In Name Only, Chapter 2
Bridging the Gap…
Operation Cooperation continued successfully for another nine months, until mid-March 1945, at which time everything came to a crashing halt after the SS inundated Stalag 13 with almost 1300 injured and dying POWs when they transferred them there from Stalag 7. The reasoning… Stalag 7 was too close to the front and the Germans wanted it emptied, so they could march its POWs deeper into German controlled territory. The decision was made to move the sickest POWs by rail to Stalag 13, as they would have only slowed the movement of other POWs down.
That, in and of itself, was enough to bring all covert and rescue operations to a halt at Stalag 13, as any and all resources Papa Bear and his men had left, were now desperately needed to keep the dying… alive, and the alive… from dying, until the Allies could liberate Stalag 13.
Sadly, success was no longer a word in Papa Bear’s vocabulary, as things only got worse when the retreating German Army chose to surround Stalag 13 and began using the POWs for target practice…
Park Rangers to Mama Bear…
Operation Hibernation is in full swing. Papa Bear has been successfully retrieved from den. A caged bear is a dangerous animal, Mama Bear. Force needed in retrieval. Injuries sustained by Papa Bear and a few of his cubs were minor. All cubs in den are now being quarantined. As expected, many need special medical care. And some still need interment, although a location is available. Surviving, healthy cubs will be relocated as soon as each has been properly weaned. Papa Bear’s report that no more huntsmen exist in and around den, confirmed. He and his cubs appear to have successfully warded them off. All is going according to plan. Papa Bear’s estimated time of arrival at Ranger Headquarters is 5 hours. Papa Bear will require medical assist upon arrival, as 3 additional hours will be needed for tranquilizing agent to exit his system.
Park Rangers out…
Just three weeks later…
In Leipzig, Germany,
At the family home of Wilhelm Klink,
June 1, 1945 1845 Hours,
”You are not welcome here!” Rikka Klink hollered in agony after seeing her oldest son, Wilhelm, appear unexpectedly at her front door. She slammed the door closed on him, and fled back into the house, not really knowing where to go, as every room in the house reminded her of all that she had lost because of the war. Rikka ended up in her bedroom, after rushing past Georg Usher, who had been sharing the house with her after he’d been forced out of his own apartment when the Americans commandeered the area around his home as a command post.
“Rikka! What the matter?” Georg asked anxiously, and was going to follow her, but was distracted as he heard the front door open.
“Mama, please? I need to explain,” Wilhelm begged, coming into the house quickly after the shock of almost having his hand jammed in the door. “Pappa?” he asked, walking into the living room, though he stopped, shocked, when he saw his father’s colleague, Georg Usher, heading in his direction from the kitchen, instead of his father. “Georg? What are you doing here?”
Georg was just as shocked to see this rather bedraggled visitor. “Wilhelm? Is that you? I thought your mother and father told me you were dead. Killed in a prison riot is what they said. It’s so good to see you, son. Your mother will be so happ…” Georg stopped his pronouncement after remembering Rikka had just run past him and into her bedroom, crying.
As Georg glanced back toward the kitchen, Wilhelm admitted, without wanting to explain too much, “My mother hates me, Georg. My father too. They think I had something to do with Wolfgang’s…death. I’m surprised that he has not yet come to throw me out of the house.”
“Oh, Wilhelm,” Georg began sadly. “You can’t know then. I’m so sorry. Your father… ” Georg stepped closer and put a hand to Wilhelm’s shoulder. “Your father was killed. It was after the Americans arrived. He was always so obstinate, Wilhelm. Josef thought he could keep the troops from the zoo. He was only trying to protect the animals. I tried to stop him, but he stubbornly confronted a patrol at the gate. There was no discussion, though. No negotiation. The soldier in charge raised his weapon and shot him.” Tears appeared in Georg’s eyes, as he remembered the moment his friend lost his life. “Just like that, he was gone,” he said hastily, as he had no intention of telling a grieving son that his father was shot, point-blank, in the head.
“Why!?” Wilhelm hollered. “Why would he do such a thing?!” As grief struck hard, Wilhelm began to feel light-headed and took his face in his hands. Between having to practically escape Stalag 13 when the liberating force arrived unexpectedly, and traveling almost three weeks as a refugee would without sufficient food or water, and now, finding out that his father was dead… well, everything was just becoming too much for him. He found the only couch in the living room, and almost collapsed onto it. Still holding his head in his hands, he lamented, “He should have known the Allies would crush any opposition. After all the evil that Hitler condoned… it was… inevitable. He should have done nothing!” Wilhelm paused, finding it hard to breathe. Finally though, looking up at Georg, he questioned despondently, “Did Pappa even know that he was in danger, Georg? Did he even understand?”
“I’m so sorry, Wilhelm,” Georg offered. “But you know your father neither knew nor cared anything about war and politics. He only wanted to care for the animals, that way he would not have to choose sides, or be too involved.” Georg shook his head negatively. “In the end it appears that he finally had to make a choice to be involved, and it cost him dearly.”
When it appeared that Wilhelm wasn’t going to respond, and instead looked like he was going to faint, Georg hurried into the kitchen saying, “Here son, let me get you some water.” When he returned to the living room, he found Wilhelm again holding his head, and noticed that his whole body had begun shaking. Georg approached slowly and put a hand to his shoulder. “Here, Wilhelm, drink this.”
After what seemed an eternity, Wilhelm slowly raised his tear-streaked face, and took the proffered glass of water. “Danke, Georg.” He knew better than to gulp the water even though his body was craving it. Sipping it slowly, he started to feel a little better, enough better anyway, to ask, “My mother, Georg. Is she all right? It must have be hard to feel that you have no one left.”
“She’s a strong woman, Wilhelm,” Georg assured. “But losing your father was a hard blow. She hasn’t talked much. But she’ll get through it…”
Wilhelm sighed. “I didn’t want to get anyone else involved in this Georg, but I need to explain myself to her regarding Wolfgang.” He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out an envelope. “I had assumed that my parents would not want to talk to me.” He raised the letter toward Georg. “Would you give her this? I wrote this to both my mother and father a while back. Please let her know that I…” Wilhelm never finished that thought, and only handed the note to Georg. Then he stood and quickly made his way to the door of his family’s home.
Georg took the note, but stepped to block Wilhelm’s path to the door. “Where are you going?”
“My mother does not want me here, Georg,” Wilhelm explained. “I will need to find shelter somewhere. I hope to stay in Leipzig, for it is my home, and I would give everything right now for my mother to forgive me. And for her to believe that Wolfgang was alive and well the last time I talked to him.” Wilhelm went to by-pass Georg, still trying hard not to tell the whole story. “I’m sorry to involve you in any of this Georg. Please know that I will get word back as to where I finally re-locate.”
“Wait, Wilhelm,” Georg said after his friend’s oldest son had almost made it through the door. “I have a place that you can stay,” he offered, wanting to stop the final ruination of this family. When he saw Wilhelm stop and turn back, he continued, “It’s at the zoo, Wilhelm. We have a fully stocked room. You must remember. We always used it when your father or any of the other keepers chose to stay overnight to care for the ill animals. It’s empty now. There is food, though, and running water.” Georg shook his head, as the senselessness of war enveloped him. “Can you imagine, Wilhelm? With all the death surrounding us, the Allies have chosen to aid the zoo in caring for its animals. Supplies have been starting to come in. Also much, in the way of monetary donations, as well.”
“No, Georg,” Wilhelm hedged. “You will need that room for your employees, especially if it appears the zoo will recover more quickly than most other businesses.”
“True,” Georg said evenly, although with an idea taking shape. “Well, if you’re of a mind… I can always say that it is being used by an employee.”
“I don’t understand, Georg.” Wilhelm sighed and stated, “I’m not an employee.” Although, almost at the same moment, he realized that Georg was offering him a job. “No, Georg,” he said emphatically and then spat, “I am not a zookeeper.”
