In Name Only, Chapter 1
2006 Papa Bear Awards - Nominated
Best Original Character - Wolfgang Klink
2006 Papa Bear Awards - Nominated
Best Challenge - Yankee Swap Plot Bunny Challenge
2006 Papa Bear Awards - Third Place
Best Yankee Swap Story
2006 Papa Bear Awards - Nominated
Best Overall Story
We, Patti and Marg, have taken on the pseudonym, Bryan
Hutchins -- [Marg Bryan, Patti Hutchins], for this challenge, as the plot of this
story is completely un-related to the storyline we've already created for our
on-going Games Universe. We just wanted to keep it separate to avoid plot bunny
This story was written in response to the Yankee Swap Plot Bunny Challenge offered on the HH Smartgroup's list. This challenge consisted of HH authors offering up plot bunnies to swap with other HH authors. A Yankee Swap Official (Patti) collected all the bunnies and then randomly distributed them to participating authors. The actual rules are listed in our author's notes at the end of this story.
The plot bunny Marg obtained for this story consisted of a short, sweet, and fairly open plot plan... Klink's brother comes to visit Stalag 13 and the heroes are unsure where Klink's brother's loyalties lie. Here's hoping we have done this plot bunny proud as we took certain liberties on what a 'visit to Stalag 13' might actually mean.
As always, we do not make any claims on the original Hogan's Heroes' characters. All other characters are ours. But again, those characters are free for anyone to use, if you so choose. And our thanks goes out to Becky, who helped beta-read, and got us over a big hurtle!
Our rating for this story would be T for strong language and violence. Enjoy!
“A brother does not murder a brother!” Josef Klink hollered loud enough through the phone receiver that anyone who might have been in Wilhelm Klink’s office would have heard him. “A son does not betray everything his parents taught him! We raised you better than that, Wilhelm,” Josef continued angrily, and chose then to spit on the floor in disgust. “That is the last time your name will be spoken in our house as part of this family. As long as you live, you will remain a Klink… in name only!” Josef had to pause when his anger and grief reached a crescendo and his breath practically left him. Finally he spat, “May you die soon, like the bastard you’ve become,” and then slammed the phone down, ending the conversation.
Just a week or so earlier...
In the bedroom of Josef & Rikka Klink, parents of Wilhelm & Wolfgang Klink,
June 2, 1944 0430 Hours,
"I'm off, Rikka," Josef Klink said as he bent down and gave a small kiss to his wife, who he knew, even at this early hour, was only pretending to be asleep. "It could be a long few days. I'll give you a call when I know more."
Rikka Klink opened her eyes and peered at her husband with a twinkle that could only make him laugh. "How many wives, Josef, allow their husbands to spend days at a time with another woman, and a pregnant woman at that? You should be glad I'm not the jealous type." Rikka laughed. "Although, I can not say that about your mistress. I see the way she looks at me when I come visit you. She would strike me dead if she could."
Josef sat down next to his wife. Taking her hand is his, and then gently bringing their clasped hands to his lips, he kissed hers, and said with a smile, "I think it is Luna who would lose that fight in the end, Rikka. You are a more formidable woman than you think. But, what a fight that would be, ja?" Josef gave his wife's hand another quick kiss before he practically jumped away from the swat he was expecting his wife to level at him.
"Ah," Rikka huffed, and then with the same coveted hand threatened her husband after having practically pulled it from his grasp. "Maybe it is I that should tell Globus of your tryst with Luna. What a confrontation that would be… My vote would be for Globus as victor, though."
"Mine too," Josef laughed. "At last check, he outweighs me by 300lbs. He is growing into a gorgeous Siberian, Rikka. You should come see him! I hope I live long enough to see him at his peak. He is expected to be the zoo's savior for the future. No better specimen of a Siberian Tiger have I ever seen. I can only hope that Luna's cubs will live up to our expectations. It will be a great boost..."
Rikka shook her head, realizing that she had lost her husband's attention. Again. When he started a diatribe on the Siberian Tiger, she had long ago stopped listening. There was no more she could learn... after more than 40 years. "Go to work, Josef," she sighed. "Take care of Luna and her babies. I'm fearful that she will not give birth until you are nearby. I will try to bring supper, but I have much to do before the choral group performs this weekend. Those boys," she shook her head negatively, "they somehow can just stand still and ruin their choir uniforms. I will need to spend hours at Thomaskirche stitching and mending this week. It's very important that they are at their very best this Sunday. Government officials are, once again, coming to judge their worth. We can only hope that the Thomanerchor's longevity and illustrious history will still continue to keep it together, even with the war raging as it is."
"That is fine, as always, Rikka," Josef offered. "We at the zoo have similar problems. That's why we are putting so much worth into Globus and Luna's first mating. We have only been able to keep our jobs because our breeding program is known worldwide. That alone, I think, has allowed us to remain in favor with the Fuhrer." Josef fell silent, sighed and headed for the bedroom door. Before he closed it behind him, he peeked back into the bedroom and offered, "Although, if you can find the time, Rikka ... your presence would be a welcome diversion to the long wait. Other than that, it's only me and Georg."
"I will try, Love," Rikka said with a smile. "I will try."
A couple of hours later…
In the kitchen of Wolfgang Klink, younger brother to Wilhelm Klink,
June 2, 1944 0645 Hours,
"Here you go, Geselle," Wolfgang Klink offered softly as he tapped his cat's food bowl on the kitchen counter, continuing their new early morning ritual. Ever since Wolfgang had taken a second job as a driver for the Leipzig University’s Library book evacuation, he had barely an hour between his third-shift handyman duties at the Auschkeller Chemical Laboratory and the beginning of his day-job for the library. All he had time for was taking a shower and feeding the cat. "There you are little one," he said when he watched his cat come around the corner from the living room.
"Meow," was all the response he got as Geselle pounced on the counter and immediately began eating her breakfast.
Taking a moment to stroke her gray fur, he apologized, "I'm sorry, Geselle. I haven't been a very good owner of late. Leaving you for long hours during the day... Pappa would be ashamed of me." Sighing, Wolfgang offered his neglected cat an alternative. "Maybe I should just take you to stay with Mama and Pappa. You'd certainly have a better life there, than here with me."
"Meow?" Geselle almost seemed to ask a question as she stopped eating and began rubbing up against Wolfgang's proffered hand.
"Ah, don't worry, Geselle. I actually couldn't give you away," Wolfgang sighed, knowing that as companionship went, he was lucky to have Geselle, for any other kind of relationship had been non-existent since he lost his wife Becka. It was one year ago, today, when an errant bomb took out the section of the Leipzig University Library where she worked. "I sometimes think I only took this job as driver to cause myself more misery, Geselle. It is all I can do not to think of her as I enter the university grounds. Or maybe it has always been a wish that the increased bombings in the area would take me as well." And we could be together again, Becka.
"Meow?" Geselle offered again, while still rubbing herself against her owner.
"Ha," Wolfgang laughed out loud. "Some would think me crazy, Geselle. Talking to a cat, and expecting you to understand." Wolfgang shook his head in embarrassment. "But, what's most important to me,” he continued trying to justify his behavior, “is that you're a very good listener.” Especially today.
Wolfgang turned away quickly, gathered his lunch, and headed for the door; glad to escape his house before even more memories of his late wife had time to overwhelm him. It was just not something he would have expected after a whole year, but he knew that today was going to be hard to get through, especially if the way he felt now stayed with him for the rest of the day. I miss you so, Becka.
"Meow?" was all Wolfgang heard as he closed the door behind him.
After only a short brisk walk, Wolfgang arrived at the library's service entrance, but had to wait for his supervisor to let him into the staging area for the trucks that have been moving many of the books still housed in the more recently damaged area of the library. "Guten Morgen, Eric," Wolfgang yelled and waved to get the man's attention after seeing him appear from behind one of the trucks.
As Eric Koenig made his way back toward the gate and his office, he replied, "Ja. Guten Morgen, Wolfgang. I have your assignment right here." Rustling the papers that he was carrying, Eric pulled out a number of pages, but before he handed them to his employee, he asked, "We have a six day run, Wolfgang. Are you interested?"
"You know better than to ask, Eric," Wolfgang sighed. "Working at the Auschkeller keeps me busy."
"You can make more money driving than as a handyman," Eric said snidely. "And it's much safer. I'm only looking out for your welfare, Wolfgang. The Auschkeller Laboratory is a prime target for the Allies to bomb, especially at night."
"Ja, I know. But what will I do when we have moved all the books they want moved?" Wolfgang shook his head. "No, the work is more steady at the Auschkeller. I will just have to take my chances. Besides these day trips allow me to go home to my Geselle at night. She waits for me as a pet would her owner... and then she makes love to me like no other."
"Some day, I will have to meet this vixen of yours," Eric replied with a lecherous smirk.
"Ja, maybe someday, Eric," Wolfgang said, thinking about how pathetic his life was that he had to make up a lover to score points with his supervisor. "But for now, she is mine." Oh, please forgive me, Becka. I mean nothing by what I say. It’s just hard to admit to anyone that you’re gone. So, I play games. It’s easier.
"All right, Wolfgang," Eric said still smirking, although finally acquiescing. He handed over the paperwork, which included a map, truck keys, and personnel papers. "Today, you are off to Berlin. Truck three."
