The Stalag Zone 2
2006 Papa Bear Awards - First Place
2006 Papa Bear Awards - Nominated
Best Portrayal of a Canon Character - Sergeant Carter
This is the second story in which the Hogan’s Heroes characters meet Rod Serling. As you all know, many strange events occur to those who enter the Twilight Zone, and our boys at Stalag 13 are not immune to them.
In this episode, Colonel Robert Hogan and Sergeant Andrew Carter find themselves in quite a predicament. How will they handle themselves as they struggle to determine what is real and what is not? I guess you’ll just have to join us and find out … in the Twilight Zone.
The standard disclaimer applies – I make no claims to the characters or events of either Hogan’s Heroes or The Twilight Zone. This story is simply intended for reader enjoyment.
Big thanks to Linda for beta reading this story. So if you see any mistakes, they are probably because I didn’t listen to my beta reader!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Colonel Robert Hogan waited below the entrance to the tunnel. He was standing on the ladder that led to the tree stump just outside of the perimeter of Stalag 13. He pushed up the stump cover slightly to glance around at the woods surrounding the exit. Seeing nothing, he quickly opened the cover and climbed out, replacing the cover and ducking behind the stump just as the searchlight swept the area.
When the light had passed, he rapped on the stump to signal to Carter that it was safe for him to emerge and moved away to some nearby bushes. In a moment, Sergeant Andrew Carter joined him behind the bush.
While they waited a moment to make sure that there were no guards patrolling the woods nearby, Hogan glanced over at Carter. His demolitions expert was beside him wearing his regular uniform instead of their black sabotage clothing. Hogan had determined that since this was a simple meeting with one of the local Underground contacts, they did not need to dress as if they were up to something.
“Erika will be waiting for us at the barn?” Carter asked, somewhat nervously.
Hogan nodded at his man. It seemed to him that Carter was more comfortable when they were out to destroy something than he was on the simpler missions. He knew that Carter would have rather stayed behind and let Newkirk or LeBeau go instead, but since it was his turn to leave camp, the sergeant had kept quiet and done his duty.
“Yes, Erika has some information on a new group that wants to join the Underground,” Hogan replied. “So the meeting should go pretty quick.”
Seeing that there were no patrols that evening, Hogan motioned to Carter and began to move through the woods. He didn’t have to look back to know that Carter was following close behind.
They had gone about a half-mile when the woods began to become foggy. The thin haze enveloped them as they moved and quickly began to get thick.
“I’ve never known it to get foggy in this area, Colonel,” Carter commented.
“Me neither,” Hogan replied. He was about to add another comment when he felt a sudden chill crawl down the back of his spine. He stopped abruptly and looked around. The fog was so thick that he could see only several feet in any direction.
“What is it, Colonel?” Carter asked.
“I don’t know,” Hogan replied. “I just got a chill for a second.”
“Me, too,” Carter responded. “I just thought that it was my nerves or something.”
“That’s probably all it was,” replied Hogan skeptically. He wanted to believe that, but for some reason, alarm bells were ringing in his mind. First a fog that is never here, and now I have this feeling that something is about to go very wrong. Maybe we should scrap the mission and head back to camp.
At that moment, the fog began to lighten up. Gradually they were able to see further and further into the woods. After another minute, Hogan decided that whatever the feeling he had was, it was most likely brought on by the eeriness that the fog had brought to the landscape. He shrugged and decided that it was time they got moving again. He motioned to Carter and began a slow, stealthy walk towards their objective.
It took them only a few minutes to reach the barn. They stopped at the edge of the clearing and waited – looking for anything that was out of the ordinary. Seeing nothing, they slowly emerged from the woods and walked towards the dark structure.
“Stay outside and keep watch,” Hogan said to Carter. Carter nodded and took a crouching position next to a haystack by the door.
When Hogan entered the barn, he saw Erika sitting on a crate in the middle of the open area in front of the stalls. After being outside in the darkness, he had to stop and let his eyes adjust to the light from the lantern that Erika had brought. Blinking, he looked around. The bad feeling he had earlier came back. Nothing seemed amiss in the barn, but it somehow did not feel right.
Erika rose and walked towards him. “I was wondering when you would get here, Colonel,” she said, smiling at Hogan. “You are a little late.”
“I know,” Hogan replied. “There was a little fog out there that made it hard to see and it slowed us down.”
“Fog?” Erika asked. “This is not the time of year for fog.”
Hogan shrugged. “I know, but it was there,” he replied. “But we should get started. If the fog is still present, it may delay us when we leave here.”
“We should wait, Colonel,” Erika replied.
“Wait?” Hogan asked. “What are we waiting for?”
Erika looked a little annoyed. “Colonel Hogan, you know we have to wait for Major Hochstetter.”
Hogan was too stunned to speak. Did I just hear what I thought I heard? Hochstetter? Here? Finally, he blurted out, “Hochstetter? You want Hochstetter to be here?”
Erika’s stared at Hogan. She couldn’t understand why he was reluctant to meet with Major Hochstetter. “Of course!” she said. “As the leader of the Underground in this area, he has to be here for this plan to work. You know that!”
Hogan felt his jaw drop. “Did you say that Hochstetter was the leader of the Underground?” he asked. “What about Papa Bear?”
Erika was starting to get a little impatient. “Colonel Hogan, if this is your idea of a joke, it’s not very funny,” she said testily. “You know that Major Hochstetter is Papa Bear!”
“Hochstetter is Papa Bear,” he repeated calmly. Erika nodded. “What about me?”
Erika laughed when she heard the question. “Colonel, this is why you are here,” she replied. “We are here to plan your escape from Stalag 13 so that Major Hochstetter can capture you and finally discredit Colonel Klink.” Hogan couldn’t believe his ears. Erika continued, “That way Major Hochstetter can take over Stalag 13 and allow you and your men to operate from the camp.”
Hogan began to rub his temples. This is crazy! Hochstetter, the leader of the Underground? Taking over Stalag 13?
While Hogan was contemplating the turn of events, Carter burst into the barn. “Someone is coming, Colonel,” he said breathlessly.
Erika was startled. “Who are you?” she asked nervously.
“That’s Carter,” Hogan replied. “One of my men. You know him!”
Erika shook her head. “No, I have never seen him before,” she replied. “But you were supposed to come alone. Why did you bring someone else?”
Carter was watching the interplay between Erika and Hogan. He noticed that Hogan seemed to be very stressed about the situation. “Colonel, someone is coming,” he repeated.
“That should be Major Hochstetter,” Erika replied. “Maybe when he gets here, you will stop joking around.”
At the mention of Hochstetter’s name, Carter’s eyes went wide. “Hochstetter is on his way here?” he asked, looking at Hogan. “Colonel, what is going on here?”
They heard a vehicle approaching the barn. Hogan looked back at Carter and replied, “I don’t know, but we’re not going to stay around and find out. Come on!”
He started towards the read door of the barn with Carter following. A surprised Erika stared at the men heading towards the exit. When they got to the door, Hogan stopped and looked back at her.
“Colonel, where are you going?” she asked.
“Erika, come on,” Hogan insisted. “You don’t want Hochstetter to catch you here.”
“Colonel Hogan, I am here to meet Major Hochstetter!” she exclaimed.
The vehicle drew nearer and Hogan decided that he and Carter could not wait any longer. He opened the door and left the barn, followed quickly by Carter.
Erika was stunned. She couldn’t believe how Colonel Hogan had acted. She was still staring at the back door when Major Hochstetter entered the barn through the front door.
“Is he here yet?” Hochstetter asked, glancing around.
“He was,” she replied. “And then he ran away when he heard your car coming.”
“He what?” Hochstetter replied. “Damn! We’ve been planning this escape for a long time. He knows that we won’t get too many opportunities!”
“I tried to tell him, Major,” Erika responded. “But he didn’t seem to want to listen.”
Hochstetter shook his head. “Maybe the stress of this is too much for him,” Hochstetter commented. “Maybe Colonel Hogan just isn’t cut out to be a member of the Underground.”
Erika didn’t have any reply. She simply stood and waited for Hochstetter to decide what to do next.
“I will have to find out what his problem is the next time I talk to him,” Hochstetter said, more to himself than to Erika. “That is, if I get a chance to talk to him. If he tries to get back into camp, I might not get a chance.”
* * * * *
Hogan and Carter were in the bushes when Major Hochstetter’s car pulled up in front of the barn. They watched the Major get out of the car and look around before slowly entering the barn.
“He didn’t look like he was trying to catch anyone,” Carter commented. “What do you make of it, Colonel?”
Hogan shook his head. “I don’t know,” he replied. “But I say we get back to camp before something else happens.”
As they headed back to camp, Hogan’s head was spinning. What is going on here? Erika expects Hochstetter to be at the meeting and says that he is Papa Bear. Hochstetter arrives and looks as if he is trying to avoid being seen rather than catching someone. It didn’t make any sense to him. Hochstetter as Papa Bear? Taking over Stalag 13 so I can operate from the camp? Erika sounded as if I am not even associated with the Underground!
When they reached the edge of camp, they went right to the tree stump that served as the entrance to their emergency tunnel. They crawled up to it and Carter tried to lift it up. It didn’t budge.
“Come on, Carter,” Hogan said testily. “Open it up and let’s get inside before someone sees us!”
“I’m trying, Colonel,” Carter replied. “It just won’t budge!”
“Let me try,” Hogan said. As Carter moved aside, Hogan tried to lift up the top of the tree stump. He had the same trouble Carter had had with it.
“See, it just won’t budge.” Carter said.
Hogan began to feel around the edges of the tree stump, and squinted hard in the darkness to see if he could see what was preventing it from opening. Suddenly, he found the reason why the stump would not open.
“I wonder why it’s stuck?” Carter wondered.
“It’s not stuck, Carter,” Hogan said slowly.
“Huh?” Carter replied.
“It’s not stuck,” Hogan repeated. “This stump has never been able to lift up. We either have the wrong stump, or …”
Before Hogan could finish, they heard a low growl from behind them. They turned around and saw one of the camp dogs standing there with bared fangs.
“Hey, that’s Bismark,” Carter said. He held his gloved hand out towards the dog. “Hey Bismark, old boy. It’s just us,” he said as he moved towards the dog to pet it.
As his hand neared the dog, it snarled and snapped at Carter’s hand.
“Ow!” Carter exclaimed. “He bit me!”
Bismark began barking at Hogan and Carter, and the searchlights from camp began to wheel around towards the barking. The two men were bathed in light as the alarms from inside the camp began to sound. Before they knew it, shots rang out from one of the guard towers, and they heard the bullets tearing through the nearby brush. Immediately, they threw their hands in the air.
Soon, several guards arrived where they were standing, and Hogan and Carter noticed that Corporal Langenscheidt was one of them.
“The Kommandant will be very angry with you. Colonel Hogan,” Langenscheidt said. “And it seems that you brought us another prisoner for our happy group,” he said, noticing Carter. “What is your name?”
“Langenscheidt, it’s me, Carter,” Carter responded.
The Corporal’s eyes widened when he heard his name. “How do you know my name?” he asked. Then he shook his head. “Never mind. We must get back to the Kommandant’s office. He will not be happy if we are delayed.”
Langenscheidt began walking back towards camp, and the other two guards prodded the prisoners with their rifles to start them moving.
Carter leaned over to Colonel Hogan as they began walking. “Colonel, What is going on?” he asked.
“I don’t know, Carter,” Hogan replied. “But I don’t think were in Kansas anymore!”
* * * * *
A well-dressed man stepped out of the darkness into the beam from the searchlight.
Colonel Robert E. Hogan and Sergeant Andrew J. Carter – two Allied flyers interred in a Luft Stalag in Nazi Germany. Like thousands of other prisoners, they did not lead a comfortable existence. But conditions in Luft Stalag 13 were not like any other camp, and Colonel Hogan was able to lead a successful operation under the nose of the camp Kommandant. But tonight they are about to find that their world has been turned inside out. Colonel Hogan does not know it yet, but he is about to find his words to be prophetic. He is indeed not in Kansas anymore because he has just stepped into … The Twilight Zone.
* * * * *
Corporal Langenscheidt led Hogan and Carter through the Kommandant’s outer office and into the empty inner office. During the walk through the camp, Hogan noticed that the Corporal was silent. He did not attempt to converse with the prisoners as he normally would.
When they reached the Kommandant’s office, Klink was seated behind his desk organizing some paperwork. He was wearing his uniform jacket, but Hogan could see that he had his pajamas on underneath. When they entered the room, Klink rose from his desk and with his riding crop motioned the prisoners to a spot in front of it.
“Hi Kommandant!” Hogan said brightly. “You’re up late tonight.” He was hoping that he could take control of this situation, and he and Carter could then go back to the barracks.
Klink met the greeting with an icy stare at the American officer. “For your information, Colonel Hogan, I was not planning to be up late,” Klink replied. “And you know how much I dislike having my plans disrupted.”
Hogan was about to make a comeback remark, but was cut off by Klink before he could open his mouth.
“Since you have already disturbed my sleep, maybe you would like to tell me what you were doing outside of the camp,” Klink requested.
Hogan gave the Kommandant one of his boyish smiles. “It seemed like such a nice night for a walk,” he replied.
Klink continued to give Hogan the icy stare. “I will warn you only this once that I am not in the mood for your sarcastic remarks,” Klink responded. “Now, I see that you have brought us back a new prisoner for our collection.” He turned to Carter and asked, “And what is your name?”
Carter was confused and looked over at Hogan. Hogan gave a slight shrug to show that he was just as confused.
When Carter didn’t answer right away, Klink began to get impatient. “I asked you your name!” he said testily.
“Sergeant Carter sir,” Carter replied. “You know that.”
“How would I know that when you just arrived in my office?” Klink asked frostily. “And maybe you would like to tell me just how you come to be in my office, with Colonel Hogan, at this time of night.”
“I was out taking a walk with Colonel Hogan,” Carter replied with a small smile. The ferocity of Klink’s response wiped the smile from Carter’s face.
“That will be quite enough!” Klink bellowed. “Sergeant Carter, you now find yourself a prisoner in Luft Stalag 13 which, for your information, is the toughest POW camp in all of Germany. There has never been a successful escape from this camp, and as long as I am in charge, there will never be one.” Klink looked over at Hogan. “Colonel Hogan, I expected you to realize that by now.”
Hogan resisted the urge to reply. He had been studying Klink as he had been talking to Carter. There was something different about Klink tonight, and he couldn’t quite put his finger on it.
Klink turned his attention back to Carter. “This will be your home for the duration of this war,” Klink continued to explain. “You will do well to remember where you are.”
“But if you forget, the old Bald Eagle of Stalag 13 will be sure to remind you,” Hogan retorted. He still didn’t know what was going on, but he was getting tired of simply being a spectator. He immediately regretted his remark.
Klink slammed his riding crop down on his desk so hard that the force of impact made Hogan physically jump backwards. “Enough!” shouted Klink. The Kommandant walked around the desk and stood in front of Hogan.
Hogan met Klink’s stare with one of his own. What has gotten into Klink tonight? Sure, we were caught outside the fence, but he’s never been this tough before. And what’s with the new prisoner treatment of Carter? As Hogan stared at Klink, he could see none of the normal insecurities that he had always seen. This was the same man, but this was not the same Wilhelm Klink.
“Colonel Hogan, up to this point, I have only been contemplating punishment for you,” Klink said coldly. “But if I hear one more remark like that from you, every man in your barracks will be punished. Do I make myself clear?”
Hogan took a nervous swallow. No, this was not the same Wilhelm Klink. “Yes sir,” he replied. “Perfectly clear.”
Klink returned his attention to Carter, who had been visibly shaken by the exchange between Klink and Hogan. “Now then Sergeant Carter,” he said. “What unit were you with and where were you stationed?”
Carter gulped. He was as scared as he had been on the day he had been shot down. On that day, he did not know what to expect from his captors. Now, seeing how Klink had talked to Hogan, he no longer knew what to expect from his Kommandant. He straightened to attention. “Carter, Andrew J.,” he began to recite. “Sergeant, United States Army Air Corps. Serial number …”
Klink waved him to silence. “Tonight is not the time for that,” he said absently. “We will question you tomorrow.” Klink returned to his chair and sat down. “Normally, you would be sent to a Dulag to be interrogated and processed and then shipped out to a Luft Stalag. But since you are here, and this is Stalag 13, I am sure that Berlin will have no objections to that being done here. You will spend tonight in the cooler and then be assigned to a barracks after you are processed in the morning.”
Klink then turned his attention to Hogan. “And as for you, Colonel Hogan,” he said. “You will spend the next five days in solitary where you will hopefully remember that no one ever escapes from Stalag 13.”
Hogan was stunned. Sure, Klink was always threatening thirty days in the cooler for one thing or another. But Hogan had usually been able to talk him out of following through. But Klink had never before threatened solitary for a simple escape attempt – especially when there were no roll calls missed. Tonight, Hogan sensed that he had better not tempt fate by trying to talk Klink out of throwing him into solitary. He was likely to find himself locked up for ten days.
Klink stood. “Corporal, take Colonel Hogan to the solitary confinement cell,” Klink said to Langenscheidt. “He is to be released in five days time. And take Sergeant Carter to the cooler for the night. Have Sergeant Schultz bring him to my office for questioning at 0800 hours tomorrow morning.”
Langenscheidt snapped to attention and gave a crisp salute. “Jawohl!” he replied.
“Kommandant, request permission to be present when Sergeant Carter is questioned tomorrow,” Hogan said. He didn’t understand why Carter had to be questioned, but if Klink was going to play the game, then he was determined to also play.
“Request denied,” Klink replied without looking up from his paperwork.
“But Kommandant, the Geneva Convention …” Hogan began.
“I said request denied!” Klink said loudly. “Corporal, take them away!”
Hogan blinked in disbelief. Klink had always relented when Hogan mentioned the Geneva Convention. But tonight, Klink seemed not to care.
Langenscheidt gave another salute, and opened the office door. He motioned Hogan and Carter out of the office and shut the door behind them.
* * * * *
Carter was waiting when Schultz came to the cooler to escort him to Klink’s office. He watched the sergeant walk up to the cell and immediately noticed a difference in his demeanor.
“You must be Sergeant Carter,” Schultz said, sticking the key into the lock.
“Yeah, Schultzie,” Carter replied. “It’s me.”
Schultz was opening the door when he heard Carter speak. He stopped and stared at Carter. “It is Sergeant Schultz to you,” he replied. “And you should not forget that.”
Carter was surprised at the way Schultz had answered him. As long as he had known the German sergeant, he had always been pleasant and jolly. “But Schultz,” he began, then stopped and checked himself when he saw the glare from Schultz. “I mean Sergeant Schultz. I’ve always called you Schultzie as long as I have known you.”
“Considering that we have known each other roughly thirty seconds, that is not surprising,” Schultz commented. “But from this point onward, you will refer to me as Sergeant Schultz.” Schultz put extra emphasis on his name, as if to drive his point home. “Now, you will come with me for a nice visit with our Kommandant.” Schultz stopped Carter from leaving the cell and added, “And I would strongly suggest that you address him properly.” Schultz moved away from the cell entrance and let Carter pass through.
Carter followed Schultz to the Kommandant’s office and spent most of the morning there reciting his name, rank and serial number. Klink was very persistent in asking what unit he belonged to, where it was stationed and what their objective was when he was shot down. He was very confused by the whole ordeal. He couldn’t figure out why both Klink and Schultz were acting as if they did not know him. He figured that it was some sort of a game to trick him into revealing information, but it was so unlike both of them to be that devious. He was determined to play along the best he could. Maybe Newkirk, Kinch or LeBeau would know what was going on.
Schultz appeared again to escort Carter to his barracks assignment. “You are being assigned to Barracks 2, Sergeant Carter,” Schultz said as they left the Kommandant’s office. “That is Colonel Hogan’s barracks and I am the barracks guard. I would suggest that you do not cause any trouble.”
“Why would I cause any trouble, Schultz?” Carter asked and then quickly added, “Sergeant Schultz.”
“It has been my experience that new prisoners will cause trouble and think they might be able to escape from here,” Schultz replied. “You must realize that there is a good reason why there has never been a successful escape from this camp.”
“I’ll say there is,” Carter muttered under his breath. Out loud he said, “I can’t wait to get back to the old barracks and see the rest of the gang.”
Schultz looked over at Carter as they walked. “Why do you persist in talking as if you have been here before?” he asked. “If you had been here, I would know you and you wouldn’t have been outside of the compound last night.”
“Oh yeah,” Carter said. It looks like Schultz is still playing this game, so I’d better watch what I say around him. “I keep forgetting,” he said, hoping that would satisfy the German.
As they approached Barracks 2, Carter noticed Newkirk walking towards them from the side. Carter turned to greet him just as he brushed up against him. There was a moment of confusion as Newkirk mumbled apologies and Schultz turned to see what was going on. Before Schultz could get angry, Newkirk walked away, Carter stared after him. I can’t believe it. Newkirk frisked me just as the does with all the newcomers. He was checking me out. What is going on around here?
When they entered the barracks, Carter looked around and saw Kinch and LeBeau sitting at the large table in the middle of the room. Newkirk had entered ahead of them and was climbing into his top bunk.
“Hi guys!” Carter said happily. “I’m back.” He was greeted by silent stares from the men in the barracks.
Schultz walked up to Newkirk. “Corporal Newkirk, since Colonel Hogan is in solitary confinement for the next five days, I will deliver this new prisoner to you,” he said. “This is Sergeant Andrew Carter. I leave it to you to make sure that I do not have any troubles form him.”
“Yes, Sergeant Schultz,” Newkirk replied. “I will see to it.”
“That is good,” Schultz replied crisply. Then he lowered his voice before continuing. “I think there is something wrong with him. He seems to want to believe that he has been here before.” Carter saw Schultz take his finger and make circles next to his head. Schultz thinks I am crazy? This is whole situation is nuts!
As Schultz turned to leave the barracks, Newkirk jumped down from his bunk and walked over to Carter. “Greetings mate,” he said, extending his hand. Carter took it and shook it automatically. “I’m Corporal Peter Newkirk of the R.A.F.,” Newkirk said.
Carter looked at his friend in disbelief. “Newkirk, it’s me – Carter!” he exclaimed. “Quit kidding around!” He looked over at Kinch and LeBeau. Neither of them was smiling. He looked back at Newkirk and for the first time noticed that he did not see the mirth that was normally in his friend’s eyes. Whatever was going on here, Newkirk actually believed that he didn’t know who Carter was.
Carter swallowed nervously. He was starting to get scared. Nothing was the way it was supposed to be, and the only person he could think of that might have a clue was locked up in solitary confinement. He decided that since everyone thought he was a new prisoner, he’d better act like one. “Sorry,” he said timidly. “You remind me of someone that I had been stationed with before coming here.”
Newkirk nodded, accepting his apology. “That’s okay, mate,” he replied. “Things are a little nerve racking when you first become a prisoner.” Newkirk motioned over to the table. “This is Corporal Louis LeBeau. He’s French, in case you couldn’t tell from his name. And this is Sergeant James Kinchloe. He’s one of you.”
“He’s a little light to be one of mine,” Kinch replied from the table.
“I meant American,” Newkirk corrected. He pointed over to the bottom bunk by the door. “That will be your bunk,” he said.
Carter nodded. Of course it’s my bunk. It has always been my bunk.
“Now, since you are new here, you will be very popular for a while,” Newkirk continued. “After all, you have something that we all want.” Seeing Carter’s look of confusion, he added, “News, mate. You have news from the outside.”
Carter quickly shook his head. “No, I don’t know anything,” he replied.
Newkirk’s eyes narrowed. “What do you mean you don’t know anything?” he asked suspiciously.
It took Carter a second to realize the implications of that question. Since he was newly captured, he was bound to know what was going on back in England. If he didn’t know anything, they would suspect that he was a German plant.
Think fast, Andrew. There’s got to be some reason why you don’t know what’s going on. “What I mean is that I wasn’t just shot down recently,” he said as he sat down on his bunk. He felt all eyes in the barracks stare down at him. “I have been a prisoner in Stalag 17B for the past year until I escaped.” He saw Newkirk’s eyes widen, and wondered if he had made a mistake by selecting that camp number.
“You escaped from Stalag 17B?” Newkirk asked. Carter nodded tentatively.
“But that is all the way in Austria!” Kinch exclaimed.
“It is?” Carter asked. He knew he had heard of the camp before, but never was aware of its location “Oh, yes, it is.”
“Why didn’t you head towards Switzerland from there?” LeBeau asked.
Carter was beginning to sweat – his one lie was leading to a lot of questions that he had to answer or his friends would refuse to trust him. I have to keep this lie going until I can talk to Colonel Hogan. But what am I going to say? I’m going to have to make an entire escape story up. Forgive me Mom. I know you told me never to lie, but I think this would qualify for special circumstances.
“I did start towards Switzerland,” Carter replied. “But I had to head north to avoid some German troops in the area. After that, I got lost and wandered around trying to remain undetected.” Carter was relieved when the men seemed to accept that explanation.
“Don’t let Kommandant Klink know that you escaped from another camp,” LeBeau suggested. “He would put you in solitary just as a lesson not to try it here.”
“I didn’t tell Klink anything but my name, rank and serial number,” Carter replied.
“And I have another bit of advice for you, mate,” Newkirk said. “Always refer to him as Kommandant Klink, or just Kommandant. If you call him Klink, you will regret it.”
Carter nodded solemnly.
For the rest of the day, Carter tried to fit in and act as a new prisoner would. He knew everyone in the barracks, and most everyone in the camp, but nobody acted as if they knew him. In addition, everyone acted very differently. The Germans acted tough, and the prisoners were not as happy as they were normally. It was as if they had resigned themselves to being locked in this camp until the end of the war.
After the noon roll call, Schultz returned to the barracks bringing Carter a blanket and Red Cross package. Newkirk warned Carter to hang onto the contents of the package because there would be only one per week. Newkirk then proceeded to try to coax him into a card game for his cigarettes.
It was a long day, and by the time lights-out rolled around, Carter had neither learned why nobody recognized him nor found out much about camp operations.
As he lay in his bunk, listening to the snores of the other prisoners in the barracks, Carter tried to make some sense of the situation he found himself in. It seemed that the entire world had changed after he and Colonel Hogan left the camp last night, and he was sure that he didn’t like the changes. He tossed and turned restlessly and wondered what Colonel Hogan was thinking about in the solitary confinement cell. He wondered if the Colonel was as scared and confused as he was, or if he would even be able to make things go back to the way they were.
Carter also wondered if he could bear to remain in this camp as a normal prisoner. Then he did something that he had not done in a long time: he clasped his hands together and began to pray … Dear God. It’s me Andrew. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve talked to you, and I feel real bad about that. I could tell you that I’ve been too busy, but you will know that I am lying. I feel real bad about having to lie to the guys today, but for some reason they don’t seem to know who I am. God – what is happening? Why have you changed things around? Is it something I did wrong? Is this payment for all of the things – and people – that I have destroyed while being a prisoner? I know that sometimes I get a little carried away with that, but I was only doing what I can to help put an end to the war. Carter gave a resigned sigh. God, I know you don’t ever answer me back, but this is one time that I wish you could just tell me what is going on.
Carter rolled over and faced the outside wall of the barracks. He huddled up under the blanket and tried not to shiver. He was aware of his tears, but there was nothing he could do to stop them. Why? he thought as he drifted off to sleep.
Carter had not slept well that first night in the barracks. His mind kept searching for the answers to questions that made no sense to him – answers that never came. Instead, the tears had come from the fear and insecurity he felt. He felt like a fish that suddenly found itself yanked from its peaceful lake home by a fisherman and thrown onto the land. Images of all the fish he had caught growing up had invaded his dreams, waking him up. He kept seeing the bulging eyes and the yawning mouth opening and closing, trying in vain to drink the fresh lake water. Suffocating. He would wake with a start to find that he had been holding his breath. His heart pounded and he gasped for air as the panic subsided.
When Schultz had come to the barracks to announce the morning roll call, he was exhausted. He had also realized that he couldn’t simply cower and feel sorry for himself. Yes, he was scared. But he knew that if anyone could get him out of the mess he seemed to be in, it was Colonel Hogan. And Carter knew that he would be of no help to his Colonel if all he did were to blubber like a baby in his bunk.
That was three days ago. Over the past three days, Carter had set out to discover as much information as he could. He knew that he had to be careful – the last thing he wanted was for his bunkmates to think he was a German plant.
Now he was in front of the barracks tossing a baseball with Kinch. Newkirk and LeBeau were sitting on the bench next to the barracks door. Carter could almost believe that everything was back to the way it was before, except that his friends were not as jovial and friendly as they should be. As he tossed the ball, Carter thought about what he had learned over the past three days.
The first thought that came to him was to use the tunnel and visit the solitary cell in the cooler to talk to Colonel Hogan. This turned out to be a tricky prospect. Because of the fact that his friends were treating him as if he were a new prisoner and were watching him with suspicion, he was never alone in the barracks long enough to hop into the tunnel. And it turns out that even if he had been left alone, it would have been impossible. When he examined the bunk that served as the tunnel entrance, he found absolutely no trace of the trigger that opened it. Like the tree trunk outside the camp, it was as if the bunk never had been modified to be used as a tunnel entrance. That discovery had stunned Carter, and he was stunned even further when he discovered that the sink in the barracks was – a sink.
Then he had set out to find out about escaping from the camp. All he had heard from everyone was that there had not been a successful escape, and many prisoners had died trying. This was more shocking news to him. He couldn’t remember any of the prisoners dying while trying to escape – Colonel Hogan wouldn’t let that happen. But then again, Colonel Hogan should have been able to talk Klink out of five days in solitary for trying to escape.
His friends had asked him about his squadron, his capture and escape and since he had said that he knew Colonel Hogan, how he had come to know him. Carter knew that some of what he had to tell them would be lies, but he also knew that he couldn’t make everything up. He told the truth about his squadron and how he got shot down, but instead of getting sent to Stalag 13 after his stint in the Dulag, he had himself sent to Stalag 17B.
When it came to the escape, he remembered a story he had been told by a real prisoner who had passed through Stalag 13 on how he had escaped from Stalag 17B. Since this was a true story, he was able to make it seem as if it had been himself that had changed positions with one of the Australian prisoners so that he could get selected for a work gang and slip away from there. Luckily there were not too many other questions about that, though Carter could tell that there was some skepticism in the story.
