Weaving the Webs of Deception, Part 2
Jeff Evans

Papa Bear Awards 20072007 Papa Bear Awards - Third Place
Best Drama

Papa Bear Awards 20072007 Papa Bear Awards - Second Place
Best Portrayal of a Canon Character - Burkhalter

Papa Bear Awards 20072007 Papa Bear Awards - Nominated
Best Overall Story


This story takes place immediately after the story Weaving the Webs of Deception, Part 1 in the same universe, and follows certain events in the time span from January 7, 1944 to June 6, 1944. This is the third story in what I call the Operation Deflection series, the previous two being Two Missions for the Price of One and Weaving the Webs of Deception, Part 1.


The flow of this story may seem a bit disjointed when reading one scene to the next. There are several threads being followed by this story, and these threads are not always interrelated. However, the threads all play a part in the weaving of the webs of deception, which I hope you will see by the end of the series.


I would like to extend many huge thanks to Patti and Marg. It’s a long story, but they graciously donated the basis for several of the characters and events that are present in this story. And so I give them credit for the birth of some of the plot bunnies contained herein, but I accept all blame for what I might have done to them!


I have opted to go without beta reading this time. All mistakes are mine, and mine alone!


The opening of this story takes place soon after the close of the story Weaving the Webs of Deception, Part 1 and immediately after the events in the episode My Favorite Prisoner.


As usual, I make no claims to any characters or events from the Hogan’s Heroes Universe, or to any actual dialog or plot details from any episode referenced. This story contains scenes and dialog from the episode The Klink Commandos, written by Richard M. Powell. These have been used without permission.




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Hammelburg, Gestapo Headquarters

January 7, 1944, 2330 hours


Captain Dorfmann coughed as he hung up the phone. He had just talked with Major Hochstetter again, who was still questioning the Countess as to what she knew about the Allied intelligence agent they had captured that evening. The fact that they no longer had the agent in custody was a different story – and it was that story which had caused Dorfmann to cough. Several men from the Underground had been able to rescue the agent from Gestapo Headquarters.


Dorfmann had been on duty when they came in. Two of the men were dressed in Gestapo uniforms as SS-Oberscharführer and one looked like a French resistance fighter. They had been able to catch him off guard and force him at gunpoint to release the agent. Afterwards, they had locked him in the empty cell and set off smoke canisters to elude the other guards in the Headquarters building. It had taken his men several minutes to be able to free him from the cell, and the smoke in the cell had started getting thick.


When his men released him, he had ordered them to search the area. They hadn’t found anything. While they were searching for the men, he had looked around his office. The Underground men had searched for the plans that the agent had brought – the open drawers and papers tossed on the floor were evidence of that. Dorfmann knew that they didn’t find them because Hochstetter still had the plans with him. But the fact that they searched for them indicated to Dorfmann that they were something important. Hochstetter had agreed, and while the Major wanted to find that agent and the men that rescued him, he was more than satisfied to have the plans to pass on to Berlin.


But as Dorfmann pondered the events of the evening, he had a curious thought. How did the Underground know that the agent had been captured and was at Gestapo Headquarters?


* * * * *


Captain Reginald Sears was sitting in the large room of the tunnel beneath Stalag 13. The noise of the ladder leading to the barracks above startled him as it began to extend to the tunnel floor. He chuckled in amusement as he watched Colonel Hogan climb down the ladder and reach back to retrieve two mugs that were handed down to him from above.


“Thanks, Kinch,” Hogan said to the man above. “Close it up for now. I’ll be back up in a while.”


Captain Sears was still chuckling when Hogan turned towards him. “Room service, Colonel?” he asked with a smile.


Hogan smiled back. “We aim to please,” he replied. “All the comforts of home!” Hogan made a gesture of looking around the tunnel. “That is, if you’re a mole.”


Sears laughed heartily. “A well equipped mole at that,” he replied, motioning towards to communication station.


Hogan smiled and took a sip of his coffee.


“That was a bloody good show your men put on with the Gestapo tonight,” Sears continued. “Do you do that sort of thing often?”


Hogan chuckled. “A little too often,” he replied. “But the men are good at it.”


“It showed,” Sears commented. “They had no troubles. And it was Sergeant Carter’s idea that we make it look like we searched for the plans before leaving. A nice touch.”


Now it was Hogan’s turn to chuckle. “Carter does have some good ideas now and then,” he replied. “And then there are the other times …”


Sears smiled as he took a sip from his cup. “You’ve got a good team here, Colonel,” he said. “I was told before I left that you’d be able to get me out of any trouble after passing off the plans. I have to admit – I had my doubts. I’d expected to be captured and interrogated.”


“We do what we can,” Hogan said trying to dismiss the obvious compliment. “The important thing is that you were able to pass the plans to the Germans.”


“Yes, but that bloke that came for the them was terrible!” Sears said laughing. “The snow flies south except for the birds.” He said, mocking Schultz.


“That’s Schultz, the Sergeant of the Guards here at camp,” Hogan replied. “He’s one of the best Sergeants we have fighting for our side!” Both men laughed.


“Do you think the Gestapo will pass the plans on to Berlin?” Sears asked. “It’s important that their intelligence service gets their hands on them.”


Hogan shrugged. “We’ve done the best we could,” he replied. “If Hochstetter thinks he can gain some points with the brass in Berlin, he’ll pass them along.”


“Yes, it was a spot of good luck that you’d been visiting that baroness for a little bit of, uh, you know,” Sears said with a grin on his face.


Hogan laughed. “Yes, we all like a little bit of you know every so often after being stuck in this camp,” he responded lightly. “At first I was annoyed when Klink hatched his eavesdropping plan at the New Year’s party. But I suppose I should thank him for it now. I couldn’t have planned it better myself!”


Sears laughed. “That was a bit of luck,” he replied. “So now we have to hope that German intelligence gets a look at those plans.”


“And that they’ll believe they’re genuine,” Hogan commented.


Sears seemed to glance around the small tunnel room before speaking. “Confidentially Colonel, London hopes they believe they’re fake,” he said quietly.


Hogan gave him a confused look. “What do you mean?” he asked.


“What I tell you stays in this room,” Sears said gravely.


Hogan nodded, sensing the importance of what he was about to be told. “I understand,” he replied.


“Those plans are fakes to make the Germans believe the rest of the phony information they’re being given from many other sources,” Sears continued.


Hogan said nothing, but his eyes widened over his coffee cup.


Sears nodded. “Everyone knows that the Allies must attempt an invasion of the continent,” he said simply. “The Germans know it, and we know they know it. What they don’t know is when and where.”


“But how can something as large as an invasion of the continent be kept secret?” Hogan asked.


Sears smiled at him and said nothing for a moment. “I am assuming that your question was rhetorical,” he said.


Hogan chuckled. “Of course,” he replied. “So what can you tell me?”


“Only what General Walters authorized me to tell you,” Sears replied.


“General Tillman Walters?” Hogan asked.


Sears nodded, smiling. “The very same,” he replied. “He told me about the time he came here to plant the radar device inside the camp.”


Hogan chuckled. “I suppose he told you that we branded him a firebug and had him transferred out of the camp,” he responded.


Sears laughed. “Yes, he told me that too,” he replied. “In the end, he was happy that you did that. It made his escape from Germany a lot easier – for both of you.”


“So what did General Walters want me to know?” Hogan asked, itching to get back to news about the planned invasion.


“Simply that the invasion is being planned and there’s a large amount of misinformation being given to the Germans on all fronts to throw them off base,” Sears replied.


Hogan nodded. “That’s understandable, you always want to confuse the enemy,” he observed.