“Don’t be as stubborn as your father, Wilhelm,” Georg accused. “You know more about the zoo than anyone I could hire right now. You spent your entire childhood helping your father at the zoo.” When Georg saw the word ‘no’ forming on Wilhelm’s lips again, he continued, “Wilhelm, please. You need a job and a place to stay. I’m offering you both. It does not have to be permanent. But I could use the help of someone I trust. And… someone who’s good with money matters. And that person is you.” Seeing Wilhelm wavering he added, “Your father would be very proud, Wilhelm. He always wanted one of you boys...”
Wilhelm held up a hand to stop his father’s boss from continuing, “Enough, Georg. You will not shame me into this.” Wilhelm sighed unable, and no longer willing to argue, so he accepted that instead of shame forcing him into this… that grief and exhaustion had just become the primary catalyst. “All right, Georg, I will accept your offer, but know that I will move on when the time is right.”
“Of course,” Georg agreed, not honestly worried if or when Wilhelm moved on, but just glad that, for right now, Rikka still had a son nearby, regardless of any misunderstanding over Wolfgang. “Well, let us get a move on. I’ll get you a change of clothes, some food, and we can head to the zoo before the curfew.”
Wilhelm only nodded and exhaled deeply, still not fully cognizant of what the consequences of everything that just happened would be, but was now too exhausted to think it through.
“Good,” Georg offered. “And I promise to talk to your mother about this.” Georg held up the letter. “It will work out Wilhelm. I know it will.”
Wilhelm again only nodded at his benefactor. It will only work out… if Wolfgang, you are still alive, and you can find a way to contact us. Other than that, I fear, I will never be forgiven. I can only hope that Pappa knows the truth, now that he’s in heaven. Maybe he will help Mama believe in me, if you cannot.
One month later…
Clinton, Mississippi, USA,
Camp Clinton, American Camp for Germans POWs,
Office of Colonel Charles McLaughlin, Camp Clinton’s Commanding Officer,
July 4, 1945 1300 Hours,
Wolfgang Klink made his way unescorted to Colonel McLaughlin’s office, like he had done everyday for the past eight months. He and the camp’s commanding officer had taken to playing chess after the American officer found out that one of his oldest German prisoners spoke fluent English and enjoyed a rather rabid game of chess. Although today, Wolfgang was getting very anxious, as he had been summoned to the Colonel’s office, and no mention of chess was made.
With the war over and the promise of freedom or death still hanging overhead, Wolfgang, who had been kept fairly in the dark about anything that went on outside of Camp Clinton, only hoped that everything had gone well with his brother, Wilhelm, and the POWs at Stalag 13, as that was the stipulation for attaining his freedom. Wolfgang was to remain quiet and tell no one of Papa Bear’s organization, and Wilhelm was supposed to do the same on his end, and then Wolfgang’s life would be his own once more.
But Wolfgang couldn’t shake the feeling, especially with all the rumors now running rampant about the German’s treatment of POWs, that this trip to the Colonel’s office would be his last act on earth, even though he had not a single reason to think so. His life here at Camp Clinton was almost like a dream to him. He was incarcerated, certainly, but he had been shocked to find that the Americans, military and civilian alike, had treated the POWs here like family in a lot of cases, as most POWs were only in their late teens and early twenties.
There had never even been any acts of violence at Camp Clinton while he’d been there, and he had even had enough time to rekindle his love of music, so that within three months of being brought to this camp, he had become the POWs orchestra leader. It had almost made Wolfgang wish the war would never end, for even though in a prison camp, he had never felt so safe and secure before… but he knew that the end of the war was coming, and that at some point he would have to face either his death or his future. And he just wasn’t sure what today’s summons would actually mean for him.
After approaching the commanding officer’s door, he knocked and said only, “Colonel McLaughlin? It’s me, Wolfgang Klink. You wanted to see me, sir?”
“Yes, come in Klink,” McLaughlin ordered.
As Wolfgang entered the office, he saw that the Colonel was standing behind his desk, not quite at attention, but most definitely comporting himself with an authoritative facade. He approached the front of the desk, stood quietly, and stared straight ahead.
The Colonel came out from behind his desk and circled to stand behind his prisoner. “Well Klink, I had known your internment here was rather unique, but I was never given any specifics. My orders were only to ‘keep an eye on him’ and that’s all.” McLaughlin made a complete circle of his prisoner to come back and stand behind his desk again. Picking up a large manila envelope and pointing it at his prisoner, he said evenly, “This here envelope contains some pretty amazing information about you.”
Wolfgang just stood staring straight ahead, trying very hard not to hyperventilate. He had never seen the Colonel acting like he was now, and it just made him want to fall to his knees and beg for his life, or die… which would make it easier on all involved.
When his prisoner chose to remain quiet, the Colonel asked a little bit confused, “You do want to know what it says, don’t you?” Seeing that his prisoner was practically going to faint, he decided to end the suspense, thinking that maybe there was still more to the man’s story than what was described in the documents contained in the envelope. And more than not, it was probably none of his business anyway. So, turning on a smile, he walked around the desk again, this time, to stand right next to his companion, and said excitedly, “Happy Independence Day, Walter!”
Wolfgang, actually couldn’t help himself, and started hyperventilating, and then almost choked. “Walter?” he eventually spat out.
“Yeah,” the Colonel said still smiling. “You can stop the charade, ‘Walter Knight of Cedar Rapids Iowa’.” Slapping Walter on the back, he continued, “HQ in London reports they’ve disbanded the Nazi cohort that was after you. You can head home to Iowa, and take back your life as… oh what did it say, oh yeah, a music teacher.” The Colonel just laughed, and said, “No wonder it took you no time to take over the orchestra!”
“Oh,” was all Wolfgang could say, while still trying hard to regulate his breathing.
“Relax, Buddy. Looks like everything you need is here,” Colonel McLaughlin explained. “Birth certificate, passport, driver’s license, money. And I’m sure we can even find you some clean clothes. Looks like you can head out anytime you want.” Again, the Colonel slapped his shocked companion on the back. “Like I said… Happy Independence Day!”
Wolfgang could only manage a, “Thank you,” before he took the envelope, and retreated from the Colonel’s office. As he walked back toward his own quarters he glanced at the main gate of the camp, and just smiled, for he knew that freedom was now in his grasp, and that he could finally choose his own path…
Just a few week’s later…
Harlem, New York, USA
At the family home of Sondra Kinchloe,
July 24, 1945 1505 Hours,
Sondra sat at the kitchen table watching her three boys rough-housing with their ‘uncle’ Bob in the living room of their small second story Harlem apartment. Smiling at the chaos, she had to admit that the past month had been good for her children… and for her. Having a man around the house was exactly what they all needed. But as good as it had been… it hadn’t made their life in Harlem any easier. After all, Bob Hogan was a white man, spending way too much time in the home of a black family. People were starting to talk, and some even spreading rather nasty innuendo.
At first, everyone accepted his appearance on their doorstep for what it actually was. Bob had come to keep a promise to a friend. Her husband Ivan had asked him to come and check in on his family in the event that he didn’t return from the war. Sondra had gotten news of her husband’s death soon after the war ended. It was a shock for her to learn that he had died so close to the end of the war, during what Bob had eventually described to her as a final battle for Stalag 13 against the retreating German Army. But before she could really fully accept that explanation, she saw agony appear in Bob’s eyes, as he continued to describe the deaths of more men in that battle. He said the only reason the whole camp wasn’t massacred was because the US 7th Army had reached them in time to crush what remained of the German Army that had chosen to retaliate against the POWs of Stalag 13.