He told them that he had met Colonel Hogan when they were both in England. They had not been in the same squadron, but the pilot of his bomber had been a good friend of Colonel Hogan’s. They did not know each other real well, but they had been on about as good of terms as an officer and Technical Sergeant could be.
Finally, Carter had said that he wanted to escape and would try with or without help. He could still remember what Newkirk had said to him. “You seem like a good kid, Sergeant. But we can’t tell you anything until we talk to Colonel Hogan. If he thinks you’re okay, then maybe you’ll find out what goes on here. Until then, don’t do getting yourself killed doing something that is impossible.” Escape from Stalag 13 impossible? It took all of Carter’s self control to keep from blurting out everything that they had done. Why don’t you guys remember any of that? he kept thinking.
All of this went through Carter’s mind as he continued to toss the baseball with Kinch. He had gathered a lot of information, but he had not really gotten any answers. As he threw the ball to Kinch, he saw a car enter the main gates. “Kraut car coming,” he said. The other three men turned to look towards the main gate.
“That’s Major Hochstetter,” Newkirk stated. “He must be here to talk to Colonel Hogan.”
“The Gestapo wants to talk to Colonel Hogan?” Carter exclaimed, catching the ball that Kinch threw to him.
“Relax mate,” Newkirk replied. “It’s none of your business.”
This made Carter angry. “Look pal, at this moment, Colonel Hogan is the closest thing I have to a friend in this camp,” he replied strongly. “That makes me concerned.” He threw the ball back to Kinch a little harder than he intended.
Kinch caught the ball and immediately began to shake his gloved hand. “Hey, watch it!” he exclaimed. “These gloves don’t have that much padding!”
Carter looked over at Newkirk and LeBeau, who were staring back at him with somewhat surprised expressions. “Sorry, Kinch,” Carter said. “I mean, Sergeant Kinchloe.” Carter took off his glove and dropped it on the ground next to the barracks. “I guess I’ll just go walk around for a bit,” he muttered to no one in particular. He refused to look back at the men as he walked away, feeling more alone than he ever had in his life.
* * * * *
Major Hochstetter followed Klink’s secretary, Helga, into the Kommandant’s office. “Heil Hitler!” he said, raising his arm in salute.
Klink returned the gesture absently, pushing aside the paperwork he was looking at. “Major Hochstetter,” he said. “What can I do for you today?”
“It is time again to talk to Colonel Hogan,” Hochstetter replied.
Klink leaned back in his chair. “Today might be difficult for him,” he replied. “Colonel Hogan is presently occupying the solitary confinement cell in the cooler.”
“Solitary?” Hochstetter responded. “What is he being punished for?”
“A few nights ago, Colonel Hogan had the urge to take a little walk after lights-out,” Klink replied. “The bad part for him was that this walk took him outside of the camp.”
“I see. Normally, you have prisoners you find outside of camp shot on sight,” Hochstetter said with a chuckle. “Did he give a reason for being outside of the camp?”
Klink shook his head. “No, and I didn’t expect him to,” Klink said.
Hochstetter shrugged. “If you would have a guard bring him to my car, I will take him away for our session,” Hochstetter requested. “Maybe I can coax an explanation out of him.”
“I’m afraid that is not possible today, Major Hochstetter,” Klink replied. “Colonel Hogan is being punished, and it would set a bad example if he is let out of the cooler a day earlier.”
“But you can put him back in the cooler when I return him to you,” Hochstetter replied calmly.
Klink leaned forward and rested his elbows on his desk. “Frankly, Major,” he said. “I am a little skeptical about your plan to begin with. You have been taking Colonel Hogan every week for the last few months and attempting to hypnotize him. And yet you have not reported any information you have obtained.”
“It takes time for him to become willing to accept our suggestions,” Hochstetter replied nervously. “We are getting very close.”
“I am getting a little impatient with your methods, Major Hochstetter,” Klink retorted. “It seems to me that they are rather ineffective.”
“May I remind you, Kommandant, that you did not exactly beat any information from Colonel Hogan with your physical interrogation methods,” Hochstetter shot back.
Klink stood up. “And may I remind you, Major Hochstetter, that I am the local authority in this area, and I am the one allowing you to proceed with this experiment,” he said harshly. “That permission may be revoked at any time.”
Hochstetter smiled. Outside he remained calm, but inside he was extremely nervous. This situation was on the verge of becoming a disaster for him. If he lost his contact with Colonel Hogan, all of his plans to gain control of Stalag 13 as a base of operations for the Underground would be ruined. But he knew Colonel Klink well, and if he showed any sign of weakness – any sign of backing down now – Klink would pounce on the opportunity. “Colonel Klink,” he said evenly. “General Burkhalter has approved this plan himself. I do not think you can simply override his approval.”
Klink stared at Hochstetter without speaking. Suddenly he began laughing. “Major Hochstetter, you do not often stand up to me like this,” he said. “All right, I will have Sergeant Schultz bring Hogan to your car.” Then Klink stopped laughing. “But I expect to have a reason for his being outside of this camp when he returns,” he said.
Hochstetter snapped to attention. “Jawohl, Colonel,” he replied. “Heil Hitler!” He turned and walked from the office. Yes, I would also like to know why he was outside of this camp instead of in the barn meeting with me, he thought.
* * * * *
When Schultz had come to take Hogan out of the solitary cell, Hogan had been hopeful that his time was up. While he was in the cell, he had lost track of the passing time. With no windows and only a single dim bulb that was turned on and off at irregular intervals, he hadn’t been able to judge how long he had been in the cell. But Hogan’s cheer at being released from the cell quickly dampened when Schultz informed him that he was being delivered to Hochstetter’s car.
“Hochstetter?” Hogan gasped. “What does Hochstetter want with me?”
“Colonel Hogan, it is time for your weekly interview with Major Hochstetter,” Schultz said calmly.
“Interview?” Hogan asked. “I don’t want a job with the Gestapo!”
“You always try to be a jolly joker, Colonel,” Schultz replied. “And it usually gets you into trouble. You know that you have a regular session with Major Hochstetter every week. He takes you to Gestapo Headquarters and then brings you back here afterwards.”
Hogan could not believe his ears. “And what goes on at these sessions?” he asked warily.
Schultz stopped and looked at Colonel Hogan. “Are you feeling all right, Colonel?” he asked. “I’m sure you would know more about your sessions than I would, since I am not there when you are having them.”
“Yeah, right,” Hogan muttered. “I mean no, Schultz. I don’t feel all right. I don’t think I am up to meeting with Hochstetter today. Take me back to my cell.”
Schultz had motioned for Hogan to continue walking. “I am sorry you are not feeling well, Colonel Hogan,” Schultz said. “But Colonel Klink has requested that you be delivered to Major Hochstetter, and I do not wish to make the Kommandant angry.”
“I’d like to make the Kommandant angry,” Hogan muttered under his breath. He then stopped and turned back the way they had come from. “I don’t think I’m up to this today, Schultz. I’m going back to the cell,” he told the guard.
Hogan heard a click behind him and stopped. When he turned around, he saw Schultz aiming his rifle at him. Hogan was shocked – he had never known Schultz to do this. “I didn’t think you liked guns, Schultz,” he said tentatively.
“I do not like guns,” Schultz replied. “Unless I am the person holding one. Now please come with me before I have to shoot you.”
Hogan didn’t see any way out of this situation other than doing what he was told to do. He shrugged and began walking out of the cooler.
When they reached Hochstetter’s car, Hogan climbed in the back. He looked at Hochstetter as he got in, but then stared silently straight ahead the entire trip to Gestapo Headquarters. When they arrived, guards escorted Hogan to a small cell in the basement of the building and left him there. When he heard the lock click on the door, Hogan began to get scared.
What in the hell is going on around here? Klink is acting like he actually runs Stalag 13! Schultz is not the lovable teddy bear that he normally is. Klink treating Carter as if he had never seen him before? Hogan began pacing around the small cell. And why didn’t any of my men try to come through the tunnel to see in the cooler? Come to think of it, why couldn’t I find any evidence of the tunnel entrance in the cooler cell? And what was with the tree stump? It wasn’t just stuck; it was a real honest to goodness tree stump! And I wonder what Hochstetter wants from me. Hogan remembered the Erika’s words the night in the barn. Hochstetter is Papa Bear? What was Erika saying? I am Papa Bear!
At that moment, Hogan heard the lock click and the door open. He turned to face the doorway and saw that Major Hochstetter was entering the cell – smiling. Uh-oh, Hogan thought. With a smile like that, he’s got to be up to something!
Hochstetter closed the door and Hogan heard the lock click behind him. “Well, Colonel Hogan,” Hochstetter said. “Maybe you would like to tell me what happened the other night at the barn?”
Hogan eyes Hochstetter suspiciously. “I don’t know what you mean, Major Hochstetter,” he replied calmly.
Hochstetter laughed. “Hogan, it’s me you are talking to now, not Colonel Klink,” he replied.
“Whether I am talking to you or Klink, I still do not know what you are talking about,” Hogan responded. He did not know what Hochstetter was up to, but he was determined not to reveal any information.
“Hogan, you were caught outside Stalag 13 several nights ago,” Hochstetter said.
“As I told Klink, I was taking a walk,” Hogan replied.
Hochstetter laughed again. “You are a funny man, Hogan,” he said. “I know you were taking a walk. You were supposed to meet me at the barn that night.” When Hogan didn’t reply, Hochstetter continued. “Erika told me that you were there and ran away quickly when you heard my car coming.”
“Erika?” Hogan asked. “I don’t know anyone named Erika.”
“Hogan, what is wrong with you today?” Hochstetter asked. “Of course you know Erika. She's one of the Underground contacts in the area.”
Hogan was getting flustered. “I know she's in the Un …” he blurted out before he realized it. “I mean, how did you know she’s in the Underground?” Hogan watched Hochstetter for signs that the Major noticed his brief slip of the tongue.
Hochstetter just stared at Hogan in disbelief. “How do I know?” he asked. “Hogan, I brought her into the Underground.”
Now it was Hogan’s turn to stare. “You what?”
“Why are you insisting on acting as if you are hearing this for the first time?” Hochstetter asked. He was starting to get a little impatient with the American.
Hogan rubbed his temples. All of this was starting to give him a headache. “Sorry,” he mumbled. “I’m not feeling well. I guess it’s from being in solitary for the past few days.”
“You ought to be thankful that you weren’t shot,” Hochstetter replied. “You already know that Klink has been known to shoot escaping prisoners.”
“Klink?” Hogan asked in disbelief.
Hochstetter was becoming very impatient. “Hogan, we do not have much time,” he said testily. “Tell me why you didn’t stay at the barn that night?”
“I wasn’t at the barn,” Hogan replied defiantly.
“Hogan,” Hochstetter growled.
“Okay, Major, if it is so important, humor me for a minute,” Hogan replied. “Remind me why I was supposed to be at the barn that night.”
“But you know why!” Hochstetter exclaimed.
“Humor me,” Hogan repeated.
“All right, if it will allow us to move forward, I will,” Hochstetter replied as he sat in one of the chairs in the room. He motioned for Hogan to sit in the other chair before he began talking. “Over the course of our visits, we had come up with a plan where you would escape from Stalag 13 and avoid being recaptured by Kommandant Klink. You would meet Erika and me at the barn, and then she would hide you away until Klink had to report your escape to Berlin. That would ruin his perfect no escape record. Once he reports you to Berlin, you will come out of hiding and I will appear to capture you. This will allow me some leverage to be able to take over Stalag 13 from Klink.”
Hogan looked dubiously at Hochstetter. “And after you have taken over Stalag 13? What happens to me and my men?” he asked.
“Hogan, you know what happens,” Hochstetter replied impatiently.
“Humor me,” Hogan said again.
Hochstetter sighed. “The reason for taking over Stalag 13 is to allow you and your men to become part of the Underground, operating from the camp,” he said.
Hogan tried not to react to the statement, but he felt his eyes grow wide with surprise. “You’re joking,” he replied. The words came out quick and breathless, betraying Hogan’s utter surprise.
“I’ve told you all this before,” Hochstetter said. “Klink is getting too close to finding out who the Underground leaders in this area are – namely the identity of Papa Bear.”
“And you don’t want that to happen,” Hogan stated skeptically.
“No, Hogan, I do not want that to happen,” Hochstetter replied.
Hogan smiled broadly. “And you expect me to believe that,” he said.
“Hogan, I assure you that I have no desire for Colonel Klink to know that I am Papa Bear,” Hochstetter replied.
This time Hogan’s reaction was more visual. It felt as if his jaw had dropped to the floor as he sat there staring at Hochstetter. Erika said the same thing the other night. Now Hochstetter is admitting to me that he is Papa Bear. This has to be a game that Hochstetter is playing to try to trap me. But why would Erika be a part of that game? Did Hochstetter find out about her and force her to try to catch me?
“Yes, Hogan, that would be a very unpleasant prospect for me,” Hochstetter said.
Hogan still could not believe the things that were going on around him. Nothing made sense to him. “But why is Klink hunting down the Underground?” he asked. “Isn’t that the job of the Gestapo?” There. Let’s see you come up with an answer for that one, he thought.
Hochstetter sighed again. “I know, humor you,” he muttered. “The Gestapo is tracking down the Underground and arresting people for the acts of sabotage. But the sabotage still occurs – mainly because the people arrested are not members of the Underground, but are really ardent Nazi supporters that I wish to get rid of.”
Hogan sat silently, not believing that Major Hochstetter was saying these things.
Hochstetter continued, “Because of his record at Stalag 13, Colonel Klink has a great deal of influence with General Burkhalter. He has used this to basically gain control of this area. And he knows that if he can catch Papa Bear, where the Gestapo fails, he will increase his influence. He is a very ambitious man.”
Hogan smiled. “Yeah, Klink would like to be a General and move to Berlin,” he commented.
Hochstetter shook his head. “No, Hogan, not yet” he replied. “What he wants is to gain complete control over this area of the country and slowly expand the area that he in effect runs.”
“You mean Klink wants to be a junior Hitler?” Hogan asked, half joking.
Hochstetter nodded somberly. “Yes, he does,” he responded. “And if he catches Papa Bear …” Hochstetter trailed off.
Hogan pointed to Hochstetter. “You mean, if he catches you,” Hogan commented. Hochstetter nodded again.
Hogan stood abruptly. “Wait a minute,” he said. He was talking more to himself than to Hochstetter, as he found himself starting to believe that Hochstetter was sincere in what he was telling him. “You said that we have been having regular visits, whatever that means. What exactly are we supposed to be doing during these visits?”
“Is this another question where I am supposed to humor you?” an annoyed Hochstetter asked. “Really, Hogan. We are wasting a lot of time here.” Hogan was silent. Hochstetter sighed. “All right, I am supposed to be attempting to use hypnosis methods in order that we can learn any military information that you may know. Klink has always been convinced that you know more than you let on. So he has allowed me to take you from camp each week to try to get this information.”
This news floored Hogan. He didn’t remember any visits with Hochstetter.
Hochstetter continued with his explanation. “Klink is getting impatient,” he said. “So far, I have the backing of Berlin on this, but unless I can show some results soon, Klink will be able to put a stop to it.”
“And have you had any results?” Hogan asked tentatively.
Hochstetter laughed heartily. “The time in the cooler must have affected you, Hogan,” he joked. “But yes, I have achieved some results – or thought I had. We have been planning this escape of yours for a long time, and yet when we finally are about to pull it off, you run away back to camp. Why, Hogan?”
Hogan shrugged. He really didn’t have an answer to that question because he still had the impression that this was all a ruse by Hochstetter to trick Hogan into admitting his involvement in all of the acts of sabotage in the area. “I guess I had second thoughts,” he said simply.
“But Hogan, you wanted this,” Hochstetter implored. “You wanted to be involved with the Underground. And when you get the chance, you say you had second thoughts?” Hochstetter shook his head. “Maybe you aren’t the right person to lead and Underground cell,” he muttered.
Ha! A lot you know, Hochstetter, he thought. I see now where this is heading. You want me to admit that I CAN lead an Underground cell and then you will get me to admit that I had something to do with all of the activity going on in this area. Well, I’m just not going to give you the satisfaction!
Hochstetter glanced at his watch. “Anyway, you must be getting back to camp now,” he said. “Klink will be expecting you soon.” He stood up and started towards the door. “Oh, and one more thing. Klink will be expecting to know a reason why you were outside of camp the other night.”
“I’m not telling him anything!” Hogan replied defiantly.
Hochstetter chuckled. “Maybe you won’t,” he replied. “But then Klink does have ways of trying to get what he expects. In any case, I will be telling him that you told me you were trying to escape because you were afraid that these sessions were starting to get to you and you didn’t want to provide us with any information.” He knocked on the door to signal to the guard outside that they were finished. “Come, Hogan, it’s time for you to return to camp. We will talk again next week.”
Hogan numbly followed Hochstetter out of the cell. During the trip back to camp he was silent, thinking about everything that had transpired since the aborted meeting at the barn. He couldn’t make any sense of things, and the more he thought about it, the more confusing it became.
When they arrived at Stalag 13, Schultz escorted Hogan back to the solitary confinement cell and locked him in. Well, so much for freedom, he thought.
Hogan spent the rest of the day thinking – at least he thought it was the rest of the day. He had no way of knowing the passage of time. The guards would turn on and off the lights at irregular intervals in an attempt at disorienting him while he was stuck in the windowless cell.
Hogan thought about the story Hochstetter had told him. Hochstetter says he is Papa Bear, and is operating in this area, he thought. Klink has control of the area and is making it hard for Papa Bear to keep operating. So Hochstetter wants to discredit Klink and take over Stalag 13 so my men and I can operate as an Underground cell from this camp. Does Hochstetter really think I will buy this cock and bull story?
And yet it had seemed to Hogan that Hochstetter was sincere when he was talking to him. Moreover, it seemed that Klink was in on the plan. After all, when did Klink get a backbone? I’ve never seen Klink act so … German before. Usually I can bend Klink around my little finger and get what I want. But this time … Hogan looked around the solitary cell and sighed. This time I seem to be on the losing side of the battle.
The light clicked out and Hogan was left in darkness. He could see some rays of light sneaking under the door, but otherwise the cell was in total darkness. And what’s with Schultz? He must be in on it as well. I’ve never seen him aim his weapon at anyone in anger, and yet he did that to me earlier. But whenever Schultz is in on a plan and acting a role, he always overacts. We can always tell something is up. This time, it all seems so real.
Hogan leaned back against the wall, his hands clasped behind his head. So maybe Hochstetter’s story is real …
Hogan shook his head. Rob, get a grip on yourself! Take a deep breath and think about what you just considered. Hochstetter’s story real? How can Hochstetter’s story be real? You are Papa Bear. You have been operating out of this camp for almost two years. Escapes, sabotage, harassment – anything to deter the German war effort. You have been doing it. Hochstetter suspects that you are the one causing the trouble, but has never been able to prove it. This has to be just another attempt by Hochstetter to trap you. I mean, taking you out of camp to hypnotize you into revealing sensitive information? Come on, you’ve seen those magician acts where they attempt to hypnotize someone from the audience and make them quack like a duck. How unoriginal can a plan get?
Hogan lay on his bunk, determined to try to get some sleep while the guards had the light off. Of course, it’s all a ruse by Hochstetter to catch me. That’s why I’m stuck in this solitary cell – to keep me away from my men. Hochstetter can order Klink and Schultz to be accomplices in his plan, but he can’t order my men. They would know the truth and then Hochstetter’s plan would be ruined. I’ll bet that when the time comes, Klink will find some excuse for leaving me in the cell.
Satisfied that he knew what was going on, Hogan began to drift off to sleep. I will not fall for your plan, Hochstetter. No matter how long I have to stay in this cell. He drifted off to a restless sleep, disturbed by dreams of vaudevillian magicians attempting to hypnotize him.
* * * * *
Hogan was startled out of his sleep by the sound of the lock clicking. Assuming it was the guard bringing him his meager meal of watery soup and a moldy slice of bread, he was surprised when Schultz entered the cell.
“Colonel Hogan, your five days are up,” Schultz said. “I am here to escort you back to the barracks.”
Hogan was surprised. Could Klink and Hochstetter have given up their plan so quickly? They should know that his men would tell him if there was something going on.
Silently he followed Schultz out of the cooler and into the bright sunlight. Hogan squinted until his eyes adjusted to the outdoors. He looked around the camp. It was the same Stalag 13 – yet somehow it looked and felt different. There were prisoners mulling around the compound, but they were all alone or in pairs. There were not the groupings of men, laughing and joking, as there normally would be.
Schultz left Hogan at the door to the barracks. He did not enter the building, which was unusual for Schultz. He normally wanted to see if LeBeau was cooking up something that he could steal a taste of.
When Hogan entered the barracks, he saw Newkirk, LeBeau and Kinch sitting at the big table in the middle of the room. Carter was sitting on his bunk. “Hi guys,” he said cheerfully. “I’m finally out of Alcatraz.” He began to walk towards his office. “Kinch, get on the radio in the tunnel and contact London. Find out if they know anything about what Hochstetter might be up to.”
Hogan was at his office door when he heard Newkirk speak. “Tunnel, sir? Radio?” he asked. “That’s a good one! You’re always a kidder.”
Hogan turned to look at his men. They were still sitting at the table and looking at him with amused looks on their faces. “What are you talking about, Newkirk?” Hogan demanded. Hogan looked over at Carter, who was shaking his head slightly. He saw Carter draw his finger across his throat in a gesture that Hogan knew meant for him to keep quiet.
“Colonel, should we talk in front of the new man?” Newkirk asked.
“New man?” Hogan asked. “What new man?”
“That would be me, Colonel Hogan,” Carter interjected. “Remember, I came into camp with you.”
Carter said nothing further, but Hogan could see the pleading look in his eyes. Carter was trying very hard to tell him something, but couldn’t actually say it.
Newkirk got up from the table and walked over next to Carter at the bunk. “That’s right,” he said. “Sergeant Carter here said that you would vouch for him.”
“Of course I will,” Hogan said. What’s going on here? Now the men are acting like Carter has never been in this camp!
“Well, he told us that he was a member of the 504th Bomb Group,” Newkirk said.
When Carter opened his mouth to protest, Newkirk motioned him to silence. Carter knew that this was a test to see if the things that he said he had told Colonel Hogan were true. Silently Carter pleaded with Hogan to not say the wrong thing.
Hogan frowned. “He said that? You know that the 504th was my outfit,” Hogan replied. “He wasn’t in any squadron in my outfit.” Hogan saw Newkirk give a little nod.
“He said that he knew you in London,” Newkirk continued. “He said you two were very good friends and spent a lot of time in the pubs around London together.”
Hogan shook his head again. “Newkirk, I’m an officer and he is a Sergeant. You know that there isn’t a lot of fraternization between officers and NCO’s,” Hogan replied. “Besides, how often was I able to get to London when I was flying all the time.” He saw Newkirk give a second small nod. So far, so good, he thought.
Newkirk continued to ask yet another question. “He said that he escaped from Stalag 17B and just happened to run into you out in the woods,” Newkirk said. “If you ask me, that’s too coincidental.”
Hogan frowned a bit. Stalag 17B? That’s all the way in Austria. Why would Carter say that he escaped from there? But it does sound like something Carter would come up with. He might have heard about that Stalag from a transient prisoner that came through here. We did have a couple that escaped from there over the course of the past two years. “Stalag 17B – yes, he did mention that,” Hogan replied. He noticed that Carter looked relieved when he heard that. “And yes, it is quite a coincidence to run into him around Stalag 13. But as you can see, he is here.”
Hogan saw Newkirk give a nod of approval. LeBeau and Kinch also nodded. Hogan knew that he had backed up whatever story Carter had told them.
“So Carter is okay then,” Newkirk said.
Hogan held up his hand. Before things went any further, he wanted to check with Carter to see what had been going on while he was in solitary. “Not so fast,” he said. “I’d like to talk to him alone for a minute and ask a few more questions before we clear him to hear everything.”
Hogan saw a concerned look on Carter’s face and suppressed a chuckle. “Sergeant Carter, if you would please step into my office,” he said. He opened the door and entered his office. Carter followed and closed the door. Hogan motioned for him to sit on the bunk.
“We should talk quietly,” Hogan said. “If I know these guys, they will be listening outside the door.” Carter nodded. “Carter, what the hell is going on around here? Why are they treating you as if you’re a newcomer?”
Carter shrugged. “I don’t know, sir,” he replied. “They act as if they don’t know me, so I made up the story about escaping from Stalag 17B and meeting you in the woods.”
“But why Stalag 17B?” Hogan asked. “That’s in Austria, and you should have headed to Switzerland after you escaped.”
“That’s the only one I could think of at the time,” Carter commented. “And I remember the story I was told by someone who escaped from there. We sent him off to London a while ago. His escape story became my escape story.”
“Good thinking,” Hogan commented with a smile. “Have you learned anything?”
“Colonel, there are no tunnels!” Carter exclaimed. “The bunk doesn’t open. The sink isn’t a periscope where we can spy on the compound.” Carter stopped to catch his breath. He didn’t want to appear to be scared in front of his commanding officer. “There have been no escapes from this camp. Klink and Schultz make sure of that. All the prisoners are afraid of them. Colonel, what’s going on here? Nothing is the same as it was.”
“Carter, I don’t know,” Hogan replied. “But you found out a lot of useful information.”
Carter smiled. “I thought that I should find out as much as I could for you since you were in the cooler,” he responded.
“Thanks,” Hogan replied. “It was helpful. Nothing seems to fit, though. Hochstetter was telling me a story about how he was Papa Bear.” Carter’s eyes went wide with surprise. “He’s running the Underground in this area, and Klink is making it hard for him to operate. Hochstetter told me that Klink has a lot of influence in Berlin and is trying to expand his local authority in this area.”
“Klink?” Carter asked. “Now that’s a good one!”
“That’s not all,” Hogan replied. “Hochstetter said that he and I had been planning my escape so that we could ruin Klink’s perfect record and Hochstetter could take over Stalag 13. After that, I would operate an Underground cell from this camp.”
“You can’t believe that’s true?” Carter asked.
“I was convinced that it was a trick by Hochstetter and Klink to try to trick me,” Hogan responded. “But seeing the reaction of my own men, I am not sure what the hell is going on.”
“What are we going to do?” Carter asked. His voice wavered a tiny bit, betraying the fear he was starting to feel.
“For now, we have to play along,” Hogan replied. “For you that should be easy. You are new here and don’t know anything. I’ll vouch for you and you’ll be part of the group. It will be tougher for me since I am supposed to know what is going on.”
Hogan smiled at Carter, trying to reassure the Sergeant. “I have a feeling that you and I are not supposed to be in this camp,” he said. “So we will just have to find a way to get out.”
“You mean you will try and help Hochstetter?” Carter asked.
Hogan shrugged. “I don’t know yet,” he replied. “I’m going to have to fly by the seat of my pants on this one.”
Carter smiled back at Hogan. “Well, if anyone can do that, it’s you,” he responded.
Hogan chuckled. “I think maybe we should let the rest of the crew in,” Hogan said. He walked over to the door and quickly jerked it open.
Newkirk and LeBeau came stumbling into the room when the door they were leaning on suddenly disappeared. Kinch came walking in casually behind them.
Hogan laughed. “Some things never change,” he said to Carter. Carter tried unsuccessfully to stifle a chuckle.
“What was that, sir?” LeBeau asked.
Hogan waved the question away. “Nothing important,” he commented. “I think we can trust Sergeant Carter.” He saw the looks on the three men’s faces. “Okay, you three are dying to ask me something. So go ahead.”
“What happened, Colonel?” Kinch asked. “What went wrong with the escape?”
Hogan shrugged. “It just didn’t seem like the right time,” he commented.
“But we’d been planning it for a while,” LeBeau said.
“Can’t you just try again?” Carter asked.
“You don’t just try again around this camp, mate,” Newkirk admonished. “It was bloody lucky that we were able to get that first opportunity! But I wouldn’t expect you to know that since you haven’t been around here long enough to know the score.”
Carter bristled at the comment, but before he could make a reply, Hogan cut him off. “He needs to be filled in on what is going on,” Hogan said calmly.
“And you need to fill us in on what went on with Hochstetter today,” Kinch responded.
Oh great, Hogan thought. The men think I am going to fill Carter in on everything and then tell them what happened with Hochstetter. How the hell am I supposed to do that when I don’t even know what is going on around here? He involuntarily rubbed his temples.
“What’s wrong, Colonel?” LeBeau asked, seeing the gesture. “Do you have a headache?”
Hogan nodded. “Yes. I’m a little worn out from the stint in solitary,” he replied. “Newkirk, why don’t you fill Carter in on what is going on around here. I’ll fill in any details and then add this last meeting with Hochstetter.” There, now I don’t have to try to make anything up and let on that I am clueless!
“Let’s see, where to start,” Newkirk mumbled. “I guess I should kind of start at the beginning.”
“That’s usually a good place,” Hogan commented, smiling a little.
Newkirk gave Hogan a sideways glance, unsure if he was being made fun of. “Right, well we were all captured, interrogated and sent through the normal channels,” Newkirk said. “We all ended up here at Stalag 13 and we figured that it can’t be all that bad. Everyone sort of banded together in clusters and eventually the talk would turn to trying to escape. There were many attempts, but all of them ended unsuccessfully – usually with tragic consequences to the escapee.”
“And sometimes to all of us as well,” LeBeau added.
“Right, Klink is not a nice man,” Newkirk continued. “We tried digging tunnels, but eagle-eye Schultz would usually find them, and then we would get into trouble for that.”
“And where does Hochstetter come in?” Carter asked.
“Patience, Carter,” Hogan admonished lightly. “Newkirk will get there. Just let him tell the whole story.” Yes, please tell the whole story so that I know just what the hell I am up against! So far it doesn’t sound too promising.
“Well, it got to be a very tough routine,” Newkirk continued. “We did have the opportunity for work details outside of camp – chopping wood, tending to the camp gardens – but we are always heavily guarded. If you’re caught escaping, it’s a mandatory five-day stint in solitary – if you manage to avoid being shot. Klink had given his guards orders to shoot first and recapture second.”
“You’re kidding?” an astonished Carter asked.
“No, mate. Honest truth here,” Newkirk replied. “You and Colonel Hogan are lucky that you avoided being shot.”
“And now you are to the point where you will explain Hochstetter,” Hogan stated calmly. He hoped that Newkirk was at that point, but he wasn’t sure. In any case, he was very curious as to where Hochstetter came into the picture.