Captain Sears shook his finger at Hogan. “No, Colonel,” he responded. “This is bigger than just confusion. Our goal is to completely fool them into thinking that we’re going to be doing something totally different. We know they’re suspicious of the information they’re getting – they suspect us to try to misinform them.” He paused to let Hogan digest the information.


Hogan simply nodded.


“And so these plans are part of the ruse,” Sears continued. “If they believe the plans are genuine, it will work for us – they won’t give away the overall deception. However, those plans have been crafted to make the Germans suspect that the information is leading them away from the main invasion points. Then they’ll believe all of the other information we’ve been giving them.”


Hogan shook his head in amazement. “That’s incredible!” he exclaimed. “It sounds like there are a lot of people working on this.”


Sears nodded. “It’s a large group,” he confirmed. “All the information passed along is scripted. The Germans are getting what we want them to and no more.”


“What about German spies?” Hogan asked.


Sears nodded as he took a sip of coffee. “We’ve been able to turn most of the spies that we’ve found, and they’re now working with us,” he answered. “Those that didn’t turn are no longer free to operate.” Sears made a slashing motion across his throat.


“I see,” Hogan said, thinking of what would happen if Hochstetter ever found out about the Stalag 13 operation. “Anything else to tell me?”


 “You may expect to be asked to help on certain things as the countdown time nears, though you may not always know you are helping in the invasion plans” Sears responded. “And you may even be asked to make a trip to London to meet with the big brass.”


London knows our phone number,” Hogan quipped lightly. “If they want to spring for the round trip ticket, I’ll be there.”


Sears laughed. “That they do,” he replied. “And though you may not think so sometimes, they will spring for just about anything you say you need.”


Hogan smiled as he stood and clapped the Captain on the back. “Get some rest, Captain,” he said. “We’ll get you out of there as soon as the heat dies down.  One of the men – either Baker or Kinch – will be down here monitoring the airwaves tonight to keep you company.”


“Right, Colonel,” Sears replied as Hogan headed for the ladder to the barracks.


Rastenburg, East Prussia, Wolfsschanze

January 9, 1944, 1220 hours


General Burkhalter was in the meeting room, being bored by yet another midday briefing of the Führer. He had long ago decided that it was a mixed blessing to report his status directly to Hitler. On one hand, it gave him access to the information that was being given to the Führer, which has helped him in his quest to quietly direct as many things to Stalag 13 as he could. On the other hand, everyone was so afraid of evoking a tirade from Hitler, that any iota of good news was magnified to make it seem grander than it was, and any bad news was presented in such a way to imply a tactical advantage.


Burkhalter knew he was guilty of this himself. He knew that the main reason he was elevated to the status of briefing the Führer himself was because of the perfect record of Stalag 13. And so, during his reports he went quickly past the status of the other Luft Stalags under his command and focused on the perfect record of Colonel Wilhelm Klink.


For some reason, Hitler was fascinated with Klink – or Colonel Klunk, as he invariably referred to him. The fact that Klink could command a prison camp with over a thousand Allied flyers and have no successful escapes amazed and delighted the Führer. In Hitler’s mind, Klink was the perfect example of the kind of men the German military needed to win the war.


Burkhalter was pulled from his thoughts by the mention of Hochstetter’s name. SS-General Klaus Schlesinger was informing Hitler of the capture of Allied plans intended for the Underground to support the inevitable Allied invasion of France. Burkhalter had known General Schlesinger for several years, and had had many discussions about Major Hochstetter’s preoccupation with Stalag 13.


Burkhalter listened as Schlesinger related the story of how Hochstetter had laid a trap and caught the Allied Intelligence Operative in the act of trying to pass the plans off to the Sergeant of the Guards of Stalag 13. Schultz trying to pass himself off as a member of the Underground? That must have been something to see!


Hitler was visibly pleased as he read through the papers that Schlesinger handed to him. “This Gestapo Major managed to capture the plans and the Intelligence Operative?” Hitler asked. “Excellent! What was his name again?”


“Major Hochstetter,” Schlesinger replied.


“Hochstetter. Where have I heard that name before?” Hitler asked with a puzzled look on his face.


Burkhalter saw this as a chance to keep Hochstetter from getting too much praise. “Excuse me, Mein Führer,” he said. “Major Hochstetter is the head of the local Gestapo in the Hammelburg area near Stalag 13. This is the area where the Underground has been especially successful in its sabotage operations.” Burkhalter looked at Schlesinger, hoping that the General didn’t take exception to his pointing out the ineffectiveness of one of his men. He knew that Schlesinger had no great love for Hochstetter, but he also knew that the Führer could very easily hold Hochstetter’s incompetence against the General.


If Schlesinger was annoyed, he didn’t show it. “That is correct,” he agreed. “The Gestapo has been unable to curb the sabotage activity in this area.”


Hitler was quiet for a moment, lost in thought. “Stalag 13. That’s the camp with Colonel Klunk in charge, isn’t it Burkhalter?” he asked.


Ja,” Burkhalter replied. “It’s also the camp that Major Hochstetter believes is the source of the sabotage activity in the area.”


Hitler waved his hand dismissively. “I don’t want to hear anything about that,” he said. “It can’t possibly be the case with Klunk in charge.”


It’s truer than you believe, you fool, Burkhalter thought. You just go ahead and believe that Klink is a genius, and this war will be over sooner than you know it.


“So what else have we learned from this Intelligence Operative?” Hitler asked Schlesinger.


Schlesinger cleared his throat before answering and Burkhalter knew that the news was not going to be good.


“Nothing, Mein Führer,” Schlesinger replied. “It seems that the Underground rescued the man from Gestapo Headquarters before the Major could begin any interrogation.”


“What?” Hitler stormed. “How could this happen?”


“Hochstetter did not accompany the operative back to Headquarters,” Schlesinger explained. “He remained behind, trying get information about the local Underground from the ranking prisoner from Stalag 13. I believe this prisoner’s name is Hogan.” Schlesinger looked at Burkhalter for confirmation.


Burkhalter nodded. “That’s correct,” he confirmed. “Major Hochstetter has a belief that Colonel Hogan is responsible for all the sabotage in the area.”


“Colonel Hogan,” Hitler repeated, trying to remember where he had heard that name before. Suddenly his eyes went wide. “He’s the prisoner that was on the radio broadcast last month!” he exclaimed.


Burkhalter nodded, dreading the tirade that was about to begin.


The Führer’s face turned beet red as he exploded. “I can’t believe that this incompetent Major allowed an Allied Intelligence operative be taken from his own headquarters just so that he could try to get information from a man stuck in a prison camp that is impossible for him to escape from?” Hitler pounded the table with his fist while he caught his breath from the long tirade. When he continued screaming, the rest of the occupants in the room were quiet. They knew better than to interrupt, lest they become a target of the Führer’s rage.


After a few moments, the Führer calmed down and Schlesinger attempted to point out that they did manage to obtain the plans for the Underground. This seemed to mollify the Führer and he handed the plans back to Schlesinger with orders to pass them to the Sicherheitsdienst and Abwehr for examination.


After this, the briefing went back to the monotonous litany of news from the various sectors of the Eastern and Italian front. Burkhalter presented his status as quickly as he could. It was more of the same – numbers. The number of escapes, the number of prisoner deaths, and the operation costs of the camps. He always saved the smallest number for last – the zero escapes from Stalag 13. He wanted that to be the last thing Hitler remembered from his report.


