the cold, or even about the work they were doing. They had split up; Newkirk and Hogan were in one place, and they were in another. Both were doing dangerous jobs. And both stood a good chance of getting caught.


Carter adjusted the pack he was carrying and continued walking purposefully toward their destination. He needed no map; on a job like this, everything was in his head. And, determined not to let Hogan’s trust in his abilities be for naught, he concentrated on making sure he had calculated the strength of the charges and the placement of the explosives properly. There would be no turning back once they began.


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


Hogan smiled graciously and accepted the drink offered from the tray. “Danke,” he said with a nod. He looked around him, trying to find the British officer but not succeeding. His eyes came to rest on a lovely, brunette woman standing near Eichberger. She was holding fast to his arm, laughing in an almost exaggerated fashion, taking a small sip of a rather large drink. Hanger-on, Hogan couldn’t help thinking. He caught Eichberger’s eye, and the Captain extricated himself from the woman’s grasp and made his way over to Hogan.


“What is it?” Eichberger asked, almost anxious.


“We’ve been here almost an hour; where’s Abington?”


“I don’t know—I wasn’t told what time he would come, or even if he would come. All I know is he was supposed to make an appearance tonight.”


Hogan glanced at his watch. Nine-thirty. “He’d better get a move on. He’s holding up the war.”


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


Wilson smiled patiently and shrugged as Klink asked the question yet again.


“How do you do this? Doesn’t the waiting drive you mad?”


Wilson spread his hands in a futile gesture, then looked back at the chessboard before him. “You can’t do anything but wait when Colonel Hogan is busy,” he said. “He has to do what he has to do. I just feel lucky that I don’t have to do it with him.” I just have to clean him up when he’s done. “He’s quite a man, our Colonel.”


Klink stopped pacing and sat down. “I’m beginning to see that.”


Wilson let his memories take him back to Hogan’s arrival, before things in camp got turned upside down. “He’s sure changed a lot.”


“Not to me, he hasn’t.” Klink grimaced.


“Oh, I know,” Wilson added hastily, noticing Klink’s change in demeanor. “But it was genuine change in the beginning. He wasn’t always as confident as he is now.”


“No,” Klink mused, remembering himself how Hogan had stood before him when he first arrived from the Wetzlar transition camp. “No, he wasn’t.” Klink pondered, then moved a rook. “What happened?”


“He remembered who he was.”


Klink looked up, startled. Had Hogan suffered memory loss?


“No, no, no,” Wilson amended, understanding. “Not like that. But you’re a soldier, Kommandant, you must know a little bit about psychology. When the Colonel first came to Stalag 13, it was after weeks of Hell. Being shot down, being interrogated… he couldn’t even remember having surgery, and there are still big holes in his memory. He was lost, and some of his personality was lost, too.”


Klink nodded. “It happens to a lot of men.”


“But not all of them get it back. It was hard for Colonel Hogan to return to camp. The first time he escaped, I, for one, wanted him to stay escaped. But thank God he was starting to find himself again, and he decided that he had to come back.” Wilson pursed his lips. “Sometimes, when I have to work on him, I still regret that.” Then he laughed suddenly. “But then, so do the Nazis!”


Klink said nothing, but frowned.


“Sorry,” Wilson mumbled.


It was Klink’s turn to shrug. “I should feel lucky no one so far has treated me the way Hogan was treated when he was captured by the enemy.”


“And no one will, if he has anything to say about it,” Wilson said. “And believe me, he does.”


Klink nodded. “And so… we wait?”


Wilson nodded back and captured Klink’s queen. “Yep. We wait.”


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


Hogan continued making small talk around the room, strolling casually from one area to another, nodding politely and avoiding any direct conversation about his work in Berlin. After about another twenty minutes, his restlessness was reaching its peak, and he was considering telling Eichberger to forget the whole idea and simply concentrate on the train, when someone coming into the room caught his eye.




The man the Germans knew as Major Hans Teppel was laughing loudly with a Luftwaffe Colonel, doing the rounds with these people who were obviously familiar with him, until his eyes lit on Hogan. With only a slight flicker of recognition, he made his way very offhandedly and, to Hogan, excruciatingly slowly, until they met face to face. “I don’t believe we’ve met,” Morrison said graciously, looking Hogan in the eye. “Major Hans Teppel, Military Intelligence.”


“Major Ludwig Huber.”


Heil Hitler.” Morrison’s hand went up.


Heil Hitler.” Hogan returned the salute with a little less enthusiasm.