So, honestly, the past month had been good for them all… Bob included. Sondra was still hurting, but sharing the pain with someone had helped her cope. And she had seen the pain in Bob lessen. Not disappear, but lessen. Although she knew, that any more than what they’d already shared would never work. She expected that even Bob knew that as well, but saying nothing seemed easier on everyone. That way, they could make however long they could be together sharing memories, and grieving, last.
Except now, this relationship was starting to get in the way of everyone’s moving on…
Sondra had not yet broached the subject of what Bob’s plan were for his future. For honestly, he seemed to be rather independently wealthy, as work wasn’t something he ever discussed. Nor had he ever mentioned his own family. At first, it hadn’t been something Sondra was worried about, as in her grief all she saw was a wealthy white man taking pity on her and her children. Between all the handyman work he’d done on her apartment, as well as her parent’s apartment downstairs, and then with the money he’d put aside for her boy’s education, she was absolutely sure it was pure pity. But when she went back and re-read Ivan’s letters to her over the past few years, she got a completely different view of the man Ivan always referred to as ‘the Colonel’.
Sondra finally saw a man, who had truly become a close friend to her husband, trying to take care of his friend’s family in anyway he could. It was then that listening to him not talk about his family, only proved to her that there was probably no family to talk about. And that his future was something he was choosing to ignore until Ivan’s family was more settled.
Right now though, Sondra felt that she was ready to move on, for it was actually the only thing she could do. So, for Bob’s own good, Sondra knew it was time to confront her family’s benefactor about his future. “Okay, that’s enough of that,” Sondra stated emphatically after hearing a grunt of pain from the bottom of the pig-pile in her living room. “Ivan, Nathan, Theo. Get off your uncle, he can’t even breathe. It’s a nice day anyway, go outside and play.”
A chorus of “Do we have to?” was heard from the three young boys in the next room.
Before Sondra could get a word in edgewise, a deeper voice interpreted, “You heard your mom. Go on outside. I’ll be out later. We can take on those bullies with some stickball. They’ll regret challenging us.”
“Okay, Uncle Bob!” The triplets echoed together and took off at a run for the front door to the apartment.
“Ugh,” Bob grunted as he rolled to a sitting position on the floor. “I’m getting too old for this.” Struggling to a standing position, he finally looked up into Sondra’s face. “Is there something wrong?” Bob asked cautiously as he came into the kitchen to take a seat at the table.
“Please don’t take this the wrong way, Bob,” Sondra began. “You’ve come to mean a lot to me and the boys. But we can’t just keep up this charade that everything’s gonna stay the same.” She reached out and took his hand in hers. “You’ve kept your promise to Ivan. It’s time for you to take your own life back.”
The word “but” almost escaped from Bob Hogan, although, after looking into Sondra’s eyes for a long moment, he finally agreed with her. “You’re right, Sondra. I really just wanted to make sure you and the boys were set before I left. I have to admit, I’ve become very fond of all of you as well. I think I was trying to hold off making the decision as long as possible.”
“How long is as long as possible?” Sondra asked having seen a new pain appear in his eyes. She almost wanted to ask him to stay. “You were going to give us a chance to say goodbye, right?”
“I would never have taken off on you and the boys, Sondra,” Bob sighed. “I had promised Ivan that I would get you back on your feet, you know, make sure you could make ends meet. But honestly, I found that you were a lot more settled than I ever could have imagined. It was then I think I decided to lean on you a bit.”
“Bob,” Sondra assured. “Having you here has been good for me and the boys. I would hope that we always stay in touch. But we both need to move on. You’ve done more for us than I could ever repay.”
“No, Sondra,” Bob offered. “It was Ivan that had done more for me than I could ever repay.” He shook his head, although a smirk appeared on his face. He reached over the kitchen table and kissed Sondra on the forehead. “Maybe we should stop the mutual admiration society. What do you say?”
“Yes, why don’t we?” Sondra laughed. “Can I ask what your plans are?” She sighed and got up from her chair when she saw his face drop. Turing away from the table, she continued, “I don’t mean to pry. It’s just that you’ve not shared anything with me. I don’t know if you have any family. I don’t even know where you’re from. For all I know, you’re a closet millionaire.” Sondra turned back to look deeply into Bob’s eyes. “I only know for sure that Ivan considered you a good friend. I want to be that kind of friend to you too…” She paused then, not really knowing what else to say.
Bob stood and took Sondra by the shoulders. “I’m sorry Sondra. I guess I’ve been a little unapproachable in that regard. I didn’t mean to be. I had decided that you didn’t need to concern yourself with my life. You certainly had enough to deal with in your own life.”
“Well, you thought wrong.” Sondra pointed at the kitchen table. “I’m concerned. Please sit, and talk to me.”
Nodding at Sondra, Bob waited for her to sit first. As he joined her back at the table he laughed, “You think I’m a millionaire?” When she looked embarrassed, he continued, “I’m sorry. I’m not laughing at you. I guess I can imagine why you thought that… a white man showing up on your doorstep, staying for a month at an up-town hotel and seemingly having unlimited funds.” Bob shook his head. “Well it’s not even close. I had some back pay stored up and was offered what you could call a ‘retirement bonus’ from the army. Basically they wanted to get rid of me, and I them. Anyway, I do have some cash right now, but it won’t keep for long.”
“So what will you be doing? Do you have any job prospects?” Sondra asked,worried. “I mean, you can certainly stay here until you get settled somewhere. I’d never want to force you out.”
“Don’t worry, Sondra,” Bob assured. “That Army retirement bonus also came with job placement. I’ll be moving to Boston, and taking a position as a pilot for American Airlines. Right now, they’re flying commercial jets out of Commonwealth Airport to New York on a daily basis, with continued expansion expected.”
“When was all this to happen?” Sondra wondered, realizing that those kinds of jobs just don’t tend to ‘wait’ for people.
“Well,” Bob explained. “I was shooting for September. I was going to start training for the big jets then, and probably be flying by December. Although, I still wanted to make sure you were doing all right before I made any formal decision. I guess I can put my bids in now though, huh?”
“Do you have a place to stay in Boston?” Sondra asked, curious. “You’ll need time to get settled. As it is, you’ve spent all your time here with us.”
“I’ll be fine, Sondra.” Laughing, he offered, “It’s not necessary for you to worry about me. When I first got back home, I had to do a lot of re-organizing of my finances. I put my family home on the market, already planning the move to Boston. I’m close to closing on that house and I already have a few prospects in the Boston area.”
“Are you alone, Bob?” Sondra again asked, curious. “I mean you’ve said nothing of parents or siblings. Now you say you had to sell your family home…”
“So, I guess this means that you want me to spill my guts to you?”
“Oh, Bob, I’m not trying to pry.” Sondra sighed. “Well, I guess I am. I just want to get to know you and help in any way I can. If you’d let me, that is.”
“Thanks, Sondra. I appreciate your concern,” Bob replied. “Well if you must know… it’s only my mom and me. My dad died when I was young. My mother raised me by herself. I’ll be moving her to Boston as well, only she’ll be placed in a nursing home in the area. I’m still working on which one will be best for her. Turns out she had a stroke late last year, and the state of Connecticut placed her in a nursing home when they were unable to contact me or any other family members. I didn’t know the full story until I got back home. And even then I had to locate her.”
“I’m so sorry, Bob. But that’s so unfair of you! You’ve been here with us for more than a month,” Sondra accused. “Your mother needs you more than we do. You should have…”
“Sondra, please,” Bob said, interrupting, and almost apologizing. “I completely agree with you. Only my mother no longer knows me. She lives in a confused state… has since her stroke. After locating her, I visited with her daily, hoping that she’d recognize me, but it made no difference.” Shaking his head, he continued, “I decided then that it was time to fulfill a promise to a friend. If that took a couple months, she would never notice. But she will be moving to Boston with me. I’ll be close by from now on. And, just so you know, I harass the staff of the home every night to check on her. I haven’t ignored her.”