The last participant in the briefing was Albert Speer, the Armaments Minister. He presented the status of the various weapons projects and Burkhalter always paid close attention to this presentation. He heard that Werner von Braun was making fabulous progress in the production of the V2 rockets. He heard about the secret research on some theoretical new bomb that was supposed to be more powerful than anything ever imagined. Burkhalter knew nothing about the atomic research being conducted, but gathered from the report that progress was not being made in this area – though that was never explicitly said.


He found it pleasantly surprising that when the presentation on the new jet propulsion aircraft was given, Hitler insisted that more research effort be given to the bomber rather than the fighter. Burkhalter knew that the number of fighters in the Luftwaffe was steadily shrinking. If the Luftwaffe had squadrons of these new jet propelled fighters, the Allied fighter and bomber losses would be greater. But Hitler kept insisting that if they had a bomber that could reach across the Atlantic, the United States would be so scared that they would sue for peace. You fool, thought Burkhalter. As soon as you declared war on the Americans, you doomed Germany to losing the war. The Americans will never give up now.


Burkhalter then heard about a new project that had just gotten underway at a research facility not too far from the town of Hammelburg. The team was developing a small radio controlled tank. When he heard about this, he volunteered the use of any of his camps for development and testing, if needed. He made sure to emphasize that the development was being done close the Stalag 13 – after which Hitler readily supported Burkhalter’s offer of help.


After the briefing ended, Burkhalter was on his way out of the room when General Schlesinger approached him.


“May I have a word with you as we walk, Albert?” Schlesinger asked.


“Of course, Klaus” Burkhalter replied. “Is there something bothering you?”


“I’m hoping that you do not have the problem,” Schlesinger said. “If Hochstetter is harassing your prisoners, I’d like to know about it.”


“Aside from thinking that Colonel Hogan is the leader of the local Underground, he hasn’t caused much disruption in any of my camps yet,” Burkhalter replied.


Schlesinger laughed. “I heard that radio broadcast with Colonel Hogan,” he said. “I think Hochstetter’s looking in the wrong place.”


“I’ve told him that already,” Burkhalter responded.


“And we have too,” Schlesinger added. “Continually. He’s finally quit putting it in his reports. But I know Hochstetter. Once he has an idea in his head, he’s very stubborn about sticking with it.”


“Probably because he gets so few of them,” Burkhalter retorted.


Schlesinger laughed again. “You may be right about that!” he replied. “I’ve never met this Colonel Klunk who’s in charge of the camp nearby. Is he really tough enough to keep his prisoners in line?”


“It’s Colonel Klink,” Burkhalter corrected. “But Hitler always refers to him as a Klunk, so who am I to argue.” Both men laughed. “He’s actually more of a Klunk than a Klink, and yet he still manages to keep his perfect record.”


“After hearing Colonel Hogan on the radio, I’m wondering if he’s responsible for keeping the prisoners in line,” Schlesinger said. “He seems like he wants to be in Germany.”


Burkhalter almost bit his tongue to keep from agreeing too quickly. “You may be right,” he replied. “Whatever Klink’s doing is working. I wish all of my camps had people like Klink and Hogan in them.” Burkhalter had to make a special effort not to smile as he said that. And I really do wish all my camps were run by people as incompetent as Klink. The war would be over in no time! But I suppose I should be glad that I have one, and that I have been able to keep them together so that Hogan can operate.


“If we did, Hochstetter might claim that they are all connected with the Underground!” Schlesinger said smiling. “Still, if you have any troubles, call my office in Leipzig. My aide, Major Freitag, will make sure that I hear about it if I’m not there.”


Danke, Klaus,” Burkhalter replied. “I’m spending most of my time in my Hammelburg headquarters – if you’re in the area, please stop by.”


Danke,” replied Schlesinger. Auf weidersein.”


Schlesinger left Burkhalter standing by his staff car. Yes, thank you General. If there ever comes a time when I think Hochstetter is getting too close to Hogan, I will be sure to call you to take care of him for me.


Rastenburg, East Prussia, Farm of Tadeauz Malewicz

January 9, 1944, 0630 hours


Vladimir looked up as General Stauffen entered the barn. He put aside the pitchfork that he was using to muck out the stalls and walked over to the German officer. “You have more plans?” he asked.


Stauffen nodded and began removing his gloves. It was cold outside this time of year, but the small barn was warm from the heat of the animals and the insulation of hay. “A new deployment in the East,” Stauffen replied. “On the Ukrainian Front. The Führer thinks that the Russians are planning an assault in the north, so he is going to concentrate in the south where he thinks they are not looking.”


“Very interesting,” Vladimir replied. “What’s the plan?”


As he had all the other times before, Stauffen had the information in his head, and began to rattle off the division placements and strengths along with the intended movements. Vladimir listened intently, and repeated them back after Stauffen had finished.


“That’s right,” Stauffen confirmed. “The Wehrmacht should be in for a big surprise since they are expecting light resistance in this area.”


Vladimir smiled. “That’s the intention,” he replied. “Is there anything planned in the north afterwards?”


Stauffen shrugged. “Nothing was mentioned about the north except to hold the line at all costs,” he replied. “The Führer was rather insistent on that point.”


Vladimir laughed. “Insistent that others should die while he is safe in his compound,” he commented.


Stauffen smiled. “He may not be as safe as he thinks,” he replied.


There was something about the way Stauffen said it that caught Vladimir’s attention. It was more than just a comment – Stauffen actually believed that Hitler would not be safe. “You sound like you know something,” he prompted.


Stauffen’s smile widened. “Let’s just say that there are some people who would like to make things very unsafe for him,” he replied.


“You mean a conspiracy?” Vladimir asked slyly. He was hoping to prompt Stauffen into revealing more information.


Stauffen gave a noncommittal shrug. “All I will say is that the time for Valkyrie is nearing,” he responded.


Valkyrie. Vladimir would have to remember that name. It obviously was a plan of some sort, but what could it be? He knew that he would have to pass that along to the Center for them to sort out.


“There’s one more thing you should know,” Stauffen said. “Sometime this spring, Hitler is planning to transfer his headquarters to Berchtesgaden for the summer.”


“When does he plan to move?” Vladimir asked.


“He has not said yet,” Stauffen replied. “But when he does, I will follow. Obviously I cannot keep passing the information to you at that point.”


Vladimir chuckled. “That would be rather inconvenient,” he said.


“While in Berchtesgaden, I will resume communicating with the contact myself,” Stauffen stated.


“I suppose that it might be safer from there,” Vladimir agreed. He did not want to tell Stauffen that it was safe for him to resume contact now, because he wanted Stauffen to continue to pass information through him. And he wanted to find out more about Valkyrie.


“I must go now,” Stauffen said. “I will let you know when I get more information.”


Vladimir nodded and watched Stauffen leave the barn. Then he hurried to finish the chores so he could go back and jot down the information that must be passed along that evening.


* * * * *


Vladimir lay in his bed in the attic of Tadeauz’s farmhouse, unable to fall asleep. He had communicated the plans from Stauffen to the Swiss contact. He also contacted The Center, relaying the information that Hitler would soon be transferring to Berchtesgaden. Then he made his regular contact with Michael and dropped the name Valkyrie. Maybe Michael can find out the significance of the code name.


But Vladimir was troubled. The Center had told him to await further instructions on his next assignment when Hitler leaves the Wolfsschanze, but did not give any clues as to what that new assignment might be. He didn’t want to get his hopes up for a transfer back to Moscow for a short time. Life is not that kind, he thought. But still, the hopes of spending any time with his family, no matter how short, was a pleasant diversion from his every day chores.