“I hear your work keeps you in Berlin most of the time, Major. What brings you to Hammelburg?”


“Work again,” Hogan answered evenly.


“It’s a beautiful night. Perhaps you could regale me with your stories outside on the terrace.”


Hogan nodded. “A lovely idea,” he answered. “With such a fine, clear sky, one can still hear all the entertainment from within.”


The men strolled toward the French doors that opened onto the terrace, with Morrison taking two drinks off a passing tray and handing one to Hogan. Laughing, the men wandered outside. Then, keeping their faces light, Morrison changed his tone.


“I heard you were looking for me, Hogan. What’s going on?”


Hogan laughed to himself. “Nothing now. We had questions about Black Forest. He was assigned to the Abwehr for awhile.”


Morrison shook his head, his eyes showing sadness. Still, he laughed heartily before answering, and Hogan joined in the charade. “Yes, that was a shame. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.” He looked around him. No one seemed to be paying them any attention.


Hogan smiled and sipped his drink. But his eyes asked another question. “What, kick him out for incompetence?”


“No, order his arrest by the Gestapo. He’d been caught out, and I couldn’t give away my own cover; we’d have both been shot. And my superiors would have been very, very displeased to have ten years’ work against the Abwehr go to waste.” Morrision paused. “What’s the matter, Hogan? You look like you’re going to faint.”


“I may.” Hogan swallowed, hard. He put his glass down on the nearby ledge and turned to face Morrison. “Are you telling me Black Forest was exposed?”


Morrison nodded grimly. “Exposed and executed.”


Hogan could barely think. The world suddenly started spinning. He wanted to keep up the facade of being amused but found himself completely unable to. “When?”


Morrison shrugged. “About six months ago.”


“Are you sure?” Hogan whispered. He could feel the sweat pouring down his now very cold body, as the blood drained from his face. “Could he have escaped?”


Morrison shook his head regretfully. “Firing squad. I had to watch.” He looked carefully at Hogan again. He shrugged exaggeratedly and shook his head, as though reacting to an amusing anecdote. “What’s the problem?”


“He talked,” Hogan managed, not joining in. “He must have talked before he was killed.”


Morrison considered. “It’s possible. But, how do you know?”


“The new Kommandant of Stalag 13—Captain Eichberger; he’s here tonight—he came in a couple of months ago, when the Fuhrer’s crazy order was out to kill all the Allied officers.”


Morrison nodded. “I thought about you when I heard that. Glad you made it out.”


“I nearly didn’t. And we had to get Klink out of there as well—he’s waiting in the tunnel for transport to London. But Eichberger came in to take his place. And he claimed to be Black Forest.” Morrison gave a start. “He knew the codes, he knew the background, he knew Black Forest’s main contacts. He even knew my own code name. I didn’t trust him for a long time. But he started helping with sabotage missions, and he’s been an amazing asset to the team.” Hogan shook his head, disgusted with himself. “Obviously too amazing. I can’t believe I fell for it.” Hogan ran a hand through his hair. “It’s been a set-up all along.” His mind flew to the reprimand from London over the useless formula they had sent back. “The targets he suggested must have been useless, or warned ahead of time to get their most important people and materials out.” Hogan started despairing, a feeling he didn’t like as he felt out of control when he was worried. “Tonight was supposed to be the biggest caper of all—a direct strike on a train carrying Hitler on his way to a special forces meeting tomorrow.”


Morrison shook his head, all pretence gone. “There is no such meeting; I would have been informed for security purposes.”


“Oh my God,” Hogan breathed. “My boys are all over the woods. Morrison, I gotta go.”


“What about Eichberger?”


“Tell him I got drunk and had to—tell him I got drunk and let him draw his own conclusions. I don’t know. Just give me some lead time. I have to warn my men so they can get away.”


Morrison nodded, understanding Hogan’s mission as well as his fear. “I’m sorry I wasn’t around earlier,” he said. “Good luck, Hogan.”


Hogan rubbed his eyes, then covered his mouth with his hand, thinking wildly of every bad outcome possible. “Thanks. But it might just be too late for that.”

Chapter Forty-Four



The Plot Revealed



Kinch cursed his big fingers as he fumbled with the intricate workings of the explosives Carter had designed. He was happy playing with radio buttons and switches, but he had never felt entirely comfortable trying to place tiny fuses onto dynamite or playing with grenades, the pins of which he often felt his finger would get caught in as he pulled. Still, he got to work and did his part in laying the charges along the track, following up by covering his deed with small rocks, dirt, and debris that built up along the railway line. He worked fast in the cold, only stopping to flex his fingers when his hands started to go numb, then starting up again.