“Oh,” was all Sondra could say.
“So, I guess we should make this breakup official, huh?” Bob said with a smirk, trying to bring some humor to the proceedings, and not really succeeding. “I’ve only paid for my hotel room until the 31st. That seems like a good a time as any to move on. I’ll make sure you know where I am. Plus the fact that I’ll be flying into New York almost everyday, you’ll see me. Maybe more than you want too. Okay?”
“Okay,” Sondra agreed. “Well, I guess we should break the news to the boys.”
“Not right now. Let me go play some stickball with them,” Bob offered. “I promised earlier. We can tell them tonight before I head out. I wouldn’t want to ruin our winning streak with some bad news…”
And then very late on July 30, 1945…
Standing on the front porch of Sondra’s family’s double-decker home, Bob Hogan gave Sondra a peck on the cheek, and said, “Well, I guess this is really good bye. My flight is very early in the morning. I should be in Boston by 1:00pm. I’ll give you a call when I get myself, and my mom, settled.”
Sondra reached out and gave Bob a hug. “You have a safe trip, okay?” Sondra offered, tearing up just a little as she released him. “The boys are gonna miss you. I’m glad you stayed to help tuck them in.”
“Oh, come on,” Bob offered putting his hands up to her face to wipe away the tears he saw forming. “None of that, now.” With a small smirk, he continued with, “This was supposed to be a clean break. If you start crying I might just have to stay.”
She smiled, and replied, “We can’t have that now, can we?” Sondra took his hands in hers. “You take care. And if you ever need anything, please call. Oh, please call anyway.” Sondra gave him kiss on the cheek and glanced to where a taxi idled waiting for its passenger. “Alright, you shouldn’t keep that taxi waiting. Go,” she said, quickly releasing him, and giving him a soft shove in the direction of the street.
“All right, all right,” Bob replied smiling. “I know when I’m not wanted any more.” Picking up his few belongings, he started down the porch stairs to the waiting taxi. Turning back, he only said, “Take care of yourself, Sondra… and those boys too.” And then he waved after he put his bag in the back seat, and finally got in himself… “Manhattan, the Hilton,” he said quickly to the driver, and leaned back against the cushion seat back with a sigh.
Closing his eyes, Bob instantly found it difficult to let go of the surrogate family he’d found, and almost impossible to come to terms with all the lies he had to tell that family… I’m so sorry. Someday Sondra, someday boys, I will be able to tell you the truth. You deserve to know that your father did not die as a victim of the Nazis, but as a hero fighting against them. You will know that he helped me unite the greatest group of men, who willingly put themselves in harm’s way for my operation, for almost three years. I’ll tell you about how those men banded together at the end, to take care of over 1300 of their ill comrades, even though it meant that their lives were in more danger than before. I’ll tell you an amazing story of cooperation, between those men and the German soldiers stationed at Stalag 13. To see, all of them, offering whatever supplies they had to help the sickest in camp, and then to see them standing, and dying, together to defend the camp from a surprise attack, and doing it, just because it was the right thing to do… Well, it was amazing. Your father would have been so proud of them, all of them.
So someday, I will tell you the stories about the most incredible group of men I have ever known. And you will know that your father was one of the best…I promise, that someday, you will know the truth… I promise, that someday, everyone will know…and you can have much more to remember your father by, than just… in name only.
In Leipzig, Germany…
Some fifty-plus years later, after the fall of the Berlin wall, and the re-unification of Germany…
An 83-year-old retired music teacher from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, named Walter Knight, fell to his knees and began sobbing after locating the gravestone bearing the names of husband and wife Josef and Rikka Klink, and of their two sons Wilhelm and Wolfgang, in Leipzig’s St. Thomas Cemetery. As the tears continued unceasingly, Walter’s heart ached with a pain so intense that he thought at first he was going to die right then and there. As he tried to catch his breath, Walter knew that dying would be the easy way out for him, and he knew he didn’t deserve that, but he would have welcomed the possibility, as it would have finally reunited him with his real family, a family that he had abandoned, a very long time ago, without the slightest hesitation.
“Mama? Pappa? Will? Please forgive me,” Wolfgang lamented. “I had always meant to get in touch with you. But with you in East Germany, and me having found myself in the United States at the end of the war, it was just… well it was just that you were so much better off without me.”
Something caused Wolfgang’s throat to constrict, and somehow that forced him look at the dates carved into the stone, dates which he had tried not to notice when he first located the gravesite. Seeing that his father had never survived the war and that his mother died only ten years later caused him to throw his upper body forward onto the ground from his still kneeling position. Covering his head with his hands he again asked for forgiveness, but this time he asked it only of Wilhelm, who he realized had spent the last thirty years of his life alone without a family to support him. “Please Will, I owe you for so much. For my life. For my wife Kathryn. For my boys, Joseph and William. You see, I didn’t forget.” Another stab of pain in Wolfgang’s chest almost took his breath away. “I’m sorry. So very sorry.” Wolfgang continued sobbing, until he was left spent and having no strength to even sit back up.
“Oh my God, Walter!” Kathryn Knight called out as she found her husband practically lying face down on the ground. Walter had told her that as part of this long awaited trip to Germany to see the famed Thomanerchor that he had wanted to see some of the historic old gravestones in this cemetery… something that she had not wanted to do. So Kathryn had gone into the church and listened to the choir during a practice session. But after exiting the church and not finding her husband waiting, she got worried and went looking for him.
As Kathryn reached her husband, she grabbed him by the shoulders and could feel that he was shaking. “Are you all right, Walter? Let me go get some help.”
“No, Kathryn,” Walter offered unsteadily, as he slowly rolled over so he could obtain a seated position. “I’m fine,” he said stoically as if he really expected Kathryn to believe him.
“You’ve been crying, Walter,” Kathryn stated honestly surprised, as it wasn’t something she could ever remember her husband doing. “Is everything all right? What can I do?”
“Oh, Kathryn,” Walter sighed while taking his wife’s face in his hands. “I need your forgiveness. It’s been so long. I’ve lied to you, to the boys, to everyone…” He released his wife’s face as his head bobbed forward, and again he began sobbing.
“I know, Walter,” Kathryn offered quietly, as she embraced her husband, glanced at the gravestone in front of her, and took in the names of those that she’d waited, for what seemed a lifetime with her husband, to get to know. “And I do forgive you…” Wolfgang Klink, Kathryn thought after she read the last name imprinted on the stone, along with the word ‘unknown’ carved in place of what should have been a date of death.
Thanks for Reading
And a BIG Thank You to our Yankee Swapping Plot Bunny Author!
Patti and Marg
We had a great time exploring Leipzig's history for this story. Between the Zoo, the St. Thomas Choral Group, and the University Library, we have come to see Leipzig in a way we had never imagined, before doing a little research. But with that said, we want to remind everyone that this story was written in fun, and if we have messed up any historical facts regarding these three places, we apologize. It was hard to find anything that addressed daily life in Leipzig during WWII and even less that addressed activities surrounding the Zoo, the Choral Group, and the Library.
So we took a shot, using the information we did find. Hopefully everyone can enjoy the story, regardless of any mistakes. If anyone has any more information than what we listed below, please let us know.
And a final note…Fanfiction.net has been notorious about automatically removing the URL’s to our Author’s Notes. If this has occurred again, please know that it was unintentional on our part, as we certainly don’t want to take credit for someone else’s ideas. If you are interested in looking up the websites we used for our Author’s Notes, please email us and we will gladly supply you with those URL’s.
Author's Note One:
The Leipzig Zoo
Founded in 1878 by Ernst Pinkert, Leipzig Zoo is one of the most important Zoological Gardens in Europe and at the same time one of the most popular recreational areas in Leipzig. It is world-famous for the successful rearing of threatened species.