But I cannot complain, he thought. This assignment has been relatively easy compared to others that I was given at Stalag 13. I should be thankful that Marya recommended me for this post rather than one with more danger. He chuckled softly. I doubt that The Center would have agreed to anything more for me, until they could be sure that I could be trusted. Marya probably knew that, though she never would admit it to me. So I get assigned here where Tadeauz and Grzegorz could keep an eye on me.


Vladimir thought about the small team in place here in Rastenburg. When he arrived, he had surprised both Tadeauz and Grzegorz by asking their opinion on how they thought things should proceed. He had sensed from that moment on that he had gained their trust. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that Tadeauz had told him how pleasantly surprised they had been with Vladimir’s leadership.


They were sitting at the table in the farmhouse, eating the evening meal of bread and soup when Tadeauz began explaining …


* * * * *


“The NKVD operative here before you was terrible,” Tadeauz said. “He was rude and arrogant and treated us as if we were inferiors.” He looked over at Grzegorz, who nodded back. “That we could live with,” Tadeauz continued. “But he was also reckless and would send us on the most impossible and unnecessary assignments. We ended up losing a man – one of my closest friends – from one of his foolish decisions.”


Vladimir shook his head sadly. “That is terrible,” he commented.


“It is,” Tadeauz replied. “Piotr and I grew up together.”


“What happened?” Vladimir asked.


Tadeauz sighed. “We do not know what went wrong,” he said. “But I almost killed the NKVD man when Marya told us that the information he sent Piotr for was unimportant.”


“Marya was here?” Vladimir asked.


“Marya stopped here to check on us,” Tadeauz explained. “She was on her way back to Germany to try and retrieve a Russian scientist who was working with the Germans. But I got the impression that she came to check up on this operation.”


The scientist? That was the mission she was on when I encountered her, Vladimir thought. “What happened to the NKVD man?” he asked.


“I do not know. Marya took him away when she left,” Tadeauz replied. “We were happy to be rid of him.”


“And now you have me,” Vladimir said as a wry smile appeared on his face.


Grzegorz snorted into his soup as he tried to suppress a small chuckle. “Yes, now we have you,” he replied with a smile. “We were a little upset when Marya told us that she would send someone else to take over the operation. It seemed to us like she did not think that we were capable of operating on our own. But I have to admit, you are better than any NKVD operative we’ve worked with before.”


Vladimir’s smile grew wide. “Maybe because I am not NKVD,” he replied. Tadeauz, Jacinta and Grzegorz all stopped eating to stare at him. “I am Red Army, and was in a prisoner of war camp for most of the last two years helping an escape and sabotage operation there before I had to leave suddenly.”


“They stationed you in a prisoner of war camp?” Jacinta asked.


Vladimir shook his head. “No, I wasn’t stationed there. I was captured by the Germans and found myself in a camp that already had an Allied operation in place,” he responded.


“A Russian operation inside one of the camps?” Grzegorz asked.


Vladimir shook his head. “No, I was the only Russian involved,” he replied, noticing the surprised looks on his friends’ faces.


“And when you got out of the camp, nothing happened to you?” a surprised Grzegorz asked. “We have heard what happens to those that are captured by the enemy and then manage to escape.”


“I have Marya to thank for that,” Vladimir replied. “Not only did she get me back to Moscow, but she recommended me for this assignment.” Vladimir paused to look at each person in the room. “And I should also thank her for recommending me to lead an operation that could have worked just as well without me. I think Marya knows what you can do here, and wanted me here so that I could learn what it was like to be responsible for an operation.”


The room was quiet when Vladimir finished speaking. After taking a breath, he smiled and continued speaking. “And it is obvious that The Center does not yet trust me, or they would have made me NKVD,” he said.


Vladimir saw Jacinta glance over at her husband before speaking. “From what we have seen, Wladimir,” she said slowly, using the Polish pronunciation of his name. “You do not fit the mold of an NKVD officer.”


Vladimir chuckled. “I suppose I don’t,” he replied.


“No, you came here and actually seemed to seek out our opinion on the best way to proceed,” Jacinta continued. “We do not expect that of the NKVD.”


Vladimir put his spoon into his now empty bowl in front of him. “I learned several things from the last operation I was with,” he explained. “The most important is that the person in charge is not always an expert at all things, and a good leader will gratefully acknowledge the information from others who are more expert than himself. You were operating here before I arrived, and so I knew that all of you were more knowledgeable than I was about the German activity and personnel in the area.”


Vladimir saw the small nods of agreement from the people around the table. “The other important thing I learned is that a team will only succeed if the leader has the trust and respect of everyone on the team. And more importantly, that the team has the trust and respect of the leader.”


Grzegorz nodded. “You make much sense, Wladimir,” he replied. “And you surprised us with your willingness to put your own self in danger rather than telling us that we would take all of the risks.”


“I learned that from the last operation as well,” Vladimir responded. “I should never expect you to be willing to do anything that I would not do myself, as long as it does not hinder the operation. We are all in this together.”


Jacinta smiled warmly at Vladimir, her eyes sparkling. “And so you offer to help out with the chores on the farm,” she replied.


Vladimir smiled back. “And I am beginning to regret that decision,” he said with a laugh. “You do not know how hard it is for a boy who was raised in Moscow to clean out the stable every day!”


Vladimir joined the laughter that rose from the table. Tadeauz raised his glass of homemade vodka in the air for a toast. “Victory!” he said. The word was echoed and was followed by the clinking of the glasses around the table.


* * * * *


Vladimir yawned and snuggled under the scratchy wool blanket. I hope I get a chance to thank Marya for this assignment, he thought. He knew he’d better get some sleep. Morning came too soon, and with the morning came the chores. Vladimir smiled as he drifted off to sleep. If I do see Marya, I’ll have to make her muck out the stalls in the barn and see how she likes it!


Berlin, Abwehr Headquarters, Briefing Room

January 10, 1944, 1600 hours


Major Hans Teppel sat in the briefing room and stifled another yawn. He shifted in his chair and tried to at least look as if he were paying attention. The weekly briefing was a chore, but he knew that it was necessary. Like Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, the head of the Abwehr, Teppel used the briefing to stay aware of all of the information the agency collected. However, unlike most of the other men in the room, Teppel was not interested in helping Germany win the war of intelligence.


Hans Teppel was in reality Robert J. Morrison, an American of German descent planted in German intelligence long before the war had begun. He had been working for many years to not only sabotage the German intelligence effort when he could, but also to feed as much information back to Germany’s foes, and whenever possible, expose the German double agents who had infiltrated the Allied intelligence agencies. For most of that time, he had worked alone. But several months ago, he had formed a working relationship with another Abwehr officer was also a double agent. That agent was Major Kurt Wagner, who was a Soviet operative. Over the last several months, this working relationship had developed into a real friendship.


Wagner was currently presenting his information to the assembled group. Teppel had already heard the information, having spent long hours the night before discussing it with Wagner. Teppel’s thoughts of boredom were interrupted by a question from Admiral Canaris.


“You say that the bulk of the buildup is in the southeast corner of the country?” Canaris asked.


“That is correct, Admiral,” Wagner replied. He pointed to map as he continued, “The reports are of concentrations at these three locations.”


“And we are sure of the accuracy of those reports?” Canaris wondered.


Teppel realized that the question was directed at him and stood before replying. “Ja, Admiral,” he replied. “The reports have come from several independent sources.” He was interrupted by several statements of agreement from the other officers in the room. “Also, Herr Admiral, the SS intelligence sources are reporting the same.”


Canaris stoked his chin as he pondered the information. “It does look to be the start of the buildup to an invasion attempt,” he mumbled.


“And we have had a single report that the American General Patton has been chosen to lead this new force,” Teppel added.