“Yes, this is where Hochstetter came in,” Newkirk confirmed. “Colonel Hogan probably doesn’t want to remember this part, but Klink was trying to get some military information from him using some pretty brutal interrogation methods.”
Hogan flinched. It was not that he was remembering those interrogation methods, but he was sure that’s how it looked to the men assembled. He had no memory of Klink roughing him up. Of course you don’t have any recollection of that, he thought. It couldn’t have happened!
Newkirk continued his explanation. “Hochstetter and Klink have always had a game of seeing who could gain control of this area of the country. Klink has the upper hand because of his record in this camp. No other camp Kommandant can say that they have no escapes. So Hochstetter came up with this idea of trying to hypnotize Colonel Hogan to get the information that Klink was sure that he was keeping from him.”
“Hochstetter wanted to hypnotize the Colonel?” Carter asked. “That’s crazy!”
“That’s precisely why he was able to convince those in Berlin that it was something worth trying, mate,” Newkirk replied. “Old Hitler is a nut when it comes to those types of things, and he gave his blessing to Hochstetter’s plan. And that’s when Hochstetter confided with Colonel Hogan that he was an important Underground leader and wanted Hogan’s help in discrediting Klink to get him out of Stalag 13.”
“And the escape attempts stopped then?” Carter asked.
Hogan looked over at Carter. Atta boy, Carter! You’re doing a good job of pulling all these details from Newkirk that I want to know but can’t ask myself.
Newkirk shook his head. “No,” he replied sadly. “The escape attempts really stopped when Sergeant Baker was shot during an attempt.”
“Oh no, Baker was killed?” Carter lamented.
Newkirk looked at him. “What’s it to you?” he asked. “You didn’t know him.”
“Um, I knew a Baker back in London,” Carter answered, trying to recover from the slip.
“No Sergeant,” Kinch responded. “This Baker was colored. You wouldn’t know him.”
Hogan’s mind reeled. Baker dead? This has got to be some horrible dream!
“Anyway, that was when the Colonel decided to work with Hochstetter,” Newkirk continued. “And they hatched up this plan for Colonel Hogan to escape and Hochstetter to hide him until Klink had to report the escape. Then Hochstetter would capture Colonel Hogan and be in a position to suggest that he’d be a better Kommandant of this camp.”
“So how did the Colonel escape?” Carter asked.
Hogan smiled. That’s an excellent question, my dear Carter. I’m looking forward to hearing the answer myself!
Newkirk saw the smile and asked, “Maybe you would like to pick up from here?”
Hogan shook his head. “No, you’re doing fine,” he replied. “Please continue.” Whew, that was close!
“We finally managed to find one way where we could sneak one man out,” Newkirk said. “He went out in the water truck that night. He was supposed to meet Hochstetter and one of his agents, Erika, at an abandoned barn nearby. The next thing we know, we hear the shots from the guards, and he’s back in camp with you in tow.”
“And now I think I can fill in the rest,” Hogan said. “Hochstetter wasn’t too happy that it didn’t go off as planned, but he’s willing to try again. I’ll just have to escape again.”
“But how, Colonel?” LeBeau asked. “We can’t use the same method again. Klink got wise to that one once you disappeared that night.”
“I know,” Hogan replied. “But there are other ways if we look hard enough. And I think I have an idea.”
“What is it?” Newkirk asked.
Hogan shook his head. “I don’t want to say anything until I check out the possibility and talk to Hochstetter again.” He looked around to see if this answer satisfied his men. All heads were nodding except for Carter’s. The sergeant was looking at him with a curious expression. Hogan smiled back at him to reassure him that he knew what he was doing. The trouble is, I don’t know what I am doing. I don’t know what is going on in this seemingly out of place version of Stalag 13. And I don’t know if I can trust Hochstetter.
“Okay guys, dismissed,” Hogan said to his men. “I need to get some rest.” As the men got up and began to file out of the room, he added, “And then I will go see Klink about volunteering for a detail to cut some wood.”
The men stopped. “But Colonel, we’re always heavily guarded on those work details,” Newkirk said. “There’s no way you can slip out during one of those.”
“That’s why I want to take a look at things before I talk to Hochstetter,” Hogan replied. “He may be able to help us out.” Then again, if this is a trick, he may be able to shoot us all for being spies.
Hogan opened the door and walked into the reception area of the Kommandant’s office. A guard was sitting just inside the door, holding his rifle with the butt down between his knees with both hands. He looked over at Hogan as he entered the room – his gaze neither welcoming nor particularly friendly.
Helga was sitting at her desk, busily pounding away at the typewriter. She glanced up when she heard the door open, but did not stop her typing. Hogan walked over and stood beside her desk.
“Good morning, Helga,” he said. “Is Klink in his office?”
Helga glared at Hogan as she typed. “Colonel Klink is busy at the moment, Colonel Hogan,” she replied frostily.
“I see the Kommandant is keeping you busy,” he prompted.
She looked up at him sharply, but kept typing.
Hogan leaned forward and smiled his best roguish smile. “We could find something more entertaining to keep us busy later,” he whispered.
Helga’s eyes widened in alarm and she quickly reached out and slapped Hogan on the side of the face with all her might. A surprised Hogan staggered backwards a step as Helga rose from her chair.
“How dare you even suggest that, Colonel Hogan?” she exclaimed. She glared indignantly at Hogan as he reached up to rub his sore cheek.
“But Helga …” Hogan stammered.
“To think that I would even consider fraternizing with a lowly prisoner,“ she said.
Hogan could hear the disgust in her voice when she said the last word. What is she talking about? Just last week Schultz let us use the back seat of Klink’s staff car for a little rendezvous. Hogan stared back at the blonde woman. She was glaring back at him with unbridled anger in her eyes.
Hogan continued to rub his cheek. Damn, that hurts. He decided that since Helga didn’t want to give him the time of day, he would just go and talk to Klink about volunteering for the woodcutting detail. “I’ll just go and see Klink now,” he mumbled.
He had taken a couple steps towards the office door when he heard a shuffle and the unmistakable click of a rifle being readied for firing. He stopped dead in his tracks and turned around to see the guard aiming his rifle.
“Colonel Hogan, I told you that the Kommandant is busy,” she said icily. “You will not disturb him.”
“But I need to talk to him about camp business,” Hogan protested.
“I will send Sergeant Schultz for you when the Kommandant is ready to see you,” she replied.
Before Hogan could protest further, the sweet sound of a single violin emerged from inside the Kommandant’s office. Hogan was not very familiar with classical music, but he did recognize the sounds as being played by very competent hands.
“I thought you said the Kommandant was busy,” Hogan stated. “Why is he listening to phonograph recordings?”
Helga sighed in annoyance. “As you very well know, the Kommandant practices his violin every day at this time,” she replied huffily.
“That’s Klink playing?” Hogan asked. “You’ve got to be kidding me. He has never sounded like that!”
Helga’s anger turned to surprise. “What are you talking about, Colonel Hogan?” she asked. “You know he is a very good musician.”
“Klink?” Hogan asked. “A good musician?”
“Yes, Colonel Hogan,” she replied. “He’s a virtuoso on the violin.” She smiled dreamily. “It is one of the perks of this job that I get to sit out here and listen to him practice. This particular piece is one of my favorite Bach sonatas.”
“Klink, a good musician?” Hogan repeated, unable to believe it.
Helga was getting impatient. “Colonel Hogan, the Kommandant cannot be disturbed now,” she said. “I will send Sergeant Schultz to tell you when the Kommandant will see you. Now, I must get back to my work.”
She sat back down at her desk and leaned back in her chair. She closed her eyes and began swaying slightly in time to the music coming from behind the Kommandant’s closed door.
Hogan shook his head and started to leave the office. I can’t believe that Klink is playing so beautifully. I’ve never heard him play anything that didn’t sound like a cat in pain! But this – this sounds like he should be soloing in Carnegie Hall! I suppose next I will find out that Burkhalter is an accomplished tenor.
As Hogan walked across the compound to the barracks, he looked around the camp. I just don’t get it. The camp looks exactly the same as it did five nights ago when Carter and I left. But the people in this camp are all acting very different. I could’ve believed that this was a trick by Hochstetter and Klink to try to trap me into admitting something, but I can’t believe that they could involve my own men. I don’t even believe that they could force Schultz to play his part so well! And why don’t the men recognize Carter? How can they think he’s a new man in the camp? That doesn’t make any sense at all. The information that Carter found out while I was in the cooler is disturbing as well – no tunnels, no escapes, and eagle eye Schultz?
As Hogan neared the barracks, he came to a conclusion. This has got to be a dream – a crazy, mixed up dream. He reached down and pinched the back of his hand – it hurt. Okay, so it’s a crazy, mixed up realistic dream!
Hogan entered the barracks and found his men all lounging in their bunks.
“How’d it go, Colonel?” Carter asked.
“It didn’t,” Hogan replied. “Klink is busy and I will be sent for when his majesty desires to see me.” The sarcastic tone in Hogan’s voice was not lost on his men.
“I’m surprised you even wasted your time going over there,” Newkirk said. “After all, you know we have to go through Sergeant Schultz whenever we want to talk to the Kommandant.”
Since when, Hogan thought. “I guess with everything going on, I forgot,” he said aloud. “I’m going to lie down for a while. Let me know when Schultz comes for me.”
He didn’t wait for acknowledgement from his men before heading to his room.
* * * * *
The last thing that Robert Hogan wanted to do was to fall asleep. Therefore, he was a bit disoriented when the knock on his door woke him up. He sat up in bed and rubbed his eyes, trying to clear the cobwebs from his mind. The knock sounded again.
“Yeah, what is it?” he asked sleepily.
The door opened and Newkirk walked into the room. “Sergeant Schultz is here, Colonel,” he said.
“Thanks, Newkirk,” Hogan replied. “I’ll be right out.”
Newkirk closed the door as Hogan jumped from the top bunk where he was sleeping. He grabbed his hat and coat and walked over to the locker that served as his closet. He opened the door and looked into the small mirror that he kept hanging inside. Funny, I don’t look any different, he thought. No, I don’t look any different. I don’t feel any different. Carter isn’t any different. He smoothed his hair back and rubbed the stubble on his cheeks. Newkirk, LeBeau, Kinch – They don’t look any different. Klink and Schultz – even Hochstetter – don’t look any different. The camp doesn’t look any different – so what is different? He looked at his reflection gazing back at him.
What is different, indeed! He snorted at his reflection. What isn’t different? Klink is tough and can’t be manipulated, Schultz doesn’t miss a thing, and Hochstetter is Papa Bear for Pete’s sake! The operation we ran from this camp seems to have never existed. Carter never seems to have been in this camp before now. It’s like I’ve died and gone to hell. The reflection in the mirror smiled at him as if it agreed with that prognosis.
He put on his hat and shrugged on his jacket as he walked from his room into the barracks. He saw Sergeant Schultz standing impatiently by the door. Beside him stood a nervous-looking Carter.
“Colonel Hogan, the Kommandant does not like to be kept waiting,” Schultz said.
“He’ll get over it, Schultz,” Hogan replied. Seeing the angry glare from the German, he quickly amended, “Sergeant Schultz.”
Schultz smiled grimly. “Yes, he will get over it, Colonel Hogan,” he said slowly. “But you and the new prisoner Carter may not get over it so easily.”
“Carter?” Hogan asked. “What’s he got to do with anything?”
“Apparently, the Kommandant thinks I know something,” Carter said with a wry smile. He paused, expecting a sarcastic comment from Newkirk – as there would have been before he found himself in this mixed up version of Stalag 13. When it was apparent that none was forthcoming, Carter continued, “He wants to continue questioning me.”
“What does Klink expect to learn from Carter, Sergeant Schultz?” Hogan asked.
“I do not question the Kommandant,” Schultz replied. “And I also do not keep the Kommandant waiting. Now you and Sergeant Carter will follow me.” With that, Schultz turned and strode towards the door.
Hogan looked at Carter and shrugged. He didn’t know what Klink expected to find out either. “Name, rank and serial number, Carter,” he said. Carter nodded.
* * * * *
Hogan and Carter followed Schultz across the compound and into the Kommandant’s office. When they passed by, Helga gave Schultz a warm smile and a greeting, but glared angrily at Hogan when he greeted her. I’m not sure I like this, he thought. Helga has always been friendly – overly friendly – with me. And now, she doesn’t want to have anything to do with me. Maybe I really have died and gone to hell.
When they entered the Kommandant’s private office, Schultz saluted and announced that the prisoners were delivered as ordered. Klink motioned the two Americans to stand in front of his desk and motioned for Schultz to remain. He picked up his riding crop and came around the desk to stand in front of Carter.
“So, Sergeant,” he said, slapping the riding crop repeatedly in his hand. “You have had several days to become accustomed to this camp. Now maybe you will remember some information.” He paused, waiting for any reaction from the American sergeant.
“Kommandant,” Hogan prompted.
Klink quickly pointed the riding crop in Hogan’s direction. “Colonel Hogan, I have not given you permission to speak!” Klink bellowed. “You will be silent, or I will not allow you the courtesy of being present during the questioning. Do you understand?”
“I understand that the Geneva Convention allows for the presence of the senior officer during questioning by the Kommandant,” Hogan replied curtly.
“How nice for you to understand that,” Klink retorted. “It is too bad we are not in Geneva. Now you will remain silent.”
Hogan bit back a nasty reply and simply nodded his compliance.
Klink returned his attention to Carter. “Now, Sergeant,” he purred. “Maybe you would like to tell me what unit you were with and where you were stationed.”
Carter swallowed nervously and snapped to attention. “Sir,” he rasped. Clearing his throat, he tried again. “Sir! Carter, Andrew J., Sergeant, United States Army Air Corps.”
Klink waved him to silence with his riding crop. “Come now, Sergeant,” he replied with a tight smile. “Surely you can remember more than your name and what branch of the service you were in. What about your objective when you were shot down?”
Carter swallowed again. “Carter, Andrew J., Sergeant,” he said nervously.
Klink again waved him to silence. “Very well, Sergeant,” Klink said. “I have the luxury of being patient – for now. I will give you more time to try to remember.” Klink turned to Schultz. “Sergeant Schultz, this man will spend the night in the cooler where he will be given enough quiet time to regain his memory.”
Schultz snapped to attention and saluted his superior. “Jawohl, Kommandant,” he snapped. Schultz stepped forward and began to guide Carter out of the office.
“I must protest, Kommandant!” Hogan cried out. “You’re punishing the man for giving you the only information he’s required to give under the Geneva Convention.”
Klink glared at Hogan. “Ah yes,” he said. “The pesky Geneva Convention again. I am getting tired of hearing about it.” He smiled at the American colonel. “Maybe you would like to spend the night in the cooler to reflect on the fact that, since I did not sign the Geneva Convention, I do not care one bit about its contents.”
Colonel Hogan could not believe his ears. He was used to watching Klink shiver at the mention of the Geneva Convention. “You’re blatantly disregarding the Geneva Convention?” he asked.
“I am doing whatever I need to do to maintain the discipline of this camp,” Klink said matter-of-factly. “And now I am getting tired of discussing it – so if I hear one more word about it, Sergeant Schultz will be escorting you to the cooler as well.”
Hogan opened his mouth to reply and quickly closed it. He realized that anything he said would antagonize the Kommandant. The main purpose of talking to Klink was to volunteer for the woodcutting detail he needed to scout his possible escape and he dared not put that into jeopardy. He remained silent, glaring at Klink.
“A very wise choice,” Klink said, acknowledging Hogan’s silence. He motioned to Schultz to take Carter away. When the pair had left the room, Klink returned to his chair and took a seat behind his desk. “And now, Colonel Hogan, Fräulein Helga informed me that you wished to talk to me,” he said.
Hogan nodded. “Yes, Kommandant,” Hogan replied. “I’d like to volunteer my men for a woodcutting detail to replenish our supply of firewood for the barracks. We’re getting low.”
Klink nodded his head slightly. “Yes, the supply for the guards’ quarters is also getting low.”
“Great!” Hogan commented hopefully. “Your guards can cut theirs at the same time.”
Klink began to laugh. “Colonel Hogan, you amuse me,” he said.
“How so?” Hogan asked. He couldn’t understand what he had said that was so funny.
“Colonel Hogan, I have enough guards to either guard your men or cut firewood for the guards’ quarters – not both,” Klink replied. “Besides, you know the standard agreement for these woodcutting details. Your men will cut the wood, and you will keep half of it for your barracks.”
“Half?” Hogan gasped. “We do all the work while your guards sit around doing nothing and we only get half the wood?”
Klink shrugged. “If you wish to have any wood for your barracks, that is the offer,” he replied. “I will be happy to simply send some guards out to chop wood for our own use.”
“You’d allow us to freeze in our barracks?” Hogan asked
“I trust you are not going to mention that pesky Geneva thing again,” Klink cautioned.
Hogan shook his head slowly. “No, Kommandant,” he replied. “It’s just that …”
“I know, Colonel,” Klink interjected. “You do not wish your men to be cold. You can have your wood – half of what you and your men cut – or you can go without. The choice is yours.”
Hogan stared at the man sitting in the chair before him. I can’t believe that I am not able to talk Klink into doing this on my terms. This is something that I can’t tolerate. Whatever it takes, I need to help Hochstetter get this man out of camp! That thought shook Hogan like an earthquake. For the first time, Hogan actually conceded that Major Hochstetter was on his side.
“We accept your terms, Kommandant,” Hogan said with a sigh.
“Of course you do,” Klink gloated. “After all, what choice do you have?”
Hogan glared at Klink. The Kommandant had the upper hand in this camp and he knew it. The man’s actions reminded Hogan of the confidence of a schoolyard bully – bigger than all of the other kids and confident that nobody would dare stand up to him. Well, Kommandant Bully, you’re in for a big surprise. I never tolerated the bullies when I was growing up, and I’m not about to start tolerating you now. He remained silent, keeping his hostility in check.
“Have your men ready tomorrow morning,” Klink continued. “You will leave right after roll call.” He paused until he saw a small nod of acknowledgement from Hogan. “And now, you are dismissed.”
Klink immediately pulled out some paperwork, ignoring Hogan as if he was no longer present. Hogan stood looking at the Kommandant for a moment, and then turned and left the room. On his way out, Helga did not even look up from her typing to acknowledge his presence.
* * * * *
Carter had spent the day sitting alone in the cooler cell. Now he lay on the small, hard sleeping surface that did little to make him comfortable enough to sleep. He did have to give the Kommandant credit – spending the time in the cooler had given him time to think. But he had no intention of telling Klink anything useful. No matter how many times the Kommandant would question him, he vowed to maintain silence and only recite his name, rank and serial number.
In the mean time, he had been thinking about his current predicament. There was a lot that he did not understand – how could he leave the camp one evening and return to a different camp a few hours later? Nothing made sense – nothing was the same.
Ever since coming back to this changed Stalag 13, Carter had been observing. He noticed the changed demeanor of both the prisoners and the German captors. The Germans were confident and exuded an air of superiority. The prisoners were walking around with a sense of acceptance, as if they knew they were stuck in the camp until the war was over. Even his barracks mates had changed. Even putting aside the fact that they did not seem to know him, they did not seem to have the same sense of camaraderie amongst themselves as they had before. They were pessimistic in their thinking that Colonel Hogan would find another way to escape from the camp. He couldn’t understand how they could doubt the Colonel’s resourcefulness, but then realized that in this version of Stalag 13, there was no escape and sabotage operation set up.
But Andrew Carter had no doubts about Colonel Hogan. He knew that if there were a way to make sense of this, Colonel Hogan would find it. And it was his duty to help out in any way he could.
As he lay in the darkened cell, he clasped his hands together and began to pray again. Hello God, it’s Andrew again. I know, you are probably surprised to hear from me so soon – and you probably think that I am only talking to you because I am scared of what is going on. Yes, God, I am scared. But I remember what Preacher Everett would always say during his sermons back home – the Lord helps those who help themselves. And when something bad would happen, he would say that God is always testing us and that bad things happen for a reason. I don’t know what your reason is for changing everything around on Colonel Hogan and me, but I have faith in your judgment, and know that you would not do this without a very good reason. God, if you are testing us for some reason, I sure wish you could tell me what that reason is. I know you want us to figure out the reason for ourselves. I’m not going to beg and promise that I will devote my life to the church if you get us out of the situation. Pastor Everett always told us that those types of prayers were selfish. I don’t want to be selfish, God. I just want things back to the way they were before, when me and my friends were like a big family. All I can promise is that I will continue to be the best person I can, and be strong enough to help Colonel Hogan in any way I can. Carter unclasped his hands and let out a big sigh. He had faith in Colonel Hogan – but what made the situation scarier was that he wasn’t sure if Andrew Carter would be of any help.
That night after lights out, Hogan sat huddled with his men in the darkened barracks, going over the plan for the next day’s reconnaissance. Hogan wanted to be sure that the men knew what they needed to be looking for.
“What we want to do is to look for things that will allow me to slip away unnoticed,” Hogan whispered.
“But sir, there are always four or five guards with machine guns located all around the clearing,” Newkirk protested. “You said before that it would be impossible to slip out – that’s why we went for the water truck the last time.”
Hogan looked over at Newkirk. He could only see his silhouette in the darkness. “I know what I said,” Hogan replied evenly. Hell, I don’t remember saying anything about this. I may have been right – it may be impossible. “But right now we have to look at all the options.”
“We wouldn’t have to if you wouldn’t have botched the last attempt,” Newkirk retorted bitterly.
Hogan could sense the hostility and bitterness in the Englishman’s voice. The Corporal really believed that the last attempt was their only shot. Hogan was used to Newkirk pointing out the dangers and problems with his plans, but in the end, the rest of the men usually pressured Newkirk into going along with them. Now he sensed that the rest of the men shared Newkirk’s sentiments.
“If you’re going to give up so easily, then maybe Hochstetter is mistaken to think that you’d be useful for his operations,” Hogan replied evenly. Listen to me. Here I am actually starting to believe that Hochstetter is running the Underground! “You have to be willing to take chances if you want to be involved in that kind of operation.”
The room was silent as the men reflected on Hogan’s words. Finally, Newkirk spoke. “I guess you’re right, sir,” he said. “I just hope the risks are worth it.”
“If we can get rid of Klink, it will be,” LeBeau commented. “I say we hear the Colonel out and see what we can come up with.”
“So do I,” Kinch added. “But it does sound like it will be tough to do this on our own.”
“I don’t plan to do this alone,” Hogan replied. “I want to scout things out now so that when I talk to Hochstetter next, I can see what kind of help his organization can give us.” I still have a hard time thinking that Hochstetter will be able to help me with an escape, he thought. But after seeing the changes in Klink and Schultz, I suppose it’s possible that this Hochstetter will also be changed.
“So what do we look for?” Newkirk asked.
“The setup,” Hogan replied. “We need to know where the guards station themselves, where the prisoners are allowed to move and just where everything is - both in and around the clearing where we will be working.”
“It’s the same every time,” Newkirk grumbled. “Don’t we already know that information?”
“Newkirk, you know it’s been several weeks since we’ve been in the clearing,” Kinch said. “The Colonel wants some fresh intelligence before we risk an attempt.”
“Right, Kinch,” Hogan agreed. “I want to know what we’re up against so I can make the best plan possible.”
Newkirk was silent for a moment before replying. “So we just look around tomorrow,” he stated.
“And the next day,” Hogan replied. “I want to see patterns as well – to make sure that they do the same thing each time.”
Hogan could hear Newkirk sigh. “I hope this plan works,” the Englishman muttered.
So do I, Hogan thought. I don’t know why things are the way they are, but I know I can’t tolerate being in a camp where I am always getting bested by Colonel Wilhelm Klink!
* * * * *
The next morning, the men of Barracks Two were herded together and loaded into a truck for transport to the clearing in the woods. Carter had been released from the cooler and allowed to join the men on the woodcutting detail.
As he rode in the back of the German truck, Colonel Hogan began taking the mental notes he needed to help him plan his future escape. Five guards. Two trucks – the prisoners in one truck and the other truck empty, presumably for bringing back the firewood. I saw several machine guns being loaded into the empty truck as well. I guess old Klink doesn’t take any chances when we’re out of camp. That might make it a little dicey to escape without becoming a hunk of Swiss cheese. Hogan looked at the guards that were sitting in the back of the truck with the prisoners. Judging from the look on their faces, taking a leap from the truck as we’re moving is out of the question. He looked back at the truck following them – no, taking a leap from the truck was definitely out of the question.
The clearing turned out to be about two miles from the camp, in an area that Hogan remembered as being completely wooded. The trucks pulled off the road and traveled several hundred yards down a narrow, rut filled path and then stopped at the edge of a small open area. When Hogan got out of the truck, he looked around. The clearing looked to be new – it was only about a hundred yards square. The trucks had been parked so that they blocked the path back to the road. The empty truck was turned so that it faced back the way it had come. The other truck was pulled into the open space and turned to the side.
As Hogan looked at the surrounding woods, he noticed that the underbrush was thick but not impenetrable. If he could get out into the woods a little ways, he would be able to remain unseen. But with those machine guns spraying bullets, remaining unseen might not mean anything.
Schultz kept the prisoners standing near the truck while the guards moved into place at the perimeter of the clearing. Hogan looked at the empty truck and winced to himself. The deal he had made with Klink was that they had two days to cut as much as they could. They had to fill this truck for the guards’ use first, and only then could they begin to fill a second truck for themselves. So Hogan knew this would be a long day.
When the guards were in place, Schultz walked over to Hogan. “I would suggest you get to work now, Colonel Hogan,” he said. “We will leave before it gets dark.”
Hogan nodded and gathered his men together.
“Same assignments as usual, sir?” Newkirk asked.
Hogan nodded. He didn’t know what the assignments were, but he wasn't about to admit it. He looked over at Carter. “But since Carter is new here, I think he and I will man the crosscut saw.”
Newkirk nodded. “Good idea,” he replied.
With that, the men grabbed their tools and started to work.
* * * * *
Hogan was busy at one end of the two-man crosscut saw, cutting the giant trunks of the felled trees into two-foot long logs. He looked across the trunk at Carter, who was doing his best to keep the pace.
“Getting tired, Carter?” Hogan asked.
“A little, sir,” Carter puffed in reply.
“You’ve been quiet,” Hogan observed. “Too much effort to talk?”
“No,” Carter replied. “I’ve just been thinking.”
“Let me guess,” Hogan said. “You’re thinking about how things have changed.”
Carter nodded quickly as the log dropped off the end of the trunk. He moved down the trunk with Hogan and began to cut another two feet off the length of the trunk. “Aren’t you thinking about that?” he asked Hogan.
Hogan smiled. “Among other things,” he replied. “Have you come to any conclusions?”
Carter paused. He had actually narrowed down his conclusions to two possibilities – neither of them logical. One possibility was that this was a test – God was testing them for some reason. The other reason was more absurd – that somehow they had found their way to an alternate reality – some sort of mirror image of the one that they came from.
Aware of Hogan’s gaze upon him, he finally answered. “Nothing that makes any sense, sir,” he replied.
Hogan let out a strained chuckle. It was hard to laugh while he was moving the saw back and forth. “I’d settle for total nonsense at this point,” he said.
“Well, all of this could be a test,” Carter answered. “For some reason, God wants to test us.”
Hogan did not respond immediately. He continued working the saw and watched another log fall off the trunk. After repositioning the saw for another cut, he said, “I’ve had a similar thought – that we’ve died and gone to hell.”
Carter hesitated to mention his other thought, but decided that he might as well say something. “The other thought I had was that somehow we managed to enter a mirror image of the world that we came from.”
A big smile broke out on Hogan’s face. “You mean like Alice passing through the looking glass?” he asked.
Carter grinned sheepishly and nodded. “Something like that,” he replied.
Hogan laughed. “Well, I suppose that is as possible as anything,” he responded. “But I hope I don’t see a rabbit pull a watch out of his pocket and say that he’s going to be late!”
Carter chuckled as he moved the saw back and forth. He was about to reply, but stopped as Newkirk walked up to them.
Seeing that the pair had stopped talking when he arrived, Newkirk quipped, “Don’t stop talking about me just because I am here.”
“We weren’t talking about you, Newkirk,” Carter replied breathlessly.
“Then it must have been something you didn’t want me to hear,” Newkirk responded suspiciously.
“We were just talking about old times,” Carter replied.
“Old times?” Newkirk retorted. “I thought you said you two didn’t really know each other well.”
Carter opened his mouth to reply, but Hogan cut him off. “He meant that we were talking about some of the people we both knew back in England,” Hogan replied.
Newkirk looked between Hogan and Carter with a skeptical look on his face. Finally he said, “I guess I’m just a little paranoid.”
Hogan laughed. “No need for that,” he replied. “Tomorrow you and Carter can man the crosscut and swap stories.”
Newkirk gave a noncommittal shrug, as if he didn’t care one way or another. “Actually, the reason I’m here is that it’s about time for the men to take a small break,” he said. “No need to kill ourselves from thirst trying to prevent freezing to death.”
Hogan laughed again. “You have a point,” he replied. “Tell the men to take ten.”
“Right, sir,” Newkirk replied. He turned and began yelling for the men to stop working for a bit.
* * * * *
After the break, Hogan and Carter were back on the crosscut saw busily cutting the two-foot long logs that would be split into firewood.
“Colonel,” Carter said. “Are you starting to believe that Hochstetter is on the level?”
Hogan thought for a second. That was a question he had been asking himself for a while – was Hochstetter for real, or was this all a trick? “I’m starting to lean that way,” he replied. “You’ve seen how everyone has changed from what we were familiar with. The old Schultz would have been half asleep at this point. ” He paused long enough to see Carter nod. “And do you think the rest of the men would treat you as if you were a stranger?”
“No, sir,” Carter replied. “That’s the strangest part. If this were a trick by Hochstetter, Newkirk, Kinch and LeBeau would be the last ones to go along with it.” He paused as another log dropped off the tree trunk. After repositioning the saw, he continued, “Are you going to go along with the plan?”
Hogan grinned at Carter. “Maybe,” he replied, pausing to rephrase his response. “Probably – but maybe not exactly the way that Hochstetter would like.”
Carter spotted Newkirk walking in their direction again. Rather than rouse his suspicions further, he waited until Newkirk was standing beside them and then asked, “Have you thought of a plan for your escape?”
“I was wondering about that myself,” Newkirk added. “We’re doing all of this information gathering in an area that you said was impossible to escape from before.”