Leipzig Zoo, which is only a few minutes away from the city centre, is facing towards the future with the goal to create the "zoo of the future". The core principles employed in achieving this goal involve providing animal care appropriate to each species and giving the visitor the chance to observe these animals in their natural environments.
By creating animal enclosures resembling the animals' natural environment and which are appropriate for each species, a visit to the zoo becomes an adventure safari with exciting animal encounters. "Pongoland", the world's largest zoo facility for anthropoids, the sloth bear gorge, "Makasi Simba" the lions' savannah, a Tiger's taiga, an African savannah ..., or the aquarium with its mysterious underwater world will leave every visitor astounded.
Excerpted from: http://www1.leipzig.de/int/en/tourist/stadtspaz/fotorund/02417.shtml
Author's Note Two:
Five Types of Tigers
There are currently five subspecies of tigers. The different subspecies are found in areas of Asia, India, and Russia. The largest subspecies is found in snowy areas of Russia. The smallest and darkest subspecies is found farther south, in the jungles of Indonesia. Tigresses (females) are always smaller than males.
Siberian or Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) - The largest of the tiger subspecies, males can be as long as a station wagon! These tigers also have the palest orange coat and the fewest stripes.
Bengal or Indian tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) - This is the most common subspecies of tiger.
Indochinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti) - These tigers are about 20 percent smaller and are darker than Bengal tigers.
South China tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis) - These tigers are slightly smaller than the Indochinese subspecies. In the 1950s, the Chinese government ordered that these tigers be destroyed because they were viewed as pests. Today, there are less than 30 South China tigers left in the wild. Thankfully, the Chinese have taken steps toward a plan to protect the remaining South China tigers.
Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) - Even though the Sumatran is the smallest tiger subspecies, it's still a pretty big cat. Imagine a tiger the same length as a school cafeteria table!
Excerpted from: http://www.sandiegozoo.org/animalbytes/t-tiger.html
Author's Note Three:
How, as an HH fanfic author, do you come up with names for two Siberian tigers?
Why... you use the international studbook kept at the Leipzig Zoo in Germany, that's how!
From the Minnesota Zoo website…
After several months of anxious anticipation, two endangered Amur tiger cubs were born at the Minnesota Zoo on May 30 (year unknown). These are the first tiger births at the Zoo in five years. Because this was the first litter for new mom "Luna," she unfortunately wasn't too attentive to the cubs. To ensure proper care, Zookeepers made the decision to hand-raise the babies in the Zoo's veterinary clinic. Luna did not give birth in the den that had been prepared for her, so the web cameras previously installed for online viewing did not capture the birth.
The Proud Parents
The mother is known as Studbook #4638 in the International Studbook kept at the Leipzig Zoo in Germany. She is more affectionately know by her zoo keepers as "Luna," a graceful yet powerful four-year-old female whose famous movie star father "Globus" graced the cover of National Geographic magazine. Her amour is a fierce 11-year-old male (SB#3957) called "Khuntami," on loan from Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo. These two tigers were matched up by the American Zoo and Aquarium's (AZA) Tiger Species Survival Plan (SSP) management group last year. The male arrived in Minnesota in late fall and romance bloomed just five days before Valentine's Day.
Excerpted from: http://www.mnzoo.com/guests/ZooNews/tigercam.asp
Author's Note Four:
The Church of St. Thomas (Thomaskirche)
and the St. Thomas Choral Group (Thomanerchor)
Founded: 1212 - Leipzig, Germany
The choir of the Thomaskirche looks back proudly on nearly 800 years of tradition. The Thomaskirche was established as a choral foundation in Leipzig in 1212 by members of the Augustine order. The Thomasschule probably came into existence directly afterwards; the first documentary reference to it dates back to the year 1254. The school was chiefly intended to train boys for liturgical singing and as servers. Over the centuries, the number of pupils gradually swelled; in the early period there were probably about twelve choristers, while directly before the Reformation there were twenty-four. In Bach's time approximately 50 trained choristers were available (but generally had to be shared among four churches), while today the choir has about 100 members.
When the Reformation reached Leipzig in 1539, the school was secularized and its administration passed into the hands of the city. This resulted in a good deal of conflict, since the Thomaskantors were now municipal employees and the direction of church music in Leipzig was only one of the many responsibilities resting on their shoulders. First and foremost, they were teachers at the Thomasschule (having to give instructions not only in music, but in Latin as well); supported by the choir, the Thomaskantor as municipal 'Director Chori Musici' also had to provide suitable musical background to weddings, funerals, academic celebrations, inaugurations and other solemn occasions in the city. For Kantors like Bach, who saw themselves primarily as creative artists and church musicians, upholding the teaching schedule was a heavy burden and constantly led to arguments with the municipal authorities. Only in the course of the 19th century were both the Thomaskantors and the choir released from their additional obligations. This was the period in which the choir of the Thomaskirche became backbone of the Bach revival.
In the 20th century, now highly acclaimed internationally through its concert tours, the choir was placed under considerable pressure, first by the Nazi dictatorship and then by the communist regime succeeding it, both of whom wanted to exploit it for their own purposes. However, notwithstanding all manner of state interference, the Thomaskantors holding office at this time - Karl Straube, Günther Ramin, Kurt Thomas, Erhard Mauersberger and Hans-Joachim Rotzsch - were able to uphold the fundamental ecclesiastical function of the choir and to maintain the continuity of the Bach tradition into our time.
Excerpted From: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Bio/Thomanerchor-Leipzig.htm
Author's Note Five:
The Library at the University of Leipzig
The origins of University Library of Leipzig go back to Reformation in Saxony. In 1543, acting on the initiative of the University's Chancellor Caspar Borner, Duke Moritz of Saxony donated the premises of Leipzig's Pauliner Monastery to the University. Inside this former monastery building.
In the Pauliner church, Caspar Borner brought together the stock of four Leipzig monasteries and other then secularized monasteries in Saxony and Thuringia.
This was the beginning of the University Library as an institution in its own right. The Library mainly served as a scholar's library. Responsibility for the precious book collections lay in addition to his regular duties with one magister or professor.
Joachim Feller (1628-1691), who had been a librarian since 1675, did the library great service by adding other other book collections from the university and edited a printed catalogue of the manuscripts.
In 1711 the library began to open its doors to the public for two hours a week. During the period of Christian Gottlieb Jöcher (1742-1758), who is also famous as editor of a scholar's encyclopedia, the first alphabetical union catalogue was produced.
Since 1833 the library has been under control of the Ministry of Culture and Public Education in Dresden. Ernst Gotthelf Gersdorf became the first full-time director of the University Library of Leipzig in 1833.
He reorganized the library according to scientific principles.
The rise of Leipzig to one of the leading universities of Germany is mirrored by the development of its library's stock. In 1831 the library held 60,000 books. By 1858 the stock had risen to 200,000. Great book collections - among them the famous Goethe collection of the publisher Hirzel - were given into the possession of the library. Incorporating these into the stock required the construction of a new building.
In 1891 the library was able to move, with its now 500,000 volumes, to the new building in the Beethovenstraße.
This had been built in the neo-classical style according to the design of the important Leipzig architect Arwed Rossbach. The new building's capacity allowed for holding for 800,000 volumes and 120 reading places.
The new library with its splendid staircase leading up to the main level on second floor is a fine exemple of neorenaissance architecture.
Since then, the University Library has had influence on the urban atmosphere in what is known as the Musician's quarter, an area characterized by other magnificent buildings and palaces built at the end of the nineteenth century. These include the former Reichsgericht, the Universität of Music and Theatre, and the University for Graphics and Book Design.
One of the outstanding library directors of the first half of the 20th century, Otto Glauning, modernized the administration and the equipment to meet the needs of the readers. He opened a first branch on the university campus and organized a book courier service.