"Danke, Eric." Wolfgang took the material, wanting now more than anything, to escape from the library grounds. As he headed to his truck, he opened his newest map, and checked to see the circuitous route Eric had him running today. He shook his head in frustration. It will take me almost ten hours to make this run. As it was, Wolfgang had been almost everywhere within a 12-hour round-trip drive of Leipzig delivering books to their new secure holding facilities.
Wolfgang knew the reasons for all the misleading directions. It was to keep the books safe from anyone who might be trying to learn the system of evacuation, and anyone who could possibly do damage or steal the library's extensive catalog of rare and important first editions. And he knew that even though the government was aware, and had even sanctioned the evacuation, this operation was a purely civilian undertaking. Most of the routes, painstakingly mapped out by Eric, avoided military roadblocks and many of the more vulnerable military targets, whenever possible.
Ah well, just another very long day. At least it will keep me away from the house… I don’t think I could bear to be there alone today.
And then, very late on the same day…
Achat Pub, Red Light District,
June 2, 1944 2235 Hours,
“Ach, you can drink as much as you want, but you can not fall asleep here,” the pub owner, Arnold Achat, said as he shook his newest customer by the shoulders. “It’s time for you to go home. If you can no longer hold your liquor, you’re not welcome here.”
“Huh,” Wolfgang Klink barely croaked, trying to lift his head from the bar top in an attempt to fight both his intoxication and fatigue.
With a huff of frustration, the bartender dumped a glass of water onto Wolfgang, whose head had already slumped back on top of the bar. “I said, go home.”
“What did you do that for!?” Wolfgang asked, his head springing up after the shock of the water hitting and running down his back. After he had lifted his head though, he fell silent, for all he saw was a very large angry man staring at him. Wolfgang was sober enough to know that he didn’t need any bruises adding to his already swelled head.
“I will say this only one time more,” Arnold practically growled. “Go home. Go home to your wife. She will forgive you for what ever it was you did.”
“What are you talking about!?” Wolfgang gasped as a sudden stab of grief, and guilt, made him lose his breath.
“I’ve seen your type,” the bartender explained. “You have a fight with your wife, you come here looking for a way to forget, or to make your wife jealous by keeping company with one of the ladies. But you, all you have done all night is ogle my girls, and drink yourself into oblivion, so that you can no longer stay awake. Go home. Make your wife miserable, instead of me.”
With the message finally clear, and since he had no plans to explain himself, Wolfgang, with his heart suddenly aching, just glanced at his watch. After taking a couple of hard looks he realized that he had barely enough time to get home to his empty house, get changed, and get to work. Wolfgang knew that it was going to be a long night for him, and an even longer day tomorrow. He hadn’t slept in almost 24 hours, only having been home barely an hour since he had first left last night for his shift at the laboratory, and especially since he had only manage a diet of alcohol since he finished his shift for the library.
Yawning, Wolfgang paid his bar tab and then checked to make sure he had his pass to be out at this time of night. Finally getting up to stagger from the pub, he began the lonely walk to his home. Tears began to fall from his eyes as he walked though, for tonight Wolfgang acutely felt the sting of the bartender’s accusation. The idea of betraying Becka still hurt him deeply, even though logically he had no need to feel that way a year after her death. But never the less, the guilt and sorrow permeated his already exhausted and alcohol-dulled sensibilities.
Forgive me my indiscretions, Becka. You’ll be in my heart always…I miss you so. What I would give to be with you once more…
Very early the next morning…
Leipzig Zoo, Siberian Tiger Enclosure, Luna's Birthing Pen,
June 3, 1944 0130 Hours,
“I’m worried for Wolfgang, Josef,” Rikka offered when they were finally alone outside Luna’s pen, after Josef’s boss stepped away. “I tried to call him earlier, before coming here. He wasn’t home. That’s not like him.”
“He has the right to be out of the house, Rikka,” Josef admonished, dismissively.
“Ach, Josef. You’ve been so wrapped up in Luna lately,” Rikka responded angrily. “Did you forget what yesterday was?”
At first confused by the question, Josef just stared at his wife. When the realization of yesterday’s meaning finally came to him, he apologized. “Forgive me the lapse, Rikka. I could never forget what happened to Wolfgang’s Becka. But, it does give Wolfgang all the more reason to not have been at home last evening. We both know he has not dealt well with her death. He may have not wanted to sit alone in an empty house.”
“But,” Rikka retorted.
“No buts, Rikka.” Josef interrupted. “Let him grieve on his own and in his own way.” Glancing at his watch, a thought struck that he knew might comfort his wife. “Besides at this hour, he is probably already at the laboratory. For all you know, he was probably sound asleep when you called earlier. He has been working himself to the death lately. He has no time for anything but working and sleeping.”
“That is also why I worry,” Rikka replied. “Two jobs? Forgive me, Josef, but you know that before he met Becka, holding down one job was hard enough for him. She was his savior, his life’s blood. And then, well… you know what happened last year. He was lucky that he only lost his job at the canning factory after the accident.”
“Ja, I know, Rikka,” Josef agreed. “But, grief can make people do strange things. Having just lost Becka, Wolfgang wasn’t thinking right. He made a mistake. No one was hurt, though. And he has now moved on. Becka is still in his heart. It will carry him through.”
“I hope so, Josef,” Rikka continued. “But, I still worry. As you said, grief can make people…”
It was then that time practically stood still as a rapid string of explosions were heard virtually next door…
"Why now!?" Josef Klink shot from his seated position just outside the pen as another explosion occurred. Hollering so he could be heard, he bellowed at the sky, "Why now!? When Luna is in labor!?" After watching Luna get up, pace wildly back and forth, and stretch to her full height clawing at the walls of her birthing pen, he continued in a panic, "We need to settle her down!" Josef knew she was looking for a way to escape and find a safer place to have her cubs. "I'm going in there. Hopefully, I can calm her down. The stress is not good. We could lose both Luna and her cubs."
"Oh, don't be ridiculous, Josef," Rikka pleaded as she too catapulted from where she had been seated next her husband. "As much as I know she trusts you, this is her first litter. She could get dangerous."
"Rikka is right, Josef. Don't be foolish," the zoo's administrator, Georg Usher, said, out of breath after having run from his office just across from the enclosure to rejoin his companions. Grabbing his Siberian Tiger expert by the shoulders, he admonished, "You are more important than that tiger or her cubs. We can always get new breeding stock, Josef. But where would I find a new keeper with your experience, especially if she decides that you are also a threat to her cubs?"
"But," Josef began, with a pitiful look from one companion to another.
"But nothing, Josef," Rikka said anxiously. "You are more important to me than that tiger or her cubs." Rikka paused in her exposition and stood quietly as if waiting for something. "Listen.” Rikka took her husband’s face in her hands. “Listen, Josef. It's quiet now. The explosions have stopped. Maybe it's over."
"Ja. Let us just wait this out, Josef," Georg said. "Give Luna some time to settle, if she doesn't, we can always tranquilize her and take the cubs." At Josef's dirty look, he continued, "I know, that could be just as bad for her. But it may be the only option. Let us wait. Please sit back down."
Josef Klink sighed deeply as he did what he was told and sat back down on the bench outside the enclosure, although he never took his eyes off the still anxiously pacing pregnant tigress. His boss, who placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, and his wife, who took his hand in hers, joined him on that bench to continue their vigil.
As time passed and things returned to peaceful waiting at the zoo, neither Josef, nor Rikka, with their attention so focused on Luna's continuing labor, had even given a thought as to where those earlier explosions might have come from, for sadly, explosions were almost a part of daily life with the war raging around them. Little did they know though, that their lives had just irrevocably changed forever... as those explosions had come from just across town at the Auschkeller Chemical Laboratory...
A few days later…
Luft Stalag 13, Kommandant Klink’s Office,
June 6, 1944 0945 Hours,
“My parents!?” Wilhelm Klink bellowed, his heart in his throat, as he stood up to face the Gestapo Major. “You can’t be serious, Major Hochstetter.”
“I’m always serious, Klink,” Hochstetter said dangerously. “Especially when dealing with traitors to the Fatherland. We know your parents are withholding information as to the whereabouts of your brother.”
“This is preposterous, Major,” Klink said flabbergasted and having a hard time breathing. “First you come here, unceremoniously, with accusations that my brother Wolfgang sabotaged the Auschkeller Chemical Laboratory, and then that he stole a truck full of priceless first editions from the Leipzig University Library.” Exhaling, Wilhelm blurted out, “And now you tell me that you’ve arrested my parents for aiding him! This whole thing is ridiculous!”
“Remember, Klink,” Hochstetter threatened. “You’re not above suspicion here either. We’ll be watching you closely as well.”
“Major,” Wilhelm Klink spluttered anxiously, starting to realize that his family was truly in danger. “My parents are innocent civilians. As a zoologist and a seamstress, neither has any comprehension of treachery. My father could not survive in this world without my mother. He is so absorbed with the animals under his care at the zoo that he doesn’t do well outside of that world. At times, I think he even forgets there is a war on. Believe me Major, my mother has enough to do keeping my father focused. She has no time for more than that and her position as seamstress with the Thomanerchor.”