“Situations change,” Hogan said, watching yet another log drop off. Before repositioning the saw to start another cut, he turned to Newkirk. “We have to be able to react to these situations as they change, or we’ll be ineffective in the Underground … or worse – we’ll be dead.”
“I just don’t like seeing us take unnecessary chances,” Newkirk argued.
“Have I ever steered us wrong before?” Hogan asked. God, I hope the answer to this question is no!
Newkirk studied Hogan before answering. “No, aside from not escaping the last time, you’ve been straight with us,” he commented.
Hogan winced at the reference to the botched escape – the one that he had no part in planning. “This time, it will go off as planned,” he said firmly. “And this time, Hochstetter will have to share some of the risk. If he is serious about wanting to get rid of Klink, then he’d better be willing to give us more help.”
A large smile slowly spread across Newkirk’s face. “I couldn’t agree with you more, sir,” he replied.
Out of the corner of his eye, Carter saw Schultz walking in their direction. “Schultz is coming,” he whispered quickly.
“What is the problem here?” Schultz asked when he arrived at the tree trunk. “Are you men planning some monkey business?”
When he heard Schultz use that phrase, Carter couldn’t help but laugh. He tried his best to stifle it, so it came out as a snort followed by a rash of coughing.
“What’s wrong with you?” Schultz asked him. “Did I say something funny?”
Still coughing, Carter shook his head. “No,” he replied between coughs. “The sawdust got to me.”
Schultz looked at him skeptically. “I don’t believe you,” he replied. “I haven’t seen you cough all day.”
“Schultz,” Hogan interrupted. “I mean, Sergeant Schultz. Can we get back to work now? You’re keeping us from making our daily quota.”
Schultz glared at Hogan. “I am keeping you from working?” he asked. “You were standing here talking when I came over.”
“I was just going over a plan with Newkirk,” Hogan replied smoothly.
Schultz continued to glare at Hogan. Out of the corner of his eye, Hogan saw that both Carter and Newkirk were also staring at him with a mixture of shock and amazement at this admission.
“Aha!” Schultz exclaimed. “So you were planning some monkey business!”
“Not at all, Schultz,” Hogan replied. He paused, waiting to see if Schultz noticed that he had omitted his rank. He felt pleased when Schultz didn’t react. “We were planning the best way to finish the cutting, stacking and loading of the wood.” He pointed his finger at the guard and shook it. “You don’t think these things happen on their own, do you?”
“No,” Schultz replied. “I … I … I…” he stammered.
Hogan saw that Carter had a small smile on his face while watching this exchange. Newkirk, on the other hand, still had a look of shock. Hogan could tell that Newkirk would never dream of talking to the guard like this. I guess there are a lot of things he’s going to have to get used to from now on, Hogan thought.
“Well then, why don’t you just go back over by the truck and let us get back to work?” Hogan replied. He turned to Newkirk and asked, “Are we clear on what we need to do to fill that truck, Corporal?”
Newkirk blinked a couple times before responding. “Yes, sir!” he replied. “I’ll make sure the men get right to it.” The Englishman turned and walked back to his post where the logs were being split. Hogan saw him glance back once and shake his head in disbelief.
“Now, Carter,” Hogan said. “If the Sergeant will let us get back to work, we can get back to sawing some logs.” Hogan looked at Schultz expectantly.
Schultz had a slightly dazed look on his face that reminded Hogan of the Schultz that he had grown to know and love. There’s hope yet, he thought. Schultz shook his head slightly and turned without a word to return to his post by the trucks.
As they began sawing the tree trunk, Carter whispered, “Beautiful, Colonel. Absolutely beautiful!”
Hogan gave a small shrug. “It’s a start,” he said as if it meant nothing. But the smile on his face betrayed his happiness with the exchange.
The rest of the workday passed without incident. Just before dusk, Schultz stopped the prisoners and loaded them into the truck for the return trip to camp. After working all day, the men had managed not only to fill the empty truck with firewood, but left a large pile for loading the next day. In the end, it turned out that having the extra wood was a blessing. When they returned to camp, Klink would not allow them to unload the truck until after roll call the next morning. That took a couple hours away from their time in the clearing.
During the second day, the men made their observations while still managing to fill the second truck. Hogan was tired after the two days of manual labor, but very happy. His men had managed to complete both objectives – the information gathering and increasing the supply of wood for the barracks.
* * * * *
Hogan’s happiness was short lived. The very next day, Klink decided to question Carter again and summoned both Hogan and Carter to his office. When Carter refused to provide anything except the standard name, rank and serial number, Klink had him put in the cooler again.
After leaving Klink’s office, Hogan returned to the barracks determined to do whatever necessary to change the dynamics of the camp. It was almost unfathomable to him to spend the rest of the war cooped up in Stalag 13 like a normal prisoner. He used to be in charge of a nice operation that, for whatever reason, had been taken away from him. Now he was determined to get it back – and on his own terms. Hochstetter may be the vehicle he had to use, but he wanted to make sure that Hochstetter was not going to be the one calling all of the shots.
He entered the barracks to find the men lounging around in their bunks. He suspected that, like him, they were feeling the effects of the last two days of physical labor.
“Where’s Carter?” Newkirk asked.
“Klink threw him in the cooler again,” Hogan replied. “He’s still insisting that Carter can provide him some useful information.”
“Klink won’t give up easily,” Kinch replied from his bunk.
“Oui, and things will just get tougher for Carter,” LeBeau added. “You remember how it was for you, Colonel, before Hochstetter intervened and started taking you out of camp each week.”
“Right,” Hogan replied. Actually, I don’t know how it was, he thought. But it sure sounds like it was not a pleasant experience. I guess we’d better get rid of Klink before Carter gets to experience it. “Well, that’s why we’re trying to get rid of him,” he said looking around at all of the men nodding their agreement. He walked over to the table in the middle of the barracks and took a seat. “So let’s compare notes and sketch up a picture of the clearing. It will help with the planning.”
“You’re going to put that on paper, sir?” a surprised Newkirk asked. “If Sergeant Schultz comes in and catches us with that, we’ll be in a bloody mess of trouble.”
“Let’s just make sure that doesn’t happen,” Hogan replied. “Carter …” he stopped himself before he added “watch the door.” He was so used to having Carter look out for the guards that it had almost become a reflex. Instead, he said, “Carter will have to add his observations when he gets out of the cooler.” Looking around, he added, “Johnson, watch the door. Make sure we’re not surprised.” Johnson nodded and headed towards the door.
When the men had assembled around the table, Hogan began drawing the clearing from his memory. The men added their observations as he drew and after a short time, he had a complete – albeit crude – drawing of the area.
“And what have we learned?” Newkirk asked. “Besides the fact that we have good memories,” he added.
Hogan looked up at the Englishman. I’ve learned that you have a very annoying pessimistic attitude, he thought. He quickly shook that thought from his mind to concentrate on the map in front of him. “Looking at the map,” he said tightly, “it looks like the best place to try to slip out is here.” He pointed to a spot on the paper.
“What, just slip out in broad daylight in plain view of the guards?” Newkirk asked.
“The guards’ attention will be focused elsewhere,” Hogan replied. “We’ll need a diversion.”
“Maybe one of us can get the guards to shoot him, and when they are posing for pictures over the body, you can slip out,” Newkirk replied sarcastically.
“Damn it, Newkirk,” Hogan exclaimed angrily. “If you don’t want to participate, then don’t! I am going to do this – with your help or without it.” Hogan looked around at the men gathered around him. “And that goes for all of you. If you don’t want to help, then speak now. I’ll find another group to help me.”
The room was quiet for a moment. Finally, Kinch spoke. “We’re with you, Colonel,” he said softly, bringing a chorus of agreement from many of the men gathered around.
“Oui,” echoed LeBeau. “It’s just that this idea is so different from any of our other plans. We’ve never been this brash before – we’re bound to antagonize the Kommandant.”
“And it’s about time, too,” Hogan retorted. “It’s time that bald Teutonic twit was knocked down to size for a change.” Ignoring the snorts of laughter from some of the men, Hogan looked over at Newkirk. “That just leaves you, Newkirk. In or out?”
The two men locked eyes in a silent battle of wills. After a few moments, Newkirk looked away, relenting. “Count me in, sir,” he said.
Hogan smiled. “Good,” he replied. “Now to answer your question, Hochstetter will be providing the diversion.”
“And what would that be, Colonel?” Kinch asked.
“I don’t know yet,” Hogan replied. “That’s what I need to talk to him about.”
“And what if he doesn’t want to go along with the plan?” Newkirk asked.
Kinch gave him an elbow in the side. “I thought you said you were in?” he asked.
“Hold it down, fellows,” Hogan said. “That’s a perfectly valid question. And I’ll tell him the same thing I just told you – I’ll do this with him or without him. If he wants Stalag 13 as bad as he says, he should have no hesitation helping us with our plan.”
“You’re determined to get this done, aren’t you?” Newkirk asked solemnly.
Hogan met his gaze. “Absolutely,” he replied.
Newkirk gave a little smile. “Good,” he said. “That makes two of us.”
Hogan lay on his bunk in the darkness, unable to sleep. He had tossed and turned for more than an hour, getting more and more frustrated with each turn. Finally, he gave up and jumped out of his bunk. Leaving his room, he walked quietly through the barracks, careful not to disturb his sleeping men. He opened the door to the barracks and stepped outside.
After closing the door behind him, he stood still and waited for the searchlight to find him. When it did, he made the motions to indicate that he intended to use the latrine. As he walked across the compound, the light followed him. When he came out of the latrine, the light was there, waiting to escort him back to the barracks. When he reached the door, he turned and waved, as if he were thanking the guard for the escort.
But he didn’t feel thankful – he felt like a caged animal. Even though he had been a prisoner before, he always knew that he could come and go from the camp when he needed to. Now that was taken away from him and he was stuck – stuck behind the barbed wire and machine guns.
He walked back through the snores of the men sleeping in their bunks and returned to his room. He climbed up in his bunk and let out a big sigh. Why bother trying to sleep? It’s no use. I can’t quit thinking about this plan to escape. I’ve been over it many times. It’s risky, but I’ve done riskier things than this.
But he knew what was bothering him. He was not used to waiting. With very few exceptions, he made his plans and then acted on them. This time, he was unable to do that. He had the plan, but he now had to talk to Hochstetter to ensure that the necessary diversion was put into place. Then he would have to try to talk Klink into allowing another work detail. Other than that, the plan is foolproof.
Hochstetter. That was the other thing that bothered him. In order for the plan to work, he needed Hochstetter’s help. It felt to him like he needed Hochstetter’s blessing – and that really annoyed him. He still had a deep down hesitation of trusting the Gestapo Major, but had decided that the hesitation stemmed from his previous experiences. Everything he had seen from Klink and Schultz told him that those previous experiences didn’t mean anything.
As he lay in his bunk, Hogan heard the low drone of Allied bombers on their night runs. The higher whine of the German fighters and the steady boom of the anti-aircraft fire told him that there would be many good men who would not make it back home. It saddened him to know that he and his men would not be going out and trying to round up as many downed flyers as possible and sending them back to London.
He heard the rumble of the bombs hitting their targets and remembered the bright flashes he would see when he would fly his missions. He recalled the lights on the dark landscape as the fires consumed the buildings of the cities below. Hogan knew that some of the targets were factories and other military targets. But he also knew that many of those lights that the pilots were seeing tonight meant that ordinary Germans were being killed – innocent people, losing their homes and their lives. Innocent? Maybe – but they were the ones that allowed that madman to come to power and start this war.
Hogan heard a lonely train whistle in the distance – like a cry in the night. He was suddenly sitting upright in his bunk, listening to a series of explosions. He was surprised that he woke up – he didn’t remember falling asleep. Those explosions aren’t from falling bombs, he thought. Hochstetter – it must be him and his organization. They must have hit another target tonight. Hogan heard shouts in the camp compound, and then the sound of trucks driving away. It looks like Klink will expend resources trying to catch the saboteurs. Maybe this is something else that we can take advantage of.
* * * * *
Roll call the next morning was difficult for Hogan. He had finally fallen asleep, but not before watching half the night go by. He stood in line with yawns threatening to split his face in two. It seemed an eternity until Schultz dismissed the prisoners, and Hogan decided to spend some time outside in the fresh air waiting for Hochstetter to show up.
While he waited on the bench outside the barracks, he went over his plan for the hundredth time. Everything hinged on the help from Hochstetter. Without the diversion, Hogan would have no chance of getting past the guards into the woods. He knew what he wanted Hochstetter to do – but would the Major agree? He would find out shortly.
He saw the staff car drive through the main gates and stop in front of the Kommandant’s office. Hochstetter briefly glanced at Hogan as he got out of the car, and then went into Klink’s office. In a few minutes, the two men emerged, followed by Schultz. Hogan stood up and started across the compound, meeting Schultz halfway.
“I’m ready, Schultz,” Hogan said. “Let’s get this show on the road.”
Schultz glared at Hogan, but said nothing about the familiarity of his address. The Sergeant escorted Hogan to the waiting staff car. Klink glared at him as the approached.
“You seem eager to leave today, Colonel,” Klink stated.
Hogan shrugged. “Not really,” he replied. “But since I don’t have much say in the matter, I might as well get it over with.”
Klink smiled. “You have no say in the matter,” he replied.
Hogan stared back at Klink. “The lab rat rarely does,” he retorted.
Klink laughed heartily. “I like that analogy, Colonel Hogan,” he said. “You are a rat and this is your cage.”
Hogan started chuckling. “Never underestimate a cornered rat, Kommandant,” he said.
Klink frowned, unsure of the meaning of Hogan’s statement. After a moment, he turned and walked back into his office.
* * * * *
When they arrived at Gestapo headquarters, Hogan was led to the interrogation cell. After being left alone in the room, Hogan sat down and removed his hat. He poked around under the lining and removed the crude map of the clearing that he had made from his men’s observations.
Hochstetter entered the cell and sat in the other chair. “Well, Hogan, are you in a better frame of mind this week?” he asked.
“I’m fine,” Hogan replied. “I also have another plan for an escape that we need to discuss.”
“Oh? And will you get second thoughts on this one, too?” Hochstetter asked.
“Funny,” Hogan commented dryly. “We have a lot to talk about and not a lot of time, so let’s get to it.”
“All right, Hogan,” Hochstetter said. “What is this spectacular plan of yours?”
Hogan pulled the map from his pocket and laid it on the table in front of Hochstetter. He proceeded to tell the Major his idea to slip out while on a work detail, and the fact that he would need a diversion from Hochstetter and his organization.
“You need what from me?” Hochstetter asked.
“I need a diversion to distract the guards while I slip out,” Hogan answered.
Hochstetter gave a wry laugh. “I suppose you want me to show up and ask the guards to look the other way?” he asked. “I’d be shot in a second.”
Hogan smiled. “If that would help me get away, it would be perfect,” he said. “But I was thinking of something a little more, to use your word, spectacular.”
“Such as?” Hochstetter asked.
Hogan told him.
Hochstetter’s jaw dropped. “You have got to be kidding,” he muttered. “Do you realize how dangerous that kind of thing would be for my men in broad daylight?”
“All I need from you is to set it up for us,” Hogan replied. “We’ll take care of the rest when the time comes.”
Hochstetter shook his head in disbelief. “I can’t believe you came up with this as a plan to escape,” he said. “It’s not like you to be this daring.”
Hogan’s smile broadened. “You’d better get used to it Major,” he replied.
Hochstetter’s brow furrowed. “Hogan, may I remind you that being reckless can be fatal,” he said.
“I prefer to think of this as brash and unexpected,” Hogan replied. “We’ll catch them off-guard.”
Hochstetter glanced at the map on the table in front of him. He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “You know, it could work,” he commented.
“It will work,” Hogan corrected. “It has to work.”
Hochstetter was silent for a moment, still gazing at the map. “Explain again what you need,” Hochstetter said finally. “I want to make sure I have it straight.”
Hogan began explaining. He pointed to specific places on the map where he wanted things set up. He answered Hochstetter’s questions and was pleased that the Major seemed to grasp all of the details.
“I’ll have to visit the site and see what we can do,” Hochstetter said when they had gone over everything. “I’d have to make sure everything is hidden but easily accessible. I can do that and fill you in next week. But now, our time is done for today. You must be getting back to camp.”
* * * * *
Hogan entered the barracks and found the men waiting for him.
“How’d it go?” Newkirk asked.
Hogan shrugged. “So far, so good,” he replied. “Hochstetter was interested in the plan and is going to scout the site to see about the diversion.”
“Do you think he’ll help us?” Carter asked.
“I’ll find out next week,” Hogan said.
“So nothing is going to happen before then?” Kinch asked.
Hogan shook his head. “The plan is impossible without the diversion,” he replied. A huge yawn interrupted him. “I’m going to get some rest now. I didn’t sleep well last night.”
“See you at roll call, Colonel,” LeBeau said.
Hogan walked into his office and closed the door behind him.
“The Colonel seems worried about his plan,” LeBeau stated.
“He bloody well should be,” Newkirk exclaimed. “He’ll be taking an awful risk trying to slip away from that work detail in broad daylight.”
“Come on guys,” Carter said. “He’s just going over every detail so that he’s not surprised by anything. He does this before every mission.”
The room fell silent after Carter finished speaking.
“Carter, how do you know what he does?” Kinch asked.
“Yeah, and what missions are you talking about?” Newkirk added, hopping down from his bunk to stand beside the table where Carter was sitting.
“Um, I’m just repeating what I heard someone say about the Colonel,” Carter replied nervously.
“You heard someone say that, did you?” Newkirk asked. “Who?”
Carter nodded. “I heard it from one of the guys on his crew when I was back in London,” he replied.
Newkirk said nothing but kept standing beside Carter, eying him suspiciously.
“Look, Carter,” Kinch said. “That was a long time ago. We’ve been with him in this camp for more than a year and we have never seen him this nervous about anything.”
“He never gets nervous?” Carter asked.
“Of course he gets nervous,” Kinch replied. “Everybody gets nervous. But he’s acting very different from what he normally does.”
“I’ll say,” Newkirk added. “Take this plan for starters. He’s always been against something so …” Newkirk paused, searching for the right word, “something so bold. And yet, he comes up with a plan that is pretty much a slap to Klink’s face. He even got a little sassy with Sergeant Schultz the other day on the work detail.”
“He did?” LeBeau asked.
“Oh yes, it was brilliant!” Carter exclaimed. “He got old Schultz so confused.” Carter stopped talking, aware that the rest of the men did not consider it funny. They were all looking at him curiously. He laughed nervously.
“I can’t blame the Colonel for being nervous,” Kinch said, shifting his attention away from Carter. “He’s the one who’ll be shot at if the guards spot him sneaking away.”
“He’ll be fine once we start putting the plan in motion,” Carter said, trying to be reassuring. “I mean, being nervous is a strange thing. You get yourself all worked up before you have to do something big, worrying about everything that can go wrong. But when the time comes, you forget all of those worries and just do what you’re supposed to do.” Carter paused to catch his breath. Remembering the mission where he had to pretend he was in the Wehrmacht once he was seen by a German patrol when he was in a German uniform, he continued. “Boy, I remember the time when I had to fool a bunch of people into thinking that I was someone else – I was so nervous …” He felt the eyes of everyone in the barracks upon him and stopped talking. Uh-oh, Andrew. I think you screwed up now, he thought. When are you ever going to learn to keep your mouth shut?
“You want to tell us about that?” Kinch asked.
Carter nervously shook his head. “Maybe later,” he said. “I think I need to get some fresh air.” He stood.
Newkirk put his hand on Carter’s shoulder and shoved him back down into the chair. “Why don’t you tell us about this bunch of people you had to fool?” he asked. He voice was menacing.
“What’s there to tell?” Carter replied. “It was awhile ago.” He looked at the faces of the men who were gathered around him. He felt a shiver go up his spine – he knew that he was in trouble and he had better find a way out of it – quickly! “Guys, why don’t I wait until the Colonel is here?” he asked. “I’d hate to have to tell the story twice.” The men were silent, staring at him intently. Carter felt himself start to sweat. “In fact, why don’t I go and get him now?” Carter stood quickly and darted towards Hogan’s office door.
Carter was quick, but Kinch was quicker. He blocked Carter’s path and let the Sergeant run right into him. As Carter bounced off Kinch’s chest, Newkirk grabbed Carter by the shoulder and spun him around.
“Guys, guys,” he pleaded. “I know what you’re thinking and you’re all mistaken!”
“No, pal,” Newkirk replied. “You’re the one who’s made the mistake.” Taking a step closer, he said, “I think your whole story is a lie.”
“Not all of it,” Carter replied in a trembling voice. As soon as he said it, he knew it was the wrong thing to say.
“Well, Sergeant Andrew Carter … if that is your real name,” Newkirk said. “I think it’s time we heard the truth.” He grabbed Carter’s arm.
Carter closed his eyes and braced himself for the blows that he expected to come next.
Hogan had given up trying to rest and was sitting at his desk going over the plan once more. He was sketching a layout of the area and plotting the escape route when he heard some scuffling in the barracks. Suddenly his door burst open and Carter came tumbling headlong into the room. The Sergeant grabbed onto the wooden posts of the bunk before he smacked into it.
Hogan stood and started towards Carter, who was now standing beside the bunk rubbing his arm. “Carter, you could have just knocked,” he said.
“I couldn’t help it, sir,” Carter replied.
“No, he couldn’t help it,” said Newkirk, entering the room. “I helped him.”
Kinch and LeBeau followed Newkirk in and shut the door behind them.
“What the hell is going on here?” Hogan asked.
“That’s exactly what we would like to know,” Newkirk answered. “Just what the hell are you and Carter trying to pull off here?”
“I don’t follow you,” Hogan replied.
“There’s something phony here,” Newkirk continued. “There’s something phony about Carter’s story and there’s something phony about the way you have been acting since you came back to camp.” Newkirk smiled a grim smile. “And I intend to find out what that something is.”
“Corporal, you should remember you who you are talking to,” Hogan replied, tugging a little at his collar to bring attention to his eagles.
“With all due respect sir,” Newkirk retorted. “In a case like this, rank means nothing. If you’ve turned on us, there’s no eagle in the world that will protect you.”
Hogan tensed and bit back a reply. Looking at the faces of the men staring at him, he realized that they were serious – deadly serious. Hogan knew he had to tread lightly. Newkirk was right – if they thought he was a traitor, he could be in big trouble.
Hogan kept staring at Newkirk – he seemed to be the man taking charge. Yes, Newkirk, there is indeed something phony about Carter and me, he thought. And you seem to have recognized that and jumped to an invalid conclusion. I’d been hoping to avoid having to try to explain the inexplicable story that brought us here, but it looks like I just might have to do so. The trouble is, neither Carter nor I know just what the hell happened – and the theories we do have are so outrageous.
“And what evidence do you have that there is something phony, as you put it?” Hogan asked. “Or are you just making baseless accusations?”
Newkirk laughed derisively. “You want evidence?” he asked. “I’ll spell it out for you. Then let’s see what you have to say for yourself.”
Hogan decided that his best defense here was to appear calm and unconcerned. If he tensed up, they would interpret that as guilt and assume they were correct. He would just have to hear Newkirk out and see if he could diffuse the situation. So he leaned against his desk, crossed his legs and folded his arms across his chest. “Let’s hear it,” he said.
“First, let’s talk about the botched escape,” Newkirk said. “We plan the escape – the only way we’ve found to get out of camp – and what do you do? You come back with this stranger,” he motioned towards Carter, “in tow. And then all you have to say is that you didn’t feel it was the right time.”
Hogan nodded slightly but said nothing.
Newkirk paused only a second before continuing. “Then there’s this new escape plan,” Newkirk said. “From the very beginning, you’ve been conservative. You always said that we shouldn’t take unnecessary chances. This plan is everything you’ve always said shouldn’t be done.”
Again Hogan nodded. He continued to watch Newkirk with a slightly bemused smile, but kept quiet – content to let Newkirk have his say.
“And Carter here tells us a story about how he escaped from Stalag 17B and just happened to run into you, someone he kind of knew when stationed in England, in the woods outside of camp,” Newkirk continued. “That’s a neat little coincidence.”
“They happen,” Hogan commented.
Newkirk snorted. “And I could almost believe it,” he replied. “But some of his comments make me think he knows you better than either of you are letting on.” Newkirk glanced over at Carter. “I doubt that he’s ever been in a prison camp before.”
Hogan saw Carter starting to reply. “Carter, let him finish” he cautioned. He turned his attention back to Newkirk. “You have anything else?”
“If you mean do I have any proof that you have turned against us, then the answer is no,” Newkirk replied. “But something’s not right here, and I want to find out what it is.”
“I don’t blame you,” Hogan responded. “If I suspected one of you was working with the Krauts, I’d want to know for sure, too.”
“Well?” Newkirk prompted. “Are you going to tell me I have any facts wrong?”
“Actually, you’ve got most of the facts,” Hogan replied.
Newkirk tensed. “So you don’t deny it?” he asked.
“I said you had the facts,” Hogan answered. “But your conclusion is completely wrong.”
Newkirk looked back at Hogan questioningly. “How so?” he asked.
“True – I did come back to camp with Carter,” Hogan explained. “Things didn’t go the way I planned that night.”
Now it was Newkirk’s turn to simply nod and remain quiet.
“And true, the new plan for escaping is not what you would call subtle,” Hogan continued. “But I feel that it gives the best chance of success. With the diversion, it will seem as if the Underground helped me escape. Since the Underground is the Gestapo’s responsibility, it will give Hochstetter a reason to be looking for me.”
Newkirk nodded again. “And what about him?” he asked, pointing towards Carter.
Hogan smiled. “And you are right, Carter was never in Stalag 17B,” he said. “And we do know each other quite well. But you are wrong to say that he’s never been in a prison camp before – he has.”
“But not as a prisoner,” Newkirk offered.
“No, he was a prisoner,” Hogan replied.
“Maybe you’d like to tell me where?” Newkirk asked.
Hogan chuckled. “You wouldn’t believe it,” he commented.
“I’m already not believing it,” Newkirk responded.
Hogan knew that the time had come – he had to tell these men the truth. “Okay,” Hogan replied. “Remember, you asked.” He turned to Carter and said, “Carter, tell him what prison camp you’ve been in.”
“Sir?” Carter asked. “Are you sure?”
“For the last year and a half, I’ve been a prisoner in Stalag Luft 13,” Carter said.
Hogan had to laugh when all three men said “What?” at the same time.
“You’ve never been in Stalag 13 before!” Newkirk exclaimed.
“Yes I have!” Carter replied. “Just not …” his voice trailed off, “this one.”
Newkirk looked confused. “But this is the only Stalag Luft 13,” he said.
Hogan was still laughing. “I told you that you wouldn’t believe it,” he said.
“But … but … but …” Newkirk stammered.
“You boys might as well have a seat,” Hogan instructed. “Because as the saying goes, truth is stranger than fiction.”
Hogan waited while the stunned men found a place to sit. When everyone was settled, he commenced pacing the room and began his explanation.
“Corporal Peter Newkirk, Corporal Louis LeBeau, Sergeant Ivan James Kinchloe and Sergeant Richard Baker – along with Sergeant Andrew Carter here – form the core of my team that’s stationed at Stalag 13,” Hogan explained.
“Baker?” a puzzled Kinch asked. “But Baker was …”
Hogan waved him off. “Let me tell you the whole thing before asking questions,” he said. “As I said, we’re stationed here at Stalag 13 – an escape and sabotage operation. We have a series of tunnels running under the camp, including an emergency tunnel running outside the wire.”
“But Kommandant Klink and Sergeant Schultz!” Newkirk exclaimed.
“Schultz just wants to make it through the war unharmed and can be talked into seeing nothing for a little of LeBeau’s cooking,” Hogan continued. “Klink is a pompous idiot that can be manipulated by stroking his bald little ego. And before you ask, Hochstetter is far from being Papa Bear – he’s as nasty as Nazis come and would do anything to catch Papa Bear. In fact,” he paused for effect before he dropped the big bombshell, “I am Papa Bear.”
Hogan raised his hands to quiet the exclamations of surprise coming from the three men. When it was quiet, he continued his explanation.
“So we rescue downed flyers and send them back to London, undertake missions given to us by London – sabotage and intelligence gathering - and we direct and assist the local Underground,” Hogan said. “We have Klink’s office bugged, the switchboard tapped, German uniforms for the various impersonations we have to do and tunnels running to the cooler, Klink’s quarters and the dog kennel, among other places.
“The dog kennel?” LeBeau asked.
“Yes, the dogs are quite nice towards the prisoners,” Hogan replied. “Oskar Schnitzer, the vet, trains them to be mean and nasty to the Germans and nice to the prisoners. We also use his truck to sneak in and out of the camp at times.”
“I wouldn’t go near those dogs,” LeBeau said.
“I wouldn’t go near the dogs in this camp either,” Carter added. “One of them bit me before Langenscheidt brought us back into camp. But our dogs are nice to us.”
“You mentioned impersonations,” Kinch prompted.
“Yes, we will impersonate Germans, military and civilian, outside of the camp and on the phone,” Hogan explained. “Carter does a pretty good imitation of Hitler.”
Carter pulled out his comb, brushed his hair down over his forehead and put the comb up to his face. “Heil Hitler!” he said loudly while holding his arm out in salute. “Kinch does a better Hitler when we have to do it over the phone,” he added.
“I do?” a surprised Kinch asked. “Well I’ll be darned.”
Hogan continued with his explanation, describing most aspects of their operation for the past year. He described everything – successful missions, Hochstetter’s attempts at catching Hogan, the times they would use Klink or Schultz to get what they needed.
The men listened to everything Hogan had to say, interrupting periodically to ask questions. As he talked, Hogan saw Carter getting more and more excited. After a while, Carter could not contain himself and began relating his experiences. Hogan watched the men as they listened. Their expressions cycled through a range of emotions – from skepticism to disbelief to hope to wonder. They seemed to feed off Carter’s excitement. When Carter finished, the room was silent.
Finally, Newkirk said, “That’s quite a story, sir. How do we know you aren’t making it up?”
Hogan smiled. “You’ll just have to believe it,” he said. “But if I were trying to make up a story, would I make up something like this?”
Newkirk laughed. “Probably not,” he said. “But if it is true, how do you explain it?”
Hogan shook his head. “We can’t explain it,” he replied. “The Stalag 13 that Carter and I left is not the same one we came back to.”
The men were silent again. Newkirk exchanged glances with Kinch and LeBeau, and Hogan knew that they were trying to make up their minds on whether to believe the story. If he were in their position, Hogan wasn't sure that he would believe it.