“Patton?” Canaris asked. “Are you sure?”


“No, Herr General,” Teppel answered. “We have had only a single report of this and have not been able to verify it.”


“So if we assume that this is to be the invasion force, do we have any information about the invasion plans themselves?” Canaris asked.


Nein, Admiral,” said one of the other officers, Major Strauss, who rose and walked towards the map on the wall. “But the speculation from the Wehrmacht High Command is that they will attempt an invasion of Norway at this point here.” He pointed to the narrowest point between England and Norway. “And they will also attempt an invasion of the continent here at Calais.”


Canaris nodded. “Those are the two most likely points, based on our information,” he commented.


“Not everyone is in agreement, Admiral,” Teppel added. “Rommel believes that this is a diversion, and that the real invasion will come somewhere else along the Normandy coast.”


Canaris pondered this information for a moment. “What about this information that the Gestapo took from a captured British commando recently?” he asked slowly. “Didn’t it detail plans for the Resistance to aid the invading forces by diverting our forces?”


Ja, Admiral, it did,” Wagner replied. “However, from what we have seen of it, we think they are fake.”


Canaris looked up in surprise. “Phony plans?” he asked. “What makes you say that?”


“Not just us,” Major Strauss replied. “The Sicherheitsdienst believe it as well. Let me explain.” He pointed at the map in several locations and explained that the plans called for activity in those areas, which would divert the German troops up towards the Denmark border.


“I see what you mean,” Canaris replied. “It doesn’t seem to match with the other information.  And judging from its source, it does tend to imply that the enemy is trying to trick us.”


Canaris pondered the map for a few moments longer, while the other officers waited in silence. Abruptly, he looked at his watch and said, “Ah, looks like it is time to adjourn. You gentlemen are dismissed.”


The Abwehr officers stood, stretched and began making their way from the room. Wagner put down the pointer he was holding and approached Teppel. “Do you have time for a beer, Hans?” he asked.


Teppel nodded. “I was thinking the same think, Kurt,” he replied.


* * * * *


Heidi smiled warmly at Teppel as she set the steins on the table. “Guten abend, Major Teppel,” she said. She looked quickly over at Wagner and added “Guten abend, Major Wagner.” She then turned her attention back to Teppel. “Would you like to order some food tonight?” she asked.


Teppel glanced over at Wagner before answering. “I think we will finish our beers first before eating, Heidi,” he replied.


As Heidi departed, Wagner chuckled. “She likes you, Hansie,” he said lightly.


“She’s just being friendly,” Teppel replied defensively.


“There is friendly,” Wagner answered, taking a sip of his beer. “And there is friendly.” He looked over at Heidi, who was taking an order from a table of Wehrmacht officers. “And I tell you, she’s trying to be friendly!”


As Teppel glanced over at Heidi, she looked in his direction. Seeing him looking at her, she flashed him a warm smile. Teppel raised his glass in a toast towards her. There are worse things in the world, he thought. She is very attractive … His thoughts were interrupted when Wagner laughed.


“I think she’s not the only one who is thinking about being friendly,” Wager chortled. “But first we should talk business.”


Teppel nodded as he took a long drink on his beer, trying to push his thoughts of Heidi out of his mind. “Ja, that would be a good idea,” he said.


“A name has come up in my conversations with my friends in the eastern part of the country,” Wagner said quietly.


Teppel nodded – he knew that Wagner was referring to his contacts on the Eastern Front.


“Does the name Valkyre mean anything to you?” Wagner asked.


Teppel was lifting his glass to take a drink when he heard the name. He stopped with his glass in midair. “Did you say Valkyre?” he asked.


Wagner nodded. “You are familiar with it?” he asked.


Ja, I am,” Teppel replied. He lowered his voice and explained, “It is a plan by the Home Guard to impose martial law for control of the country in the event of a leadership crisis.” He looked around before continuing. “I have heard it mentioned by those seeking to force a … so called leadership crisis.”


Wagner nodded slightly. “That is what I expected, based on the source of the reference,” he replied.


“Your leak?” Teppel asked softly.


Wagner nodded as he lifted his glass. He made a slight motion with his head and Teppel glanced over to see Heidi heading towards them.


“Are you men ready to eat yet?” she asked brightly when she stopped at the table.


Wagner smiled at her. “I’m afraid that Hans here will be dining alone this evening,” he said. “I must be going.” Teppel shot him a quick glance. “Hans, I trust you will not be bored.”


Heidi laughed. “I’ll make sure that he is entertained,” she remarked gaily. “It won’t do to have a bored patron in this establishment!”


“Very good,” Wagner replied. “Hans, I will see you in the office tomorrow. Guten abend.” As he rose, he gave a slight bow to Heidi. “Guten abend, Heidi”


Guten abend, Major Wagner,” Heidi replied. “Now Major Teppel, will you be having your usual?” she said to Teppel as Wagner walked away.


Teppel looked up to find Heidi smiling warmly at him. He returned the smile and said, “Ja, the usual. And Heidi – please call me Hans.”


Her smile widened. “Of course, Maj …” She paused, quickly correcting herself. “Hans. I’ll have your food out in just a minute. And I will bring you another beer sooner than that.”


Danke, Heidi,” Teppel replied, and watched her walk away. He couldn’t be sure, but he thought he noticed more movement in her walk than before – a slightly exaggerated sway to her hips. Yes, she is very attractive, he thought as he emptied his glass.


Hammelburg Area, Hideaway Chalet of General Burkhalter

January 27, 1944, 2200 hours


General Burkhalter poured two snifters full of brandy and carried them over to the settee. He handed one to Elsa and sat beside her.


Elsa took the glass that was handed to her. “Albert,” she gasped mockingly. “Are you trying to get me drunk?”


Burkhalter chuckled, which caused his massive girth to ripple. “But of course, my dear,” he cooed. “What better way to relax after a hard day at the war – soothing music on the radio, a warm fire in the fireplace, warm brandy in the stomach, and a beautiful lady to share it with.”


“But Albert, you can get that at home,” she countered playfully. “You are married.”


Burkhalter shuddered. “That is exactly why I can’t get that at home,” he muttered. “It falls apart when you get to the beautiful lady.”


“You make her sound so terrible, Albert,” Elsa said, stroking the General’s ear playfully.


“My dear, you have no idea,” he replied. “And of course, she has no idea either! Now let’s change the subject, liebchen. If I wanted to talk about disasters, I would talk about the war!”


They both laughed as they entwined their arms and drank from the snifters.


Burkhalter sighed happily as he looked at the woman next to him. Ah yes, the privileges of rank, he thought. If I were a mere Colonel, I would have no chance with Elsa. She is like my wife – attracted to the uniform and the rank. He gave an inward laugh as he admired Elsa’s beauty. After that, the resemblance ends.


The thought of a Colonel, and of Elsa, reminded Burkhalter of Klink. He remembered the first time he had met Elsa – when he and Klink were trying to charm the secret of the Norden bombsite from Colonel Hogan. In the end, it had turned out to be one of Hogan’s schemes to make Klink look foolish – not that Klink needed any help for that. But as he watched Elsa drink the last of the liquid in her snifter, he smiled. It was not a total waste of time, he thought. Someday I should thank Hogan for allowing me to meet Elsa.


He reached for the decanter and refilled Elsa’s glass. “Drink up, my dear,” he said warmly. “Tonight we will celebrate being together.”


“Oh Albert,” she cooed. “If you keep this up, I might not be able to contain myself!”


Burkhalter’s smile broadened as he poured, making sure to notice the dress that barely contained Elsa’s ample figure. “Naturally, my dear,” he cooed. “That is what we are celebrating.”


