2006 Papa Bear Awards - Third Place
Best Challenge - One Minute Challenge
2006 Papa Bear Awards - Nominated
Best Short Story
story takes place at Stalag Fifteen during the episode “Hogan Go Home”, written
by Bill Davenport and first aired on January 13, 1968. The premise: Colonel Robert Hogan gets
himself transferred, as a ruse, from Stalag Thirteen to Stalag Fifteen after
Colonel Rodney Crittendon arrived, on direct orders from Allied High Command,
to take over command of Papa Bear’s operation, and our good Colonel was supposed
to ‘Go Home’… for real.
Our original idea for this story never came to fruition, as in our haste to write this as a follow-up to our story Game Double Play, we realized that in the episode “Hogan Go Home”, the Stalag that Colonel Hogan got transferred to was Stalag 15. And not Stalag 5… whose story we chronicled in our stories, “Game Double Play” and “Game Eagle”. OOPS.
Recently, we rediscovered this section, and thought that with some editing, it might fit in with an older challenge offered on the HH Smartgroup’s list… that is, the One-Minute Challenge. This challenge was to take one minute (or so…) of an episode and write it from the perspective of any of the characters.
We again 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. Our rating for this story would be T. Strong Language.
To take possession of an area of land or a country, usually by force or without permission
Luft Stalag Fifteen, Kommandant’s Office,
October 20, 1943 0900 Hours
Colonel Axelrod Gottschalk was excited after just hanging up the phone. He had been offered a deal that he couldn’t pass up. Colonel Wilhelm Klink, the Kommandant of Luft Stalag Thirteen in Hammelburg, had just offered up the transfer of his Senior POW Officer, one Colonel Robert Hogan US Army Air Corp. Gottschalk had been skeptical at first as he wasn’t sure why Klink would offer such a thing… especially since, that at every Luftwaffe staff meeting Axel ever attended, he’d hear Klink boast of how cowed his POWs were. And how they were too afraid to test his authority. And how understanding and cooperative his Senior POW Officer was. And how there had never been a successful escape from Stalag 13.
How many times have I had to listen to that? Gottschalk thought. But to the German Colonel’s surprise Kommandant Klink just admitted to being inundated with Allied Officers at the moment, and that things with the POWs had gotten unruly with the replacement of the American Colonel Hogan by an English Colonel with more seniority. He told Gottschalk that he’d prefer moving the American out, instead of dealing with the inevitable power struggle, and had immediately thought of his Stalag, knowing that Gottschalk’s Senior POW Officer was only a Sergeant, as Stalag 15 had remained an Non-Commissioned-Officer (NCO) camp with no POWs above the rank of Sergeant incarcerated there.
Well, I’m sure Sergeant Anderson won’t be very happy. Nor will the rest of the POWs. Especially, since Anderson, on the shear strength of his personality, had been voted in as Senior Officer by those POWs, and had not gained that position by seniority alone. But at this point, it may be time for a change. What I could accomplish with an understanding and cooperative Senior POW Officer, instead of the obstinate, rough around the edges, Nathan Anderson. At times, dealing his attitude, and limited intellect, gets tiresome. But, I wonder what it will be like to deal with a Colonel in Anderson’s place. I guess I will trust Kommandant Klink as a reference as to the man’s ability to be understanding and cooperative. And hope that conversation with him will be more stimulating than the war of words that has become commonplace with Anderson.
With a smirk though, Gottschalk sat back in his chair, and contemplated what the chances of becoming known as the second escape-free Luft Stalag in Germany were. He called his second-in-command Lieutenant Hans Koch into his office and explained that a new Senior POW Officer would be arriving at the Potsdam train station on the Berlin Express, escorted by the Gestapo, by mid-morning the next day. He instructed that he wanted a squad available at the station to take over custody of the new prisoner.
“But, do not say anything of this to Anderson, Koch,” Gottschalk continued. “I want to tell him myself. Have him report here after the noon roll call.”
“Jawohl, Herr Colonel,” Koch replied wondering why the Kommandant was going to wait until noon to tell Nathan Anderson that he was being replaced. But as he turned to leave, he watched as a self-satisfied smile lit up the man’s face. He could easily tell that his commanding officer was enjoying the fact that he was going to have to ‘break’ the news to his Senior POW Officer.
One thing’s for sure. The POWs aren’t going to accept this man readily. It may bode well for me if I double the guards for the man’s arrival, thought Koch as he closed the door to the Kommandant’s office behind him.
Luft Stalag Fifteen, Barracks Twelve,
October 20, 1943 1300 Hours
Forty-five minutes ago, Nathan Anderson had left the Kommandant’s office livid, but also a little panicked. He had never acknowledged a soul as he rushed across the compound, passed through barracks twelve, and went directly to his quarters.