Two thirds of "Bibliotheca Albertina" lay in ruins at the end of the second World War. The evacuated stocks and catalogues however were saved. By 1955 the stockrooms destroyed in the war had been partially rebuilt. For the next 40 years however there was no possibility of financing a complete reconstruction of the building.
After one and a half years of planning the reconstruction and extension works to the library building began in autumn 1992. Since 2002 the "Bibliotheca ALbertina" has been functioning as the main and depository library and as the central library for humanities.
Shelves for closed stock with a capacity of about 3,2 million volumes were installed. In the open access areas there will be room for 440.000 volumes and 720 readers. There is sufficient space for shelving according to subject.
Unlike the original building, the inner court yards in the east and west wings now are covered by transparent roofs. The newly created spaces are used as stock rooms up to second floor with spacious reading rooms on top. The library system is organized to allow immediate access to most of the literature of history, philosophy, social sciences, political studies and philology.
The special collections with their own stocks and a special reading room can be found in the east wing.
In May 2000 the new exhibition room in the "Bibliotheca Albertina" was opened with an exhibition on Johann Christoph Gottsched. Since then there have regular been exhibitions in which some precious examples from the stocks of the more than 400-year-old library were displayed.
Excerpted From: http://www.ub.uni-leipzig.de/english/profile_english_2.htm
Author’s Note Six:
Boston’s Logan International Airport
For over 82 years, Logan International Airport has served as the center of aviation and gateway to New England. It all began in 1922, when the local business community led the fight for an airport in Boston. To promote public support for fledgling aviation, it financed a booster campaign urging businesses to send their mail by air via a U.S. airmail fleet which, at the time, consisted of just 21 aeroplanes nationwide. Funds were eventually made available by the Massachusetts Legislature and matched by the Boston Chamber of Commerce to develop an aircraft landing site on Jeffries Point in East Boston, Massachusetts. On June 13, 1923, Boston’s first aircraft touched down on a 1,500 foot cinder runway (piloted by Lt. Kitchell Snow) on the then tiny airfield known as Boston Airport built by the U.S. Army on 189 acres of tidal flats. On September 8, 1923, Boston Airport was officially dedicated. The original airfield was used primarily by the Massachusetts Air Guard and the Army Air Corp (only 20 years after the Wright Brothers historic first flight). The Boston Aircraft Corporation completed the first commercial hangar in 1925 and the first regularly scheduled commercial passenger flights were initiated by Colonial Air Transport (a predecessor of American Airlines) between Boston and New York, on April 14, 1927 -- less than one year after launching airmail service between the two cities.
In 1928, ownership of the airport was transferred from the U.S. Army to the Massachusetts Legislature. The following year, the City of Boston stepped in and took control with a 20-year lease from the state. The City Council placed the airport under the jurisdiction of the Parks Department, which immediately began a series of improvements to the spartan military field. Runways were lengthened; access roads were paved and landscaped; and a new administration building was added to the hangars and repair shops which bordered the field.
Despite the advent of The Great Depression of the 1930’s, air travel continued to grow due to long distance intercontinental flights by pioneer aviators. Almost every flying celebrity from Charles Lindberg to Amelia Earhart came through Boston, and it was there in 1925 that U.S. Army Air Service officer and airfield manager First Lieutenant Donald Duke of the Army Air Corps and Boston Airport’s first general manager, was credited with coining the term “airport”. The runways were lengthened, an administration building was constructed and 200 additional acres of land was reclaimed from Boston Harbor. By the later part of the decade, the demand for air travel had grown to such a point that American Airlines began providing daily scheduled service between New York and Boston. Due to its popularity, in 1939, the State Legislature created the Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission (MAC) to foster air commerce, encourage the establishment of airports and recommend related legislation.
In 1941, (just one week before the United States entered World War II), the state resumed direct control of Boston Airport and assigned the Massachusetts Department of Public Works the responsibility of its’ operation and development. The airside land area was expanded by 1,800 acres by the further filling of Boston Harbor. Additional runways, apron areas and three new hangars were built to provide operational support. In June, 1943, the state legislature took up a proposal for a $4.2 million bond issue for the funding of a new road to accommodate the airport’s growth. The proposal also carried an amendment to rename the airport. The bond issue and the new name – General Edward Lawrence Logan Airport - were signed into law on June 12, 1943.
Logan’s namesake, Edward Lawrence Logan, was born in Boston on January 20, 1875. A highly educated man, who reportedly never flew, he was a graduate of Boston Latin School – Class of 1894, graduated from Harvard College in 1898 and Harvard Law School in 1901. During a distinguished and varied career, General Logan served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and the Massachusetts Senate. He was chairman of the Metropolitan District Commission, manager of the George Robert White Fund and later became a judge in the South Boston District Courts. His military career dates back to November, 1897, when he enlisted in the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia to fight in the Spanish-American War and ended when he retired as a Lieutenant General on March 22, 1928. He was called for active duty in the Spanish-American War, served as a Colonel commanding the 16th (Yankee) division and was promoted to the grade of Major General in March, 1923. He retired on March 22, 1928 and passed away on July 6, 1939 leaving behind his widow, Ceclia, and their two children, Patricia and Edward L. Jr.
In 1944, only two airlines operated at the airport (then known as Commonwealth Airport): Northeast, flying to Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Canada; and American Airlines, which flew to New York. By the end of 1949, the horseshoe-shaped Boutwell Terminal Building (Terminals B, C & D are now on the original footprint) was completed to help accommodate the 471,000 passengers using Boston Airport. A loop access roadway system was completed in 1952 to support the new terminal, in 1953 the airport had its first non-stop transcontinental service from Los Angeles to Boston, and in 1955 an eight-story control tower was built at the center of the Boutwell Terminal (the current “Old Tower”). By the end of the 1950’s the airport had grown to four runways and an expanded terminal with 45 gates. Jet operations began at Logan in 1959 when Pan American Airways inaugurated daily 707 service to Europe. Two months later, American Airlines began daily flights from Boston to Los Angeles.
Excerpted from: http://www.massport.com/logan/about_histo.html
Author’s Note Seven
This Day in History: April 19th, 1945
The US Ninth Army captures Leipzig.
In the East, the Red Army breaks through the German defenses both N and S of Frankfurt, and despite heavy losses in men and tanks (over 400 in two days), continues to advance toward Berlin. On the eve of Hitler's 56th birthday, Dr. Goebbels exhorts the nation and predicts that in spite of all misfortunes Germany will yet prevail, that the "perverse coalition between Bolshevism and Plutocracy" is about to break up, and that it is Adolf Hitler ("Our Hitler!") who will still turn back the tide and save Europe, as he has thus far, from falling into the clutches of the Kremlin.
Excerpted from: http://www.feldgrau.com/april.html
As an aside… other happenings on April 19, 1945…
Rodgers & Hammerstein musical "Carousel" opened on Broadway
49th Boston Marathon was won by John A Kelley of Massachusetts in 2:30:40.2
Excerpted from: http://www.scopesys.com/cgi-bin/today2.cgi
Author's Note Eight:
The Harlem Renaissance
The Harlem Renaissance, a flowering of literature (and to a lesser extent other arts) in New York City during the 1920s and 1930s, has long been considered by many to be the high point in African American writing. It probably had its foundation in the works of W.E. B. Du Bois, influential editor of The Crisis from 1910 to 1934; DuBois believed that an educated Black elite should lead Blacks to liberation. He further believed that his people could not achieve social equality by emulating white ideals; that equality could be achieved only by teaching Black racial pride with an emphasis on an African cultural heritage.
Although the Renaissance was not a school, nor did the writers associated with it share a common purpose, nevertheless they had a common bond: they dealt with Black life from a Black perspective.