She laughed and snuggled closer to Burkhalter, staring at the fire burning in the fireplace. The only sounds in the room were the soft din of the radio playing soothing music, and the occasional crackle from the burning wood.


Burkhalter’s thoughts returned to the events of the day. He had decided to stop at Stalag 13 to pay Klink a visit. He had been dismayed to run into Count von Heffernick and his fiancé as they left for their honeymoon in Paris. The Count had given Burkhalter is personal recommendation for Klink’s promotion to General.


This bothered Burkhalter. He knew full well that Klink was a bumbling, egotistical fool – that alone made him qualified to be a General. But he also knew that if Klink were promoted, he would have to assign another Kommandant to Stalag 13 – one that might not be as easily manipulated by Colonel Hogan. Burkhalter knew that Colonel Hogan was running some sort of operation out of Stalag 13, right under the German noses. He didn’t know the details, but he didn’t care about the details – as long as he could do his part to keep Hogan operating.


In the end, he needn’t have worried about Klink. When Burkhalter entered Klink’s office, he found a disheveled Colonel pawing his secretary – which was something he wouldn’t mind doing himself – in the messy office while Schultz was drinking from a wine bottle. He remembered the pleasure he felt seeing the look on Klink’s face as he ripped the recommendation to shreds.


Elsa stirred next to him, and Burkhalter returned his thoughts to the present. Ah yes, the privileges of rank, he thought. Something I will make sure that bumbling old Klink never sees!


He noticed that Elsa had already finished her second glass of brandy and was resting her head on his broad shoulder. “Elsa, my dear,” he said softly. “Sometimes I wonder if you love my uniform more than you love me.”


She lifted her head and looked at Burkhalter, with a soft drunken glow in her eyes. “Albert,” she said breathlessly, reaching out to unbutton his shirt. “Maybe we should take the uniform off and see!”


Burkhalter leaned forward and kissed her passionately. Elsa, tomorrow you can have my uniform, he thought. But tonight, I’m going to have you.


Hammelburg, Johann Mueller’s Shop

February 6, 1944, 1330 hours


Ilse Wagner looked at the SS Captain sitting across the table from her. He was busy talking, but she was so lost in her thoughts that she did not hear a word he was saying.


Captain August Dorfmann had been a regular visitor for the past month, ever since the Gestapo had torn apart her family home searching for incriminating evidence pointing to the ones who had killed two Gestapo officers last December. The next day, the Captain had come to the shop to apologize for the way the family was treated. Ilse had been both surprised and pleased by this gesture, and even more so when he had suggested that they dine together during her noontime break.


As she looked at the man, she thought, He is very nice – so different from the other Gestapo men in town. Her brothers had been alarmed when they heard that the Captain was spending time with her – and for good reason. It had been their small group that had carried out the attack on the Gestapo in December, and ever since, the group had been active participants in the local Underground. Ilse could still remember Karl’s panic – Ilse, it is a trap. You saw what they did to our house. They suspect us, and they will do anything to find evidence of our guilt. She had been defiant. She sensed that Captain Dorfmann was different – he was caring and understanding. Nothing she said had calmed both Karl and the more protective Hans. It had been her father who defended her. Boys, your sister is a grown woman with a lot of sense – more sense than both of you display at times. She knows what is at stake, and knows what will happen to us if the Gestapo find out the truth. I trust her, and so should you. From that moment on, her brothers had been quiet about the matter, but Ilse could tell that they still were not pleased.


When she heard her name, Ilse blinked herself back to attention. “I’m sorry, August,” she said sheepishly, realizing that her lack of attention had been noticed. “I didn’t hear what you said.”


Dorfmann paused before repeating, “I just said that you seemed rather distracted today.”


She flushed a little in embarrassment. “I’m sorry,” she said again. “I was just thinking about something.” She took a bite of the homemade bread she had brought to eat.


Dorfmann began gathering the remaining bits of his meal. “If you have something that must be done, maybe I should go and not bother you today,” he said.


Ilse reached out and put her hand on his arm. “No, please stay,” she said quickly. He stopped and she could see a small flush in his cheeks. “I was just thinking how pleasant your visits have been.”


His flush deepened as he took her hand in his. “I have found them pleasant as well,” he replied.


The two sat there silently holding hands and gazing at each other until they heard the front door of the shop open. Quickly they began eating the remainder of their food, feeling embarrassed by the interruption.


* * * * *


Johann Mueller suppressed a smile as he saw the pair at the table jump as he entered the shop. “Ah, hello Captain,” he said as he hung his coat on the rack by the door.


“Hello, Herr Mueller,” Dorfmann replied. “It’s a cold day outside today.”


Ja,” Johann answered. “But it seems to be nice and cozy in here.” He chuckled as he caught the pointed glare from Ilse.


Dorfmann coughed slightly from embarrassment and rose from his chair. “Ah, yes,” he stammered. Turning to Ilse, he said, “I should be going so that you can get back to work.”


“No, no,” Johann insisted. “It is a slow day today. Everyone is inside out of the cold. Stay as long as you like.” He began putting on his apron. “Ilse, I just saw your brother Karl. He wanted me to tell you that he will be working late for Herr Meyer tonight and you shouldn’t wait for him. I’ll accompany you home this evening.”


Ilse nodded as she began to clean her table.


Herr Mueller, I will be glad to escort Fräulein Wagner home in my auto this evening,” Dorfmann said, putting on his coat. “It will save you the trouble of making the trip back into town.”


“It’s no trouble,” Johann replied. But when he noticed Ilse’s reaction to his statement, he quickly added with a wry smile, “But if Ilse does not object, I would be willing to brave the warmth of my flat this evening.”


Ilse smiled broadly and Dorfmann tipped his hat in her direction. “I’ll be here when the shop closes,” he said cheerfully. Then he turned to Johann and said, “Guten tag, Herr Mueller,” before turning to walk out the door.


Johann watched the Captain leave the shop as he settled at his workbench. “Ah, young love,” he said brightly.


“Johann!” exclaimed Ilse a little too loudly. “You make it sound so serious!”


Johann’s smile faded as he looked over at Ilse. “Ilse, dear,” he said. “It is serious. He seems a pleasant enough man, but …” He paused, trying to find the right words to express his concern. “Let’s just say that your family business and his profession do not coexist very well.”


“You make it sound like I am about to run off and marry him!” Ilse countered.


“Ilse, I may be an old man,” Johann said, his voice trailing off.


Ilse put her hands on her hips and stuck her chin defiantly. “Maybe I’m just trying to be nice to him so that we know what the Gestapo is up to,” she said, trying to sound convincing. “You sound just like my brothers!”


Johann smiled at her. “They care about you, Ilse,” he said. “In that way I am like your brothers. But I also see the spark … from both of you. It pleases me to see you happy, but I also want to see that you are safe.”


Ilse stared at the floor and did not respond.


“As I said before, Captain Dorfmann seems like a very pleasant man,” Johann continued. “He does not have the Gestapo arrogance that the others exhibit, and it’s obvious that he likes you … and it’s obvious that you like him. Just be careful.” He paused and then added, “For your sake and for your family’s sake.”


Ilse’s posture softened. “I will, Johann,” she said softly.


After a moment of silence, Johann clapped his hands together. “Now, I must get to work,” he said as he busied himself with the boot on the bench in front of him. “If I don’t finish these boots, Herr Schmidt will have frozen toes when he walks to his market!”


Ilse giggled as she finished removing the remnants of her noon meal from her desk, imagining the grocer with frozen toes.