Wilhelm sighed then, trying hard to retain some dignity as an officer, even though his heart was pounding in his chest, and he was terrified that his family would no longer exist if any shred of evidence was found, or even fabricated, by the Gestapo. “As to my brother Wolfgang, I cannot explain his disappearance. But you will still have to prove to me that he was involved in this. He is as harmless as my father, maybe even more so. Are you certain he even survived the destruction of the laboratory?”
Hochstetter almost barked at Klink. “There are only a few staff that work at the laboratory at night, housekeeping and maintenance only. Everyone who survived, injured or not, has been located. And the dead have been identified. All their whereabouts are known. All, except for your brother’s. And there is no evidence that his remains are anywhere on the laboratory grounds. The survivors interviewed all indicated that he was indeed at work that night. That, and the fact that a truck was stolen from the University about the same time, clearly gives us cause to believe your brother was involved.”
“I don’t understand,” Klink said exasperated. “How can you so easily connect him to the stolen truck from the University Library?”
“You are an imbecile, Klink,” Hochstetter spewed at him. “You are trying to make me believe that you did not know of your brother’s second job as a driver for the library?”
“A driver? For the Library?” Klink shook his head in frustration, knowing that he would now have to air his family’s dirty laundry to the Gestapo Major. “Sorry, Major. It does not surprise me that I was not told of this. Wolfgang is fifteen years my junior. I have long had issue with my younger brother’s inability to find, and hold, a job that could procure him a future. If it were only that he began to work at a second job to make ends meet, he would never have told me. Nor would have my parents.”
“Well… you will both have much more in common, if I find out you have anything to do with covering up his disappearance,” Hochstetter challenged, realizing that Klink probably had nothing to do with the sabotage and thievery. But he wasn’t planning to let him off the hook until his brother was found. “To see you jobless or dead… either would be worth it.”
Trying to ignore that last statement, Wilhelm decided to take on the aggressor role, for at this point he figured he had nothing to lose. “My main concern now is for my parents, Major. My brother has chosen his path, and I cannot help him. But know, Major, I will be contacting the Gestapo in Leipzig. My parents have many friends and colleagues in the Leipzig aristocracy. I’m sure that there are many that will help me persuade the Gestapo of their innocence. They will be released and cleared of charges, very soon, I assure you.”
Hochstetter hated getting caught off-guard. He had wanted to play Klink until the man shrank from fear; instead Klink had found the one out for his parents that the Gestapo Major could not now deny. “Bah, the aristocracy.” Hochstetter paused and stared at Wilhelm Klink. Almost spitting, he said, “Your parents are being released today, Klink. But don’t think the Gestapo is not going to watch their every move.” The Major turned from the Luftwaffe Colonel and exited the office without a backward glance.
Wilhelm Klink exhaled mightily, relieved for his parents, but was still completely confused, anxious, and worried about his younger brother. What happened, Wolfgang? How could you be involved in this? Where are you running? Was it all an accident? Again? I had thought you were doing well.
Wilhelm Klink sank back into the seat at his desk, unsure of what to do next. His only notion was to contact his mother and father to make sure that they were all right. But his thoughts were still with his younger brother, because regardless of their disagreements, he had always acutely felt responsible for Wolfgang. Their parents had Wilhelm at a very young age. His mother was 16, and his father only 17. Wolfgang was almost part of a second family for his parents, born when Wilhelm was 15, which always made Wilhelm feel more like a father, than a brother, to Wolfgang…
“What have you gotten yourself into, Wolfgang? I want to help you, if I can, but I don’t know even where to start,” Wilhelm thought out loud, never expecting that he would be overheard.
Meanwhile just across the compound in Colonel Hogan’s quarters…
“Wow,” the Colonel offered, surprised. “Who would have thunk it… Klink’s brother, a saboteur.”
“Didn’t he blow something else up, Colonel?” LeBeau asked as if trying to dredge up a memory. “Why does that sound familiar?”
“You know, I think you’re right, LeBeau,” Hogan agreed after a moment’s contemplation. “Wasn’t it when you were playing that gypsy psychic? It was in a letter from Klink’s mother, I think. Yeah, I found it going through his desk. Although, it seems Wolfgang didn’t get in too much trouble for that incident. Strange, huh?”
“Colonel,” Kinch supposed. “Do you really think it possible, that he could be a saboteur? I mean, our naïve Klink just described his family as innocents. How much more naïve can they be? Maybe the Gestapo are just on a witch-hunt?”
“It’s a good question, Kinch,” Hogan replied. “But we all know, this war has made many people do things they would never do otherwise.” Hogan shrugged. “Well, it’s nothing we have to worry about, unless Klink gets more involved. We can’t have him getting arrested by the Gestapo. We need him here. We’ll have to keep an ear to the ground, just in case. But I really doubt his brother would show up here. He’s probably on the run for Switzerland…”
Later on the same day…
At the home of Josef & Rikka Klink,
June 6, 1944 1520 Hours,
“Good day, Josef,” Karl Straube, lead Thomaskantor, offered when it became apparent the both Rikka and Josef needed time to be alone, as clearly their two days in Gestapo custody had taken it’s toll, and… when he noticed that he was the only one left at their home after having come to pay his respects. Putting a hand to Josef’s shoulder, he assured, “This was all a terrible mistake, Josef. Any misunderstandings will be cleared up soon. Please make sure that Rikka knows to take her time coming back to work. We will survive this weekend’s concert.”
“Danke, Herr Straube,” Josef said expressing gratitude. “Your kinds words to the Gestapo on our behalf were more than we can ever repay.” Josef reached out to shake the Cantor’s hand, thankful, but also completely exhausted.
“Nein. No thanks are necessary, Josef,” Karl assured, returning the handshake. “Rikka means the world to us at Thomaskirche. It was the least we could do.” The Cantor turned and left quickly then, still unsure of what transpired, but knew that even if Wolfgang hade done something unspeakable, that he had done it alone, and his parents would never have had anything to do with such treachery.
Josef just sighed after closing the door on whom he hoped was their last visitor of the day. He went to collapse on the couch in the living room, only to remember that he needed to check on his wife first. She had stunned everyone by excusing herself earlier and never returning. Josef knew that Rikka had not reacted well to being handed Wolfgang’s cat Geselle, which George Usher had retrieved from Wolfgang’s apartment, at Josef’s behest.
After making his way to their bedroom, Josef opened the door quietly only to find Rikka rocking in her chair by the window, clutching Geselle tightly to the crook in her neck, and sobbing. “Oh, Rikka,” Josef said morosely, as he approached his wife, now feeling guilty that he had not come in after her, before this. “I’m so sorry. Please, stop crying. Everything will be all right.”
Rikka looked up at her husband, with tears streaking her cheeks, and spat, “Stop crying! Stop crying! Everything will be all right! It’s all a misunderstanding! Don’t you start with all that, Josef! You can’t believe everything will be all right. We will probably never see our Wolfgang again! Misunderstandings with the Gestapo don’t just clear up, unless one is dead.”
“Please, Rikka.” Joseph made his way over to the rocking chair and went to console his wife by hugging her.
Rikka jumped up and escaped from her husband before he could touch her. Then turning, after putting Geselle onto the bed, she tried to push Josef away, as he had finally been able to take her into his embrace. “Leave me alone, Josef! I will not be placated! If you are to side with those that think everything will be fine, then you will not be sharing this bedroom with me ever again. So go! Leave now!” she yelled, trying hard, but not succeeding in breaking his hold on her.
“Stop, Rikka, stop,” Josef yelled in return. “We may have lost a son today, but I will not lose you. Please calm down, this will do neither of us, or Wolfgang, any good.” Josef grabbed her even tighter and gave her a strong kiss on the lips. “I can not lose you, Rikka! Don’t push me away! We need to stand united, if we are ever going to have a chance to save Wolfgang. You and I both know that this whole thing had to be an accident. It’s the only possible explanation. Together, maybe we can prove it.” Releasing his tight grip on Rikka, Josef sighed and then admitted, “For without you, I would just die.”
Rikka began sobbing again and fell into her husband’s embrace. After a time, when she was finally able to catch her breath, Rikka pleaded, “Forgive me, Josef. I was not thinking correctly.” She kissed her husband then, and continued with, “We will face this together, for it is I who could not face the world without you…”
Very late on the same day…
Luft Stalag 13, Colonel Hogan’s Quarters,
June 6, 1944 2225 Hours,
Colonel Hogan was lying wide-awake in his bunk waiting on the return of twelve of his men from a mission to retrieve a large load of medical supplies. It was important that this mission succeeded, as their medic, Sergeant Doug Carson, was running very low on supplies, which made it dangerous for his POWs and anyone else in the chain to London. Especially with things not going as well for Germany now, Carson was worried that this might be the last shipment they would get from the underground.
So, with such a large group of men out of camp, it had become the Colonel’s custom to stay in camp, just in case he needed to orchestrate a distraction of some sort. Although when it was plausible, he always sent Kinch out of camp in his place. It just always made him feel better about the outcome. And with this just being a retrieval mission, Kinch could go out without getting easily identified as a Negro, something that had kept him in camp very many times during very many missions.