Among the major writers who are usually viewed as part of the Harlem Renaissance are Claude McKay, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Rudolph Fisher, James Weldon Johnson, and Jean Toomer.
While the Renaissance is often thought of as solely a literary movement, some historians of the period also include artists and musicians.
Author’s Note Nine:
Hogan’s Heroes Episode entitled ‘The Gypsy’…
This story makes references to the episode listed above, but in only a vague sense. This episode was the one and only time Wilhelm Klink’s brother, Wolfgang, was ever mentioned. It was in a letter that Wilhelm received from his mother, which revealed that Wilhelm’s brother had, once again, lost his job due to an explosion that took place at the factory where he worked, and that everyone suspected that Wolfgang was responsible, as he was playing with chemicals in the basement…
Our original intent was to use this episode as a basis for this story; only our story’s plot did not lend itself to Klink’s mother sending a rather nonchalant letter about Wolfgang losing his job. So we relegated the factory explosion mentioned in the episode to the ‘canning’ factory explosion talked about early in our story.
Author’s Note Ten:
German Prisoner of War Camp, Clinton, Mississippi
This was no Stalag 17
"Everyone came out from town to look at the dreaded enemy but all they found here some lonesome boys just like our own," said Marion Rogers Wells, civilian nurse at camp. This is typical of the responses from everyone that was there — German and American. Three nurses, several other veterans, as well as newspaper clippings reveal a continuing fondness from both sides about the place and the people. It just wasn't what you would expect from a prisoner of war camp. I went there expecting pictures of a grim gray place with barbed wire and guard towers. The only picture I found that was reminiscent of this was one picture with the prisoners all lined up as if to hear the Kommandant threaten to shoot escapees.
It turned out to be a mustering of all hands to receive intra mural sports awards. Prisoners organized a jazz band, theatrical group and a symphony orchestra. The prisoners, if they chose to work, were paid eighty cents a day which was deposited in their own "kanteen." So you saw young "boys" walking around sipping pop. If they chose, they could wear their own uniform if they didn't feel right wearing GI uniforms with "PW" in large white letters on their back. A well-equipped hospital was enclosed within the compound. The prisoners received the same care as the Americans.
"We had only one MP to guard us at night and he didn't even have a gun, just a club. I drove around in the compound at night in a jeep and no one ever bothered me. Some seemed very cultured and some didn't but they were always polite. One even had a crush on me but I didn't find out about for 50 years." Marion Rogers Wells, civilian nurse at camp said.
Though most of the prisoners were from the Afrika Korps, there were men from the air corps, paratroopers, infantry, artillery, armored, marines, and even some from occupied countries like Poland. There was even a reported romance between one of the Polish prisoners and an Army nurse. The average age of the enlisted prisoners was 22, with many in their teens. It was the only US camp that housed German general officers. They were "imprisoned" in private bungalows, two generals to each and were allowed one aide between them. One of their complaints was that the communal latrine did not have privacy walls. After much discussion, the commanding officer decided that since the Americans didn't have that luxury, neither should the POWs.
Mississippi writer Willie Morris remembers Sunday afternoon trips to the POW camp. "They were all Afrika Korps troops that were captured in North Africa when Rommel surrendered. This prisoner, standing at the fence, leaned down to try to pet my dog through the fence. In his halting English, he said that my dog reminded him of his in Germany. And then he gave me what was a precious commodity in America in 1942 – especially in Mississippi. He gave me two cans of Pet Evaporated milk that the Swiss Red Cross had given the prisoners. In return, I gave him an equally precious black market WWII commodity: two pieces of bubble gum which I bought in that little store across from the King Edward Hotel."
The tone of the imprisonment was probably set by the first commanding officer, Colonel Charles C Loughlin: "I have for you young solders, no ill will. We will treat you as honorable soldiers if you will behave as honorable soldiers." After that, to his own men, he said "This is my promise, and every man on the reservation must help keep it." His replacement and his officers kept that promise. Other officers were:
Second commanding officer, Lt., Col. James L. McIlhenny
Stockade Commander, Major Harry B. Miller
Capt. G. F. Eigler, Provost Marshal
Lt. Allen N. Connelly, Public Relations
Capt. Winfred J. Tidwell, Adjutant
MP at Gate picture = Hubert Myers
There were four POW camps in Mississippi: Clinton, McCain, Como and Shelby, also 15 branch camps. More than 20.000 German prisoners were held in the state.
"The Clinton Camp prisoners have a reunion every year in Germany. They call themselves the Clinton family.” Marion Rogers Wells, civilian nurse at the camp.
The Great Escape
There were, however, escape attempts. Where to, no one really knows. Interviewer: Where did they think they would go? Here they were in Mississippi hundreds of miles from the coast and speaking only German. "All they wanted to do was get out and see the Mississippi and pick some cotton. They had heard so much about it." Wouldn't people spot them and turn them in; after all they had a big PW on their backs? "Oh no, they wore their own uniforms and there were so many uniforms around then, nobody noticed." Marion Rogers Wells, civilian nurse at camp.
This story told by Harold Fonger, the U.S. Army MP on duty: The prisoners tunneled from their barracks in the compound to within 10 feet of the high twin fences surrounding the compound. They had removed tons of dirt without leaving a visible trace. To conceal their efforts, prisoners had sewn cloth bags in their trouser legs, with a draw string at the bottom. Nightly as they tunneled, they would fill their pouches. Next morning while working they would pull the draw strings. Distribute the dirt over fresh ground in their work area where they were clearing land for the subsequent building of the Mississippi basin model. On this particular night when we turned on the lights for the bed check, a German prisoner was under his blanket wearing his back pack. He was questioned but gave vague answers. He said he was ready to go with the others. A heavy guard was posted and the next day the tunnel was discovered. It ran from the floor of the barracks and almost reached the mesh wire fence.
Cast of characters for the Great Escape.
Karl-Heinze Bohning who now lives in Westfalen, Germany.
Dr. Josef Huber who became a urologist after the war because of his experience in the POW hospital.
Dr. Gus Jochem, now living in Columbus, GA.
Von Ryan's Express
One General did find a way to successfully escape. He, with a little help, sawed through the bars under the camp in a culvert. He escaped, went to town and checked in to the Heidelberg Hotel (where else). He wore his uniform so that no one would notice the PW on the back. Using the hotel stationery, he wrote a scathing letter to the State Department complaining about the treatment at the camp. No copy of this letter is available, but he was probably complaining about:
No privacy walls in latrine
Two Generals having to share a bungalow with only one aide
He then broke back in to the camp and went to sleep. I could find no record of who the general was, but following is a list of the 37 officers that were there. It is believed the lower-ranking officers were at the camp as aides to the generals. In addition to these officers, who lived in private houses on the camp grounds, there were several hundred enlisted men held at the camp as prisoners of war. They were housed in barracks; the foundations of many still remain on the site just south and east of Clinton. The list of officers includes:
General Hans Juergen Von Arnim.
Lt. Gen. Ludwig Cruewell
Lt. Gen. Ferdinand Neuling
Lt. Gen. Hermann B. Ramcke
Lt. Gen. Erwin Vierow
Maj. Gen. Curt Badinski
Maj. Gen. Dietz Von Choltitz
Maj. Gen. Erwin Menny
Maj. Gen. Irwin Rauch
Maj. Gen. Paul Seyffardt
Maj. Gen. Karl Spang
Brig. Gen. Hubertus Von Aulock
Brig. Gen. Detlef Bock Von Wuelfingen
Brig. Gen. Anton DuNCkern
Brig. Gen. Knut Eberding
Brig. Gen. Hermann Heinricb Von Huelsen
Brig. Gen. Carl Koechy
Brig. Gen. Fritz Krause
Brig. Gen. Hans VCon Der Mosel
Brig. Gen. Otto Richter
Brig. Gen. Robert Sattler
Brig. Gen. Ernst Schnarrenberger
Brig. Gen. Hans Georg Schramm
Brig. Gen. Christoph Graf Zu Stolberg
Brig. Gen. Wilhelm Ullersperger
Col. Horst Egersdorff
Col. Alfred Koester
Col. August Viktor Quast
Maj. Anton Sinkel
Capt. Albert Giesecke
Capt. Carl Frederich Krech-Kohnert
Capt. Dr. Ruwisch
1st Lt. Erdmann Von Glasow
1st Lt. Heinz Grosskopf
1st Lt Rolf Lehmeier
2nd Lt. Helmut Fenkel
2nd Lt. Gerhard Runge
Others, it was said, took advantage of the escape route but "they just wanted to go to town to look around and see a movie. In the early evenings there was nothing to do so we just strolled around town to see our friends. I think they just sorta joined in and went back afterwards." said Marion Rogers Wells, civilian nurse at camp.