As one minute stretched into many, the men in Anderson’s barracks became more and more panicked themselves, for not once in the entire time Anderson had been their Senior Officer, had he ever locked himself in his quarters without comment. So, all they could think to do, was summon Will McIntyre, Anderson’s closest friend in camp, and hope that he could get through to the man.
“Nathan,” McIntyre called out after knocking on his friend’s door. “Are you all right? What’s this all about? You’re making the guys nervous.” When no response came, McIntyre thought about just barging in, but as he took hold of the knob and pushed, he realized Anderson had his door blocked by something.
As the silence continued for another few beats, McIntyre could no longer contain his own anxiety. “Come on, Nathan. This is stupid. Let us help if we can.” It was then that the door was suddenly pulled open. So suddenly, that McIntyre hadn’t had a chance to let go of the knob. He almost crashed headlong into the senior officer.
“Whoa, watch yourself, Will,” Anderson said surprised to find his best friend almost in his lap. After Nathan helped his friend to regain his balance, he made his way into the main room. Sighing, he only offered, “I’m sorry, guys. I needed time to think. I’ve got some bad news, courtesy of our Kommandant. The ass.”
The barracks became deadly quiet. The POWs knew they were in for something, terrible. For up until now, things at Stalag Fifteen had been fairly stagnant. Life there had become routine, fairly boring and un-chaotic. Not that that was a good or a bad thing. It’s just that everyone had gotten used to it that way. But now, they could tell by the look on the their senior officer’s face that the other shoe had just dropped, and dropped heavily.
“I’m being replaced as the SPO,” Anderson said straight out. “A Colonel Robert Hogan, US Army Air Corp, will be arriving tomorrow.” Before he got much farther in his explanation, the barracks exploded with lots of dissention. The noise level was so loud, that Anderson had to yell to get the men’s attention. “Hey, quiet down!” he bellowed in a tone that startled some of the men standing closest to him.
Anderson said nothing more, until their surprised quiet finally connected to the rest of the men in the barracks. “I’m not going anywhere though. I’m here for the duration,” Anderson explained. “But there is more,” he continued frustrated. “At first, I thought that maybe I could easily work with this guy, making sure he was on our side. I could deal with being the second banana, if that happened. But I can’t even be sure he won’t re-organize the whole camp to his own specifications. There’d be nothing holding him back really, he outranks all of us. And I’m positive Gottschalk would probably let him do what he wants, especially, since the Kommandant and I interact like oil and water.”
Anderson paused trying to come up with a way to tell his guys what he knew was the worse part. “But honestly, in addition to all that, I actually think we are in even more trouble here. I locked myself in my room knowing that the whole transfer had me worried and off-balance. But as I sat there, I finally figured out why. I realized that I also had a creepy-crawly feeling about this Colonel Hogan. Like I should know him or something. Well I remembered how I knew him. Everything that Gottschalk said, finally clicked. This Colonel Robert Hogan has been the Senior Officer at that ruddy escapeless snake pit, known as Luft Stalag Thirteen… the toughest POW camp in Germany.”
“Those poor bastards,” someone blurted out.
“You don’t really think he might be the reason for Stalag 13’s ‘no escape’ record, do you?” McIntyre asked.
“He’s a sell-out,” someone else yelled. “There’s no other explanation.”
“I’m afraid that’s all I can believe,” Anderson agreed. “Especially since Gottschalk was so enamored with the idea of this guy coming here. He made a point of telling me how ‘understanding and cooperative’ this Colonel Hogan is. I can only believe that the man’s on the wrong team. But I still wonder why the Kommandant of Stalag 13 would give up his prize?”
“Maybe they just want him to disappear,” McIntyre offered. “The hard way? The Germans can’t believe we’d accept that bastard.”
“Don’t you worry, Nathan. I can take care of him for you,” Sergeant Anthony Serpico offered loudly, as he reached down and removed a large knife from under the loose floorboard near his bunk. “It would take less than a minute. A deep upward thrust and a twist,” he said demonstrating the motion in the air. “The bastard would be dead before I could even remove the knife.”
“Hold that thought, Tony,” Anderson offered. “Having the new Senior Officer murdered on the first day… well it would be a little too obvious. And wouldn’t do any of us any good, either. As I doubt Gottschalk would take kindly to it, enamored as he is about this whole scenario.” Nathan always tried to rebuke Tony Serpico in a light tone, hoping to deflect the man’s rather aggressive nature, keenly aware, as he was, that the former mobster could be very dangerous. Nathan was just glad that for the most part the hotheaded Italian had never disobeyed his orders. So far.