Ha. Kinch had actually been excited to get out of camp tonight. He told me he was getting a little claustrophobic in the tunnels of late. Well, at least the weather is nice, Kinch. Wouldn’t it have figured though, if it poured buckets on your first night out in a while…
Hogan’s time sense interrupted his thoughts and told him that he should be hearing Kinch’s special knock on his office door, very soon. It had also become custom that Hogan would not act like a hovering mother hen when his guys returned from a mission. It was Kinch’s idea to use a knock, that way Hogan would know they are all back safe and sound, and it would let the guys do their jobs without having to deal with their commanding officer jumping down their throats when they returned. It had seemed to work great for the guys, but for Hogan himself, the whole thing just sucked, as he just plain hated the waiting, and… the not getting details until Kinch gave him his report in the morning.
Only tonight’s special knock from Kinch never came…
It was Newkirk who barged through the Colonel’s door, saying in a panic, “Colonel Hogan, sir! The mission went bad, sir!” After his headlong rush and blurted report, Newkirk finally stood up at attention, and then looked up with sorrow radiating from his soul, at the Colonel who had just now had jumped down from his top bunk.
“What happened?” the Colonel asked evenly, already knowing it was worse than he could ever imagine.
Newkirk recovered and made the report he had come in here to make. “I’m sorry, Colonel. We lost the shipment, and we suffered one fatality and one casualty,” he said with as much military decorum as he could muster, but then tears welled in his eyes, and he could not continue.
Hogan put a hand to the younger man’s shoulder. “Who, Newkirk? Who?”
Shaking his head, Newkirk only said, “I’m sorry, Colonel. Kinch… Kinch was killed. Carson took two hits, but he should be okay. There were five Gestapo killed, and we’ve taken an injured prisoner. We were not quite sure what else to do with him…” Newkirk paused and his body began to shake, but it wasn’t grief that was the cause.
Hogan, trying to reign in his own grief, took Newkirk by both shoulders and asked, “A prisoner?”
Newkirk looked straight into his commander’s eyes. “Yes, sir. That bloody bastard! Klink’s brother! Can you believe that bugger showed up here? It was his truck full of library books at the meeting place, not our truck with medical supplies. He apparently has injuries from that laboratory explosion. Anyway, when we arrived on scene, he was being roughhoused by the Gestapo. Expecting that we were rescuing our contact, Kinch ordered us to take out the Gestapo, except that’s when all bloody hell broke loose.”
Colonel Hogan had too many questions about the botched mission, but instead of asking, he just turned away from Newkirk then, knowing that he couldn’t waste any energy identifying blame or grieving for a friend, for he knew that the whole operation was in danger of blowing up in their faces, and everyone was in danger now. He always knew that it could happen, and happen all too easily. All it was going to take was one POW being killed as a spy, and the jig would be up. The Gestapo, the SS, and the entire German military machine would probably drop in their laps instantly, especially with all the prior suspicions about Stalag 13, and despite any ‘no escape’ record. And now they even had Klink’s brother added to the mix, which couldn’t bode well for them or the Kommandant if the Gestapo found out he was involved. Hogan just didn’t know where Wolfgang Klink fit into the big picture, though. The man had certainly made himself an enemy of the Gestapo, which he knew was a relatively easy thing to do. But the Colonel couldn’t believe that the man was an experienced saboteur, either. It just didn’t ring true, with all that he thought he knew of the younger, and elder, Klink.
“Colonel?” Newkirk asked worried, not sure what his commanding officer was thinking about. “What should we do, sir?”
Hogan turned back to his young Corporal and stated matter-of-factly, “It’s over Newkirk. We can’t explain Kinch’s death away as anything but what it was. There’s no more pretending, no way to cover it up. We’ll have Klink and the Gestapo on our tails for sure when they find out he’s missing or even worse, dead. And then with five missing Gestapo… And then, hell, with Carson shot up too… there are just too many variables and not enough time to deal with them. The Gestapo will be out in force as soon as those goons don’t check in. So, I’m sorry Newkirk, we have only one option,” Hogan stated purposefully. “To save as many men as we can, evacuation has to be the order of the day…”
That statement so shocked Newkirk that he stopped listening to the Colonel’s orders. He had never seen the Colonel just give up. But he knew he just couldn’t let that order get out of the Colonel’s office, without questioning it. I know Kinch wouldn’t have.
On the Colonel’s “Follow me,” Newkirk stepped in front of his commanding officer and spouted, “Colonel wait. That can’t be the only thing we can do. We’ve done tougher things. And you know Kinch wouldn’t want to be responsible for the evacuation. There has to be something else we can do. I mean… Hell, we have Klink’s brother. Maybe we can…”
Hogan was surprised by Newkirk vehemence, and held up his hand to stop Newkirk from talking. He again turned away and began pacing the small space in his office. When he finally stopped pacing, he went to stand in front of Newkirk. Putting his hand to the Englander’s neck, he squeezed, and said, “Maybe, we can, Newkirk. Maybe, we can…”
Hogan sighed. “But it will all depend on what kind of man Wolfgang Klink is and how much he means to his brother,” the Colonel continued knowing that his newest plan was only a last desperate measure. “Come on, Newkirk,” Hogan ordered, but also took his hand and patted his companion’s shoulder. “We need to have a conversation with our prisoner…”
After making their way into the tunnels under Barrack 2…
Colonel Hogan stopped short when he saw that Baker and Olsen were just returning from the main tunnel entrance, only both men were carrying Kinch’s dead body, and were heading for the nearest cot with it. Hogan actually hadn’t been sure what he was going to find when he made it to the tunnels, but he had to assume now that Newkirk had returned to camp without the others to make his report quickly. And now their entrance coincided with the return of the others.
“Baker, Olsen, hold up,” was all Hogan could think to say.
Baker and Olsen both turned when they heard the Colonel call their names, and just waited, unsure of what if anything to do next.
Hogan approached the two men, who were still holding onto Kinch’s body, and apologized, “Sorry guys. Go ahead, put him on the cot. I just wanted to…” Grief welled inside him, as Baker and Olsen did as they were ordered, and Hogan took his first look at Kinch whose head was wrapped in someone’s uniform jacket. English? Newkirk’s? Hogan thought as he knelt down to remove the covering and get a look at his friend’s injuries.
“Colonel, wait,” Newkirk interrupted, having quickly taken hold of the man’s arm before he could remove the jacket.
“What the hell’s the matter with you!” Hogan bellowed, surprised, but had to quickly fall back on military decorum, because other than that, he just didn’t know how he to react. “Let go of me, Corporal.”
“I’m sorry, Colonel,” Newkirk offered sadly. “I just… I just wanted you to be prepared, sir. Maybe you shouldn’t look?”
It was then that Hogan realized that most of the blood he saw was the blood that had soaked through Newkirk’s jacket. “I’m fine, Newkirk,” the Colonel said softly and shook off Newkirk’s grip. Pulling back the jacket from Kinch’s face, he had to hold in his reaction, as he knew the men were all looking at him. So at the sight of Kinch’s contorted and bloody face, all he did was cover his friend’s face back up, stand, and order, “Get some blankets for now. Cover him up completely, and move him out of everyone’s path. Someone keep an eye on him. We’ll give him a proper burial, as soon as we can…” If we even have time that is…
Colonel Hogan barely turned back toward the tunnel entrance when he heard even more commotion. Two more of his men were helping the camp’s medic, Doug Carson, into the same area, although this time, his POW was walking, albeit with considerable help.
“Carson,” Hogan started as he went to help the others lower him onto a second cot. “How bad?” he asked, but could easily tell that even though his medic had a leg wound and also what appeared to be a second wound in his side, that neither injury appeared immediately life threatening.
“I’m sorry, Colonel,” Carson began through a haze of pain and grief, “I tried to help Kinch, only…”
“I know, Carson,” Hogan interrupted. “Relax, we need to get you help right now.” Standing up after helping to make the Sergeant comfortable, he bellowed to no one in particular, “Get Hynes, Jackson, and Travers. Now!” Then turning back to his medic, “I’ve got your guys coming,” he assured. “You’ll be fine. Take it easy, okay?”
Carson nodded, and then with an almost uncanny understanding of the bigger picture, Carson just said, “This is bad, huh, Colonel? We messed up. I’m so sorry.”
“You just don’t worry about that,” Hogan assured. “That’s my job.” After patting Carson on the shoulder he turned and again asked of the world in general, “Where’s our prisoner?”
“Here, Colonel,” Newkirk offered, having left the Colonel’s side to take over from the two men that had brought Wolfgang Klink into camp, because both of those men had jumped at Hogan’s orders to find the other medical personnel for Carson. Newkirk, now kneeling in front of Klink, grabbed him by the front of his shirt, and heaved him up against the tunnel wall, trying to get him into a better position than the precarious one he’d been in when he was left on the floor with his hand and legs bound.