“If you and Carter are here, what happened to our Colonel Hogan?” LeBeau asked.
“I’ve had the same thought myself,” Hogan replied. “But I don’t know. Maybe he his at our Stalag 13 trying to explain why Carter is missing.”
“I never thought of that,” Carter said, looking a little sad.
“Right now, you can’t worry about it either,” responded Hogan. “We’re here and have to worry about ourselves.”
Carter nodded, but Hogan could see that it still bothered him. He would have to talk to the Sergeant when he had the chance.
“So you plan to follow through with the plan?” Newkirk asked.
Hogan nodded. “I plan to do whatever I can,” he replied.
“Do you think you’ll be able to set up an operation like your other one?” Kinch asked.
Hogan looked from man to man before answering. “No,” he replied. “I don’t think I can do it … but I know that we can do it.” He saw the men nodding at the answer.
Newkirk looked over at Kinch and LeBeau again. “I think I speak for all of us when I say that we’re with you, sir,” Newkirk said. Kinch and LeBeau nodded their agreement.
Hogan smiled. “That’s what I want to hear,” he replied.
Newkirk smiled. “Besides, from what you’ve said, someone’s got to keep an eye on Carter!”
“Hey!” Carter protested.
Hogan laughed. “Now that’s more like the Newkirk that I know!” he said.
* * * * *
For the rest of the afternoon, the men peppered Carter with questions about the operation. Hogan realized that the men were expressing their hope that they could be part of an operation after being demoralized by the rigid treatment they received from Klink in this camp.
He was sitting at the table in the barracks when Carter and Newkirk sat down beside him.
“Sir,” Carter said. “When you escape, I’d like to go with you.”
Hogan was surprised. “I don’t know,” he replied.
“It makes sense, sir,” Newkirk added. “The reason why you are escaping is that it would make Klink look bad if the senior officer in the camp disappeared. Think of how it would look if the newest prisoner disappeared as well. After all, Klink is trying to get information from him as well.”
Hogan rubbed his chin in thought. “I never thought of that,” he said. “It might be a good idea.”
“If you are able to slip away from the work detail, then it shouldn’t be a problem for both of you to slip out,” Newkirk persisted.
Hogan nodded. “You’re right, two could slip out as easily as one,” he replied. “As long as Hochstetter can set up the diversion I had in mind.”
“You’ll find that out the next time you talk to him?” Newkirk asked.
Hogan nodded. “I hope so,” he replied.
As he finished talking, the barracks door opened and Schultz walked in.
“Hi, Schultz,” Hogan said cheerfully. “What brings you here?”
Schultz eyed Hogan with some contempt. He didn’t like the informal manner in which the American addressed him, but since he had let it pass before, he was finding it hard to try to insist now. “Colonel Hogan,” he said. “The Kommandant would like to see you and Sergeant Carter in his office.”
“Again?” Hogan complained. “What does he want this time?”
“I do not ask,” Schultz replied. “And I do not keep him waiting, so if you would please come with me.”
Hogan sighed and rose from the table. “Come on, Carter,” he said. “We’d best not keep the Bald Eagle waiting.”
Hogan and Carter followed Schultz to Klink’s office. The routine was the same – Schultz snapped to attention, Klink slapped his riding crop in his palm and motioned the prisoners around with it. The one thing different was the armed guard standing to the side of Klink’s desk.
Hogan was about to comment when Klink cut him off. “Sergeant Carter, it is time to see if you have remembered more than your name.” He paused while he walked around his desk to stand in front of Carter. “And I should tell you that my patience is beginning to run out.”
Carter stiffened to attention and stared straight ahead.
“Now then, Sergeant,” Klink said calmly. “Maybe you would like to tell me what unit you were with, where you were stationed and what your objective was when you were shot down?”
Carter was silent.
“You have no comment?” Klink asked.
Carter shook his head.
“So now you will not even do me the honor of telling me your name, rank or serial number,” Klink commented. “This is not a very wise decision on your part.”
“Since you already know it, Kommandant,” Hogan said. “Maybe you should recite it back to him.”
Klink’s head snapped quickly around to glare at Hogan. After a moment, he walked around behind his desk. “Sergeant Schultz,” he said abruptly. “Sergeant Carter will be spending the next two days in solitary confinement with no rations other than water.”
Carter’s eyes widened in surprise at the command.
“Colonel Klink, I must protest!” Hogan erupted.
Klink sat down and smiled a grim smile. “If you must, you must,” he said. “But I must remind you not to mention that pesky little Swiss agreement you like to blather on about.”
Hogan bit back a reply that would have done nothing but land him in solitary as well. He looked at Klink with all the hate he could muster, but the German Colonel simply laughed at him.
“Apparently you do not have much of a protest,” Klink said. He motioned to Schultz to take Carter away.
Carter glanced pleadingly at Hogan as he walked out of the room. Hogan looked back in sympathy, knowing that there was nothing he could do.
When Carter was gone, Hogan turned his attention back to Klink. Klink was sitting back in his chair, smiling broadly and slapping his riding crop in his palm.
I’d really like to stick that riding crop up his… Hogan’s thoughts were interrupted as Klink spoke.
“So it seems that my cornered rat is not much of a danger after all,” Klink said with a chuckle.
Hogan glanced over at the guard before replying. “You just keep thinking that, Kommandant,” he said.
Klink’s smile faded. “Colonel Hogan, You have been very insolent lately,” he said tightly. “And my patience for that is also running very low. If I were you, I would rethink your attitude.”
Hogan smiled sarcastically. “If you were me,” he said, “my mother would be very disappointed.”
A look of puzzlement passed quickly across Klink’s face before he gained control of himself. “Colonel Hogan, you are dismissed,” he said in a tight voice.
Hogan laughed as he walked out of the office.
Hogan seethed inside as he walked back to the barracks. He was mad at Klink for putting Carter into solitary and mad at himself for not preventing it. His rational mind told him that there was nothing he could have done to stop it – this Klink was not the spineless German officer he was used to dealing with. He knew that he could not use the same techniques of manipulation as he had in the past – and that made him mad, too.
As he walked, he began to think about the situation. He could not manipulate Klink in the same way, but he knew he had found some way to get to the Kommandant – the armed guard in the office was a direct result of his statement about being a cornered rat. This Klink wasn’t spineless, but it seems that he was a bit paranoid. That’s something I can use – keep Klink off guard by letting him think that I might be a danger to him. But I have to tread carefully. I don’t want to overdo it – I need to tweak him just enough to keep him guessing, but not enough to cause him to really crack down on the prisoners. Of course, if we can get rid of him totally, then it will be a moot point.
Hogan’s mood brightened a little as he thought of the changes that he had initiated in his dealings with Schultz. He wasn’t about to keep referring to him as Sergeant Schultz, no matter what the German wanted. If the guard wanted respect, Hogan was damned sure not going to be the one to give it to him. He saw the looks that Schultz gave him every time he omitted his rank, or talked to him in a flippant tone of voice. Yes, it seems that they have had things their way just a bit too long. Now it’s time the prisoners took a little of their self respect back.
He entered the barracks and surprised everyone by slamming the door a bit harder than he intended.
“Blimey. Colonel,” Newkirk exclaimed. “You about near gave me a heart attack.
“Sorry Newkirk,” Hogan replied. “I guess I’m still a little mad at Klink.”
“Did Carter get put in the cooler again?” Kinch asked.
“Worse,” Hogan responded. “He’s in solitary for two days with no rations but water.”
The men were shocked.
“I guess Klink’s starting to put the screws on him,” Kinch commented. “It’s his pattern.”
“Well it’s a pattern I want to see broken,” Hogan replied harshly.
“Right now I wish we had that tunnel that led to the cooler,” LeBeau commented. “At least then we could take him some food.”
“You and me both, mate,” Newkirk replied. “The bloke doesn’t deserve to be treated like this.”
Hogan chuckled at the responses. “Listen to you two,” he said. “This morning you were ready to lynch him.” Hogan watches as Newkirk visibly blushed in embarrassment.
“That was before, sir,” he said. “I hope you’re not going to hold it against us.”
Hogan laughed louder. “No, not at all,” he replied. “It was understandable. I’d have had the same suspicions.” He saw Newkirk visibly relax.
“Is there anything we can do?” Newkirk asked.
Hogan shook his head. “I don’t think so … this time,” he replied. “But hopefully we can make our escape before Klink decides to get harsher. But that brings up another issue – how is Klink going to treat the prisoners in this camp after we’ve made our escape? He’s not going to like having two prisoners disappear on him, and he just might take it out on those that are still in camp.”
“We’ve thought about that already,” Newkirk said, glancing at Kinch and LeBeau. “We think it’s worth the risk – after all, it is wartime.”
Hogan looked at the men. “Right, it is wartime,” he agreed. “But even in wartime, I have a thing about making sure the men I serve with aren’t hurt. I may take what some people would call risky chances, but I never order anyone to take those risky chances with me.”
“Then we volunteer, sir,” LeBeau replied forcefully. “If we are to be a team, then we must all take the risks together.”
“Like that Dark Tanyon fellow and his Three Musketeers,” Newkirk quipped.
Hogan and Kinch both snorted with laughter.
“That’s D’Artagnan, you uncivilized Englishman!” LeBeau exclaimed.
Newkirk smiled broadly and gave a small wink to Hogan and Kinch. “My, aren’t these Frenchmen touchy!” he teased.
* * * * *
Andrew Carter was scared and hungry – in that order. He had been escorted to the windowless solitary confinement cell and left there, in the dark. He had no idea how long he had been in the cell, but it was long enough for the pangs of hunger to begin gnawing at his insides.
Carter got up from the bunk and felt his way along the wall to the table that held the water bucket he was given. He drank some of the cold water, hoping to quiet the growls coming from his stomach. It helped some, but he knew that the effect was only temporary. At least I’ll only be in here two days, he thought.
He felt his way back to the bunk and sat down. He was bored and he was cold. But at least I’m alive, he thought wryly. He lay back on the hard bunk and wrapped his arms around his midsection, hoping to squeeze the remaining growls from his stomach.
And as he had done several times since this ordeal started, he began to pray. Hi God, it’s Andrew again. You’re probably getting tired of hearing from me, but as you can see, I have no one else to talk to at the moment. I bet Preacher Everett would be shocked to know how many times I’ve prayed recently – he was always big on praying. I guess preachers are like that, huh? I have to admit though – I do feel a bit better after talking to you. Why is that? It’s not like you’re answering me back or anything.
Carter shifted in his bunk. I’m sorry, God. I’m babbling again. Or as Newkirk always said, I’m blathering on. I don’t know why I do that – I guess sometimes I get to talking and get so excited that I don’t realize what I am doing. I bet you never have that problem. What am I saying? Of course you never have that problem. See, there I go again – blathering on. I know you’re busy – you probably have many more important things to do than to listen to me – so I’ll just say what I wanted to say. God, I don’t know why things are the way they are, but I truly believe that you have a reason for everything, even if you don’t ever tell us what the reason is. Whatever your reason for this, I am happy that the guys seem to have started to accept me. It got to be a little lonely when the people that I considered my friends – even though they don’t seem to be the exact same people – didn’t want to have anything to do with me. Now I know that no matter what happens, things will be all right – we’re a team again … except for Baker. God, I don’t know why Baker isn’t here, but I hope you are looking after him. He was quiet, but he was a good and caring person. That’s all I had to say. Carter shifted again in the bunk, trying to get comfortable. Oh, I almost forgot … Amen.
* * * * *
Hogan was sitting at the desk in his office, going over the plan one more time, when he heard a knock at his door.
“Come in,” he said.
The door opened and LeBeau entered. “Sorry to disturb you, sir,” he said. “But I am taking up a collection of anything you can spare from your Red Cross package.”
Hogan shifted in his chair so that he faced the Frenchman. “Oh?” he asked.
“Oui, I want to cook something for Carter when he gets out of solitary later today,” LeBeau explained. “After all, he hasn’t eaten anything for two days, and, well …” LeBeau looked down at the floor. “I wanted to do something to apologize for the way we suspected him before.”
Hogan smiled and rose from his chair. He walked over to the locker where he kept his possessions and removed the remnants of his Red Cross package. “That’s very nice of you, LeBeau,” he said. “Anything I have left is yours.”
“Merci,” LeBeau responded. “Actually, it was Newkirk that came up with the idea. He offered me everything he had if I could cook something for Carter. Kinch gave his up too. And after that, the rest of the men gave up what little they had left.”
“Will you have enough?” Hogan asked.
LeBeau nodded. “Oui,” he replied. “Newkirk even took the chocolate bars and cigarettes and found a guard who traded a few eggs and some vegetables. I plan to make him a nice omelet – well, as nice as I can manage cooking on our heating stove.”
Hogan was surprised and pleased to hear this. He was happy that the men had not only accepted Carter, but also invited him into their inner circle. But he was even more pleased to hear that they had managed to find a guard that would trade with them. He had known that there must be some in camp, even though trading with the prisoners could get them into trouble with the Kommandant. But the fact that his men thought of it, and initiated the trade on their own, showed him that they had taken their first steps towards working as a unit.
“You’ll do fine, LeBeau,” Hogan replied. “I am quite familiar with your cooking talents.”
LeBeau smiled. “Merci,” he responded. He took the Red Cross package that Hogan handed to him and left the office.
* * * * *
Carter was surprised at the reception he received when returning to the barracks. He was tired and hungry, but he wore a grin that covered half his face as every prisoner in the barracks welcomed him back.
He was even more surprised when he was told to sit and wait for the surprise that LeBeau was about to cook up.
“I am going to make you the best omelet I have ever made,” LeBeau said proudly.
“An omelet?” Carter asked. “For me? But how? Why?”
“You haven’t eaten anything for the past two days,” Newkirk replied. “We can’t have your first meal be the slop the Krauts give us.”
“Everyone pitched in what they had left of their Red Cross packages,”” Kinch added.
“But how did you get eggs?” Carter asked. “The Red Cross packages don’t have eggs in them.”
“Newkirk traded with one of the guards to get them,” LeBeau responded.
“You did that for me?” Carter asked, looking at the Englishman.
Newkirk smiled and nodded. “It was the least I could do after tossing you through the Colonel’s door the other day,” he said.
There was a lot of conversation as LeBeau cooked. LeBeau was complaining about the crude conditions, but he did manage to finish the omelet. He was just putting it on a plate for Carter when Schultz entered the barracks.
“I smell something in here,” Schultz exclaimed, spotting the plate containing the food. “You are cooking in the barracks – you know that is verboten!”
“Aw, Schultz,” Hogan said. “LeBeau just wanted to make Carter a good meal after you starved him in the cooler for the past two days.”
“He was being punished,” Schultz replied, eyeing the plate with hungry eyes.
“How would you like to go two days without eating?” Kinch asked.
“I wouldn’t,” Schultz replied. “But cooking in the barracks is verboten. I must report this.”
LeBeau looked over at Hogan and made a small motion towards Schultz. Hogan recognized this as a question – should he offer some to Schultz? Hogan nodded towards the Frenchman.
“Hey Schultzie,” LeBeau said. “Shouldn’t you taste the food so that your report can be accurate?”
Schultz pondered the question for a second. “Ja,” he answered. “I think that would be a good idea.”
LeBeau cut a small piece from the omelet and handed it on a fork to the Sergeant. Schultz popped it into his mouth quickly.
“Mmmm, wunderbar!” Schultz exclaimed. “Zehr gut! If only my wife could cook like this.”
Newkirk laughed and reached out to pat the Sergeant on his ample midsection. “From the looks of you, she must cook good enough!”
“You are a jolly joker,” Schultz replied. He turned to LeBeau and asked, “Could I just have one more bite?”
LeBeau laughed and cut him another small piece. “Just one more,” he replied. “The rest is for Carter.”
“Ja, ja,” Schultz replied greedily. After he had swallowed his second bite of omelet, he said, “Colonel Hogan, just this once I will see nothing. But please do not let the Kommandant find out you were cooking in the barracks.”
Hogan smiled. He knew that this was the beginning of a new relationship with the guard. “Our lips are sealed, Schultz,” he replied.
“Well mine aren’t,” Carter responded. “I want to be able to eat my omelet. I’m starved!” LeBeau set the plate down in front of him and he began devouring the culinary treat.
As Schultz walked towards the barracks door, he motioned to LeBeau. “Corporal, do you think you can make me my favorite dessert, Apfel strüdel?” he asked.
“If you can get me the ingredients,” LeBeau answered.
Schultz nodded. “I might be able to do that,” he replied as he left the barracks.
After Schultz was gone, Hogan rapped on the bunk he was leaning on to get his men's attention. When they were all looking at him, he said, “I want to congratulate you all on your first successful mission.”
“What was that, sir?” Kinch asked.
“You found a guard to trade with, which will be useful in the future – we may be able to get other things the same way,” Hogan replied. “You also managed to get Schultz to allow you to break the rules, and found that he might be able to be sympathetic, so long as you feed him.”
Hogan looked at Carter, who was still busy eating the omelet that was made for him. “And I think you managed to satisfy Carter’s hunger!”
Carter nodded vigorously as he continued to eat, prompting the rest of the men to laugh heartily.
Hogan looked at the scene in the barracks. Yes, this was a very good first step, he thought. I hope it’s the first of many!
Major Hochstetter stepped into Klink’s outer office and smiled at Helga sitting behind her desk. “Güten morgen, Fräulein Helga,” he said as he removed his gloves. “Is the Kommandant in?”
“Jawohl, Major Hochstetter,” she answered, smiling back at him. “Go right in. He is expecting you.”
“Danke,” he replied. Hochstetter walked past her desk and opened the door to the inner office. Klink looked up from his paperwork as Hochstetter entered the room.
“Ah, Major Hochstetter,” Klink said briskly. “I see it is time for another session with Colonel Hogan.”
“Jawohl, Kommandant,” Hochstetter replied.
Klink smiled thinly. “I trust that you are making good progress in your interrogation?” he asked, placing a sarcastic emphasis on the word to indicate his scorn for the Major’s methods.
“I believe that I am,” Hochstetter replied.
“For your sake, I hope you are,” Klink replied.
Hochstetter cocked his head to one side as if to question why, but remained silent.
Klink’s smile broadened. “I spoke with General Burkhalter this morning,” he said. “And we are of the mind that you have had enough time to achieve the results you are after. If you have not learned anything by now, you never will.”
Hochstetter tried not to show his concern. If he were not allowed to communicate with Hogan, they would not be able to continue to plan Hogan’s escape from camp. “May I remind you that my activities have been approved by Reichsführer Himmler?” he responded.
“The General has already spoken with the Reichsführer,” Klink replied. “The Reichsführer has agreed that you will be able to talk with Hogan today. If you do not learn anything at this session, I will accompany Hogan for the next visit and observe. When, or I should say if, I am not satisfied with the methods, I have the authority to end this charade.”
Hochstetter stared at Klink. “Based on your words, your observation would be a mere formality,” he replied. “You have already made your decision.”
“Of course I have, Major,” Klink replied with an exaggerated shrug. “I have made no secret of my skepticism for your methods.”
Hochstetter stared silently for several moments. Based on what Klink just said, today’s meeting with Hogan would be their last – and the last chance to plan Hogan’s escape. That meant that he and Hogan must finalize their plans, or the whole scheme to rid Stalag 13 of Colonel Wilhelm Klink would be over.
“Kommandant, this process takes time,” Hochstetter replied.
“I have seen how much time it is taking,” Klink responded. “And I have seen no tangible results come from that time.”
“We are trying to manipulate a man’s mind here, Kommandant,” Hochstetter answered. “The potential from this more than justifies the amount of time.”
“Major Hochstetter, I know that if you manipulate a man’s body, his mind can be made to feel pain,” Klink replied. “And when the pain becomes unbearable, you will see results.” Klink leaned back in his chair, idly tapping his riding crop on the edge of the desk. “I’m surprised at you, Major. A Gestapo officer afraid to use physical interrogation techniques.”
Hochstetter smiled mockingly at Klink. “Trust me, Kommandant. I am more than willing to use physical interrogation techniques,” he replied. “It’s just that we in the Gestapo are smart enough to know when physical interrogation is appropriate and when it is not.”
The insult was not lost on Klink – he sat up abruptly. “Major, you might do well to curb your insults,” he replied tightly. “Or I might just decide now that your visits with Hogan have ended.”
Hochstetter laughed. “I doubt that, Colonel,” he replied. “Because if you could do that, then you would not be forced to go through – to use your word – the charade of an observation visit in order to end them.” Hochstetter paused. He could see the anger burning in Klink’s eyes. “Am I correct, Colonel Klink?”
Klink rose to his feet. “Major Hochstetter, you may go,” he replied slowly, unable to keep the anger from his voice.
Hochstetter clicked his heels and saluted. “Jawohl, Colonel. Heil Hitler,” he purred smoothly.
* * * * *
Schultz had come for Hogan when Hochstetter’s car pulled into the camp. The Sergeant had escorted him to the Kommandant’s office to wait while Hochstetter and Klink talked.
While Hogan sat and waited, Schultz spent the time talking with Helga, who seemed to make an obvious point of ignoring Hogan. Hmmph, Hogan thought. Such a nice girl, too. Well, doll, there are plenty more fish in the sea! He almost laughed. Then again, being stuck in this camp kind of narrows it down to a goldfish bowl!
Just then, the door to Klink’s private office opened and Hochstetter emerged with a smile on his face.
Schultz immediately snapped to attention and saluted. “Herr Major, I have brought Colonel Hogan for you,” he said smartly.
Hochstetter returned the salute casually. “Danke Sergeant,” he replied. “Colonel Hogan, come with me.”
Hogan rose to follow Hochstetter out of the office. He spotted Helga looking at him – she still had a slight look of disapproval. Hogan had a sudden thought. He knew it was childish, but he couldn’t resist. Looking back at her, he scrunched his face and stuck his tongue out. He saw her gasp in surprise, and then quickly cover her mouth to try to hide the smile that she couldn’t stop from forming.
Hogan noticed Schultz staring at him with wide eyes. “See ya, Schultz!” he said lightly.
Satisfied, Hogan turned and followed Hochstetter to the waiting car.
* * * * *
Hogan waited until Hochstetter had entered the interrogation cell and closed the door behind him before speaking. “Did you look over the site?” he asked.
Hochstetter nodded. “Yes, but before we talk about that, there’s something else that you need to know,” Hochstetter replied. “Klink’s arranged it so that this will be our last meeting.”
“Oh?” Hogan asked.
“Yes. You know he hasn’t been very excited about our meetings from the beginning, but since I’ve had the backing of Reichführer Himmler, neither he nor Burkhalter could really stop them,” Hochstetter explained. “It seems he’s been able to convince Burkhalter to press the issue and force Himmler to renege on his support unless I learn something at today’s meeting.”
“Which you won’t,” Hogan stated.
“Which I won’t,” Hochstetter agreed.
“I guess that means I’ll have to make my escape soon,” Hogan said.
“I think we have a problem with that,” Hochstetter replied.
Hogan’s brow furrowed with concern. “You can’t set up the diversion?” he asked.
“No, that’s not the problem,” Hochstetter responded. “The diversion is doable.”
“Well then what’s the problem?” Hogan asked. “If the diversion is set up, I’ll be able to slip away.”
“That’s the problem,” Hochstetter replied. “You are going to try to slip away from armed guards in broad daylight and avoid being either shot or recaptured.”
“Yeah,” Hogan replied warily. “That’s the plan.”
“And do you think you have any possibility of being successful?” Hochstetter asked.
Hogan stared silently at the Gestapo Major. So Hochstetter doesn’t believe that I’ll be able to slip away, he thought. I’ll have to admit that my chances of successfully getting away are about fifty-fifty – less if I don’t have the diversion. Plus Carter is going to tag along, which lowers the odds a bit. Inwardly, Hogan laughed at that last thought. That sounds like something Newkirk would say. But having two people slip away undetected is harder than a single person. But this is probably the only shot we’ll get – which makes it worth the risk. I can’t have Hochstetter backing out of it now. Rob, old boy, it’s time to pull out that used-car salesman charm of yours and really sell him on this plan.
“Major Hochstetter, I think there’s a greater chance of doing it this way than any other way,” he replied.
Hochstetter laughed. “You very conveniently avoided answering my question, Colonel,” Hochstetter replied. “What do you think your chances are with this plan?”
Hogan shrugged. “I figure fifty-fifty,” he answered calmly.
Hochstetter’s eyes widened in surprise. “Fifty-fifty?” he asked. “And you stand here calmly arguing that we should be doing this?”
“Of course, Major,” Hogan replied. “Maybe you can’t understand it because you are in a different position than I am.”
“How so?” Hochstetter asked.
Hogan chuckled. “I didn’t think you’d get it,” he replied. “Let me put it this way. When we leave this cell, where will you go? What will you do?”
“I’ll go back to my office and take care of my duties,” Hochstetter answered.
“Now compare that to where I’ll go and what I’ll do,” Hogan instructed.
Hochstetter was silent while he grasped the comparison. “I see what you’re trying to say,” he replied. “But even so, you’re alive in Stalag 13 as opposed to being dead outside of camp.”
“But what kind of life is that?” Hogan countered. “You can’t forget that we are fighting a war, and if I have a chance to do something that could greatly disrupt the enemy war effort, it’s my duty to my country to do it – even at the risk of my life.”
“I can understand that,” Hochstetter agreed. “But we need to make sure that the chance is a good one, not a foolhardy one.”
“So you think the plan is foolhardy?” Hogan asked, raising an eyebrow.
“I think it has little chance of succeeding,” Hochstetter replied. “I’m sure we can find a better plan if we think about it.”
“Major, if we are going to find a better plan, we need to do it in the next hour or so,” Hogan retorted. “Otherwise, it’ll be up to me to find a plan for myself. After this meeting, we’ll most likely not have a chance to talk to each other. That means I’m on my own and my chances of any success are greatly diminished.”
“Hogan, there’s a lot at stake here,” Hochstetter countered. “You …”
“Major, I know there’s a lot at stake here,” Hogan interrupted. “But it seems that I am the one that is taking the risk, not you. And I think there’s a chance to pull this thing off, as long as you do your part – without the diversion, I have no shot at succeeding.”
Hochstetter stared silently at Hogan, as if he were sizing up the American officer. After a moment, he gave a slight nod. “You are committed to this,” Hochstetter stated. Hogan nodded. “And you’re correct – you don’t have much of a chance without some outside help. But this is a very brazen escape attempt, Hogan.”
“All the better,” Hogan replied with a smile. “They won’t expect something like this. The guards are keyed up to keep the prisoners from escaping. The first part of the diversion will draw their attention away from me, and the second part of the diversion will prevent them from bringing their attention back to me.”
“And if it fails to do so?” Hochstetter asked.
“Then at best I’ll remain in Stalag 13 to try to escape again another day,” Hogan replied. “At worst, you won’t have to argue the foolhardiness of another of my plans.”
Hochstetter sighed. “I suppose you’re right,” he said. “If we’re going to do something, now’s the time to do it. This move by Klink is most likely the beginning of his power play to try to get rid of me.”
“Then let’s quit arguing about why we’re doing it and discuss how we’re going to do it,” Hogan replied.
“Let’s start with when we’re going to do it,” Hochstetter suggested.
“I don’t think it can be any earlier than the day after tomorrow,” Hogan replied. “If I get back to camp and immediately ask for a work detail, Klink will be suspicious.”
“True,” Hochstetter agreed. “The wait would also give me time to set up the diversion.”
“Okay, I’ll talk to Klink tomorrow to set up another woodcutting detail for me and my men,” Hogan replied. “I’ll try to get it to start the day after tomorrow, but there’s no guarantee Klink will go along with that timeframe.”
“Everything will be ready by then,” Hochstetter replied.
“What will you be setting up?” Hogan asked.
“Do you have your map?” Hochstetter asked in return.
Hogan nodded and removed the map from its hiding place in his hat. He unfolded the paper and placed it on the small table in the room.
Hochstetter immediately started pointing to various spots on the map. “We’ll set everything up here where the trees are cut into logs. When you are ready, you can trigger the diversions from there. The wires will be hidden inside a hollow log at this end of the area.” Hochstetter pointed to the location on the map.
Hogan nodded. So far, so good, he thought.
“The first diversion will take place in the woods on the opposite side of the clearing,” Hochstetter continued, pointing at the map. “The second diversion is also triggered by wires from the hollow log.”
“How will I know which wires are which?” Hogan asked.
“They’ll be marked with a one and a two,” Hochstetter replied. “Simply touch the two matching wires together.”
Hogan nodded. “Okay so far,” he responded. “Now what about the second diversion?”
“As I said, you trigger it the same way,” Hochstetter went on. “And that’ll trigger the charges set here and here. After that, you will find two smoke grenades in the log – they’ll screen your escape.”
“Perfect,” Hogan commented.
“My only concern is the proximity of the charges in the second diversion,” Hochstetter added. “It’s very close to where you and your men will be.”
“It should be fine,” Hogan assured. “We’ll be sure to stay clear. Now what about after the escape – what’s the plan for that?”
“Same as last time,” Hochstetter replied.
Wonderful, Hogan thought. Same as last time – but I wasn't the one making those plans. “Not really,” he replied. “This escape is in broad daylight – so there’ll have to be a place to hide until it gets dark.”
“I hadn’t thought of that,” Hochstetter admitted. He paused while he worked over the alternatives. “Here’s something. There’s an old abandoned mine a few miles east of the clearing.”
Hogan knew the mine he was talking about. It’s good to see that some things are still the same! We’ve used that abandoned mine as a pickup point. He nodded. “I know the place,” he replied.
Hochstetter looked surprised. “You do? Where’d you hear about it?” he asked. “If you heard it from a guard, they might think to look for you there.”
Hogan shook his head. “No, it wasn’t a guard,” he responded. “I was told about it by a flyer was able to hide for a few days before getting captured.”
Hochstetter eyed him skeptically.
“So I hide in the abandoned mine …” Hogan prompted.
“Hide there until dark and then meet Erika at the barn at 2200 hours, as before,” Hochstetter continued. “I’ll also come by to talk to you before she takes you into hiding.”
“She’ll hide me?” Hogan asked.
“Naturally,” Hochstetter replied. “I won’t know where you are. When it is time for me to capture you, I’ll contact her and she’ll bring you out of hiding.”
“How long will that be?” Hogan asked.