Nearby, Le Beau was crouched close to the ground, using his nimble fingers to prime the dynamite he was handing off to Carter. Their eyes and hands were on the task at hand. But their minds were in a house north of Hammelburg, at a party no one they knew would be enjoying.


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


“Going so soon, Major?”


Unable to spot Newkirk, Hogan had left the terrace, intending to gather him on the way out, and was in the still-quiet hallway near the door when the question stopped him. He didn’t turn around.


“Abington is late, Eichberger. I’m going to do some reconnaissance.”


Suddenly Hogan felt hot breath on his neck, and a hard, strong push halfway up his back from what was unmistakably the barrel of a gun.


“I don’t think so.”


Hogan stiffened and moved his hands away from his body a bit to show he was holding no weapon; they had all relinquished their guns when they entered the party.


“Come with me. And don’t try anything stupid; no one here would help you anyway.”


Hogan didn’t even try to talk his way out of it; he knew that, even with Morrison in the house, Eichberger was right. They retrieved Hogan’s coat and hat, with Eichberger standing almost on top of the American so his gun was out of sight. The German took the weapon handed to Hogan, and prodded Hogan out to the car. “What’s this all about?” Hogan asked as the Captain fairly pushed him into the driver’s seat.


“We’re going for a drive, Colonel Hogan,” Eichberger said.


“A drive? Look, if you don’t like the plan, just say so. We don’t have to get Abington tonight.”


“Start driving. Head back toward Stalag 13.”


“If you thought the party was that boring, we could have just gone to the Hoffbrau.” Hogan’s mind was ticking over. What time was it? He tried to remember when he last looked at his watch. When he was with Morrison it was ten o’clock. It must be well after that now. But how long before the charges his men were laying went off? Or were they already in the hands of the Gestapo and being interrogated by some merciless non-com looking for a promotion?


“Just be quiet and drive.”


Eichberger’s gun stayed trained on Hogan’s temple. Hogan tried to maintain a calm exterior, but his body was rebelling. He was already sweating profusely, and to his disgust he could actually feel his hands trembling as he clutched the steering wheel. Blood roared past his temples as his head started pounding relentlessly, and somewhere he registered an ache in his right hand that dragged him forcibly back to that awful day when Hochstetter had pulled him away from his men and started this whole mess. Still, Hogan’s breathing was perfectly normal, and he decided to obey Eichberger, lest his voice give away anything else.


“You were so stupid, Hogan,” Eichberger observed calmly. “It was so easy to trap you.” Hogan tightened his grip on the wheel despite the twinge in his hand and remained silent. “When I first came to Stalag 13, I did not know who you were. Oh, Major Hochstetter and I suspected. But of course, the Major had been completely incompetent about the way he proceeded.”


Hogan was startled. He bit his lip and concentrated on the road. He wanted to formulate a plan to get away. But he had to see how much Eichberger did know, so he would be able to determine the fate of the operation.


“So I suggested to the Major that I assume the identity of Black Forest.” Eichberger laughed softly. “Do you know what happened to Black Forest, Colonel Hogan?”


“Why don’t you tell me,” Hogan replied stiffly.


“He was working for Abwehr. A nice cover if you can get it. But he was not very bright, and he was discovered and arrested. Before he was shot, he was persuaded to tell us everything about himself and his work. And so I assumed his identity and took his place—but in the Luftwaffe. I did not lie to you back in camp, Colonel. I did indeed want to get closer to you. But not so I could help you.”


Hogan was sure he could taste blood as he bit down harder.


“Major Hochstetter and I decided that I would simply work on the assumption that all his suspicions were correct. That you were Papa Bear, and that you had an operation running out of Stalag 13. I knew enough about how Allied High Command worked from our… talks… with Black Forest before his unfortunate demise to be able to speak somewhat knowledgeably to you. I admit for awhile I thought we might have been barking up the wrong tree—your insistence that I was pinpointing the wrong person went on for a terribly long time—but perhaps it was your weakened condition that finally led to your downfall. In which case, Major Hochstetter’s somewhat distasteful methods actually had some usefulness.”


Hogan’s hand was screaming now as he nearly broke the steering wheel in two. “You don’t know nearly what you think you do,” he rasped.


Eichberger laughed. “Stubborn to the end, eh, Colonel?”