Hogan watched Newkirk reposition his prisoner, and was trying hard not to just go over and strangle him, and was even gladder that he wasn’t carrying a gun, or he could have enjoyed a little revenge. But he took a deep breath, because he knew that he needed Wolfgang Klink if the rest of his men were to have a chance of surviving beyond this evening. When he got to in front of his prisoner, he so wanted to see the arrogance of a Nazi, but what he saw in the man’s face, was abject terror. Although, he wasn’t going to let that change his tactic. “Wolfgang Klink?” he asked and leaned over to grab the man’s shirt, and was going to give him a serious shove against the tunnel wall, only it was then that he saw that his prisoner was indeed injured, with what appeared to be a huge gash running down the length of his left leg, and was quite obviously pretty badly infected.
So instead of the shove, he just tightened his grasp and asked in English, “Do you understand me?” When his prisoner didn’t answer, but most definitely appeared acquiescent, Hogan somehow sensed that he actually understood. “Answer me!” he bellowed, but again his prisoner only stared and said nothing. Hogan continued with, “Fine just listen then. I have a simple question. Do you want to live or die? And realize that I now control both options. And that you’re just damned lucky I’m even giving you an option, after what just happened. One of my men is dead, another injured, and the rest in serious jeopardy because of you. All because they saved your ass from the Gestapo.”
Looking at his prisoner now, Hogan knew for sure that he understood, because the man just hung his head, broke down, and began sobbing. “All right, knock it off. Let’s cut to the chase here. I know who you are, and how you’re related to Wilhelm Klink. I know what you did in Leipzig, at the laboratory and the library. How and why, I don’t really care. I just want to know why you showed up here, of all places.” Hogan twisted his grip a little tighter. “Answer me now, or death is all that you’ll know.”
Wolfgang’s head popped up when the American’s grip tightened, and he knew that he could no longer hide the fact that he did understand English. Although, right now, he wasn’t sure that his father’s insistence that both he and Will take English as a second language while attending Leipzig University was a blessing or a curse. “Life would be preferable,” was all he said, finally making eye contact the American Colonel.
“Okay, now we’re getting somewhere,” Hogan stated snidely. “Now I want to know why you showed up here. Did you think your brother was going to help you?”
“I don’t know!” Wolfgang yelped painfully. Shaking his head, he explained nervously, “It was all an accident. I was afraid. I ran. I thought Switzerland at first, but I soon realized I had not enough food, water, or gasoline to make the journey.” Looking again into the American’s face, he said, “I even thought to get rid of the truck, and walk, but I could barely move after two days driving, with my leg as it is.” Tears came to his eyes, and he apologized, “I meant no harm to anyone. I just found myself coming this way, and had only pulled off the road nearby to think. That’s all. I thought that maybe my brother would help. But I knew I couldn’t ask him to make that choice. He’s so proud of his position. I just couldn’t ask him to put that in jeopardy. That was when I thought that death would be preferable.” Again Wolfgang lowered his head, and finished his explanation, “And suddenly I found myself in Gestapo custody… and almost an instant later, in yours. I meant no one any harm, believe me. I’m so sorry.”
Hogan finally let go of his prisoner’s shirt, trying hard to hide the pity he felt. “Okay, so I have one last question. If we could cover up your brother’s involvement, and leave his reputation intact, do you think that he would choose to help you?”
Wolfgang just nodded in the affirmative, but said nothing, not really sure what the American was thinking about doing, or even why.
“Okay, good,” Hogan said, ready to start spouting orders. “That gives me enough to go on.” If anything can be enough, that is. “Travers,” he called out when he saw his junior medics arrive. “Take care of our prisoner. Newkirk find the barrack’s commanders. Everyone needs to know the score before I start this…”
Just barely an hour later…
Luft Stalag 13, Tunnels under Barrack 2,
June 6, 1944 2320 Hours,
“You are all well aware of the situation,” Hogan repeated softly for like the tenth time to his men just before they were to enter the Kommandant’s darkened living quarters through the tunnel entrance under the stove. “We don’t have much time before this whole thing is going to blow up in our faces. So, if I can’t get Klink to cooperate soon, we begin the evacuation. Period. End of story. No more arguments,” he stated emphatically and this time looked directly at Newkirk.
Newkirk just nodded silently, knowing that he would no longer argue against the Colonel’s POW evacuation plan, even if everyone knew the chances of it working for the entire camp were slim and none. Newkirk understood that the POWs would have no other option, unless they could get the Kommandant on their side, as he was the key component of the whole cover-up now needed to keep Papa Bear in business. But it meant the Colonel had to convince the German to switch allegiances and work for Papa Bear. And even though everyone knew the Kommandant was not a full-fledged Nazi, Newkirk knew that Colonel Hogan wasn’t at all sure of what the German was going to do when they confronted him. Our only ace in the whole is Wolfgang Klink, and whether there is really any brotherly love in the Klink family.
Quietly, the four men snuck into the German Colonel’s sleeping quarters. Colonel Hogan directed two of them to encircle the bed, while the other was sent to the window to keep watch, as well as be the signalman to the rest of the camp if things turned ugly in the Kommandant’s quarters, which in itself, would trigger a no holds-barred massacre of the Germans at Stalag 13. It was the only way Colonel Hogan expected to get enough time to move large amounts of POWs out of camp and along the evacuation routes. But not a single POW expected to have enough time for everyone to get out before something had to give.
After his men took their positions, Hogan was almost relieved that the Kommandant was sleeping on his stomach. He motioned to his men that he would hold the Colonel’s head down, while the others were to tie him up.
It was then though, that the German Colonel, sensing others in his room, woke to find himself surrounded. “What…” was all he got to say before he was pounced on by his attackers, with one holding his face buried into a bed pillow. Unable to struggle with the weight of the men on top of him, Wilhelm Klink concentrated only on holding his breath while he felt his arms bound tightly behind his back and then his legs lashed together as well. Before Klink could fathom who might be doing this, he was forced off the bed and pushed to his knees. As he gulped in a huge breath of air, he felt a sharp prick of a blade against his throat, which instantly made him jerk his head backwards. When a flashlight was then shown into his face, he was startled to see light reflecting off what appeared to be the muzzle of a gun pointed directly at his forehead.
Klink had no idea who his attackers were. His first thought was Gestapo, but he realized they would never be so secretive. Hochstetter would have relished making a spectacle of him. Klink knew then that there was only one other option. Surprising even himself, he calmly waited to see if his attackers would identify themselves, morbidly curious as to whether he was right.
“So,” Hogan began evenly, hiding his own surprise that Klink seemed resigned to whatever was happening, and was not even struggling. He had expected the German to be begging for his life, although the fact that he wasn’t just made the American Colonel even more anxious. For now he wasn’t sure if this whole tactic was going to work with Klink, as he’d been hoping to scare him into cooperating. And he was afraid that he would be condemning a lot of his men to death tonight, if he couldn’t get the German to agree. But still he was going to try. “You need to answer one question for me, Colonel… are you ready to die for your Fuhrer?”
Ah, Colonel Hogan. After a deep sigh, and with a strange sense of satisfaction that he was right welling up inside him, Klink offered, “If I am to die at your hand, Colonel Hogan… I will not die with a lie on my lips or in my heart. I will die for my country, but I will not die for the Fuhrer.” Klink closed his eyes then and waited for death with a deep serenity brought on by the relief that he could die free of the turmoil and lies that had ruled his life for a long time now.
Completely taken aback by the German’s serene demeanor, Hogan replied only, “That was a good answer, Colonel. You surprised me though; I had expected you to…”
“To beg, Colonel,” the German interrupted. After opening his eyes, and being honestly shocked that he still could, he looked squarely at his enemy in the now muted light of the bedroom that surrounded him. Then shaking his head negatively, he offered only, “I had always hoped you would allow me some dignity at the end of my life.”
“You had always hoped that I…” Hogan began astounded.
“Please, Colonel, if you want begging,” Klink offered starting to breath heavy, as the stress started to wear away his pride. “I will beg. Please take my life. I had never expected to be tortured by conversation before the end. Please, I beg of you, leave me some dignity.” Klink lowered his head to stare at the floor, again waiting for death.
Hogan, truly impressed and honestly floored, signaled silently for his men to pick the German up off the floor and seat him on the bed. “You may have just won your life, Colonel, but if you want to keep it, I will require an additional concession on your part.”
After Klink was placed on the bed, he let out the breath he’d been holding, and just said, “A concession? I just don’t understand Colonel Hogan.” Still breathing rather heavily, he again looked into the American’s eyes. “I don’t understand any of this. I had expected that if I were going to die in this war, it would be at your hand. But the timing, with the war still… I just…” Klink just began shaking his head, “What made you decide that now was the right time? Are my men… what have you done with them? How did you…? What are your…”
The German Colonel just stopped talking, unable to fathom anything now that he had a chance to think it through. Finally after just plain giving up, he asked, “What concession, Colonel?” It was then that Klink watched the American’s demeanor completely change. He went from an unemotional assailant, to a man that appeared to be hurting deeply. It just made the German Colonel all that more confused.
Hogan sighed. “Well, Colonel, I will start by admitting to you that I lost a man tonight. Sergeant Kinchloe was shot and killed by the Gestapo… outside the wire.” As he watched the question appear on the German’s face, he continued, “I know, escaping is against the rules. Just know for now, Colonel, that my men and I do it regularly. Accept that, and I will explain.”