* * * * *


Ilse was ready when Dorfmann arrived at the shop just after closing time. She said good night to Johann as she left and followed the Captain to his waiting auto. As she entered the car, she gave a noticeable shiver. The last time she had been in a Gestapo auto, she had been forced against her will and brutally attacked.


When Dorfmann sat in the driver seat and closed the door, he looked at her and asked, “Are you cold?”


“A little,” she lied, realizing that he must have noticed her reaction to her unpleasant memories.


Pushing the past out of her mind, she engaged the Captain in pleasant small talk during the drive to her family farmhouse. When they arrived, he surprised her by jumping from the car to open the door for her.


Danke for the drive home, August,” she said as they stood beside the car.


“It was my pleasure,” he replied happily. “I will be glad to escort you home any time you wish.”


They stood silently for a moment before he said, “I should let you get in out of the cold.” He gave her a small tip of his hat and started to move towards the car.


“Would you like to come in for a moment?” she asked hesitantly.


Dorfmann paused before answering. Nothing would please him more than spending as much time with Ilse as he could, and she seemed to enjoy his company. He thought of her brothers – Hans and Karl – and of the unspoken hostility he felt whenever they saw him. He had talked to them both occasionally in town in an attempt to be friendly, but each time they would glare at him and reply to his attempts at conversation in terse, impatient responses.


“I’m not sure I should, Ilse,” he replied with a hint of disappointment in his voice. “I don’t think your family likes me …” His voice trailed off.


“Nonsense!” she countered, knowing that he spoke the truth. “This is as much my house as theirs, and if I ask you in, they will just have to accept it!”


He hesitated a moment longer before accepting her invitation and following her to the door of the small house. As they entered, Dorfmann saw Hans sitting at the table sharpening what looked like a hunting knife and Ilse’s father with his back turned to the door. Ilse greeted them as she closed the outside door.


“Ah there you are, liebchen,” Friedrich Wagner said, turning to greet his daughter. When he saw Dorfmann, he stopped suddenly. “Guten abend, Captain,” he said warily. “I thought Karl would escort Ilse home this evening, is something wrong?” he asked in a monotone.


Nein, Herr Wagner,” Dorfmann replied smiling. “Karl had to stay and finish some work for Herr Meyer and I offered to escort your daughter home to save Herr Mueller the trouble of a return trip to town.”


Friedrich nodded slightly in acknowledgement and thanks.


“Karl should have told me he planned to work late,” Hans replied curtly from the table. “Then I could have saved you the trouble of a return trip to town, Captain.”


Dorfmann could hear the contempt as his rank was spoken, but chose to ignore it. “Ah, but then you would have had to make the extra trip,” he replied.


“I don’t mind,” Hans retorted, still honing the blade he held in his hands.


Ilse felt her irritation begin to rise. “Well why don’t you men just escort each other back and forth if it’s so much trouble!” she exclaimed indignantly.


Friedrich laughed heartily. “That’s my daughter - Full of fire and more sense than all of us put together!” he exclaimed. “She’s going to make someone a good wife someday.” His eyes were twinkling.


Dorfmann saw Hans glare sharply at Friedrich as Ilse exclaimed. “Father!” He saw an attractive flush spread across her face.


Still smiling, Friedrich waved at the table. “We are about to have our evening meal, Captain,” he said. “You are welcome to join us.”


Dorfmann noticed Hans stiffen and the motion of the blade against the whetstone paused for a fraction of a second. As he saw the hopeful look in Ilse’s eyes, he longed to accept the invitation – but decided that it might not be the best time. “Danke, he said, noticing the beginnings of a smile on Ilse’s face. “But I cannot stay long tonight.” He looked at Ilse and smiled. “Some other time, perhaps – if I have the privilege of escorting your daughter home again.”


“You needn’t bother,” Hans said. “Karl and I will take care of that.”


Friedrich responded before Ilse could react to her brother’s statement. “Hans, don’t get your sister worked up again.”


Hans gave a small shrug and returned his attention to the knife in his hands.


Dorfmann decided that he would try again to be friendly with Hans. “That’s a very nice knife, Hans,” he said with sincere admiration in his voice.


“It’s my hunting knife,” Hans replied simply.


“My father and I used to go hunting when I was a boy,” Dorfmann said. “After the last war, the only meat we would have were the rabbits we were able to find.”


Hans remained silent while continuing to work on the blade. Dorfmann couldn’t tell if the hostility was beginning to fade, but he pressed on.


“I still have my father’s hirschfanger,” he said. “Nothing as ornate as yours, though.”


Hans looked up at Dorfmann. He didn’t smile, but some of the anger had left his eyes. “This is a family heirloom,” he replied. “Passed down to the oldest son.” He held the knife out to Dorfmann, who took it gingerly and examined it.


Dorfmann marveled at the detail etched into the side of the blade and the handle that was made to resemble a knight in armor. “Bavarian … about 1860?” he asked.


Hans looked at the Captain with surprise. “Ja,” he replied. “Most people wouldn’t have known.”


“It’s an interest of mine,” Dorfmann replied smiling. He was glad that he found a common interest that might help break the ice with Ilse’s brother. “Sometime I will bring my family heirloom around – my grandfather’s Prussian cavalry degen from the war of unification.”


Hans nodded. “I would like to see that,” he commented as he accepted his hirschfanger from Dorfmann.


“Well I should be going,” Dorfmann said at last. “Guten abend, Herr Wagner.” Turning to Ilse, he said, “Until tomorrow?” he said, more of a question than a statement.


Ilse nodded eagerly.


“Hans, maybe we can go hunting sometime,” he suggested. “Since I am not from around here, I do not know the best places to go.”


Hans gave a noncommittal shrug and said, “We can arrange something.”


Dorfmann tipped his hat to the family and left the house. As he walked to the car, he felt very happy. Ilse’s father had invited him to stay and was very pleasant to him, and even Hans had been, if not friendly, less hostile towards him. He drove back to Hammelburg in a good mood, thinking of Ilse and his growing feelings for her.


Stalag 13, Barracks 2

February 7, 1944, 0930 hours


It was mail day at Stalag 13 again, and the men of the barracks waited impatiently for Schultz to deliver the snippets of news sent to them by their friends and loved ones. For Hogan, mail day had become an empty time, thanks to Major Hochstetter. Several months before, the Major had begun to withhold his mail as part of his attempt to tag Hogan for all of the sabotage activity in the area. Hogan didn’t know what Hochstetter planned to accomplish by depriving him of his contact with the outside world, but he did know that somehow, someway, he would get even with the Gestapo man.


It was thanks to Kinch that he knew about Hochstetter’s actions. Kinch had asked Schultz to find out, and the portly sergeant had given him the bad news. Now that he knew, and the rest of his men knew, Hogan could deal with the situation better – he still didn’t like it, and he still made sure he was in his office so that he did not have to endure the piteous looks from Schultz when he delivered the mail.


And it still filled him with sadness – no news from his parents, or updates from Lisa about little Bobby. He winced when he thought about Lisa and Bobby. No letters from his dear wife about the feats of their young son as he took his first steps, said his first word and sprouted his first tooth. Of all his men, Kinch alone knew the truth about Lisa and Bobby. To the rest of his men, they were his sister and nephew. He felt terrible about the deception, but as much as Kinch urged him to tell them, he just could not face telling them that he was married. Why? Kinch had asked him that one word question many times. Why? Every time, the answer was simply a lame excuse. It would ruin his reputation as a ladies man or if Hilda and Helga knew, they would be less cooperative with information from Klink’s office. The real reason – he knew it, and Kinch knew it – was that he was ashamed that he had betrayed his loving wife on many occasions while trying to get information.