“But it certainly would be an excuse for our new Senior Officer to have made a successful escape at some point,” Nathan offered sarcastically. “Dead is pretty a pretty good reason for disappearing from camp? We’d just need to come up with a good place to hide the body. What do you all think?”
The tension broke as the men laughed at Anderson’s evil attempt at humor.
“Well, let’s just get the guy here first,” Nathan continued. “Feel him out. Maybe we’re wrong about him. Anyway, for right now, pass the word… no one is to give him the time of day. Just obey him until we can come up with a solution. Okay?”
Most of the men seemed to take that order in stride, knowing, that Anderson had never let them down before.
But there was one POW sitting huddled on his bunk, close to having a nervous breakdown…
Corporal Josh Crandall couldn’t believe what he had heard. Papa Bear himself, is being brought here to Stalag Fifteen! Wow! Josh had been lucky enough to meet Papa Bear almost a year ago. The bomber he was assigned too had gotten shot up over Hammelburg, and the entire crew had to bail. They were found by Papa Bear’s team fairly soon after bailing and sent on their way back to London within days. Josh had been amazed by what Colonel Hogan had achieved right under the German’s noses.
It was soon after though, that Josh Crandall’s luck had run out, when he, the lone surviving member of a second bomber crew, had found himself at Stalag 15… barely three months after his first bomber had gone done.
Regardless of his present misfortune, Josh always took some comfort in the fact that he had already gotten his shot at freedom through Papa Bear’s ingenuous Traveler’s Aide Society. And was proud that he had kept, his now long-kept secret, that the legend growing steadily about the infamous Papa Bear was not a legend at all, but a reality born from the cunning of one man.
So there has to be a reason for Papa Bear to be coming here, thought Josh. How can I keep him safe from the likes of Serpico until he gets to do what he needs too? Hell, even Anderson sounds like he’d prefer him dead. I mean… I can understand what it seems like, from the outside looking in at Stalag 13. Maybe I should just tell Anderson the truth. But damn it, I can’t. I made a promise to Papa Bear. All of his men’s lives depend on that promise to secrecy. I’ll just try and get as close as I can to Colonel Hogan, or at least try and play interference for him, until I figure out what he’s doing here.
I just can’t let anything happen to him…
Although by late evening of the next day, Josh’s worries had all but disappeared…
“I still don’t get it,” Anderson offered, only a short time after returning from a late night meeting with the Kommandant of Stalag 15. “I guess it’s good thing, for us. But, it sure doesn’t make much sense. And it has Gottschalk baffled too. I loved the look on his face this afternoon when he realized he didn’t get rid of me as easily as he had hoped.”
“So,” McIntyre offered, “If I am to understand all this… the first and only thing Gottschalk knew this afternoon was that the Berlin Express was sabotaged and completely destroyed. And since there were no survivors… that meant no new Senior POW Officer for us.”
“Yeah,” Nathan replied. “That’s how the day started.” The SPO shook his head almost laughing. “I actually can’t believe Gottschalk just told me the rest of the story. I think he was really having a hard time believing it himself.”
“So,” McIntyre continued. “As I see it… the new SPO of Stalag 13 escaped immediately after Colonel Hogan was transferred out of camp… but was quickly re-captured. Soon after, Colonel Hogan escaped from his Gestapo escort and returned to Stalag 13 of his own accord. And then… the Kommandant there decided to keep Hogan and get rid of the new guy. Subsequently… the new guy escaped from his own Gestapo escort, without leaving a trace, after he was transferred from Stalag 13.” McIntyre just shook his head. “That’s just too strange for words. But you know, even with all three escape attempts, not one can be considered a successful escape from Stalag 13. The two successful escapes will be credited to the Gestapo, who were the ones who actually lost both prisoners. Hmm.”
“Well, let’s just be glad everything here is back to normal,” Nathan offered still confused. “Although, I still feel bad for those men at Stalag 13… I’m surer now than before that this Hogan is working for the wrong side. Imagine going back to Stalag 13… voluntarily.”
Whew, thought Josh Crandall, as a coughing fit… brought on by trying to stifle a laugh… caught him off-guard. He was just plain relieved that Colonel Robert Hogan would not be making an appearance at Stalag 15. And even though Josh could easily see that the men around him were confused, and certainly even more convinced that Colonel Hogan was a traitor, he only wanted to cheer loudly for the audacity of Papa Bear’s most recent deception.
Well it all makes sense now, too me anyway. Colonel Hogan was probably never actually coming here. I’m sure it was all just a diversionary tactic to take out that train. And probably move whoever the new SOP was to London. Ha. You keep kicking those Nazi bastards where it hurts most, Papa Bear.
Your secret is safe with me...
Thanks for Reading
Patti and Marg
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.