At the Kommandant’s nod of acknowledgment, Hogan continued, “Beyond that, Major Hochstetter lost five of his men tonight as well. So, with all that, it would behoove both of us to keep Sergeant Kinchloe’s death a secret. You would still have an escape free Stalag, and my men and I can continue doing what we do best. But that’s where your concession comes in. We need a way to hide Kinch’s death and come up with an excuse for five dead Gestapo. And do it quickly.”
“You expect me to cover for your… your… I don’t even know what,” Klink offered as his German pride began to re-surface. “Never Colonel. I will die a loyal German first.”
“You said it yourself, Colonel. You are loyal to your country, but not the Fuhrer,” Hogan attacked with the German’s own words. “Helping us will give you a chance to gain your country back from Hitler.”
“Helping you what?” Klink asked angry, confused, and just plain rattled. “What have you been up too, that I…?”
Hogan held up his hand for silence from his German counterpart. “Enough, Colonel. It’s a long story, but I think I can sum it up in a few words.” Hogan took a breath and almost choked on the words before spitting them out. “I’m a spy, Colonel. Codename Papa Bear. Our operation is being run from Stalag 13.”
Klink wanted to just laugh out loud at the preposterous statement from his Senior POW Officer, but something made him hold back. The man’s demeanor now was nothing like it had always been. There was a desperation in it that he’d never sensed before. And if he thought back on all the craziness that Hogan had inspired in his camp, he could almost accept that most of it was a cover for something. But yet, this could still all be part of his craziness. “Colonel Hogan. I cannot believe any of this without some kind of real proof. This could just be more of your continued folly.”
Hogan just got angry, stepped toward the German and put his gun against the man’s temple. “Isn’t this proof enough?”
“It proves to me, only that you can kill me,” Klink said evenly, barely acknowledging the gun’s presence. “I have told you to do so, and you have not.” Klink sighed. “All that tells me is that either the gun is a fake, or you are truly desperate for my help.” Shaking his head negatively he plunged ahead, “I have no proof of what, if anything, is happening beyond the doors of my bedroom. For all I know the Gestapo are using you to gain some inkling that I am a traitor to my country.” For the second time in one day, Wilhelm Klink felt he had nothing else to lose. “I am not. So if I am to die, kill me now!”
Hogan was just frustrated, and knew this whole thing was getting out of hand. “Fine, Colonel, your proof.” Putting his hand in his jacket pocket, he pulled out some paperwork. After glancing at Newkirk, the Englishman pulled out a book from under his jacket and handed it too him. “What if I said I have your brother Wolfgang in my custody?” Hogan fumbled with the paperwork and book, finally tossing them on the bed beside the German officer. Shining the flashlight on the pile, he continued, “I know all about your visit from Hochstetter this morning, Colonel. I know what your brother did at the laboratory, and the library, in Leipzig.”
After a slight pause, Hogan sighed, and blurted out, “You’re lucky he’s still alive, Colonel. But know… that after your brother and his truckload of books disrupted our mission, that it was Sergeant Kinchloe who willingly gave his life to save your brother’s. The Gestapo my men met head-on would have made short work of him otherwise. And if I know Hochstetter, your life will be shot to hell as well when he finds out your brother had anything to do with his men’s death. And I will admit to you that my operation will be in jeopardy without you here as Kommandant. So I need your cooperation. I can promise you that your brother will be safely relocated and the Gestapo will never be looking for him again. If you don’t cooperate though, he will die, along with every German at Stalag 13. I promise you that. My men and I will do anything we can to survive, and you won’t like the consequences if we’re pushed too far.”
Motioning toward Olsen after seeing Klink struggling to see the paperwork, Hogan ordered, “Untie him.” And then continued softly with, “This morning, Colonel, you said you wanted to help your brother. I can help you help him. Only you need to help me in return, and we can then keep everything running the same as it always has at Stalag 13.” After a pause, Hogan tried to push the Kommandant’s buttons a little further. “You’ve already admitted to loyalty to your country, Colonel. Where does loyalty to your brother fit in?”
After silently looking through the paperwork and seeing that the book was indeed stamped by the library’s seal, Wilhelm shook his head sadly, “You have made a compelling argument for keeping things the same, Colonel. But as it is, I can only see that my brother has been captured. Whether it was by you, or the Gestapo, I still have no proof. Neither do I have any assurance that he is still alive.” Looking up into his Senior POW’s face, the German admitted solemnly, “Please know that my loyalty to my brother is not in question, Colonel Hogan. But I need to know that he is alive. I beg of you… please let me see him… and I promise that things will remain the same here at Stalag 13.”
“Sorry, Colonel Klink, seeing is out of the question, but talking I can let you do...” Hogan got the walkie-talkie from his man at the window. After signaling the stand-down from Operation Evacuation, he ordered Sergeant Baker to have Wolfgang be given a chance to talk. Handing the walkie-talkie to Klink, Hogan ordered. “A quick hello, Colonel. That’s it. And in English. I know you’re both fluent.”
Wilhelm Klink nodded, opened the channel, and asked simply, “Wolfgang?”
“Will!” Wolfgang spouted quickly, after also being warned that he needed to speak English. “Forgive me, I didn’t know where else to go. I’m sorry…”
It was then that Hogan took the walkie-talkie from Klink, but did not cut the connection. “Enough proof, Colonel?” When Wilhelm Klink sighed and nodded in agreement, Hogan ordered into the walkie-talkie, “Operation Reclamation is a go,” and then he severed the connection. “All right, Colonel Klink, I want you to listen very carefully, as you are an important part of this cover-up. But don’t think that you can try to deviate from this plan. If I sense any deception on your part, it’s over. You’re dead, your brother is dead, and your men are dead. It’s that simple.”
Klink only replied, “I understand, Colonel Hogan. You’ve made your point quite well. What is it that you need me to do?”
“Well first, let me set the stage,” Hogan stated. “The only way to clear your brother of all charges is for him to end up dead.” When he saw the beginning of panic appear on the German Colonel’s face, Hogan continued unperturbed, “And to clear you of any suspicion, you have to be the one who kills him. And then for good measure, you will rescue some of those priceless first editions.”
“Colonel Hogan,” Klink began anxiously. “You promised…”
“I said listen carefully, Colonel,” Hogan said deadpan, cutting off the Kommandant. “And I meant it. I promised that your brother would be relocated, and that the Gestapo wouldn’t be looking for him. That hasn’t changed, but for anyone to believe that there was no cover-up on your part, he has to be ‘dead’, proving to the Gestapo that he has met his fate. Understand?”
Klink kept silent and only nodded.
“Good,” Hogan said curtly and then continued with his explanation. “As we’ve been talking, my men have been getting the scene ready for this deception. They’ve been moving the bodies of the dead Gestapo, and the truck, to an area away from the original incident and into a location that a commotion can be heard from Stalag 13. The truck itself is being wired, so that at the correct moment, it will explode taking some of those books and your brother to the hereafter. Figuratively in terms of your brother, of course,” Hogan said quickly as the anxiety again appeared on the German’s face.
“But, to answer your question, Colonel,” Hogan offered. “Your part in this begins when the commotion is first heard. You are to accompany a patrol, with dogs, out to investigate. But as part of this patrol… you will also include Sergeant Schultz and Corporal Langenscheidt.” Hogan sighed, realizing that he had to now give up his ‘aces’ in the hole. “My men, have by now, informed them of their part in this deception.”
When the expected question appeared on the Kommandant’s face, Hogan just went on before any words escaped from the German’s mouth. “I guess, Colonel, that I can no longer keep their part in my operation, a secret. Both Schultz and Langenscheidt have been on my payroll since our trip to Paris with Manet's The Boy with the Fife.” Seeing the German’s confusion, Hogan only said evenly, “All you need to know, right now, Colonel, is that they will be watching every move you make, and are instrumental in making this deception work. So, make sure you take their cues seriously.” Staring directly into Klink’s face, Hogan asked, “I don’t have to make that point any clearer, Colonel, do I?”
“No, Colonel,” Klink replied by rote, after realizing that he had no idea when he had lost control of his Stalag.
“Good,” Hogan stated. “The success of the plan, after leaving camp, is dependent on your ability to control your men, Colonel. Know that my men will be playing the parts of underground agents who were contacted by your brother, so that those books could be moved out of the country. You and your men will interrupt that process, but by the time you get there, my men will have moved enough of the books out of the truck, so that you will be able to save much of them. The plan then calls for my men to scatter in all directions. You are to send your men with dogs out to round them up. Is that clear, Colonel?”
“Very clear, Colonel. But that’s putting your men in danger,” Klink interrupted. “In as much as it now appears that I’ve been duped by you for a very long time, my men are trained in the art of capturing escaped prisoners. And with the dogs… What if your men are captured? It would seem to me that it’s necessary to keep my men in the dark.”
“Well, at least you’re thinking, Colonel,” Hogan said somewhat snidely. “But, we have that taken care of too. We’ve been training the dogs for a long time now. They will all go in certain patterns, looking for the food we always leave out for them. Be assured, my men will go in the other direction. It has worked to keep my men safe thus far, and I expect it will again. As I said Colonel, my men and I escape fairly regularly. London keeps Papa Bear and his cubs pretty busy. We’ve got the escaping, and returning, down to a science.”
Klink again kept silent, feeling completely demoralized, realizing now that he never had any control of his Stalag.