Hochstetter shrugged. “Depends on Klink,” he responded. “He’ll have to report you missing in his weekly report, so you must be gone longer than that. But I’ll most likely hear about the escape since it will look as if the Underground was involved. I can speed up that process by reporting it to Berlin myself.”
“Sneaky, Major,” Hogan replied.
Hochstetter smiled. “And when Klink starts feeling pressure from Berlin, I’ll show up with you in tow, and I’ll have the leverage I need for the Gestapo to take over the camp,” he added.
“Just like that?” Hogan prompted.
“There is a lot of fighting in Berlin for control of the camps,” Hochstetter responded. “The Gestapo has managed to take over several camps and free up the guards for the fighting at the front. Klink has proved to be a difficult problem for us.”
“Yeah, he’s pretty difficult these days,” Hogan muttered.
“One more thing,” Hochstetter added. “If you can’t pull it off on the planned day, keep trying. I’ll tell Erika when to be at the barn.”
Hogan nodded. “I plan to,” he replied. “Oh, and one more thing for you.”
“Yes?” Hochstetter said.
“There’ll be two of us escaping,” Hogan said.
Hochstetter shook his head. “Absolutely not,” he replied. “One is dangerous enough – two would be impossible.”
“No, just more inconvenient for you,” Hogan replied. “But also more damning for Klink.”
“How so?” Hochstetter asked.
“This other prisoner, Carter, is a flyer that I met before I was recaptured,” Hogan explained. “He was captured with me and Klink has been trying to get information out of him – with no success. If the camp’s senior officer disappears, along with a new prisoner that Klink has been unable to get any information from, it’ll further weaken him with the brass in Berlin.”
Hochstetter looked thoughtful. “You have a point there,” he replied. “All right, I’ll tell Erika to expect two of you.” Hochstetter glanced at his watch. “And now it’s time to get you back to camp – and for me to report that I’ve obtained no information from you.”
Hochstetter pounded on the door to signal the guard outside that they were finished. The door opened and Hochstetter went to leave. He turned in the doorway and looked back at Hogan. “I’m sorry, Colonel,” he said.
Hogan looked back at Hochstetter and had a momentary twinge of fear – could Hochstetter really have been out to trap him instead of help him?
“I am going to have to report that we’ve made no progress in these sessions,” Hochstetter continued. “Kommandant Klink won’t be pleased.”
Hogan could now see the mirth in Hochstetter’s eyes and knew that this scene was simply for the benefit of the guard by the door. “Screw that bastard,” Hogan replied defiantly.
Hogan heard the guard snort at the remark – obviously the guard understood English. Hochstetter closed the cell door and left Hogan to await his escort for the ride back to camp.
Hogan had gathered his men together after he returned from the meeting with Hochstetter. They were huddled outside of their barracks trying to keep warm in the rapidly chilling temperatures.
“Blimey, why does Klink force us to be outside during this period?” Newkirk complained. “I’d much rather be inside.”
“It’s not much warmer inside,” Kinch replied.
“But there’s no wind,” Newkirk complained.
“Quiet down men,” Hogan said. “While we’re here, let’s go over the plan a little.” He idly tossed the football from hand to hand while waiting for the grumbling to stop. “The cold will work to our favor,” he said. “It’ll help me talk Klink into letting us out for another work detail.”
“Can’t we wait until it warms up a bit, Colonel?” LeBeau asked, hopping from one foot to the other and blowing on his gloved hands.
“No,” Hogan replied. “Klink is getting tough with Hochstetter, so today was our last meeting. We’ve got to set up the escape for the day after tomorrow.”
“So soon?” Carter asked. “Will everything be ready?”
Hogan nodded. “It’s up to me to get the work detail,” he said. “Everything will be set.” Hogan squatted and motioned for the other to do the same. “We’ll go over this in detail later, but here’s the plan.”
He drew a rough sketch of the clearing and indicated where the charges would be set. “First, there will be firecrackers in the woods that we’ll set off. This’ll make the guards think the clearing is being fired upon from the woods. When this happens, I want everyone to drop to the ground and move the best to you to the center of the clearing.” Hogan looked around at the men. “This is important for two reasons,” he continued. “First, I don’t want the guards to think you are escaping and get trigger happy.”
“That wouldn’t be my first choice of events either,” Kinch remarked.
Hogan chuckled and then continued, “And second, there will be explosive charges here and here.” He pointed to areas of the sketch. “And I want everyone clear when they blow.”
“But that looks like where the trucks will be,” LeBeau commented.
Newkirk looked up at Hogan. “You plan to blow up the trucks so they can’t follow you?” he asked.
Hogan smiled. “Right you are, Newkirk,” he said. “Give that man a cigar!”
Newkirk smiled, pleased that he was able to deduce part of the plan.
“And after that explosion, we’ll toss a couple of smoke grenades out in front of us and slip out to the woods behind us,” Hogan explained.
“What about Schultz?” Kinch asked. “His post is right in front of the trucks.”
“He’ll move out into the center of the clearing to keep an eye on the prisoners,” Hogan guessed. “That’s why you need to be in the center and not closer to the edge. We want Schultz to move.”
“And if he does move, he gets blown up,” LeBeau observed. “One less filthy boche to deal with.”
“No,” Hogan countered. “If he gets hurt, Klink is more likely to retaliate against the prisoners.”
“I never considered that,” LeBeau replied.
Carter smiled at the Frenchman. “It’s your first escape,” he commented lightly. “You can’t think of everything your first time.”
“Oh, listen to the expert here,” LeBeau teased.
“Can it,” Hogan admonished. “We’re bound to attract attention like this, so I want to get through a couple more points.”
The men quieted down and Hogan continued, “After the smoke grenades are thrown, we’ll sneak out into the woods behind the disabled truck. Whatever you do, do not, I repeat do not give the guards any reason to get tough with you. And whatever you do, don’t point out that we are missing, let them discover it.”
“That goes without saying, sir,” Newkirk said solemnly.
“No, nothing should go without saying, no matter how obvious,” Hogan corrected. “That’s how things get overlooked.”
“Sorry, sir,” Newkirk mumbled.
“No need to be sorry,” Hogan replied. “It’s a new situation for all of you. It’ll take some time to get used to it.”
“Where will you go after you slip away?” LeBeau asked.
“That question brings up my last point,” Hogan replied. “The less you know, the better.”
“But …” Newkirk interjected.
“No, it’s better,” Hogan insisted. “Even Hochstetter won’t know where I will be. He’ll know who to talk to in order to reach us, but he won’t know himself.” He paused, looking around the group of men. “You’ve heard the saying ‘Loose lips sink ships?’ Well, in this case, even the tight lips won’t know anything.”
Before anyone could respond, Carter said, “Klink’s noticed us.”
Hogan glanced over towards the Kommandant’s office. Indeed, Klink and Schultz had come out onto the porch. “Right on time,” he commented. Both men stepped down into the compound with Klink pointing over at the huddle of prisoners. Schultz began walking in their direction, waving his arms and yelling something.
Hogan looked at the football in his hands thoughtfully. The he looked over at Kinch. “Kinch, you have a good arm. Do you think you can hit Klink from here?” he asked.
Kinch glanced over at the Kommandant. “No problem, Colonel,” he replied.
“Good,” Hogan responded. “Do that – throw it right at Klink. Try to hit him right in the head.”
“But Colonel …” Kinch started.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be there to catch it,” he said. “The rest of you – Newkirk, LeBeau play defense. Carter, you run over to the water tank. Let’s make it look like we’re playing a game.”
“Defense?” LeBeau asked. “How do I do that? I don’t know American football.”
“You just run along with me and act like you’re going to stop me from catching the ball,” Hogan instructed. “Newkirk, you go with Carter. Now make it look good.”
Schultz had finally reached the men and was asking what they were doing.
Hogan raised his voice and began making marks over the sketch on the ground. “Carter, run over to the water tank and try to get open,” Hogan said, marking up the sketch so that it was unrecognizable. “I’ll run deep. Kinch, you try to get the ball to me. Ready?”
“Ready!” came the response from the men.
“Colonel Hogan, the Kommandant wants to know what you are up to,” Schultz said.
“Not now Schultz,” Hogan replied. “It’s a tie game and I’m trying to win it.”
“But Colonel Hogan …” Schultz whined.
“Later Schultz,” Hogan interrupted. “Okay, Kinch,”
Kinch began barking out numbers. When he said, “Hut,” Hogan took off running right at Klink. He saw Klink’s eyes widen with surprise and he began to wave Hogan away.
When he got closer, Hogan turned around to look for the ball. It was flying through the air, right on target. He heard Klink yelling frantically for him to stay away, stop the ball and a few other colorful German insults. Hogan ignored Klink, concentrating on the ball. He wanted to scare Klink, not hit him.
The ball arced downward and Hogan leapt into the air, catching the ball right before it hit Klink in the head. The Kommandant stumbled backwards, as if he had been shoved.
“Touchdown!” Hogan yelled back at Kinch.
“Colonel Hogan!” Klink exclaimed.
“Kommandant, if you want to play, all you have to do is ask,” Hogan said, a big smile plastered on his face.
“Colonel Hogan,” Klink repeated. “I do not wish to play your games.”
“Then if I were you, Kommandant, I would stay off the field,” Hogan remarked, looking over at LeBeau, who had caught up with him and was standing nearby.
Just then, Schultz came lumbering up, panting. “Colonel Hogan, you should not scare the Kommandant so,” he said breathlessly.
“Schultz! You dummkopf! I was not scared!” Klink protested. “I was just …”
“Are you sure you don’t want to play, Kommandant?” Hogan asked. He tossed the ball in Klink’s direction.
The German Colonel grabbed at it, fumbled it around and watched as the ball dropped at his feet.
“On second thought, you’re right,” Hogan remarked. “You probably shouldn’t play.”
“Hogan, I’m warning you,” Klink said menacingly. “I will not tolerate these games from you.”
“Football?” Hogan asked. “What do you have against football?”
Klink glared at Hogan for a moment and then shook his fist at him. “Hmmph!” he said, turning towards his office.
* * * * *
Hogan followed Schultz into the outer room of the Kommandant’s office building. He had decided not to make the same mistake again and requested a meeting with Klink to discuss the work detail.
Helga was sitting behind her desk sorting the mail. Schultz greeted her and asked if the Kommandant was ready.
“He will be a few more minutes, Sergeant,” she responded. “He said to tell you that you can leave Hogan out here until he is ready.”
Schultz nodded and motioned for Hogan to sit in one of the chairs and wait. He smiled at Helga before leaving the office.
Hogan sat down and glanced over at Helga. She was looking at him with an expression on her face that Hogan couldn’t decipher. He was just glad that it wasn't as scornful as previously. When she realized that Hogan had caught her looking at him, she quickly looked away and busied herself with the envelopes in front of her.
Hogan kept looking at her and noticed that she seemed to be blushing. Now this is very interesting, he thought. Before she wouldn’t give me the time of day and now she's blushing because I caught her looking at me. I knew she’d come around! Hogan was still looking at Helga when she glanced in his direction again. He flashed her a warm smile and she quickly looked away again. Hogan could see the red splotches on her cheeks darken. Bingo! I caught her looking twice. Another smile like that and I might just be in business. I guess this little goldfish bowl is starting to get a little friendlier.
Hogan remained sitting, trying not to be too obvious with his staring. But he caught Helga glancing over at him every so often and then quickly looking away.
After a few minutes, she rose from her chair and walked to the filing cabinets against the wall. She opened the bottom drawer and bent down to retrieve a file from it – presenting a very nice view to Hogan. Hogan smiled. He knew that this was done purposefully, to allow him the opportunity to view her – he almost chuckled at the thought – assets.
When she had retrieved the file, she straightened up and turned around. When she noticed Hogan looking at her, she feigned a shocked expression. “Why, Colonel Hogan!” she exclaimed. “Do you mind?” She put her hands on her hips to try to show indignation, but Hogan could see a sparkle in her eyes. Rob, this little lady is flirting with you something fierce, he thought. I suppose it’s time I return the favor!
Hogan smiled warmly. “No, I didn’t mind it at all,” he replied smoothly. “As a matter of fact, I appreciated it very much.”
He could see the corners of her mouth twitch as she tried not to smile. “Oh, Colonel, you’ve been in here too long. You’d say that to any woman,” she said, waving a hand dismissively in Hogan’s direction as she sat back down behind her desk.
Hogan noticed that she did not place herself fully behind the desk – she had kept her chair turned in his direction, and he could see one leg. As she sat, Helga adjusted her skirt - Hogan assumed it was to look as if she were getting more comfortable in her seat. But he had to smile when he noticed that the hem of her skirt actually rose on her leg, and she was now displaying quite a lot to him. Klink, if there is ever a day for you to be so busy that I have to sit here for an hour, this is the day!
As if on cue, Helga grimaced in pain and reached down to rub her ankle. “Oh, these shoes are just so uncomfortable!” she said absently.
“You should take them off if they bother you,” Hogan replied. “You’ll be more comfortable.”
Helga looked at him and clucked in mock disapproval. “Colonel Hogan, I’ll thank you not to concern yourself with my clothing,” she said. Hogan could tell that she was trying to make herself sound disapproving, but it was obvious that she was now enjoying their little game of cat and mouse.
Hogan chuckled. “I assure you, Fräulein Helga, I was not thinking about your clothing at all,” he said teasingly.
He saw her cheeks grow crimson as she quickly removed her shoe and stretched her leg out, wriggling her toes. “That feels much better,” she sighed.
“If it feels as good as it looks,” Hogan commented, “then you should be ready for a night of dancing!”
“Colonel Hogan, stop it!” she giggled.
“If you want me to,” Hogan replied dryly. He knew she didn’t want him to stop, but he was not about to appear too eager to continue. He may be in a prison camp in the middle of Germany, but this game was played the same way everywhere.
“You are incorrigible, Colonel,” Helga admonished.
“Actually, I’m very encouraged,” Hogan replied with a smile.
At that moment, the door to Klink’s private office opened and Klink stuck his head out to look around the room. Seeing Hogan, he said, “Colonel Hogan, please come in.”
Hogan rose from the chair and tugged on his jacket to straighten it. As he passed by her desk, Hogan gave Helga a wink and a smile. She turned her attention quickly back to the work on her desk, but not before Hogan could see her cheeks begin to redden again. Now THAT is more like it, my dear!
* * * * *
Hogan stood in front of Klink’s desk, watching the German officer slap his ever-present riding crop idly against his palm. The armed guard was present again, standing to the side of the desk, alert to the possibility of any harm coming to his commander.
“I see you have your bodyguard again,” Hogan commented.
“Of course,” Klink replied. “I am not a man to take unnecessary risks. Now, let us talk about the work detail you are requesting. Why do you need more firewood? Your men just cut an entire truckload for your use.”
“One truckload is not going to last through the winter, Kommandant,” Hogan replied sarcastically.
“And so why not wait until this load is gone?” Klink probed.
“Why wait?” Hogan countered. “The weather is nice now and it never hurts to have more than enough wood. After all, your guards will also be getting another truckload.”
Klink leaned back in his chair, pondering the suggestion.
Hogan waited. Yes, why wait, Kommandant? In fact, I can’t wait. I have a date to break out of this camp.
Klink leaned forward and rested his elbows on his desk. “All right, Colonel,” he said. “You can have your work detail – but this time, you will have to fill two trucks for the guards before you can fill one for yourselves.”
“What?” Hogan cried. “That’s unfair!”
“Unfair or not, that’s the offer,” Klink replied calmly.
“You can’t do this!” Hogan exclaimed. “Last time we got half the wood and now you’re telling me that we only get a third of it?”
“Exactly,” Klink said, smiling. “I think it is a perfectly reasonable offer. You do have enough wood already.”
“But what you’re doing is forcing the prisoners to work for you,” Hogan replied.
“You can take it or leave it, Colonel,” Klink responded.
“But …” Hogan started.
“Since you continue to argue, I am assuming that you are refusing my offer,” Klink said, standing. “You will make do with the wood you have.”
“And when it runs out?” Hogan asked.
“Not my concern,” Klink retorted.
“But the Geneva …” Hogan blurted.
“Colonel Hogan,” Klink interrupted in a raised voice. “As far as I am concerned, you can burn your blasted Geneva Convention to keep warm!”
Hogan was silent, glaring at the Kommandant. He knew that Klink had the upper hand here – and he hated it. He had to get Klink to approve the work detail, or the escape plan would be ruined. After taking several deep breaths to calm himself, he said, “I’m sorry, Kommandant. I guess I got a little carried away.”
Klink gave a small shrug.
Hogan sighed. “I accept your offer,” he said quietly.
Klink began chuckling. “What was that, Colonel?” he asked. “I didn’t quite hear you.”
“I said, I accept your offer,” Hogan replied through clenched teeth. He glared at the German officer, hating to see the arrogant smile being directed at him. He felt his arms begin to tremble as he fought the urge to knock out the teeth that were taunting him. He knew that the action would make him feel very good – but he also knew that the guard would then make him feel very dead.
Klink laughed. “I approve your work detail, Colonel Hogan,” Klink replied. “But I am afraid that due to your outburst, the offer has changed. You will now fill three truckloads for the guards before you can fill one for yourselves.”
Hogan burned with anger. If he didn’t need this work detail, he would tell Klink what he could do with the firewood – for that matter, what he could do with the trucks! Instead, he simply forced himself to shrug. “Fine with me,” he replied in a resigned voice.
“And just to make sure you are not planning to waste your time, I will accompany the work detail,” Klink added.
“Sir?” Hogan responded. “We worked well enough with Sergeant Schultz guarding us.”
“True, true,” Klink agreed. “But now you have to fill two more trucks, and your men just might decide to work at a leisurely pace.”
Damn! With Klink at the site, it’s going to make it a little harder for the plan to work. He’s really going to take offense when the escape happens right in front of his eyes. Hogan stared back at Klink before responding. “Suit yourself,” he replied.
Klink laughed heartily. “Colonel, when will you learn that I always operate to suit myself?” he replied. “Have your men ready after roll call tomorrow morning. You are dismissed.”
After dismissing Hogan, Klink sat at his desk and ignored the American officer. Hogan remained in front of the desk, staring at the shiny bald head of the Kommandant as he bent over his work. Not for long, if I can help it, you arrogant jerk, he thought. If I have my say, you’ll be operating to save your sorry ass from getting shot by somebody named Ivan, Igor or Vladimir!
Finally Hogan turned and left the office. As he passed by Helga’s desk, he heard her clear her throat and he stopped and looked at the blonde secretary.
She smiled at him and batted her eyes a few times before speaking. “Leaving so soon?” she asked demurely.
Hogan smiled back at her. Robbie, my boy, you’ve still got it!
Hogan lay in his bunk, going over the plan for the thousandth time. He had spent time before lights out going over everything with the men. He pointed out the exact positions on the map where the explosive charges would be set, and made sure that they knew where they had to be once the diversion began.
He was impressed with how quick they grasped everything. This may be their first time, but they had shown their willingness and aptitude during the preparations. And why not? We were able to set up a successful operation before – why wouldn’t we be able to do it again?
Even so, the fact that Klink would be accompanying them in the morning was a development that he had not anticipated. With Klink there, the guards would be even more alert, which could jeopardize the whole operation. He would have to be extra careful – this was not the same old Klink.
So why am I nervous? I’ve done this before – I’ve even done riskier operations successfully. He sighed, shifting on his thin mattress to try to find a comfortable position. Am I nervous because Klink isn’t as easily duped as I am used to? Could it be that I still don’t completely trust Hochstetter? Am I afraid that my men won’t be able to pull it off successfully?
He chuckled softly to himself. True, I do have Carter going along with me. That’s enough to make anyone nervous. But I have to admit – I’d feel a lot better if Carter was the one setting the explosive charges. He may be bumbling at times, but when it comes to explosives, he’s never let me down.
And so Hogan kept worrying. He worried that Hochstetter wouldn’t be able to set the charges correctly. He worried that Erika wouldn’t meet them at the barn. He worried that they wouldn’t be able to find the abandoned mine. He worried that Klink would somehow manage to prevent the escape from happening. And in the ultimate irony, he worried that he was worrying too much.
* * * * *
The next morning’s roll call seemed to go on forever. It was colder outside, which was a mixed blessing to Hogan. If the guards were worried about being cold, they would be less attentive to what the prisoners were doing. But it also made it harder for his men to concentrate on their work.
“Schultz,” Hogan whispered to the German Sergeant standing beside him. “What’s the hold up?”
“The Kommandant is going over things with Captain Gruber,” Schultz replied. “Since he will be leaving camp for the day.”
“What’s he expect, a mass escape while he’s gone?” Hogan retorted sarcastically.
“He is a very careful man, Colonel Hogan,” Schultz replied solemnly.
“He’s also inside where it is warm,” Hogan countered. “He wouldn’t be so careful if he were standing out here.”
“Ja, it is cold today,” Schultz agreed. “I am not looking forward to standing outside all day.”
“Neither am I, Schultz,” Hogan said.
“But you will be working,” Schultz pointed out. “You will stay warm.”
Hogan laughed softly. “Just say the word, Schultz, and we’ll escape so you can run after us,” he said jokingly.
“Colonel Hogan, please do not even joke about that,” Schultz warned.
“You’re right, Schultz,” Hogan replied. “After all, who’d want to leave all this?”
Schultz snorted. “My name should be on top of that list,” he joked.
Hogan smiled. “Why, Schultz, I’m surprised at you!” he exclaimed.
Schultz shushed him as they saw Klink emerge from his office and begin to walk in their direction. Schultz walked out to greet him and report that all prisoners were present and accounted for. The two Germans had a brief conversion before Schultz waddled off in the direction of the motor pool.
Klink walked over towards Hogan. As he got closer, Hogan could see that the Kommandant was bundled warmly to fight against the cold.
Klink stopped next to Hogan. “Well, Colonel Hogan,” he said, his voice muffled slightly from the scarf around his neck. “Are you regretting your request for a work detail today?”
Hogan shivered slightly as a gust of wind blew through the camp. “Not at all, Kommandant,” he replied, trying to keep his teeth from chattering. “There’s nothing I find more invigorating than a nice case of frostbite.”
Klink laughed. “You must dress appropriately, Colonel,” Klink replied. “Layers. Dress in layers.”
Hogan gave a sarcastic chuckle. “I’m wearing my layer, Kommandant,” he replied.
“Ah yes, so you are,” Klink replied glibly.
Hogan glared at Klink, though the German was not paying attention to him. Why you arrogant German bastard, Hogan thought. You know we’re cold and you do nothing to provide us more winter clothing. And you have the gall to come out here dressed for a Siberian winter sleigh ride, and remind us how warm you are! Ha, the last laugh may be on you, Colonel Klink. If all goes well today, Carter and I will be in hiding and you’ll be frantically trying to cover up the fact that your perfect record is history!
“Do you still wish to have your work detail, Colonel Hogan?” Klink asked.
“We’d like to have the firewood, Kommandant,” Hogan replied. Well, at least that’s what you are to believe, oh Bald One, he thought. “What about you – why are you insisting on coming along?”
“Why, Colonel Hogan,” Klink said in a surprised tone. “I must come along to keep an eye on my favorite rodent.”
Hogan tensed. For a moment, he thought he wasn’t going to be able to fight off the urge to bash Klink’s head in for that comment. Then he realized that he had brought this on himself – the cornered rat comment seemed to make Klink more wary towards him. Even though the comment felt good at the time, it was turning out to have some bad side effects.
Klink laughed. “Besides, I am not a bit cold,” Klink replied.
Hogan smiled. “I wouldn’t say that too loud if I were you, Kommandant,” he replied. “You might just find yourself on a train heading east.”
“They wouldn’t dare transfer me to the Eastern Front,” Klink said indignantly. “I’m too valuable here!”
Hogan’s smile broadened and he let out a small chuckle. “Step on anyone’s toes lately?” he asked.
Klink regarded Hogan silently for a moment. Hogan knew what was going through his mind. The military hierarchy was very political, and it was very common for men to backstab superiors in order to move up the chain of command. The man that you belittle today just might be the one to stab you in the back tomorrow. Finally, Klink said, “Colonel Hogan, have your men ready to board the truck as soon as it pulls up.” He turned and walked back towards his office porch to wait for the trucks.
Hogan laughed softly to himself. You just wait, Klink, he thought. Today I’ll be the one to stab you in the back – your little cornered rat.
* * * * *
Hogan sat in the back of the truck as it bounced its way down the road towards the clearing. Looking at the truck following behind them, he could see Klink sitting in the cab, keeping a suspicious eye on the prisoners. Hogan was tempted to wave at the Kommandant, just to see if he could get a rise out of him, but decided against it. Now was not the time to antagonize Klink – the impending escape should do that quite nicely.
The trucks pulled into the clearing, and Hogan held his breath to see if they pulled into the same spots as before. When they did, he breathed a sigh of relief and led his men out of the truck.
Hogan quickly looked around the clearing, but saw no sign that Hochstetter’s men had been there. He had a momentary spasm of doubt, but then realized that if he didn’t notice it, then the guards wouldn’t notice it either. You must be nervous, forgetting something like that, he thought. Then he spied a log by the crosscut station that hadn’t been there before – it was in the precise place that Hochstetter had said the wires for triggering the explosives would be. Looks like we’re in business.
Initially, Hogan had wondered if the triggering mechanism would work – he knew that they needed a small current to trigger the charges and the lack of a plunger bothered him. Carter had patiently explained that the plunger did generate an electrical current, but if there were a battery somewhere along the circuit, touching the wires together would be enough to complete the circuit and trigger the charges. He had tried not to laugh when, with a completely straight face, Carter said, “Even a child knows that, um, sir.” Yeah, and I’d hate to be the parents of a child that knows that much about explosives!
Hogan and his men stood around while the guards set up the perimeter machine guns – in the same place as they had previously.
Hogan suddenly had an idea, and walked over to Klink. “Sir, request permission to build a fire for us to warm ourselves,” he said.
Klink eyes him suspiciously, as if he suspected the fire was a ruse to cover up some future funny business. Hogan gave the Kommandant a neutral smile.
After a moment, Klink said, “Permission granted.”
Hogan turned and ordered half his men to begin gathering wood chips and small sticks for kindling. He ordered the rest of the men to look around and gather any large rocks they could find in the clearing. Hogan looked around the clearing again, and then looked at the trucks. He walked to a spot between the middle of the clearing and the truck and said, “We’ll build it right here.”
Klink walked over to him. “Why here, Colonel?” he asked. “This is right in the middle of the work area. I’d have thought you would build the fire on the edge of the clearing.”
Hogan laughed heartily at the suggestion. “You can’t be serious!” he exclaimed. “Build the fire at the edge of the clearing so your trigger happy guards can shoot us when we go to warm ourselves? I can’t believe you’d think I was that naïve, sir.”
Klink opened his mouth to protest, but Hogan cut him off.
“Besides, building it so close to the brush is inviting a forest fire,” Hogan said. Then remembering Carter’s words to him, he added in a condescending tone, “Even a child knows that, sir.”
Hogan watched as Klink’s face reddened at the insult. The Kommandant simply said, “Build your fire, Colonel Hogan. And then you and your men get to work.” He turned and walked back towards the trucks.
“That was a good one, sir,” Newkirk commented. He had just returned with an armload of sticks for the fire. “And this fire is a good idea. I’m freezing already.”
“Well, the fire really isn’t to keep us warm,” Hogan admitted. “Newkirk, gather as many wet twigs and chips as you can and set them aside. When the time comes for everything to start, I want this fire as smoky as it can be.”
Newkirk’s face broke into a big grin. “Sneaky, sir,” he commented. “When do you plan to start?”
“After the first break,” Hogan replied. “It’ll give Klink a chance to relax, and before we go back to work, we can load the fire with the wet wood.”
“I’ll pass the word, sir,” Newkirk replied, walking away to gather more wood.
* * * * *
Once the fire was roaring nicely, Hogan and his men went to work. He kept the assignments the same as last time – he thought it was the best way for the men to concentrate on how they had to react when the time came.
Hogan and Carter manned the crosscut saw and began to cut the two-foot logs for splitting. Before they began, Hogan had Carter check the status of the wiring in the hollowed log left by Hochstetter. When he saw Carter grin, he didn’t have to ask if everything was set up correctly.
“It’s all set, sir,” Carter said. “This’ll be a piece of pie.”
Hogan chuckled and decided not to correct the Sergeant’s inaccurate idiom. “Let’s get to work then,” he replied.
While they were working the saw back and forth, Hogan scanned the area to check on the guards. As he suspected, having Klink there made them more alert. The Kommandant spent most of his time sitting in the cab of one of the trucks to stay out of the wind. Periodically he would get out and walk to the fire to warm himself. Hogan saw that Schultz looked miserable. He caught the guard looking longingly at the fire, wishing he could warm himself. But having Klink so close meant that he dared not leave his post. This could get dicey, Hogan thought. Once everything starts, Schultz is going to have to move closer to the prisoners in the middle of the clearing in order for us to slip away undetected. And Klink could be an even bigger problem – he’s going to have to be out of that truck when the time comes.
After a few hours of labor, Hogan called for his men to take a break. Hogan positioned himself to face the trucks when they gathered around the fire to get warm. He saw Klink get out of the truck and walk over to where Shultz was standing and say something to the guard.
“All right, it’s almost time,” Hogan whispered. “Soon after we get back to work, we’ll do it. I need to make sure Klink is out of the truck, so when he comes to the fire to warm himself again, we’ll kick it off.”
“Should I throw on the wet wood chips now?” Newkirk asked, holding his hands out to the fire.
Hogan nodded. “Do it as we break up,” he ordered. “Make sure we get a huge amount of smoke, but don’t smother the fire.”
Newkirk nodded. “Got it,” he replied.
“Is everyone clear on what they’re supposed to do?” Hogan asked. He looked from man to man until all of them nodded. “Good. Remember, we’ll kick things off when Klink is at the fire. Newkirk – stoke the fire. Everyone else – get back to work and be ready.”
As the men broke up, Hogan walked up next to Carter. “I’m going to talk to Klink for a few minutes so that he doesn’t head to the fire too soon,” he said. “When I get back, be ready.”
Carter nodded and Hogan ambled over to where Klink was standing. “Are you sure you don’t want to join us, Kommandant?” he asked. “The exercise will keep you warm.”
“I am quite warm enough as it is,” Klink replied dryly.
Hogan chuckled. “I can see that,” he said. “Every time you walk over to the fire to warm yourself, I can see that.”
Klink looked at Hogan sternly. “Colonel Hogan, shouldn’t you get back to work?” he asked.