Class Reunion, POWs Return
The following is a reprint from the Jackson, Mississippi Clarion Ledger, 1996
The hospital and the barracks and the projects they worked on are gone today, their time and function lost to the mists of the past. But on this good Friday, in their minds' eyes, twenty German-speaking travelers swept back 50 years, and they could see everything; where they had slept, where they had labored, where they had gone for the nurses and doctors to put them back together.
This was Camp Clinton, a lock-up for German prisoners of war, just off McRaven Road, east of Springridge. In 1943, the Afrika Korps came to town. The Americans here would never be the same. Neither would the Germans. This was where World War 11 stopped and understanding between two cultures took root.
Marion Rogers Wells was a nurse in 1944, 21 years old. Her sister, Katherine, worked at the camp. That's how she heard about the job. "There were two older nurses here at first, the Bass sisters," she says, standing on a gravel road in what used to be the prisoner compound. "They mothered them." Many of the prisoners had not seen home since 1940. Many had been in the desert for three years, with Rommel and Montgomery and Patton, playing push and shove with tanks in the grinding heat and blinding sandstorms of North Africa. "They had malaria and head lice, Wells says. "They were homesick." Many were just kids.
On May 9, 1943, Dietrich Lohbeck, a private, was captured in Tunisia. The Americans came from one direction, the English from another. In between, 80,000 Germans were caught when the vast trap snapped shut. It was Lohbeck's 19th birthday. It wasn't, he says, a bad birthday present. "I was safe. There was no more lead in the air."
The Allies had surrounded Josef Huber, a communications specialist in the Luftwaffe, the air force, the day before, on May 8. "For 12 days, we tried to escape. maybe to Morocco," he says. "We'd walk 10-15 miles in the night. In the day, we couldn't do it; the French in Tunisia were against us. Hitler, Huber says, had won over Berber tribes by promising their own government and getting rid of the French. So at night, Huber and his friends traveled from one Berber campsite to another, listening for the telltale barking of the Berbers' dogs. After nearly two weeks, they realized it was hopeless. "We knew the English were friendly," he says. Americans were a great unknown. So they tried to surrender to an English lieutenant. But he handed them over to a couple of American GIs. "We were," Huber says, "happy to be out of the fight." Many of the prisoners were moved through the Mediterranean Sea to Gibraltar and on to Scotland, where they spent six weeks. They sailed to New York, went straight to Penn Station and were placed on trains bound for a place called "Mississippi". Josef Huber had medical school on his mind when he was growing up in Munich, in the Bavarian mountains. But Hitler's Case White, the invasion of Poland, swept him out of his life and into the swirling vortex of world war. It took capture and Camp Clinton to put him back on track. "We got good treatment," he says. "Marion can tell you. We worked together for a year. l was a surgical technician."
After a year of working on Germans, Marion Rogers Wells Wells and a couple of her friends enlisted in the Army so they could put Americans back together. Her friendship with and affection for Huber, however, has spanned five decades. Fifty years ago, in 1946, the prisoners were trucked out of Camp Clinton and sent either to Great Britain or France, where they spent another year before being mustered back into civilian life. Huber went to medical school and became a neurologist. A slim, fit man, he has been retired from his 30-year practice for 10 years now. He climbs mountains in his native Bavaria, plays the violin in an orchestra. and takes philosophy courses at the University of Bavaria.
Marion Rogers Wells has never spent a working day away from veterans. After the war and the Army, she went to work for the Veterans Administration. She's retired from the Jackson Veterans Affairs Medical Center, serves as the relief nurse in the infirmary at Mississippi College and focuses her energies on Clinton and its history. "Whenever former prisoners have come back," she says, "I've tried to show them around. l never was afraid of them. We never treated them like the enemy." They were just somebody else's sons from. the other side of the Atlantic, caught by the whirlwind of history, by events of unimaginable vastness and terror. At Camp Clinton, they found an oasis of peace beyond Hitler's jack-boot and the bombs of the Allies.
War is hell, and it's hell to clean up. When Franz Prager got back home, hardly any of home was left. He grew up in Essen, in Germany's industrial heart. Allied bombers, trying to knock out the vast Krupp works, had reduced Essen to rubble. "It was very shocking," he says. At Camp Clinton, Prager had worked for a builder named Monroe G. Landrum, his foreman. And he had paid attention. "My hometown was 65 percent destroyed. And so there was a lot of work for bricklayers and builders." In great disaster, often there is great opportunity. Prager took advantage.
Lohbeck, captured so young, grew up in Westphalia, near Holland. Twenty years ago, on doctor's orders for the treatment of asthma, he and his family moved up to the mountains of Bavaria. Three years ago, at age 70, he sold his accounting firm and retired. He has made five trips to the United States, four times to the Jackson-Clinton area. He even, on a lark, got a Florida driver's license. On this Friday, standing where the prison compound used to be, he pulls out his wallet and shows me a driver's license from 1940. "The picture," he says, "was replaced in 1952." That was because in the 1940 photo he was wearing the uniform of the Hitler Youth. "I've never met anyone in the United States who has not been helpful and friendly," he says. A relative of the family he and his wife are staying with in Florence owns an air conditioning firm. He handed Lohbeck 50 business cards and asked him to hand them out to the visiting Germans. "'They are elderly,' he told me," Lohbeck says, " 'and they are in an unfamiliar place. If they need to, they can call that number and one of my people will come get them.' "Isn't that wonderful?"
Lohbeck looks across the long expanse of green where so many of his countrymen spent three years so long ago under such very different circumstances. "We used to be enemies, we used to fight each other," he says quietly, "and we're crying when we have to leave each other now."
Over 50 years ago, German prisoners planted bulbs in Mississippi soil. Down at the front gate of this place where peace and understanding took root so long ago, those yellow tulips still sway in the April breeze.
Excerpted from: http://www.kilroywashere.org/004-Pages/JAN-Area/04-D-Jackson-POW.html
Author’s Note Eleven:
Plot Bunny Adoption Papers
Criteria for Adoption:
Interested authors signed up by submitting a plot bunny to the coordinator. Because there was a possible word limit of 5, 000 words, there was an attempt to try and keep the bunnies simple. There was a deadline of May 31, 2005 to submit your bunny, so that there would be a fixed amount of authors participating.
The plot bunnies submitted were randomly assigned to each author who entered. One had to submit a bunny to get a bunny. The bunnies submitted were assigned to participating authors anonymously. That author had to agree to write a story based on the plot bunny assigned to him/her.
A deadline of August 31, 2005 was established for authors to submit their fic, which gave the authors three months to complete their stories based on the plot bunny given to them. The fic need not to be of more than 5,000 words, but could be longer if the authors so chose. The fiction written in response to this challenge would be posted in all of the usual places (Fanficiton.net and Webstalag13 at grooviespad.com)
After all stories have been posted, the author of the plot bunny offered for adoption will be identified in a post to the HH Smartgroup's list.
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.