“Why now? Why not before now, when you and I first went out?” Hogan had promised he wouldn’t give Eichberger the satisfaction of gloating. But he needed to know, somehow.


“You would not involve any of your men before. And we wanted to establish certain, witnessed activity. You here now, in German uniform, is enough for me. And it will be enough for a trial as well.”


Hogan snorted. “Trial,” he mocked. “I doubt I’ll see anything like that.”


“You may be right. When we get back to Stalag 13 and Major Hochstetter gets hold of you again, you may wish you had never made it away alive the first time.”


I have no doubt about that, Hogan thought. “But you’re not lily-white yourself. What about the convoy?”


“Empty trucks with a bit of fuel sprinkled inside to help make the fires that much brighter.”


Hogan’s head spun. “And the train due tonight?” At least that was confirmed by London!


Eichberger smiled. “Major Hochstetter let it slip to someone suspected to have contacts with the Underground that the Fuhrer was due to pass by in Fuhrersonderzug on the same night Abington was due to spill his secrets. But the only train scheduled to go through that station tonight is carrying Allied prisoners of war.” Hogan nearly vomited at the thought of what that statement implied. “Oh, and by the way, Colonel Hogan—” Eichberger smiled—“Abington is still quite British. And not anywhere near here tonight. So you see, we had it all planned from the very beginning.”


Suddenly a loud explosion sounded in the distance, and the car rocked slightly as the ground underneath them trembled with the impact. Hogan felt a pain in his chest like someone had stabbed him. Devastated, anguished, he gasped, as the faces of his own men mixed with imagined images of the destruction they had just wrought on their allies. Ten-thirty. God, if I only hadn’t trusted… If I had even suspected…


Eichberger laughed. “It is done! Now that your men have done their jobs, Colonel Hogan, I have proof of your sabotage. Major Hochstetter is descending on Stalag 13 as we speak, ready to round up your associates. And I? I can shoot you as a spy right now—legally, since you are in German uniform, and you can easily be identified by myself and Major Hochstetter as a prisoner of war.” Out of the corner of his eye, Hogan saw Eichberger wave the gun he was holding. “There is no point in waiting. Pull over.”


Hogan stopped the car. Eichberger motioned him out with his gun, and Hogan obeyed wordlessly. “Kneel down over there,” Eichberger ordered, his voice turning harsh. Hogan walked over to the spot in the ditch by the side of the road where Eichberger indicated and knelt down. “Turn around,” Eichberger barked.


Hogan turned around so he was facing the woods. Eichberger’s voice was abrasive and taunting, but the truth was Hogan could barely hear him. The words were getting through, but he was simply complying with the Captain’s wishes automatically. Inside, his mind was working to try and figure out where he had gone wrong, how he had missed this, if there was anything he could do to turn this seemingly hopeless situation around. Could he overpower Eichberger? Possibly. But with Hochstetter at Stalag 13 and ready to haul in Hogan and his men, he would only be delaying the inevitable. Perhaps this way, if Eichberger did away with him here and now, his men would have time to realize there was something badly amiss, and be able to escape themselves.


Eichberger kicked Hogan’s feet apart as he knelt on the hard, uneven earth, and Hogan spread his hands as the Captain commanded.  Hogan felt like he was going to be sick, and he was suddenly cold, so very cold, as he realized that not only had he failed, but he had taken down his men with him. His men—the one group of people in all of Germany he would have laid down his life to protect. He felt himself calming down as he considered that perhaps that was just what he was doing now.


Hogan swallowed, feeling the cold night air whip across him, seeing so many faces flash before him as the barrel of a pistol pressed up against the back of his head. He felt a flush of blood race through his body as the sound of the safety being removed from the gun loudly rang through his ears. His knees weakened; he closed his eyes and forced himself to stay upright. You won’t feel it. It will be over in seconds. Father, I did the best I could. Please accept me into Your kingdom….


“Any last words?” Eichberger asked.




Eichberger swung around toward the unexpected voice from behind him. The split-second he had left to live was used expressing surprise as he faced a man dressed in black and aiming a very deadly Luger at him. The flash of the gunshot was so bright….


The impact sent Eichberger flying. There was no time for suffering; it was all over, and his lifeless body lay contorted on the ground inches from where Hogan was still kneeling.


Everything had happened so fast that the Colonel had not moved or turned around. Now, as his brain finally registered Newkirk’s voice and what had just transpired, he slumped to the ground, shaking, trembling as wasted adrenalin tried to work its way through his veins. The Corporal came up to Hogan at once and knelt beside him. “Are you all right, gov’nor?” he asked, his voice worried.