Hogan smiled broadly and snapped a lazy salute. “Jawohl, Kommandant,” he said mockingly. You pompous twit, he added silently. He walked over to join Carter.
As he took up his position, he saw Klink begin to walk towards the smoldering and smoky fire. That’s it, Kommandant, he thought. You just take your time.
He waited until Klink had pulled off his gloves and held his hands over the heat. Then he turned to Carter. “Carter, your boot is untied,” he said in a normal tone of voice.
“No it isn’t, Colonel,” Carter replied with a confused expression.
Hogan threw him an urgent glance. “Yes it is. Check again,” Hogan said strongly. “You’d better tie it. We wouldn’t want something to happen while we’re working.” Hogan emphasized the work in the hopes that Carter would get his meaning.
After a moment, Carter’s face showed recognition, as he understood the meaning of Hogan’s request. He bent down, making it look as if he was tying his bootlace. He quickly reached into the hollowed log and removed the wires. Looking at the labels, he found the ones marked with a one and touched them together.
The repetitive sound of firecrackers echoed in the woods on the opposite end of the clearing. The result was as Hogan had hoped. The guards immediately turned their attention to the source of the noise and Hogan leapt over the tree trunk to crouch beside Carter. He wanted it to look as if he were trying to cover himself from the gunfire, but he really wanted to shield Carter in case Schultz decided to look in their direction.
When he heard the noise, Klink immediately began barking orders to the guards. He ordered Shultz to make sure the prisoners were rounded up and then he began to walk back towards the truck.
Hogan saw Klink returning to the truck and swore under his breath. Damn it, Klink! Don’t come back here. You’re supposed to be leading your men, not cowering back here where you can look over and see what we’re doing. Hogan motioned to Carter to set off the second set of blasts. When the truck blows, you’ll turn around, he thought.
Hogan watch Klink getting closer and closer to the truck as he waited for Carter to trigger the explosion. Come on, Carter. Set it off already!
Finally, Carter managed to touch the wires together and Hogan saw the explosion rip up the ground beneath one of the trucks. The truck bucked and lurched, and then in a turn of events that Hogan could never have hoped for, the gas tank of the truck ignited. Hogan watched half in horror and half in glee as he saw the blast from the second buried charge merge with the explosion of the truck and send Klink flying through the air. He watched as the Kommandant landed in a crumpled heap near the campfire. Shit! That wasn’t supposed to happen. If we’ve killed him, then there’s sure to be reprisals from the Germans. His thoughts were disrupted as Carter handed him one of the smoke grenades. He pulled the pin, starting the smoke, and simultaneously with Carter, threw the grenade over the tree.
They waited until they saw the smoke rising from the grenades and then Hogan said, “Let’s go now! Follow me!”
He turned and hurriedly ran to the edge of the woods, not daring to look behind him to see if Carter was following. He reached the woods and disappeared into the brush, hearing Carter plunge in after him. They ran until they were a few hundred yards into the woods before Hogan stopped. He stood there panting and listening to the noise of confusion back at the clearing.
“Did you see that explosion?” Carter asked excitedly. The Sergeant was breathing fast, but looked like he was having the thrill of his life.
Hogan laughed. “I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting a fireball like that,” he replied. “I was just hoping to disable the truck and block the way out so they’d have to look for us on foot.”
“And did you see Klink go flying?” Carter asked.
Hogan nodded. “Yes, and that could cause some trouble,” he responded.
“Huh? How could that cause trouble?” Carter asked.
“The Germans could retaliate on the prisoners if Klink is killed,” Hogan replied.
“I never thought of that,” Carter replied somberly. “I hope the guys will be all right.”
“They’ll be fine,” Hogan assured him. “But now we need to head over to the mine so we can make sure that we’ll be all right.”
The two men moved at a quick pace as they made their way through the woods. So we’re out, Hogan thought. Let’s hope that Hochstetter can take full advantage of this.
* * * * *
Major Hochstetter picked up the ringing phone. “Hallo, Hochstetter here,” he said into the receiver. “Ah yes, Captain Gruber. What can I do for you?”
Hochstetter listened to the Captain. “An escape? Explosion? Captain, perhaps you should slow down and tell me what your problem is.”
Hochstetter knew what his problem was – Hogan had managed to pull off the escape. He listened to the explanation and quickly realized that the situation was more than he had hoped.
“You say the work detail was attacked and one of your trucks was blown up? Two prisoners escaped?” Hochstetter asked, nodding. “I see, and Colonel Klink is out looking for the escaped prisoners, which is why you are calling me. No?”
Hochstetter’s eyes grew wide. “The Colonel accompanied the work detail and was caught in the explosion? Is he …” he asked, stopping to hear more from the Captain.
“I see, broken femur. Yes. Both arms?” Hochstetter paused, listening to more details. “Both the shoulder and the collarbone? What? He was unconscious for quite a while – a large gash on his head, you say?”
Hochstetter nodded several times, taking in more information. “I see. Yes, I agree – the prisoners could not have carried this out without outside intervention. Yes, the Underground would be the most likely accomplice.” More than you know, Captain, he thought.
“No, Captain, you concentrate on the search for the prisoners,” Hochstetter said. “If the Underground is involved, that would be something for me to investigate.”
“I said no, Captain,” Hochstetter said, raising his voice slightly. “I don’t care – the Underground is my concern. Yes, I know what Colonel Klink would say. But I should have to remind you, Captain, that you are not Colonel Klink.” Hochstetter put emphasis on the ranks, stressing to the Captain that he fully intended to pull rank on him.
“Yes, by all means, call General Burkhalter,” Hochstetter said. “Oh yes, I intend to as well, Captain. No, Captain Gruber. I will be at Stalag 13 in one hour. We can discuss our roles at that time.”
Hochstetter smiled as he listened to the protests on the phone. “Captain, you are wasting valuable time arguing with me. I’m sure General Burkhalter will find that most enlightening,” he said. “Yes, I thought you might. Yes, start the search for the prisoners. One hour, Captain. Heil Hitler.”
Hochstetter hung up the phone with a huge smile on his face. “Perfect,” he said to himself. “Hogan got away and Klink is incapacitated. It will take several days for Burkhalter to send a replacement for Klink. If he doesn’t, that would leave Captain Gruber in charge – which gives me the advantage of rank.”
Hochstetter nodded as he rubbed his hands together. “Yes, this is definitely more than I had hoped for!” he said.
Hochstetter smiled as he picked up the phone. “Get me General Burkhalter, Luftwaffe Headquarters, Berlin,” he said to the operator.
He could hardly contain his excitement as he waited to be connected. Hogan’s plan worked flawlessly, he thought. I have to admit I had my doubts, but he was able to get away without being caught. And what a brilliant turn of events – taking Klink out at the same time! Here I was, expecting to have to play a political game in order to get rid of Klink, and Hogan goes and knocks him out of action like this. It will be easy for me now – with Klink incapacitated, I can maneuver events so that Burkhalter will have little leverage in this area.
Hochstetter’s thoughts were interrupted as he heard Burkhalter answer the phone. “Ja, General Burkhalter – Major Hochstetter here,” he said into the phone. “Ja, I just heard what happened,” he said. “Captain Gruber phoned me not too long ago. Ja, I agree – it does seem to be the work of the Underground.” He paused, listening into the phone. “With all due respect, Herr General, the Underground is the Gestapo’s problem. True, two of your prisoners escaped, but your men should only be concerned about recapturing your escapees and leave the Underground to the Gestapo.”
Hochstetter smiled as he listened to Burkhalter’s words. “Ja, I understand that Colonel Klink has been given authority in this area, but somehow I do not think he will be leading the search for the men responsible. Ja, I realize that Captain Gruber is going to take charge of the search.”
Hochstetter’s smile grew larger as he listened to Burkhalter’s interruption. He knew that whatever the argument that Burkhalter would use, it would be futile. Hochstetter was about to play his trump card. “General, I agree that Captain Gruber should take charge of the guards from Stalag 13 in the search for the escaped prisoners,” he said, placing emphasis on several key words. “But he will do so under my charge.” Hochstetter pulled the handset away from his ear as loud squawks emerged from it. After a second, he placed it back and said, “General, I have already spoken to Reichsführer Himmler about this and he agrees that I should direct the investigation – if, as you have already agreed, the Underground was involved.”
Hochstetter listened to the silence coming through the headset and could barely keep himself from laughing. The mention of Himmler had the effect he was hoping for. The infighting between Himmler and Goering was well known, and Himmler had been very upset when Burkhalter had been able to convince the Führer to place Klink in general command of the Hammelburg area. Now it looked like the great invincible Klink was not so invincible, and Hochstetter knew the Reichsführer would jump at any chance to regain Gestapo control of the area.
“What’s that, General?” Hochstetter asked. “You will be sending a new Kommandant to Stalag 13 – a Colonel Weingarten?” Hochstetter could hardly believe his ears. “Ja, I am acquainted with the Colonel. Ja. But that doesn’t change current events, General. Ja, I know. And Captain Gruber can remain in charge of the Luftwaffe guards at the camp – under my charge. I will be traveling to Stalag 13 today to take control of the camp.”
Hochstetter pulled the headset away from his ear again as another round of loud noises emerged. This time Hochstetter could not contain his laughter. “General, I would suggest that you take this matter up with the Reichsführer personally. I have my orders. Nein. That is not possible – time is of the essence here. The longer we delay in starting an organized search, the less chance we have of finding those responsible, and, I might add, of retrieving your escaped prisoners.”
Hochstetter listened into the headset. “General, it is fruitless to continue this discussion – especially since all you are doing is threatening me,” he said calmly. “As I said, you might want to take this up with Reichsführer Himmler yourself and leave me to pick up the pieces of Klink’s failure.” Hochstetter chuckled at Burkhalter’s response. “General, I assure you that my mother was not of the canine persuasion.”
Before Burkhalter could start screaming again, Hochstetter quickly continued. “Now if you will excuse me, I must be going. There is a terrible mess here that must be cleaned up, and I am afraid it looks like the Luftwaffe is not up to the challenge. Heil Hitler!”
As he hung up the headset, he heard more screaming coming from the receiver. Complain all you want, he thought. But I will make sure that Klink’s days in charge of Stalag 13 are over. He smiled as he grabbed his hat and coat and left his office. And now, it’s time to break the news to Captain Gruber.
* * * * *
After they made their break from the clearing, Hogan and Carter had made their way to the abandoned mine that would be their hiding place. They had encountered no one along the route – apparently the guards had decided to remain in the clearing looking after the remaining prisoners.
Hogan was happy to see that the old mine was in the same condition that he remembered – hidden behind overgrown brush. The mine had been abandoned so long ago, that it simply resembled a cave now. The only indication that it had been a mine was the pile of old mining equipment sitting just inside the entrance.
Hogan and Carter were sitting inside, far enough back from the entrance to find at least some warmth, but not far enough to be in total darkness. Hogan knew that it would be a long, cold day. They would not be able to build a fire because the smoke was sure to be seen by the search parties that would be combing the woods looking for them. So they would have to make the best of it until it was time for them to make their way to the barn to meet Erika and Hochstetter.
Hogan walked to the entrance of the mine and looked out through the foliage. I’m glad Hochstetter suggested this old mine, he thought. If you don’t know it’s here, you can’t see it through all this growth. He looked at his watch. It’s been three hours since all hell broke loose. They must be out looking for us by now. I only hope that having Klink injured delayed their search.
Hogan felt Carter approach the mine entrance and turned to greet the Sergeant. “I thought you were sleeping,” he said.
Carter grinned a sloppy grin and replied, “Shucks, who can sleep with all this going on?”
“It is nerve-wracking to have to sit around here and wait all day,” Hogan agreed. “But it would be too dangerous to venture out in the woods now – they’re bound to be looking for us.”
“Do you think we’ll be successful?” Carter asked seriously.
“We’ve escaped, haven’t we?” Hogan replied lightly.
“That’s not what I meant, sir,” Carter responded.
Hogan sighed. “I know,” he replied. “I’ve been trying not to think of that right now.” He took off his hat and smoothed back his hair. “I hope it will, Carter. But right now, it’s all up to Hochstetter.”
Carter chuckled. “It seems strange to hear you say that,” he replied. “We’ve spent all this time trying to outwit Hochstetter and now he’s on our side.”
Hogan laughed. “It’s just as strange to have to say it,” he said. “I just hope that he’s able to outmaneuver Klink now.”
“Colonel, do you think Klink survived back there?” Carter asked. “The last I saw of him, he was flying through the air.”
Hogan shrugged. “I just don’t know, Carter,” Hogan replied. “If he did, he’s probably hurt pretty bad. It might work to our advantage.”
Carter was silent for a moment. “Um, sir,” he said softly. “This may sound strange, but I hope he’s all right. I mean, I know he’s in the way of what we want to accomplish, and this Klink is meaner than before, but …”
“I know what you mean, Carter,” Hogan replied. “I have a soft spot for Klink myself … our version of Klink, that is. But it seems like things have changed. And we’re going to have to do whatever is necessary here and now and try not to think about what was.”
Carter nodded, but Hogan could see the troubled look on the Sergeant’s face. He smiled at Carter and said, “Why don’t you go back and get some rest. We’ll have to make our way to meet up with Erika later, and after that, who knows what we’ll have to go through.”
Carter nodded again and turned to walk back into the mine. After a couple steps, he stopped and turned back around. “Sir, do you think things, um, will ever be back the way they were?” he asked
“I wish I had the answer to that, Carter. I really wish I had the answer,” Hogan replied. “But this is out of my control.” Seeing the dejected look on Carter’s face, he added, “But don’t worry, things will work out just fine.” I hope.
Carter thought for a moment. “Thanks, sir,” he replied and walked back into the darkness.
* * * * *
The Gestapo truck entered Stalag 13 and pulled to a stop in front of the Kommandant’s office. Hochstetter got out of the truck and waited for his guards to assemble. “Sergeant Schmidt, you are with me. The rest of you take over for the Luftwaffe guards at the main gate – nobody in or out without my permission,” he ordered.
“What if they refuse to be relieved?” Sergeant Dietz asked.
Hochstetter smiled. “If they give you any trouble, have them call the Kommandant’s office,” he replied. “And then, throw them in the cooler.”
Sergeant Dietz saluted as Hochstetter and Schmidt turned towards the Kommandant’s office. When Hochstetter entered the office, he saw Schultz standing by Helga’s desk talking to the blonde secretary. “Sergeant, I want to see the barracks leader of Colonel Hogan’s barracks in the Kommandant’s office, at once!” he ordered.
Schultz snapped to attention and saluted. “But Major, Colonel Hogan is the barracks leader,” he replied.
“Colonel Hogan has escaped, Sergeant,” Hochstetter growled. “It would be difficult for him to be the barracks leader now.”
“Jawohl, Major,” Schultz replied.
“Well then get me whoever is next in line!” Hochstetter yelled. “Schnell!”
Schultz saluted and hurried towards the door.
“Send them right in when he returns, fräulein,” Hochstetter said to Helga. Helga nodded.
Hochstetter barged into the Kommandant’s private office to find Captain Gruber standing behind the desk looking at a map of the area and barking instructions into a wireless radio. When the door opened, Gruber looked up at the interruption and frowned when he saw Hochstetter.
“Cancel those orders, Captain,” Hochstetter barked.
Gruber’s frown deepened. “I will do no such thing,” he replied. “I am conducting a search for the escaped prisoners.”
“As well you should,” Hochstetter replied with a humorless smile. “However, you will coordinate your search through me.”
Gruber’s eyes grew large. “I’ll what?” he exclaimed.
Hochstetter’s smile grew. “As of now, Captain, I am assuming effective control of Stalag 13,” he said smoothly. “You will remain in command of the Luftwaffe personnel, but will make no decision without consulting me.”
Gruber narrowed his eyes in defiance. “I will do no such thing,” he hissed. “You have no authority.”
Without replying, Hochstetter picked up the phone. “Get me General Burkhalter,” he barked into the phone. Satisfied that the operator was making the connection, he handed the phone to Gruber. “My authority,” he commented.
As Gruber waited for Burkhalter, Schultz arrived with Newkirk. Hochstetter motioned both of them into the room.
“Hello, General Burkhalter?” Gruber said into the phone. “Captain Gruber here again. Ja, I have begun the search, however there seems to be a problem here.”
Gruber flinched as Burkhalter’s loud voice bellowed from the headset. “I realize that, sir. Two escaped prisoners is definitely a problem. But Major Hochstetter is here now and he says he is assuming control of the camp.”
Hochstetter gave a small chuckle as he noticed both Schultz and Newkirk glance at Gruber in surprise.
Gruber glared at Hochstetter as he listened to Burkhalter. Suddenly his eyes grew wide. “But sir, this is a Luftwaffe camp …” He paused as Burkhalter interrupted him. “But sir, surely that is not necessary. I have been Colonel Klink’s aide for some time and I feel I am quite capable …”
Gruber yanked the phone away from his ear as Burkhalter began yelling – everyone in the room could hear the noise. Gruber quickly put the phone back to his ear.
“Nein, sir,” he said. “I’m sorry, sir. Ja, I understand. Colonel Weingarten will be here in three days? Ja, I will make sure the quarters are in order.” Gruber paused. “Ja, Major Hochstetter will have my full cooperation. Heil Hitler!”
Gruber put down the phone and looked at Hochstetter. “Well, it seems that you do have the authority, Major,” he said tightly. “At least until Colonel Weingarten arrives to take command of the camp.”
Hochstetter made a dismissive gesture. “I already told you as much,” he said. “Now can we stop wasting time and get to the business of directing your search parties?”
“Of course, Major,” Gruber replied. Then spotting Schultz for the first time, he added, “Sergeant, what are you doing here?”
“I sent for him, Captain,” Hochstetter answered. “And for the prisoner.”
“May I ask why?” Gruber asked.
“Of course,” Hochstetter replied. “But my answer will be that it is none of your business.” Seeing that Gruber was about to protest, he quickly continued, “You just concern yourself with the search parties, Captain.”
Gruber closed his mouth and glared at Hochstetter. Hochstetter ignored the look and walked over to study the map. I have to keep Gruber and his men away from the area where Hogan is hiding, he thought. I can’t take the risk of Hogan being recaptured by Gruber’s men – I’d lose my leverage with Burkhalter.
“Now then, I heard you order a search to the east of the camp,” Hochstetter stated. “Why there?”
“Because that is where the clearing is, Major,” Gruber replied. “It makes sense to search the immediate area for the prisoners.”
“Yes, it would,” Hochstetter said blandly. “If the search was taking place immediately after the escape.”
“But …” Gruber started. Hochstetter motioned him to silence.
“The escaped prisoners would do their best to move away from the immediate area,” Hochstetter said. “So you will concentrate your search on the areas north and west of the camp for the prisoners. My men will search the area east of the camp.”
“But, Major, my men are already in that area” Gruber protested.
“Captain,” Hochstetter growled. “You may either obey my orders to find the escaped prisoners or become a prisoner yourself.”
Gruber contemplated this choice for a second before snapping to attention. “Jawohl, Major. I will redirect my search parties immediately,” he replied.
Hochstetter nodded. “I thought you might,” he said. “Please see to it personally – and take Sergeant Schultz with you. I would like to interrogate this prisoner.”
Gruber opened his mouth to protest, but thought better of it. He saluted and motioned for Schultz to follow him from the office.
After the door closed, Hochstetter began laughing. “Well Corporal, it seems that Colonel Hogan’s plan has worked,” he said. He walked over to where Klink kept his schnapps and removed the stopped from the bottle.
“Beg your pardon, sir?” Newkirk replied.
Hochstetter poured two glasses full and handed one to a surprised Newkirk. “Come now, Corporal,” he said.
Newkirk took the glass and made an obvious show of looking around the room. “I don’t know what you are talking about,” he replied defiantly.
“Corporal, I assure you that there are no listening devices in this office,” Hochstetter said laughing. “Colonel Klink would hardly allow his office to be bugged.”
Newkirk smiled and took a drink from his glass. “A man can never be too careful,” he responded.
Hochstetter laughed. “Very good advice,” he replied. “It’s too bad that somebody didn’t remind Colonel Klink of that!” Hochstetter took a sip from his glass. “That was a brilliant move by Colonel Hogan to put Klink out of action.”
“The Colonel didn’t plan for Klink to accompany the work detail,” Newkirk replied.
Hochstetter shrugged. “No matter,” he said. “With Klink in the hospital, I’ve been able to take control of the camp. Now when I meet with Hogan tonight, I can arrange to capture him before Colonel Weingarten arrives and ensure that Klink will not be a problem in the future.”
“Yes, I heard Captain Gruber say that a new Kommandant is on his way,” Newkirk responded.
Hochstetter smiled as he sipped his schnapps. “That is the other fortunate thing that has come from Colonel Hogan’s plan,” he replied. “Colonel Weingarten will be the new camp Kommandant.”
“But what will you do then?” Newkirk asked. “I thought the idea was for you to assume control of the camp after we got rid of Klink.”
Hochstetter laughed heartily. “That is correct, Corporal,” he said. “But of all the people that Burkhalter could send to take over Stalag 13, he couldn’t have made a better choice.”
“I don’t follow you,” Newkirk replied, taking another sip of schnapps.
“I have a fairly large organization, Corporal,” Hochstetter explained. “And not every member of the Underground is a civilian.”
Newkirk’s eyes widened. “You mean …” he said, his voice trailing off.
Hochstetter nodded. “That’s right,” he replied. “Colonel Heinrich Weingarten happens to be a very active source of information for my organization. With Klink gone, I can assume control of the martial law in this area of the country.” He took another sip from his glass. “And having Colonel Weingarten in charge of Stalag 13 will be the same as having control myself.”
Newkirk took in the information and slowly smiled. “Ain’t that a cracker!” he said, extending his glass towards Hochstetter. “It looks like Colonel Hogan has given us all an early Christmas present, Major!”
Hochstetter smiled and touched his glass to Newkirk’s.
Andrew Carter crouched in the underbrush beside Colonel Hogan, waiting for the Gestapo patrol to pass. This was the third patrol they had come across since they left their hiding place, and Hogan was becoming more frustrated with each encounter. So far, they had been successful in avoiding detection, but at this rate, Carter knew it would take them most of the night to reach their rendezvous point.
Finally the patrol wandered out of site, and Hogan again began to carefully make his way through the scattered branches and crunching leaves. It seemed to Carter that every step they took made a sound that could be heard all the way back at Stalag 13.
“I wish it was summertime,” Carter commented softly. “These leaves make too much noise! I don’t remember them being this bad this afternoon.”
“Shhh,” Hogan admonished. “We’ll be fine as long as we’re careful and don’t make any unnecessary noises.” He glanced back at the Sergeant and added, “Besides, we’re almost there.”
Carter nodded. He was glad that they were almost out of the woods, so to speak. It had been a stressful day – the escape and getaway, the interminable waiting and now the Gestapo patrols. I wonder why we’re running into the Gestapo patrols, he thought. If Hochstetter is trying to help us escape, why is he sending patrols into the woods? Carter could think of several reasons why, but none of them were very reassuring, so he stopped thinking about it and followed Colonel Hogan through the woods.
After what seemed like hours, they came up to the clearing containing the barn in which they were supposed to meet Hochstetter’s agent. Carter wondered if she would be there, or if Hochstetter would be there. What would they do if nobody were there? They had enough trouble getting here – to have to turn around and go back into hiding would be difficult. Not only that, Carter was beginning to get hungry. He and Hogan hadn’t had anything to eat all day.
Colonel Hogan stopped at the edge of the woods and waited – Carter stopped beside him. They crouched down and scanned the area, looking for any signs of movement around the clearing. Carter could see a faint light flickering inside the barn – a good indication that their contact was inside.
They stayed motionless for several minutes, listening to the nighttime sounds of the woods. They heard the chattering of a raccoon and the sounds of rodents scurrying through the fallen leaves. Once, everything went silent and Carter heard the hoot of an owl overhead.
Finally, Hogan said, “Let’s go,” and started to walk cautiously towards the barn. Carter followed Hogan, glancing backwards as if he expected an army to suddenly jump from the woods where they had been. It seemed to take forever for them to reach the barn.
As Hogan was reaching for the handle of the door, they were surprised by the sound of a weapon clicking a round into the chamber. Both men jumped and looked towards the sound. They saw that Major Hochstetter had stepped out from beside the barn and was aiming his luger at them.
“Well, well,” Hochstetter said grimly. “Look at the tasty morsels that have stumbled into my web.” He grinned a humorless grin that sent chills up Carter’s spine. “You are late, Colonel Hogan.”
Hogan eyed Hochstetter warily. “We had to avoid the Gestapo patrols you have out there,” he replied. “I wasn’t expecting that.”
Hochstetter shrugged. “I don’t know why you weren’t expecting them,” he replied. “You are, after all, an escaped prisoner.”
“That’s right, we’re escaped prisoners,” Hogan agreed. “And you arranged for us to meet Erika here.”
“Now why would I do a thing like that, Hogan?” Hochstetter asked.
Carter began to get nervous. The way Hochstetter was talking, he knew that they had been led into a trap.
“You know why,” Hogan countered calmly. “We’re helping you get rid of Klink so you can take over Stalag 13.”
Hochstetter chuckled. “Yes, that’s right,” he responded. “You did escape from Klink so that I could take over the camp. After all, he was getting to be too powerful in this area. I couldn’t let him take away all of my control.”
“And then you would be free to operate your Underground unit with our help from the camp,” Hogan prompted.
Again Hochstetter chuckled. “My dear Colonel Hogan,” he said. “I am a loyal Gestapo officer. Capturing two dangerous escaped prisoners, who killed their Luftwaffe Kommandant while trying to escape, will be quite a feather in my cap!” He laughed again. “I will take over Stalag 13, Colonel Hogan,” he continued. “And let me assure you that the Underground will not be operating in this area while I am in control.”
“But, but,” Carter stammered. “But you helped us escape!”
“So I did, Sergeant,” Hochstetter replied. “So I did. And now I must also be the one to capture you.”
“So it was all a trick!” Hogan exclaimed.
Hochstetter gave a small shrug. “It is wartime, Colonel,” he replied. “One must use all possible avenues to subdue the enemy. Now if you will please come with me.”
Hogan remained still and motioned for Carter to do the same.
“Come now, Colonel,” Hochstetter said. “Whether I capture you alive or dead is of no concern to me.”
Carter glanced at Hogan. The Colonel was unmoving – simply staring at Hochstetter. Carter looked back at the Gestapo Major. He had an evil smile on his face as he pointed his firearm at the Allied prisoners.
Suddenly Carter saw movement behind Hochstetter – a figure, clad entirely in black was moving towards him. Hochstetter sensed the approach and turned to see who was approaching – but it was too late. Carter saw a brief flurry of activity and then Hochstetter hunched forward. The Major staggered a few steps backwards towards Hogan and Carter and then fell to the ground, landing on his back. Carter looked down and saw a knife buried deep into Hochstetter’s chest.
Hogan bent down and ran his hand along Hochstetter’s neck feeling for a pulse. “He’s dead,” he commented. He stood and looked at the figure hanging back in the shadows. “I don’t know who you are,” he said. “But you have very good timing!”
The figure stepped out of the shadows. “Ah, but you do know me, Colonel Hogan,” the man said.
Carter gasped in surprise as he recognized the man. “Baker!” he exclaimed. “You’re alive!”
Baker laughed. “Of course I’m alive, Andrew,” he replied.
“But Newkirk said you were killed trying to escape,” Carter continued.
“He was just pulling your leg,” Baker replied.
“But…” Carter sputtered.
“Shhh,” Baker said, putting his finger to his lips. “Not so loud. There are others out here that would love to capture you. I would suggest that you get away from here as quick as you can.” Baker looked around the area quickly. “In fact, I must be going now.” As quickly as he appeared, Baker disappeared into the shadows.
Carter simply stared at the place where Baker had been – his mind swirling with unanswered questions. How did Baker survive getting out of camp? Where has he been since he got out of camp? Why did Newkirk tell me that he had been killed trying to escape? And if nobody else knew who I was, how come he knew my name?
“Carter, let’s get going,” Hogan said, shaking Carter’s shoulder. Carter remained fixated on the spot where Baker had been a moment earlier. Hogan shook his shoulder again. “Carter, it’s time to go. Come on, Carter.”
Carter was startled by another shake on his shoulder. He sat bolt upright, gasping for air and looking around the darkened cave. Hogan was kneeling next to him, shaking his shoulder. “Carter, it’s time for us to go.”
Carter looked around, slowly gaining awareness of his surroundings. “What?” he asked breathlessly.
“It’s time for us to make our way to the rendezvous point,” Hogan said softly. “You’ve been asleep for the past couple of hours.”
“Asleep?” Carter asked. “Then I must have been dreaming?”
Hogan nodded. “And judging from how restless you were, it must have been one hell of a dream,” he replied.
Carter struggled to stand and stretched his cramped limbs. “I dreamt that this was all a trap by Hochstetter,” he said. “And he was about to shoot us but Baker killed him first.”
“Baker?” Hogan asked.
Carter nodded. “Sir, do you think there’s a chance that this is a trap by Hochstetter?” he asked.
“I’ve thought about that,” Hogan admitted. “But in this case, my instinct is telling me that it’s not.” Hogan shrugged. “Though I could be wrong. But we don’t have much of a choice now.”
Carter brushed the dirt from his clothes. “No, I guess not,” he replied. “But if you feel it’s safe, then I feel better. You’ve never steered us wrong before.”
Hogan chuckled grimly. “Then why are we in this cave?” he muttered. He started walking towards the entrance. “Come on, let’s get moving.”
* * * * *
Captain Fritz Gruber sat at the desk in the adjutant’s office adjacent to his quarters. He was still fuming from the events of this morning.
He had been happy when he heard about the events at the clearing – two prisoners escaped and Colonel Klink was badly injured in the explosions that had been set off to cover their disappearance. He had been stuck in Stalag 13 for two years under Klink, with no hope of advancement. By all rights, Klink should have been promoted and sent to Berlin. But the Kommandant had resisted all attempts at promotion and remained at Stalag 13 – eventually becoming the most powerful authority in the area. Gruber had been stuck as his second-in-command, patiently waiting. As long as Klink was there, he would remain a Captain.
And now Klink was out of the way! Not only had the Colonel suffered a successful escape attempt, he was now out of action for the foreseeable future. Gruber was now in charge – and he wanted all the power that Klink had. He knew that finding the escaped prisoners would guarantee him the recognition that he had deserved for the past two years.