“So,” Hogan continued when Klink made no further comment. “That will leave you, Schultz, and Langenscheidt, alone in the area of the truck. And sitting in the truck will be our imposter for your brother, caught off-guard by your appearance. You, pulling your gun, containing blanks of course, will order him out of the truck, then confront him as your brother and have a shoving match, that he wins. All the while Schultz and Langenscheidt, on your orders, are investigating the contents of the truck. Once the shoving match happens, and you end up on the ground, our imposter will jump into the truck and try to escape. On your order, Schultz, Langenscheidt, and yourself as well, will begin shooting blanks at the retreating truck. At which point, from everyone’s perspective, it will appear that some of those bullets hit the gas tank, which will cause the truck to explode… with your brother in it.”
Hogan took a breath, “In actuality, our imposter will put the truck in drive, escape from the passenger side door, and when clear, set off the trigger that will blow up the truck. Then all that’s necessary is for you to contact Hochstetter informing him of the demise of his men… in a conflict with the underground and your brother. Your men will be unable to catch anyone else, but you will be able to save a good many of those priceless first editions from being transported out of the country. And with the mastermind, your brother, dead by your hand… a hero to the Fatherland is born.”
Hogan paused and looked the German directly in the eyes, “You better be capable of convincing the Gestapo, Colonel? Or your brother, Wolfgang, will be the first one dead. I have made myself clear, right?”
“Yes, Colonel,” Klink offered, trying hard to feel confident, but since his world had just been turned on its axis, he wasn’t sure of anything anymore. But he had already made the decision to do what he could to help Wolfgang, and would not be put off by fear now, for he knew he would go to his grave to save his brother. That gave him no other choice, and he knew he would make no other choice.
“Good,” Hogan replied. “Then, it’s time to get this show on the road…”
Early afternoon, the next day…
Luft Stalag 13, Kommandant’s Office,
June 7, 1944 1245 Hours,
“I expect that you will make sure my parents and I are cleared of suspicion, Major,” Kommandant Wilhelm Klink demanded, even though his heart was pounding in his chest. “My brother has paid the ultimate price for his crimes.” Wilhelm walked from behind his desk to the window in his office. Glancing into the woods North of camp, he saw the remnant smoke from the burning truck his brother had stolen from the Leipzig University Library. “I’m only sorry that we were not able to rescue more of those valuable books from the truck before it exploded.”
“No matter, Klink,” Hochstetter declared, not honestly worried about the books. “I can assure you that the Gestapo in Berlin and the Gestapo in Leipzig are already aware of your loyalty to the Fatherland.” Hochstetter almost choked on that sentence, as he had waited what seemed like eons to catch Klink as a traitor to the Fatherland. Only today, he had to accept that Klink was now a hero, at least in the eyes of Berlin and the aristocracy of Leipzig, as the return of those books seemed to be of the most import. “And the Leipzig office has already ended their surveillance of your parents.”
“That is good to know,” Klink replied, now just hoping to get rid of the Gestapo Major. Turning back from the window, he stated evenly, “Well, you have my report, Major. The books we were able to save, and salvage, are being packed up as we speak. They will remain in my custody until someone from the library comes to retrieve them. Your men’s bodies have been transferred into your custody. And my men are doing cleanup duty at the site. Is there anything more you need?”
“No, Colonel. We’re through,” Hochstetter said deadpan, still unable to believe how the man had orchestrated the elimination of his brother. But since those in Berlin were impressed with the Colonel’s ability to stand up for the Fatherland, especially with his total disregard of any familial relationship, the Gestapo Major had to agree. Although, having lost five men to this scenario, he was even more sure Klink was guilty of something. And I will eventually prove it. Just not today.
It was then that the Gestapo Major chose to leave without another word…
As the door closed behind Major Hochstetter, Klink made his way back to his desk, and plopped heavily into the seat. He actually just wanted to throw up, as he’d just become a hero in the eyes of his superiors for murdering his brother. It may ultimately save his brother’s life, but Wilhelm Klink, son of Josef and Rikka, knew that his parents could not be told of the ruse, and that they would never accept any reasoning behind the murder of their youngest son, as committed by their oldest son.
Wilhelm just sat pondering how his life had changed forever, until he heard his outer office door open. It was followed by Colonel Hogan coming into his office unannounced with such a resolute and authoritative demeanor that Wilhelm knew, with his new ineffective figurehead position, as Kommandant, that he would just have to get used to it.
Without any preamble, Colonel Robert Hogan stated unemotionally, as he stood staring down at the Kommandant's desktop, trying hard to stay calm and not to look into the face of Wilhelm Klink, "Sergeant Baker has moved into Barrack 2 to take Sergeant Kinchloe's place. And as agreed, everyone involved now knows that Sergeant Kinchloe will remain assigned to Barrack 2… in name only.” Finally, raising his eyes to glare at the German Colonel seated at his desk, the American Colonel's anger and sorrow over his friend's death finally got the best of him. "You better keep your promise, Klink. There's still a lot of war left to fight, and I don't want Kinch's death to be for naught. As promised, you won't enjoy the consequences if that happens."
"Colonel Hogan, you are grieving. And I know that I can never change that," the German Colonel offered quietly, with a crystal clear understanding of the shifting power base at his Stalag. "Be assured... you have my word. The new order that exists here at Stalag13 will prosper as we work together to put an end to Hitler's Third Reich. I owe you, and most especially your Sergeant Kinchloe, for my family’s continued existence. I will never forsake the promise I made."
“You better not, Klink,” Hogan spouted. “Just remember that your brother’s life will be in my hands for the rest of the war. You slip up and betray us, I or any one of my men just has to send the word to London, and your brother is no more.”
“As I said, Colonel,” Klink repeated. “I will never forsake the promise I made."
“Okay then,” Hogan accepted, finally calming down enough to get back to the business at hand. “Well, it looks as if you managed your way around Hochstetter. At least, for now, he appears willing to go along with Berlin’s acceptance of the sequence of events. Which means, we only have a couple more things to do to finish with this cover-up.” Hogan sighed as grief just welled up unexpectedly, and he glanced back down at Klink’s desk. “I will need free reign of the POWs burial site tonight. I need you to keep your men out of the area. My men and I will go out to bury Sergeant Kinchloe’s body along side the others.”
Finally, recovering his composure, Hogan raised his eyes and continued with authority, “His grave will remain unmarked, so as long as you fix the paperwork, and shift the guards for barrack 2 around, leaving Schultz and Langenscheidt, we should be all set. Other than that, you’ll be told what you need to be told, when you need to be told, Colonel. Your cooperation only requires your ‘understanding’. So that way, things can remain the same.”
“Of course, Colonel,” Klink accepted, not really sure of his new role in Hogan’s operation, but for now ‘understanding’ he knew he could do.
“And just so you know, your brother will be moved to London in a few days,” Hogan offered. “He’s still recovering from injuries sustained in that laboratory explosion. Nothing too serious, though.”
Klink sighed, nodded, and asked only, “Can I make a request, Colonel?”
“What request?” Hogan asked suspiciously.
“I would like to talk to my brother again, if you would let me,” Klink explained. “I need to say good bye. For even though I hope I can trust your word, Colonel… I have no guarantee that I will ever see him again.”
“Of course, Colonel,” Hogan replied, acquiescing. “I’ll have communications set up for later today.”
“Thank you for your ‘understanding’, Colonel,” Klink replied.
Hogan only nodded and took his leave of the German Colonel, with the hope that they could actually make this new co-operation work.
Just a couple hours later…
“Wolfgang,” Wilhelm Klink asked in English into the walkie-talkie that he was given by Colonel Hogan. “Are you all right? I was told you were injured.” Klink looked up into Colonel Hogan’s face to see if their was any reaction at all, half expecting the American to cut off the conversation, so he would not find out that it was Hogan’s men who were responsible, instead of a result of Wolfgang’s own mistake.
“Will,” Wolfgang sighed despondently. “I am well. The injury is minor, and is being treated.”
When Wolfgang fell silent, Wilhelm, not really knowing what to say either, only offered, “That is good to know. I…”
“Will,” Wolfgang said, suddenly interrupting very anxiously. “I am sorry to have brought this all on you. I want you to know that it was all a mistake. It was Becka’s anniversary, Will… I was grieving… and I had too much to drink… and went to work… I wasn’t thinking straight… I accidentally left a gas value open… and…”
“Don’t say any more, Wolfgang,” Wilhelm said breaking into his brother’s uneasy confession. “It no longer matters. I know how much Becka meant to you. I just want you to know now that I had all along believed you could not purposely harm anyone.”
When Wilhelm heard a subtle cough from Colonel Hogan, he looked up to see the American give the signal for cutting off the message. Wilhelm sighed, although grateful that this time, the Colonel was going to allow him to end the conversation himself and not rip the walkie-talkie from his hands as was done before. “We don’t have any longer to talk, Wolfgang. I can only hope you will be well. I want you to know that I will not go back on my promise.”
“Oh, Will,” Wolfgang lamented. “I owe you for so much. Be assured, I will not break my word either.” After pausing, Wolfgang offered only, “Be well, brother.” And then the connection was severed from Wolfgang’s side of the conversation.