Hogan couldn’t speak yet and simply nodded twice as he stared at the ground, holding out a hand to Newkirk as though to pat his arm but not seeing him and missing his target. Newkirk let Hogan recover for a moment before trying again. “Colonel, are you all right?”


“Yeah,” Hogan whispered unsteadily. He looked at Newkirk, using a shaking hand to wipe his face and trying to stand up. Newkirk offered support to Hogan’s wobbly legs and guided Hogan back toward the car. “Where—how did you—?”


“I heard what Morrison said outside and figured there’d be trouble. When I saw you and Eichberger heading out of the house, I got straight into the back of the car.”


Hogan nodded, letting the information wash over him. Maybe it would process later. Right now, it was all just words. “Thanks,” he said, still breathless. He took a minute to steady himself, and it was in that moment that he collated all the facts. He looked at Newkirk, a hopelessness the Englishman never thought he’d see in his commander reflected in his eyes. “Newkirk,” Hogan said, almost destroyed, “we’ve lost the operation.”

Chapter Forty-Five



Auf Wiedersehen, Stalag 13



Carter, Le Beau, and Kinch huddled in a corner of the barn, anxious despite their success. “What time is it?” Carter asked again.


“Look at your watch,” Le Beau hissed.


“Ten past eleven,” Kinch replied. It wasn’t worth trying to calm Carter down now. All he could do was diffuse the tension. Hogan and Newkirk had not yet arrived. They weren’t late, yet. No need to panic. But Kinch was feeling a sense of dread that he couldn’t explain, and he had a feeling that the next five minutes weren’t going to bring any good news.


“Where are they?” Le Beau asked, his anxiety coming out as anger. He didn’t expect an answer.


“They’ve still got time,” Kinch said, trying to convince himself. “Maybe Abington came late.”


Carter agreed. “Maybe he didn’t come at all, and the Colonel and Eichberger waited till the last minute to leave.”


“Maybe.” Le Beau didn’t sound convinced.


The sound of a car pulling up halted their tense conversation. They made sure they readied their weapons. “Colonel Hogan said they are not coming in a car,” whispered Le Beau.


Kinch nodded as they crouched down behind some bales of hay they had stacked up when they arrived. Aiming his gun toward the door, he held his breath and waited. The door burst open, and in the pale moonlight the outline of two figures appeared to be framed.


“Fellas, it’s us!”


Kinch put the safety back on his gun and breathed a heavy sigh of relief. He stood up, Le Beau and Carter following suit, and came out from behind the hay. “Glad you could make it,” he said lightly. But his mood changed quickly as he felt no serenity coming from the new arrivals.


“We’ve got trouble,” Hogan said. “Big trouble.”


Carter and Le Beau came out to the rest of the group. “What do you mean?” Carter asked.


“Eichberger was Hochstetter’s plant,” Hogan explained. “And now Hochstetter knows all about the operation.”


“So Black Forest did turn traitor!” Le Beau spat.


“Black Forest is dead. Eichberger took his place a long time ago.” Hogan stopped as he took in the bewildered looks of his men. Now wasn’t the time for long explanations. “Look, Eichberger told Hochstetter everything. Hochstetter’s supposedly at the camp now, waiting to round up me and anyone who’s helping me.” The reality of what Hogan was saying started to strike them. Hogan concluded simply, “It’s finished. It’s time to get out.”


Newkirk shook his head. Carter looked devastated, and Le Beau drew his face into an angry sneer. Kinch looked all around him. Why was focusing so hard? “Colonel, what are you saying?” asked the radioman.


“We’ve done our work, Kinch. We have to close up shop.” Stunned silence filled the barn. Finally, Hogan added, “We got the preliminary escape route for Klink from the Underground last week. I want you guys to go to the first stop tonight and wait until they’re ready to get you out. I’ll go back to camp and destroy the records. We can’t let them stay in the tunnels; if they’re discovered, hundreds of people will die.”


“You can’t go back, Colonel; you just said Hochstetter’s there waiting for you!” Kinch protested.


“We can’t leave details of the operation behind. You know we have to get rid of it!” Hogan insisted.


“Then we’ll all go back,” Le Beau announced.


“No. I go alone,” Hogan said.


“Not this time, Colonel,” Newkirk said. “You can court martial me if you want, sir, if we live through it. But you’re not going back on your own.”