He pounded his fist on the desk in frustration. Damn that Hochstetter! Hochstetter had come into camp ordering him around – and Burkhalter had allowed it! And to add insult to injury, Burkhalter was even sending another Colonel to take over the camp. Talk about a slap in the face! He wouldn’t even give me a chance to show him how well I could run the camp.
And then Hochstetter had ordered him to move all of his search parties to the west and north of the camp. Without the support of General Burkhalter, he had no choice but to comply. But he didn’t want to abandon the area east of camp. No matter what Hochstetter had said, Gruber still felt that the prisoners would not have traveled far during daylight, and would have found a place nearby to hide until dark. And Gruber wanted more than anything to find Colonel Hogan – and find him before Hochstetter could assume any more control of the camp.
So Gruber had ordered all of his search parties to areas north of the camp – except one. He left his best search party to search the areas that Hochstetter wanted to keep him out of.
Gruber smiled. And if Colonel Hogan is still in that area, as I suspect he is, my men will find them. And once I recapture Colonel Hogan and the American Sergeant with him, Burkhalter is bound to give me the support – and the authority – that I rightly deserve.
* * * * *
Newkirk sat in the guest chair in Klink’s office. His feet were propped on the corner of the desk and he was puffing on one of Klink’s cigars. He had remained in the Kommandant’s office since Hochstetter had sent for him – supposedly under interrogation by the Gestapo Major.
The two had talked about what would happen next. That evening, when Hogan and Carter made their way to the barn to meet with Hochstetter’s agent, Hochstetter would also be there. With Klink out of action and Colonel Weingarten on his way to camp, Hochstetter knew he needed to “capture” Hogan as soon as possible. Once Hogan was back in custody – recaptured not by the Luftwaffe guards but by the Gestapo – Hochstetter would have all the leverage he needed to retain the top authority in the area. And once Colonel Weingarten did arrive, Colonel Hogan could begin to set up his operation.
“Will you be bringing Colonel Hogan back to camp tonight?” Newkirk asked, taking a large puff on the cigar and blowing a plume of smoke towards the ceiling.
Hochstetter shook his head. “I’ll have to keep the two men at Gestapo Headquarters for interrogation,” he replied. “When Colonel Weingarten arrives, I will arrange for them to return to Stalag 13.”
Newkirk’s brow furrowed. “Do you think that’s necessary?” he asked.
Hochstetter nodded. “For a couple of reasons,” he replied. “First, I don’t trust Gruber. I suspect that the first thing Colonel Weingarten will do is to transfer Captain Gruber and Sergeant Schultz out of camp.”
“Not Schultz,” Newkirk replied.
Hochstetter looked at him curiously. “Why leave Schultz here?” he asked.
“I have a feeling that Schultz will be useful,” Newkirk replied, examining the burning cigar. “What’s the second reason?”
“There will be a roundup of the Underground following Hogan’s capture,” Hochstetter responded.
“You’ll go after your own people?” Newkirk asked, putting his feet to the floor.
Hochstetter shook his head. “No, not my people,” he replied. “But there are certain informants that have been causing my people some trouble, and I think it’s time to take care of them.”
Newkirk smiled. “You’re really cleaning house,” he commented.
Hochstetter glanced at the clock on the wall and stood. “That’s right,” he said. “And it’s time for me to get started.”
Newkirk stood and stretched. “I suppose I should be going back to the barracks,” he said. He chuckled as he added, “And recover from your grueling interrogation.”
Hochstetter laughed as he opened the door to the outer office. Leaning his head out, he ordered the Gestapo guard to escort Newkirk back to the barracks.
Carter had been following Colonel Hogan through the woods of Germany for about an hour – but his mind was in another place. Ever since he had awakened, he had been silently fretting about his dream.
Carter thought back to the many conversations he had with Grandfather growing up. He had never paid much heed to the many native legends that Grandfather would tell him about – with the exception of dreams. Grandfather had told him that many native peoples believed that dreams were important and some even felt that they were a sign of what was to come. From a very early age, dreams had fascinated him.
He remembered the legends of the Dream Catchers – of both his Lakota heritage and the neighboring Chippewa tribe. He could still recite the poem Grandfather had taught him…
An ancient Chippewa tradition
The dream net has been made
For many generations
Where spirit dreams have played
Hung above the cradle board
Or in the lodge up high
The dream net catches bad dreams
While good dreams slip on by
Bad dreams become entangled
Among the sinew thread
Good dreams slip through the center hole
While you dream upon your bed
This is an ancient legend
Since dreams will never cease
Hang this dream net above your bed
Dream on and be at Peace
He had been so enchanted by these legends that he had begged Grandfather to show him how to make a Dream Catcher. Ever since that point, he had always had one above his bed. He had even made a small one to place on the underside of Newkirk’s bunk above him when he came to Stalag 13. He was convinced that the Dream Catcher was the reason that he never had any nightmares … until today.
Now he struggled to find the meaning of his dream – and he knew that he would keep fretting about it until he did. Every dream had a meaning, Grandfather had told him. Sometimes the meaning was clear and sometimes the meaning was hidden – and it was up to the dreamer to discover that hidden meaning.
Why did Baker appear in his dream? The obvious reason was to prevent Hochstetter from capturing him. But why Baker? Why not Newkirk or Kinch? And what was the meaning of Hochstetter turning against them? Wasn’t he supposed to be helping the escape? Wasn’t he supposed to be the leader of the Underground?
Carter was so lost in thought that when Hogan stopped quickly, he almost ran over the Colonel. “Oh, sorry sir,” he whispered.
“Pay attention, Carter,” Hogan admonished softly.
“Sorry sir,” Carter repeated. “I was just thinking about something.” He didn’t want to tell the Colonel about his worries.
Hogan smiled at his young charge. “Worried?” he asked.
Carter smiled back. “I’ll feel better when this is over and we’re back in camp,” he replied.
“So will I,” Hogan admitted. “But we first have to get to the rendezvous point, and we seem to have a decision to make here. We need to cross this ravine.”
Carter looked up and saw for the first time that the ravine was blanketed in a dense fog. “We have to go through that?” he asked.
“I’d prefer not to,” Hogan replied. “I’d hate to have one of us fall and get hurt because we can’t see what we’re walking into.”
At that moment, they heard a sharp crack and a thud on the tree beside them. Both men fell flat to the ground as another crack rang through the woods.
“Damn,” Hogan cursed, looking through the thin, leafless underbrush. “A patrol.”
Carter peered towards the source of the shots. “Looks like guards from the camp,” he said.
Hogan looked around quickly. “Looks like we have no choice now,” he said. “We’ve got to get into this fog. They won’t be able to see us if they follow.” More shots rang out and bits of tree bark rained down on the two men. “And we’d better go now, or else they’re liable to get lucky and hit us,” Hogan added.
At the sound of the first shot, Carter’s fears intensified. Could this be what his dream was trying to tell him? Were they about to be captured – or worse, shot? Hogan’s voice interrupted Carter’s thoughts.
“When I say go, follow me down into the ravine,” Hogan instructed. “Try to move as fast as you can, but be careful. And whatever happens, let’s not lose sight of each other.”
Carter nodded silently.
Hogan gave a quick look back at the patrol as more shots rang out. The Germans had moved closer. Hogan made his decision. “Now, Carter. Let’s go!” he said.
Carter followed his Colonel onto the down slope of the ravine as more shots thudded into the tree trunks around them. He barely heard the noise over the thumping of his heart. Oh God, please don’t let them hit us, he silently prayed.
* * * * *
Newkirk left the Kommandant’s office with the Gestapo guard and Schultz trailing behind him. Hochstetter obviously was trying to keep his hold on the camp by having his own guards in place. Normally, Schultz would have escorted him to the barracks by himself. But the big guard had been sitting in the Kommandant’s outer office all day, waiting for Newkirk – under orders from Captain Gruber.
He would have felt like laughing at the obvious power struggle between the two men if he weren’t stuck in the middle of it. As he walked across the compound, he thought of everything at stake – this was not simply a game. This was deadly serious business.
At that moment, he felt a sudden chill crawl down his spine. He stopped so abruptly that Schultz and the Gestapo guard stumbled into each other trying to avoid running into him.
“Newkirk, why did you stop?” Schultz asked crossly.
“I don’t know, Schultz … Sergeant Schultz, I mean,” Newkirk replied. “I just felt a chill for a second.”
Schultz let out a big sigh. “Of course you felt a chill,” he replied. “It’s winter time and it’s cold out here. Now get moving.”
“It wasn’t that kind of a chill,” Newkirk replied distantly. He couldn’t place the feeling, but it had a kind of foreboding sense to it. He immediately thought of Colonel Hogan and Carter and hoped that nothing had happened to them.
Newkirk heard a slam and looked over to see Captain Gruber running from his quarters towards the Kommandant’s office. Schultz also noticed this and turned around to head towards the Kommandant’s office as well.
“This can’t be good,” Newkirk mumbled to himself. He felt a small push as the Gestapo guard indicated that he wanted Newkirk to continue towards the barracks. “Keep your pants on, mate,” he responded. “I’m going!”
* * * * *
Hochstetter was putting on his coat when Gruber came bursting into the office.
“We found them!” Gruber exclaimed excitedly.
Hochstetter froze momentarily – his right arm straight out with the coat dangling from it. “Found who?” he asked.
“Colonel Hogan and the other escaped prisoner,” Gruber replied.
Hochstetter’s blood ran cold. No, he thought. This was not supposed to happen like this. That idiot Gruber was not supposed to recapture Hogan. “Where are they?” he asked.
Gruber ran over to the map on the wall and began to point to the area where his patrol had encountered the prisoners. “Here,” he replied. “I just spoke to the patrol that I left in the area by radio. They said they saw the two prisoners. They fired several shots at them, but they got away by going into the ravine right here.” Gruber pointed again at the map. “The ravine is covered in a dense fog, and my men lost sight of them – but we now know where they are!”
Schultz entered the office and stood by the open door.
Hochstetter looked at the map for a second. Gruber had pointed to the area from which he had ordered the Captain to remove his patrols. “You had a patrol in that area?” he asked calmly.
Gruber nodded. “Ja,” he replied. “And it’s a good thing …”
“And your men fired upon the prisoners?” Hochstetter asked, cutting the Captain off.
“Of course,” Gruber replied. “They are escaped prisoners.”
Hochstetter erupted. “You fool!” he screamed. “You ignorant fool!”
“But Major,” Gruber started.
“Silence!” Hochstetter bellowed. “Not only did you disobey my direct order by not removing your patrol from that area, but you also took a chance of killing the prisoners before they could be captured!”
Gruber swallowed nervously. “What’s the difference?” he asked. “At least they wouldn’t have gotten away.”
“Bah!” screamed Hochstetter. “This is why General Burkhalter ordered you to take direction from me. What’s the difference? Don’t you realize that by capturing them alive we could possibly learn how and why the Underground had helped them escape?”
Gruber stared back at Hochstetter, his mouth agape. He had not thought of that possibility. He had only thought about what an achievement it would have been to recapture the escaped prisoners – dead or alive didn’t matter to him. “Major, I…” he sputtered.
“Captain Gruber, if you have jeopardized this operation, I assure you that heads will roll,” Hochstetter growled. “Starting with yours.”
Hochstetter turned to see his guard returning from escorting Newkirk to the barracks. “Corporal, escort the Captain to the cooler,” Hochstetter told his man. “He is to be placed under arrest until I return to camp.”
Gruber paled. “But Major, I was only …” he started.
“Silence!” Hochstetter screamed. He glared at Gruber, daring him to say another word. Gruber was silent.
Hochstetter turned back to his guard. “I want a truck with eight men brought around,” he ordered. “I want to get out there before these Luftwaffe idiots kill our chance to get any information from these prisoners.”
The guard acknowledged the order and motioned for Gruber to come with him. The Captain hesitated for a second until the guard pointed his weapon at him.
Hochstetter turned to Schultz. “Sergeant, you are in charge of this camp until Colonel Weingarten arrives,” he said.
“Me, sir?” a surprised Schultz asked.
“Yes, you,” Hochstetter replied. “And see to it that you do nothing without checking with me first.”
“Jawohl, Major Hochstetter,” Schultz replied, snapping to attention. “I will do nothing, nothing!”
Hochstetter was relieved. From what Gruber said, the Luftwaffe patrol did not hit Hogan nor capture him. So with any luck, Hogan was on his way to the rendezvous point. Hochstetter would leave the camp with his men and leave them to make sure that the Luftwaffe patrol was not a threat to his plans. He would then go and meet with Hogan and tell him the good news – everything was working beautifully.
* * * * *
“The fog is lifting,” Hogan said to Carter as they made their way out of the ravine. “And I didn’t hear anyone following us.”
“Do you think they went around to try to meet us on this side?” Carter asked breathlessly.
“Maybe, but it will take them a while to get here,” Hogan responded. “And we will be long gone. Let’s get going.”
Carter nodded and followed Hogan as he started out into the woods. In what seemed like no time at all, they had reached their meeting point. They crouched in the brush by the edge of the clearing and looked at the barn. Carter could see a small ribbon of light flickering through the gap at the bottom of the door.
Hogan scanned the clearing, listening for any sounds. When he was satisfied the coast was clear, he started towards the barn cautiously, motioning for Carter to follow.
As Carter followed Hogan through the clearing towards the barn, he had to force himself to take each step. He was nervous, and could think of nothing but the dream he had had earlier in the day. He kept watching the corner of the barn, expecting trouble to appear at any moment.
As the approached the barn door, Hogan stopped. “Stay outside and keep watch,” he said to Carter. Carter nodded and crouched next to a haystack by the door.
When Hogan entered the barn, he saw Erika sitting on a crate in the middle of the open area in front of the stalls. After being outside in the darkness, he had to stop and let his eyes adjust to the light from the lantern that Erika had brought. Blinking, he looked around.
Erika rose and walked towards him. “I was wondering when you would get here, Colonel,” she said, smiling at Hogan. “You are a little late.”
“I know,” Hogan replied. “There was a little fog out there that made it hard to see and it slowed us down.”
“Fog?” Erika asked. “This is not the time of year for fog.”
Hogan shrugged. “I know, but it was there,” he replied. “Is Hochstetter here yet?”
Erika’s eyes went wide. “Hochstetter?” she gasped. “Why would he be here?”
Hogan stared at her. “What do you mean?” he asked. “That was the plan, wasn’t it?”
Before Erika could reply, Carter burst into the barn. “Someone’s coming, Colonel,” he said breathlessly.
“That must be Hochstetter,” Hogan replied.
Erika began to panic. “Hochstetter is coming here?” she cried. “We must get out of here, Colonel!”
“We came here to meet Hochstetter,” he replied.
“Are you crazy?” she asked. They heard a vehicle approaching the barn. “Colonel Hogan, you must get out of here now!”
Hogan stared at the woman – she was in a serious panic. She grabbed Hogan by the hand and began to pull him towards the door.
“Colonel?” Carter asked. “What’s the matter?”
“I don’t know, Carter,” Hogan replied. “But maybe we should go and wait outside to make sure this really is Hochstetter. We wouldn’t want to be surprised by that Luftwaffe patrol again.”
Hogan led the way out of the barn and the trio ran to the edge of the clearing, disappearing from sight as a truck pulled to a stop in front of the barn. They watched as Hochstetter jumped from the truck and ordered his guards to check behind the building.
“Colonel, it looks like they are trying to capture someone,” Carter whispered.
“Of course they are,” Erika whispered back. “They are trying to capture you.”
Hogan was silent as he watched Hochstetter enter the building. Suddenly he snapped his fingers. “Come on, let’s go,” he said.
“Go where?” Carter asked.
“Back to camp,” Hogan replied, starting to move away from the clearing. “And bring Erika with us.”
Carter was confused. He didn’t understand why Colonel Hogan wanted to go back to camp now – they wouldn’t be able to get back in. He didn’t understand why Hochstetter had shown up with a whole truck full of men instead of being alone. And he didn’t understand Erika’s reaction to the mention of Hochstetter – wasn’t she a member of his Underground team?
Carter pondered all of this while following Hogan and Erika through the woods, heading back towards Stalag 13. He was so lost in thought that he failed to notice that the fog had lifted from the ravine that had passed through earlier.
Meanwhile, Hogan was silent as he led the group through the woods. He wanted to get back to camp as soon as possible – knowing what would be waiting there for them.
As they neared the camp, Hogan slowed down. When they reached the edge of the woods, Hogan waited for Carter to inch up beside him.
“What now, sir?” Carter asked.
“We go back into camp,” Hogan responded.
“But how?” Carter asked.
“We go in through the Emergency Tunnel,” Hogan replied confidently. “Carter, you go first.”
“But, sir!” Carter exclaimed.
Hogan silenced him as they heard rustling in the woods behind them. They turned around and saw one of the camp dogs emerging from the underbrush.
“Uh, oh,” Carter whispered.
“Hi there, Biskmark, old boy,” Hogan said cheerfully, extending his hand towards the dog.
“Colonel, don’t!” Carter gasped. “Remember, he bit me before.”
Hogan chuckled as the dog trotted towards him. “He won’t bite,” Hogan said as Biskmark came up and rubbed his head against Hogan’s hand. “See?”
“Colonel, does this mean?” Carter asked tentatively.
Hogan laughed. “Yes, Carter. It does,” he replied.
“Will someone tell me what it means?” Erika asked.
“Let’s get in the tunnel first,” Hogan instructed. “Good boy, Bismark. Now run along and find yourself a rabbit.” The dog wagged his tail and bounded away through the woods. “Now, Carter, into the tunnel.”
Carter crept forward towards the stump that served as the tunnel entrance. He crouched behind it as the searchlight passed over the area. When the light passed, he grabbed the top of the stump and lifted … and the stump opened up. A wave of joy passed over Carter as he scrambled into the stump and down the ladder.
Hogan waited until Erika was safely in the tunnel before entering himself. He climbed down the ladder and jumped onto the tunnel floor. He smiled as he looked around – he had never been so glad to see the earthen walls of the dark tunnel.
He motioned the others to follow him as he headed down the tunnel. The light got brighter as they got closer to the large radio room.
When they entered the radio room, Carter let out a gasp. “Baker, you’re here!” he exclaimed.
Baker looked surprised. “Of course I am, Andrew,” he replied. “I’d hardly be at the Hofbrau having a beer!”
“It’s good to see you!” Carter continued excitedly.
“Relax, Andrew,” Baker responded. “You act as if you haven’t seen me in a week.”
Carter was about to reply when Hogan interrupted him. “What’s the situation here?” he asked.
“Hochstetter has been on the phone to Klink,” Baker replied. “He’ll be here at 0200 hours and he’s ordered Klink to have a roll call at that time.”
Hogan glanced at his watch. “Okay, we have a little bit of time,” he replied. He turned to Erika and asked, “Erika, who knows you were going to meet me at that barn tonight?”
Erika shrugged. “Only Fritz,” she replied. “I told him that I was meeting you to discuss his men joining the Underground. Why?”
“You’re not safe,” Hogan replied. “Fritz is a Gestapo plant.”
Erika gasped. “Are you sure?” she asked. When Hogan nodded, she cried, “But he can identify me!”
Hogan placed his hand on her shoulder to comfort her. “I’ll take care of it,” he assured. “Baker, get on the radio to Max. Tell him that Fritz is Gestapo and Erika isn’t safe. We’ll keep her here until tomorrow. He can send someone to pick her up.”
Baker nodded. “What about Fritz?” he asked.
Hogan smiled grimly. “Max will know what to do,” he replied, and turned back towards Erika.
Baker nodded and reached for the radio headset.
Hogan turned back around. “Oh, one more thing,” he said. “What’s the date?”
Baker looked confused as he told Hogan the date.
Carter gasped. “Colonel, that’s the day we left camp!” he exclaimed.
Baker began laughing. “Of course it is, silly,” he said. “You left here three hours ago!”
“But, but …” Carter stammered.
Hogan smiled. “Carter, just get upstairs and get ready for the roll call that we’re not supposed to know about,” he said.
Carter stared dumbfounded at Hogan for a moment before turning and heading up the ladder.
Hogan turned back to Erika. “You’ll be all right here tonight,” he assured her. “Max will send someone tomorrow and you’ll be fine.”
She smiled at him. “Thank you, Colonel Hogan,” she said, leaning forward to plant a small kiss on his cheek.
Clearing his throat, Hogan turned back towards Baker. “Ahem, right. Baker, when you finish sending the message, you should come up as well,” he said, heading towards the ladder.
Baker smiled broadly. “Yes, sir!” he replied.
* * * * *
After the excitement of the surprise roll call died down, Hogan went back into his office to try to get some sleep.
Carter thought about heading to his bunk to get some sleep, but instead he walked over to Colonel Hogan’s office and knocked on the door.
“What is it?” Hogan asked from inside the room.
“Colonel, can I talk to you for a minute?” Carter asked.
“Sure, Carter” Hogan replied. “Come on in.”
Carter entered the room and closed the door behind him.
Before he could say anything, Hogan smiled and said, “I know what you are going to ask,” he said. “And the answer is I don’t know. I don’t know how or why we ended up in that different Stalag 13 nor do I know how or why we ended up back here. And I definitely don’t know why we came back on the same day that we left.”
“But when we were back at the barn, how did you know?” Carter asked.
Hogan shrugged. “I didn’t,” he replied. “Seeing Erika’s reaction to Hochstetter and the way Hochstetter was acting, I just guessed. When I remembered that we went through that fog again, I was almost certain that we had come back.”
“But I didn’t feel a chill this time,” Carter said. “So I didn’t even think of it.”
“I didn’t until afterwards either,” Hogan admitted. “I guess with the patrol shooting at us, we were too preoccupied this time.”
“I wonder what happened to the other …” Carter said, stopping to try to find the best word. “The other Stalag 13,” he finished. “Was the plan to get rid of Klink successful?”
“I have a feeling we’ll never know, Carter,” Hogan replied. “I’d like to think that it was.”
“Well, if it means anything,” Carter said, “I had faith in you to come up with a plan that would work.” He paused and then added, “And faith in God to make sure things worked out for the best.”
Hogan chuckled. “Thank you for the promotion, Carter,” he quipped. “But I think God still outranks a Colonel in the Air Corps.”
Carter grinned one of his saucy grins. “You know what I mean, sir,” he replied.
Hogan nodded. “I do,” he responded. “But you left out one person.”
“Huh?” Carter asked.
“There’s one more person you should have had faith in,” Hogan answered. “Sergeant Andrew Carter.” Hogan paused to let that sink in, and then added, “I did.”
Carter’s eyes widened. “You did?” he asked.
“Of course,” Hogan replied. “I knew that I could count on you if and when I needed you.”
Carter looked away, embarrassed. “Shucks, Colonel,” he replied softly. “That’s not as important as what you do.”
“Never sell yourself short, Carter,” Hogan said soberly. “You should always have confidence in yourself and your abilities. I do, and I know the rest of the men do.”
Carter was silent, still looking at the floor.
“Now, let’s get some shuteye,” Hogan said. “We’ve got another roll call in a few hours.”
Carter nodded and turned towards the door.
“Oh, Carter?” Hogan said.
Carter stopped and turned back to Hogan. “Yes, sir?” he said.
“Thanks,” Hogan said. “I don’t think we would have had a chance to be successful in that other existence without the things you did.”
Carter smiled. “Thank you, sir,” he said and left the office.
* * * * *
Carter lay in his bunk, staring up at his miniature Dream Catcher hanging above him. He couldn’t sleep and kept thinking about the things that Colonel Hogan had said to him. It made him feel proud to know that the Colonel had faith in him and the things that he could do. He had always been a bit insecure growing up – never feeling that he was good at anything. He was clumsy and always seemed to ramble on about things that other people didn’t want to hear about. Things haven’t changed too much, have they, he thought. I still do that. But the Colonel is right. When I think about it, the other men in the barracks – my friends here – really do accept me. They do tease me about being clumsy, but I can tell that they are just joking around.
He sighed and thought about it some more. Then he clasped his hands together. Hi God, it’s Andrew again. I just wanted to say thank you for getting us back to where we belong. I could say that I was never worried and knew that we would come back, but you would know that’s a lie because, well, because you know everything. I feel very lucky to be back in this camp with my friends. I know it sounds strange for someone to say they feel very lucky to be stuck in a prisoner of war camp, but it’s how I feel right now. I still don’t know why you had me go through this, but I know you are not in the habit of telling us why you do the things you do. But I will always remember what the Colonel and me went through, and will always appreciate and make the best of what I have. Carter thought for a moment before continuing his prayer. God, I don’t know how things turned out for the group of men at the other Stalag 13, but please, take care of them – I want things to work out for them. Carter unclasped his hands and took a deep breath. He had been through a lot with this ordeal, but rather than feeling worn out, he felt very refreshed. Thanks again, God, he thought.
* * * * *
After roll call the next morning, Hogan decided that it was time to have a little talk with Klink. After recent events, he was looking forward to dealing with a Colonel Klink that wouldn’t get the best of him.
Helga was sitting at her desk, busily pounding away at the typewriter. She glanced up when she heard the door open, but did not stop her typing. Hogan walked over and stood beside her desk.
“Good morning, Helga,” he said. “Is Klink in his office?”
Helga looked up at Hogan as she typed. “The Colonel is busy at the moment, Colonel Hogan,” she replied with a smile.
“I see the Kommandant is keeping you busy,” he prompted.
Helga stopped typing. “Oh, these reports are terrible!” she complained. “There are so many of them.” She reached back and moved her blond hair with one hand and began rubbing her exposed neck with the other. “All this typing makes me so tense,” she cooed.
Seeing the obvious invitation, Hogan took over and began massaging her neck. It’s good to be home, he thought. “Oh, you are tense,” he commented. “This should make you feel better.”
“Oh, Colonel Hogan,” she purred. “You have such strong hands.”
“All the better to hold you with, my dear,” he replied.
Helga giggled. “You’ll have to wait until tonight for that, you devil,” she responded demurely.
“Tonight?” Hogan asked.
“You haven’t forgotten tonight, have you?” she asked, standing up to look at Hogan.
“Oh no, I haven’t forgotten,” Hogan lied.
Helga feigned indignation. “You have,” she exclaimed. “You’ve forgotten our date!” She crossed her arms and tried her best to put on an angry face.
“Helga, darling, how could I ever forget a date with you?” he asked, trying to talk his way out of this predicament. “So, what’s Klink busy with?”
Helga kept trying to maintain her angry appearance, but couldn’t. She burst out laughing and said, “That’s right, change the subject,” she joked. “The great Colonel didn’t say. He just said that he didn’t want to be disturbed.”
Before Hogan could reply, a strange screech erupted from the Kommandant’s private office. Helga put her hands to her ears and cringed.
“Oh, I hate it when he practices his violin,” she complained. “I think I’d much rather listen to one of the Führer’s five hour speeches than to hear him destroy Bach.”
Hogan just smiled.
“What are you smiling at?” she asked.
“Helga, my dear,” he said. “You’re not going to believe this, but right now, that’s music to my ears!”
Helga stared at Hogan in disbelief. He bent forward and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “I’ll talk to Klink later, and I’ll see you tonight,” he said. “I’ll make sure Schultz will let us use the back of Klink’s car.”
Hogan grinned broadly as he was serenaded out of the office by Klink’s violin. Ah yes, it is so good to be back!
* * * * *
A well-dressed man stepped out of Klink’s office and stood in the doorway.
Two men, transported to a universe totally unlike the one the normally inhabit. They must find a way to survive by depending only on their wits, their faith and each other - each man handling the situation in his own way, yet striving for the same outcome. You may find this situation very unlikely to occur. That may be true of most places, but not here in … The Twilight Zone.
* * * * * * * * * *
Well, there you have it. I know you are saying “What about the gang in the ‘other’ Stalag 13? Was the plan successful? Was Hogan able to set up shop in camp once Colonel Weingarten arrived? Did Colonel Klink recover and try to take his camp back? How did things go when the ‘other’ Colonel Hogan came back? Did the ‘other’ Hogan and Carter travel to the Stalag 13 that we all know and love during this story? Why did Hogan and Carter spend almost two weeks in the other Stalag 13 and yet come back on the same day that they left?”
Valid questions. Remember, in The Twilight Zone, strange things happen, and not everything is wrapped up nicely. I don’t know the answers, but it seems to me that maybe another story or two is in order to explain it – so if you are really curious, get writing! (Take Lauren’s ‘Flattery Challenge’ and write something up. I’d be curious to see how it all turned out between Hochstetter and Klink myself!)
The Final Countdown
The method of transporting Hogan and Carter to this alternate version of their universe was inspired by the movie The Final Countdown. In that movie, the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Nimitz of 1980 passed through a strange storm and found itself back on December 6, 1941. When the captain of the ship realized where and when they were, he had a tough decision to make – sit by and watch the thousands of people die in the Pearl Harbor attack or changing history and preventing the attack using the superior firepower of the carrier. He chose to try to prevent the attack. Before they could prevent the attack, the ship passed through the same strange storm and was back in 1980. An excellent movie – filmed on the real aircraft carrier.
Johann Sebastian Bach composed a series of 6 Sonatas and Partitas specifically for the solo violin (BWV1001 – BWV1006). In this story, Klink will be playing these flawlessly – which we all know is something that Klink should not be able to do. Anyway, you can find the music (and even hear audio samples) for these Sonatas at the following links:
Native American Dream Catchers
The poem that Carter remembers in this story is that of the Native America Dream Catcher legend of the Chippewa, or Ojibway tribe. The Chippewa would typically make a small Dream Catcher and present it as a gift to newborn children, to protect them from the bad dreams.
The Dream Catcher legend was also adopted and slightly modified by the Lakota Sioux people. The Lakota legend is a bit different from the Chippewa legend in that the Dream Catcher will catch the good dreams and keep them with you, while the bad dreams will find the hole in the middle and slip away.
In the series, of course, we learn of Carter’s Native American heritage from the episode Drums Along the Düsseldorf – in which Sergeant Little Deer Who Goes Swift and Sure Through Forest demonstrates his prowess with a bow and arrow … sort of. Carter mentions that he is from Sioux heritage, which would mean that he could have been familiar with the Lakota legend. But since the Chippewa as well as the Lakota Sioux were natives of the area of North and South Dakota, I am assuming that Carter’s Grandfather would be familiar with both versions of the legend.
For more information on the Sioux tribes, see the following websites…
Text and original characters copyright 2005 by Jeff Evans
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.