Just a couple hours later…
At the home of Josef & Rikka Klink,
June 7, 1944 1320 Hours,
“A brother does not murder a brother!” Josef Klink hollered loud enough through the phone receiver that anyone who might have been in Wilhelm Klink’s office would have heard him. “A son does not betray everything his parents taught him! We raised you better than that, Wilhelm,” Josef continued angrily, and chose then to spit on the floor in disgust. “That was the last time your name will be spoken in our house as part of this family. As long as you live, you will remain a Klink… in name only!” Josef had to pause when his anger and grief reached a crescendo and his breath practically left him. Finally he spat, “May you die soon, like the bastard you’ve become,” and then slammed the phone down, ending the conversation.
As Josef turned from the phone, his entire being ached with such a physical and emotional pain, that he collapsed to his knees and sobbed. As a father, he could not understand why such an evil would befall his sons and cause the destruction of their entire family. He had tried to raise his children to understand decency and humanity. And even though the war had thrust his country into turmoil, he had expected his sons to keep those ideals close. And even though he may have had to accept the deaths of both sons because of war, he would never accept why now, one is dead, and the other, his murderer. “Why, Wilhelm? When did such evil seduce you?”
Rikka, not wanting, yet wanting to hear Wilhelm’s explanation, had stood across the room during her husband’s phone call in stunned silence, as she had not been able to fathom the news that they had gotten from the Leipzig Gestapo that afternoon. News that said Wilhelm had been instrumental in Wolfgang’s death, after Wolfgang had shown up in Hammelburg unexpectedly. Rikka had waited for Wilhelm to say that it was all a lie, but when Josef repeated Wilhelm’s statement that he had done what he did for the good of the Fatherland… well, that was when her heart just broke.
Time had stood still for Rikka then, and it wasn’t until she heard Josef slam down the phone, that anything at all made sense to her. Seeing her husband collapse was enough to galvanize her into action. Approaching quickly, kneeling down, and finally embracing Josef, she said the only thing she could think to answer her husband’s plea, “It had to be because of the war, Josef. Wilhelm wouldn’t…”
Josef broke away from his wife and stood, saying, “Don’t make excuses, Rikka. Evil cannot seduce that which is not truly evil. Accept that this is all our fault, and our penance, for we brought Wilhelm into this world. We are responsible for all that he has become…” Josef paused and his eyes strayed to where family pictures stood on the fireplace mantel in their living room. He wandered over and picked up a picture of both Wilhelm and Wolfgang standing side by side at Wolfgang’s college graduation ceremony and tried to remember anything that indicated such malevolence in his oldest son.
“Please, Josef, you are not making sense,” Rikka pleaded. “We raised our boys well. Wilhelm was always a good son… something must have…”
“Enough, Rikka!” Josef hollered and smashed the picture he held to the floor. “Wolfgang is dead because of Wilhelm. And now, Wilhelm is dead to me. You can believe as you wish, but I never want to hear his name uttered in this house again. Never again, Rikka! Do you understand? Never again!”
Josef then, in a fit of pique, took his hand and knocked all of the pictures from the mantle, knowing as he heard the glass shatter, that he had also just shattered his wife’s heart. After quickly glancing back to see Rikka practically falling to her knees and trying to sort through the mess that he’d made, Josef’s own anguish made him choose to escape Rikka’s presence. And he did so, by leaving their home, unsure of where he would go, but sure that he could no longer listen to the sounds of his wife’s crying…
Meanwhile, at Stalag 13…
Wilhelm Klink could barely breathe after his father slammed down the phone, although in reality he had expected such a reaction from his parents. Only he had somehow hoped he could explain, but knew that he couldn’t if Wolfgang was to survive the rest of the war unscathed. His only comfort was that now he expected that he might be able to return to his family with the truth once the war was over. It was the only thing keeping him from falling into complete despair.
That, and the fact that Wilhelm knew that what he was doing now was the right thing to do. He’d been too afraid to make any waves before. He had always felt alone, but with the operation that Hogan had already put together, Wilhelm Klink finally felt empowered enough to fight back against what his government had become, in whatever way Papa Bear had in mind for him, regardless of the fact that the amount of pain he was causing his parents would eat away at him every minute of everyday for the rest of his life.
Mama, Pappa… I hope you are able to forgive me eventually. Our family will be whole once again, I promise you…I’m just so very sorry that I have to deceive you like this, but it was the only way to save Wolfgang. Honestly, it was the only way…
Later the same day…
Luft Stalag 13, Colonel Hogan’s Barracks,
June 7, 1944 1825 Hours,
Hearing a soft knock on his office door, Colonel Hogan looked up from the letter he was composing and said only, “Come,” as he was already expecting this visitor.
“Colonel,” Corporal Newkirk offered as he opened the door. “I have Sergeant Kinchloe’s belongings, sir.”
“Of course, Newkirk,” Hogan sighed. “I’ll take them.”
Peter Newkirk brought the small pile of personal effects that Ivan Kinchloe had stored in his footlocker over to his commanding officer’s desk. “Do you need anything else, sir?”
“No, Newkirk,” Hogan said exhaling. “You’re dismissed.”
“Yes, sir,” Newkirk acknowledged, glad that he could escape from the Colonel’s office. He didn’t like seeing the grief in the Colonel’s face. He wondered how Carson had dealt with it in the past with the other deaths. Newkirk could only imagine though, that this time was worse.
After his door had closed, Hogan began sorting through the small pile of items on his desk. He was, at first, able to keep his composure as he went through the ‘official’ items that he requested be sent to all the families of his men that die at Stalag 13. Their dog tags, their rank insignia, their uniform’s name patch were the only things he could offer, as the bodies of his men would not be returned to their families, instead each would be buried just outside the wire in a spot that he, with the Kommandant’s permission, had designated as a burial site after a unanimous decision by the men imprisoned at Stalag 13 that all wanted to remain together as a team for the duration of the war… even in death.
All of that… he could deal with, but as soon as he picked up the pile of letters Kinch had gotten from his wife Sondra, and a picture of their triplets fell onto the desk in front of him, he practically broke down. “Damn it, Kinch. This just wasn’t supposed to happen. We were going to walk out those gates together when this war was over. I was going to give Sondra one hell of a big kiss for marrying you and keeping you on the straight and narrow. If she hadn’t, we never would have met. I was even looking forward to playing uncle to those three little boys of yours.”
Bob Hogan shook his head despondently, and promised, “I’ll check on them, Buddy, as soon as I can. I’ll make sure they’re okay. I was just hoping you would be there to see your boys grow up.”
Stopping before he truly broke down, Hogan piled up Kinch’s belongings, signed the letter he had been writing to Sondra, and placed it all in his footlocker. The difference this time, was that Kinch’s belongings would never be sent to Sondra, or at least not until the war was over. Kinch had to remain a part of Stalag 13 for the duration, as he was killed as a spy, something that no one could know if their operation was to continue. The other men had either died from a legitimate illness, or a real accident. None were related to any subterfuge or evil intent on either his part, or the Germans, so there had been no reason to hide those deaths.
As one consolation though, Bob Hogan, having no plans to tell anyone at Headquarters in London that Kinch had died, could be assured that Sondra and the boys would continue to get Kinch’s salary, at least until he could get home and keep his promise to his friend. If any of us ever get home that is. But I promise to do the best I can for Sondra and the boys, Kinch. I owe you that much, at least.
Colonel Hogan’s thoughts were interrupted by another knock at his door. “Who is it?” he asked rather angrily. Everyone in camp knew what he was doing right now, and they knew not to interrupt him.
“Sorry to interrupt, Colonel,” Newkirk offered quietly, as he opened the door. “Baker reports that an urgent message is coming in from London in five minutes. For your eyes only, sir.”
Hogan sighed frustrated, knowing that Baker should have been the one to give him that message, but was sure that the young Sergeant was struggling with his new duties as radio operator and probably didn’t want to deal with his commanding officer’s ill-temper as well. “Thanks, Newkirk. Tell Baker, I’ll be down in a minute.”
“Yes, sir,” Newkirk replied, and quickly tried to exit the office, but was stopped by the Colonel’s soft mention of his name. “Sir?” Newkirk responded.
“I want to thank you for stepping up to the plate,” Hogan offered with a smile after realizing that the only person that had been constantly at his side for the past few days was the English Corporal. “It’s not an easy job to baby-sit your commanding officer. Keep up the good work, okay?”
“Yes, sir,” Newkirk replied. “I will.” And he left the Colonel’s office, unsure of how he was going to be able to ‘keep up the good work’, but was planning on giving it his best shot.
Hogan sighed as he watched the door close behind Newkirk. I’m really going to miss you, Kinch. Besides being my right hand man, you were a good friend to me in the midst of all this…actually the best friend a man could ever ask for. I promise, that someday, your children will know the kind of man their father was. I’m just so sorry it had to end this way.
After rubbing his eyes, and running his hand through his hair, Colonel Hogan stood, stretched, grabbed his jacket and crush cap, and finally made himself presentable. Well, I guess it’s time to get back to work… No rest for the weary…Operation Cooperation here I come…
To be continued…
Text and original characters copyright 2005 by Bryan Hutchins
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.