Oui, me too.”


“Same goes for me,” Carter piped up.


“I guess it’s unanimous,” Kinch observed. “We all go, or none of us goes. You can’t protect us this time, Colonel. We won’t let you.”


Hogan looked overwhelmed. Tonight had been too much for him, he realized. When it was all over, he would happily collapse for a week or more. But right now, there was no time to think of such luxuries. “Okay. But you do as I say when we’re there. Our main goal in going there is to destroy any evidence of our existence, and get out alive. Got it?”


“Got it.”


“Then let’s go.”


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


Hogan motioned for the others to stop and duck down low as they approached the camp on foot. In the interest of secrecy, they had ditched the car about one hundred yards up the road and hidden it in the scrub in case they needed it later. They looked down at the barbed wire and the only home they’d known for the better part of three years.


“Krauts everywhere,” Newkirk said grimly. “Look at them all, swarming like a bloody knocked-over beehive.”


Hogan nodded, never taking his eyes off the scene before him. “So Eichberger was telling the truth. Hochstetter’s goons are bound to be there. We’re going to have to figure out the best way to get in…and then get out… without being seen.”


A noise from somewhere nearby drove them face down to the ground, where they waited breathlessly until they realized it was just the rustling of the trees in the night breeze. “I’d say walking in through the front gate is out of the question,” Kinch observed, as they watched two more guards join the ones already at the fence nearest them.


“Look at them all!” Carter whispered. “They must have every Kraut in town on patrol!”


“Well, you know the Nazis, Carter—they put everyone to work—women, children, prisoners…” Hogan let his words drift away. Prisoners. Oh, God, he thought, tonight’s destruction of the train coming back to haunt him, sickening him. God, those poor men. Could I have stopped that from happening?


“Okay, here’s what we’re going to do,” Hogan decided. “I’m going to go down and check out the tunnels. If it’s clear, I’ll come back and you’ll follow. Give me ten minutes. If I don’t come back, head for the first checkpoint and don’t look back. Got it?”


Every one of Hogan’s men opened their mouths to protest. But the look on his face stopped them from speaking, and they simply nodded agreement. Hogan crouched down low, his gun clenched tightly in his hand, and scanned the area for any immediate threats between him and the entrance to the tunnel. Seeing nothing, and accepting the same conclusion from the others, Hogan ran stealthily to the tree stump and hopped in, closing the top and securing it behind him. Hogan’s men were left to scrutinize the woods as they remembered the expression on Hogan’s face: guilt, with a bit of fear, and determination. They had to let him do this his way, or the guilt would never go away.


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


Stripping off the German coat and hat as he ran, Hogan burst through the tunnel and back to the area under Barracks Two. “Any problems down here yet?” he asked the stunned Wilson and Klink.


Wilson stood up, worried by the Colonel’s incessant, nervous movement; even now, as he waited for an answer, Hogan was darting in and out of corner rooms, stopping only to listen for any sounds coming from above. “No, Colonel, no problems. Are you all right? Where are the oth—”


“Check the other areas. We have to get out,” Hogan said, not listening past the “No.” Wilson felt his own stomach tightening. “Eichberger was one of Hochstetter’s men. We’ve been betrayed; the Gestapo is all over the camp. Are you sure you haven’t had any trouble?”


Wilson shook his head. His body seemed to be frozen in place. “No, Colonel. No trouble,” was all he could say.


“Good. Keep an ear out. I’m going to go get the others. We’ve got to get rid of as much information as we can before we leave. Otherwise a lot of people could die.”


And he was gone.


Klink finally found his voice. “What does he mean, one of Hochstetter’s men?”


“I don’t know,” Wilson said, still watching where Hogan had disappeared. “But I have a feeling no one’s going to be getting any sleep tonight.”


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


“Carter, I want you to start getting the explosives together. Wire up the tunnel, and do it big. We’re not coming back so it’s okay if we collapse it all. Newkirk, get a fire started and make it a big one. Le Beau, Kinch—start burning all our documents—maps, names, places. We’ve got to get rid of everything. I’ll get the stuff upstairs.”


“But Colonel, there are Krauts up there!” Carter protested.


“That’s exactly why we have to get rid of the stuff.” Hogan took a deep breath. “Make sure you get out of those clothes. We won’t be very welcome anywhere dressed as saboteurs.” Hogan glanced at his own clothes. “And I won’t get us in anyone’s door if I stay dressed like this.” Hogan’s men stood waiting. “Okay, get moving.”


The men ran off in their own directions, doing the jobs they had been assigned. Hogan listened carefully for any noises coming from upstairs and then tapped for the ladder under the bunk to release.


Coming cautiously into the dark room, Hogan moved quickly across to his quarters. Making sure his windows were darkened, he switched on a small light at his desk and started digging for hidden files. Under his bottom bunk, a small hole to store code. Near the window, pull-down maps. Under a floor board under the desk, a larger area to keep more detailed information about contacts and assignments. Hogan gathered as he went, and started the papers burning in the stove in the common room. The men sleeping in there stirred but did not waken; they were used to Hogan and his men creating noises in the middle of the night.


Hogan went back into his room and started changing out of the German uniform that Eichberger had given him. He gave himself little time to think about anything but the tasks at hand, but he could not help his head spinning at all that had happened tonight. Here he was, pulling on his US Army Air Corps uniform, running around the barracks for the last time, trying desperately to destroy any proof of his mission’s existence, putting his men again in the face of danger. All because I trusted someone I shouldn’t have. Hogan winced briefly at a pain in his hand as he hurriedly buttoned his shirt, but the pause was only for a second. Nothing more than you deserve, Hogan said punishingly. It’ll be a nice reminder of your failure. He grabbed his jacket and crush cap and a couple of books and files that needed saving and took off to head back downstairs.


Three years’ work.


And all traces of it gone in less than ten minutes.


When he was halfway to the tunnel, the door to the barracks opened. Hogan froze, and looked toward the open entrance to the people downstairs. No, not them, too, he thought desperately, and he quickly dropped what he was holding down the hole and banged on the bunk in the hopes that it would close before anyone realized what had happened.


The lights came on then, and Sergeant Schultz entered the hut. His eyes widened when he saw Hogan, and he quickly shut the door behind him. “Colonel Hogan!” he said in a loud whisper.


Hogan looked back at Schultz, no longer wearing a mask of innocence. “Schultz—” he began.


“Colonel Hogan, you have to get out—the Gestapo is here. They think you are coming back into camp with Captain Eichberger tonight, and they are waiting to arrest you and your men!”


“I know that, Schultz,” Hogan answered. “I just came back to clean up. I’m heading out soon.”


“You have to go now,” Schultz insisted. “Major Hochstetter is starting inspections of the barracks to see if he can find anything with any of the other men while he waits for you. He is at Barracks Five now; you have to go!”


“He won’t find anything anywhere else, Schultz.” Hogan stopped to think. “But you are in a position to do me a favor.”


Please, Colonel Hogan, my favor is to let you go and to say I know nothing. Please, go now through that tunnel of yours. Please, please go.”


Hogan looked straight at Schultz. The time for charades was over. Whatever Schultz wanted or didn’t want to know, Hogan didn’t have time to sort out now. So he spoke plainly. “Schultz, a lot of people could die if we don’t do this right. Not just us, but people like your brother who put their lives on the line every day to fight the good fight. And people like Colonel Klink.” Schultz’s eyes widened again. “He’s downstairs, Schultz, always has been. And he won’t live if we can’t take him with us. But we need a head start. You can get us that.”


“The Kommandant? He is here?” Hogan nodded. Schultz shook his head. “I don’t believe it.” He paused, then looked at Hogan. “Should I?”


Hogan let out an exasperated sigh. He didn’t have time for this. “Do I have to prove it to get you moving?” Schultz seemed rooted in place. Not out of spite, but out of confusion. Hogan turned around and banged the bunk again. “Klink!” he called down. “Hurry up and show yourself!”


A few seconds later a bewildered and somewhat uncoordinated Kommandant Klink made his way up through the bunk until his head and shoulders were in the room. He squinted in the bright light, and even the prisoners who were waking up to the booming voice of the guard were surprised by the appearance of the Kommandant. “Hogan? Are you sure I should be up here?” Klink asked. As he got used to being in such an open area, his eyes alit on the Sergeant of the Guard. “Schultz?” he asked, as though he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.


Herr Kommandant!”


Schultz came closer to the bunk.


“We got him out of the cooler before Hochstetter and Burkhalter put him in front of the firing squad,” Hogan said, as the two Germans studied each other. “We have to go, Schultz, and he has to come with us. If you stall, we’ll have a chance.”


“Schultz, will you be all right here?” Klink asked. Schultz reached past Hogan to help Klink up into the hut.


Jawohl, Kommandant, I am safe enough.” Schultz looked at his commanding officer. “You look… tired, Herr Kommandant.”


“Thank you very much,” Klink said with some sarcasm.


“Look, we’re all tired,” Hogan said with some impatience. “But if we don’t get moving, we’ll be resting permanently. I brought Klink up here so you’d understand why we need your help. So are you going to help or not?”


“Come with us, Schultz,” Klink said suddenly.


Hogan raised his eyebrows. It was a thought he had not considered. “Herr Kommandant?” Schultz said.


“Schultz, you won’t survive with Hochstetter around and no one to protect you. Captain Eichberger is working for the Gestapo. You must leave, too.”


Hogan turned to Klink. “Eichberger won’t be coming back to Stalag 13.” Klink looked shocked.


“No, Kommandant, I cannot leave. My family is here. And although I do have a brother and family in England,” he said, with a brief nod toward Hogan, “my duty is here. I will be safe.” He lowered his voice conspiratorially. “I know a lot more than people think I do,” he said.


Hogan waited only seconds. “Schultz, we need five minutes. Can you get us just five minutes?”


Ja, I am sure I can do that.” Schultz took a moment to look at Klink as Hogan was about to bundle the Kommandant back down to the others. “Herr Kommandant, it was a privilege working for you, sir.”


Hogan watched quietly. Klink’s expression was almost wistful. “Thank you, Schultz. You are a good soldier. And a good friend.” Schultz saluted, and Klink returned the gesture, then held out his hand. “We will meet again, my friend,” he said. “Auf Wiedersehen.”


Auf Wiedersehen,” Schultz replied, a lump forming in his throat.


Sudden noises from outside startled the trio, and Schultz watched as Hogan practically pushed Klink back downstairs. “Five minutes, Schultz,” Hogan reminded him. “Make sure all my men are out of the building—and you, too. See if you can manage to keep Hochstetter in here when you go. Got it?”


Schultz looked surprised. “Ja, I got it,” he said, recovering. “Colonel Hogan,” he called, as Hogan started down to the tunnel. Hogan stopped and looked at the guard. “Thank you for making this war a little easier to take.”


Hogan smiled a genuine, warm smile at the Sergeant. “My pleasure, Schultz. For an enemy, you weren’t a bad friend.”


“Colonel Hogan, if you are looking for a place to hide, go to my house. Tell my wife I have sent you. She knows Colonel Klink, and she knows you. You can stay in the barn until you find another place. The Kommandant knows the way. You will be safe there.”


“Taking sides, Schultz?”


Schultz shook his head knowingly. “Ja, Colonel Hogan. I think I am.”


“I’ll make sure I tell Ludwig when I see him.” Hogan took a final look around at the remaining men, and took one final look toward his quarters, then slid quickly down the ladder and to the others who were waiting, packs in hand. Kinch hit the release to close the entrance, and Hogan turned to the others.


“This is it. Klink, you’re coming with us. Wilson—”


The medic looked at Hogan, wide-eyed. “I’m afraid you’re in on this, too. The Krauts are all over the other barracks already. If you suddenly appear, you’ll be taken in a flash.”


Wilson could only nod.


“Carter, have you laid the charges?”


“Sure have, Colonel,” Carter answered.


“It’s time to set the timers. Have them go off in five minutes, and make the one for this area big enough to bring down the entire barracks.”


The others gasped.


“I’ve made sure our men will get out. Is everything burned?”


Oui, Colonel.”


“Okay. Let’s get those timers going. Kinch, get the radio cranked up. Don’t try to reach anyone, just make sure the radio detection truck picks up a signal so Hochstetter’s men will hang around the barracks till the timers go off. As soon as you’ve done that, haul freight out of here. Leave the radio on. Newkirk, take Klink out, and take Wilson with you. Carter, you and Le Beau set those charges closest to the exit, then head on out. I’ll follow when I’ve set the ones back here.”


Newkirk recovered long enough to speak. “We should all go out together, sir.”


“And we will,” Hogan answered. “As soon as the charges are set. Now get moving.” He grabbed his own pack, registering somewhere in his mind that one of his men had gathered the stuff he had dropped down through the bunk and bundled it up for him. “Last one out turns off the lights. We’re running a conservative war, remember?”

Text and original characters copyright 2004 by Linda Groundwater

This copyright covers only  original material and characters, and in no way intends to infringe upon the privileges of the holders of the copyrights, trademarks, or other legal rights, for the Hogan's Heroes universe.