His thoughts were interrupted as the bunk over the tunnel entrance rose and Baker climbed up carrying the morning message from London. Mail day – that means another batch of information on the exploits of Nimrod. That ought to put the boys in a real good mood, he thought sarcastically.


Baker walked over and handed Hogan several sheets of paper. He glanced at them and then handed one back to Baker. “You have the honors today, Baker,” he said, leaning against the doorjamb of his office.


“Let me guess, Nimrod again,” Newkirk complained. “What’d he do this time, single-handedly defeat the German army on the Eastern front?”


“I bet he snuck into Berchtesgaden one night and shaved off Hitler’s moustache,” LeBeau quipped.


“Fellas, hold it down!” Hogan commanded loudly. “I’ll admit that some of the things Nimrod accomplishes are pretty amazing, but remember – we are on the same side of this war.”


His men grumbled, but nobody ventured a witty remark.


“I still think,” Carter began from his post at the outside door.


“Carter, don’t say it!” Newkirk interrupted.


Carter shot the Englishman a pointed glance. “Well I do,” he retorted. “I’ll bet that Nimrod is not one person. It can’t be.”


The men groaned. They were tired of Carter bringing this up every time.


“Well it can’t,” Carter said defiantly. “Look at all we do – and there are six of us. And we even have the help of others in this camp as well as the Underground. He’s doing things all over the country.”


“Maybe he’s like that guy in those comic books you like to read,” Newkirk countered. “Superbloke, or something like that.”


“That’s Superman,” Carter corrected testily.


Hogan had to suppress a smirk. The men went through the same thing every week. They did not like to hear about the super human exploits of Nimrod, and took it very personally. And as always, Carter made his thoughts known that Nimrod couldn’t be a single man, which brought ribbing from the rest of them. The routine was comforting in a way, but he knew that he had to make sure that the competition that his men felt towards Nimrod did not lead to recklessness.


“Hey, let Baker get on with his reading before Schultz comes,” Hogan said above the din.


The men quieted down and Baker began reading the list of sabotage credited to Nimrod for the week. Hogan listened casually, his mind going over some of the activities that his group would be performing in the coming weeks. He knew that the Nimrod list would be wide ranging, and he was correct. He heard about acts of sabotage as far west as Paris, as far north as Norway, east right on the heels of the current Eastern Front and south into the Austrian Alps.


As Baker finished his recitation, Carter informed them that Schultz was on the way with the mail.


“Carry on, boys,” Hogan said, slipping into his office as the outside door opened. Schultz poked his head in and looked around. Not seeing the Colonel, he walked into the barracks to be attacked by the prisoners anxious for news from home.


* * * * *


While the men received their mail, Hogan busied himself with decoding the transmission from London. He mentally adjusted his plans for the week after reading the decoded message, and noted with some annoyance the request for more information on the fuel depot being readied near town. I’ve given them everything we know, he thought. They want to know why it is taking so long for the Germans to get it operational. Hmph! How should I know! I suppose they want me to waltz up to Hochstetter and suggest that they hurry up with it so that I can bomb it! He pushed the messages aside and picked up his latest letter to Lisa.


When he first heard his mail was being held, Hogan’s first thought was to stop writing to everyone. Kinch correctly pointed out that this would make Hochstetter suspicious. Kinch also pointed out that Hogan should continue to question why he wasn’t receiving any letters – in case Hochstetter was reading the mail that he was keeping. Maybe Kinch should be running this operation, he thought wryly. He sighed – he knew Kinch was right, and so he diligently kept writing to Lisa and his parents, complaining about the lack of mail and then adding trivial information such as complaints about the food the prisoners were given and the mundane daily life in camp.


When he finished his letter, he listened to the din in the barracks outside his office. Schultz had moved on to deliver mail to the other barracks, and Hogan could hear the men reading their letters from home and chattering about the news. He rose from his bottom bunk and went out to join his men.


“And Uncle Joe has been busy this year on his cattle farm,” Carter was reading. “He misses your help and can barely keep up with the chores.”


“You mean to tell me that you used to work on a farm?” Newkirk asked. “Carter the merry milkmaid?” This brought a round of chuckles from the rest of the men.


“It’s not a dairy farm, Newkirk. It’s a stud farm,” Carter explained. The chuckles sounded again, this time with a lewd overtone. “It was my job to bring the cows to the bull so that they could … you know.”


“I thought that was a job for the farmer,” Newkirk said glibly, egging his friend on.


Carter gave him a confused glance and replied, “No, it really has to be a bull.”


Newkirk’s jaw dropped in surprise as the men hooted with laughter. Carter looked around at the men, wondering what he had said that was funny.


Even Hogan couldn’t suppress a laugh. “He got you that time, Newkirk,” he said, walking over to the group huddled around the table.


“What’d I say?” Carter wondered.


LeBeau nudged him with his elbow. “I’ll tell you later.”


“What did London say, Colonel?” Kinch asked.


“The usual, another drop tonight” he replied. “Kinch, you and LeBeau go out. The usual place, 2300 hours.”


The two men nodded.


“Other than that,” Hogan said smiling, “we’ve got to keep up with Nimrod.” A loud chorus of agreement rose from the table, as the men scattered to finish reading their letters.


Berlin, Das Brauhaus

February 12, 1944, 2000 hours


“It’s getting late, Hans,” Major Kurt Wagner said as he took a sip of beer from the stein in his hand. “I think I will be going.”


Teppel looked around the room as he took a sip of his beer. He spotted Heidi carrying several full steins walking from the bar. “I think I will have another one, Kurt,” he said.


Wagner drained his stein and laughed. “Ja, I can tell that you are in no hurry to leave!” he said jokingly.


“I’m thirsty tonight,” Teppel replied defensively.


Wagner raised an eyebrow suggestively. “And hungry too!” he quipped.


Teppel opened his mouth to reply, but closed it again when he couldn’t think of an appropriate response. Wagner was right - he did have another reason for wanting to stay. He glanced at Heidi, who had noticed Wagner’s empty stein and was walking towards their table. Heidi – yes, that was the reason. Teppel had noticed Heidi’s playful – almost flirtatious – manner when she would come to the table. It had been a source of amusement for Wagner, who had been teasing him relentlessly about it the entire evening.

the entire eventin  eveningTeppel had to admit that he welcomed the attention from the attractive barmaid – and he decided that tonight was a good time to try and get to know her better.


“Another beer, Major?” Heidi asked Wagner when she arrived.


“Not for me,” Wagner replied. “Unfortunately I must be going home now. But Hans will have another one, won’t you Hans?” He smiled a mischievous smile at Teppel. Teppel felt his face grow warm from embarrassment.


“I’ll bring it right away,” she said and hurried away.


Wagner stood and reached into his pocket. Hans waved his hands. “My treat tonight, Kurt,” he said.


Wagner chuckled as he put on his coat. “I’ll have to have the barmaids flirt with you more often,” he said lightly. “It puts you in a generous mood!”


Teppel smiled. “Get out of here before I change my mind,” he joked.


“Don’t stay out too late,” Wagner warned. “You know the Admiral doesn’t like his officers to fall asleep in his meetings!”


“What are you, my mother?” Hans asked in mock indignation.


“Tsk, tsk, Hansie,” Wagner said in a motherly tone, causing both men to laugh. “I want to see a smile on your face tomorrow at the office!” he said, a little louder than Teppel would have liked.


As Teppel watched Wagner head towards the door, Heidi placed a full stein of beer in front of him. He could tell by the slight flush on her smiling face that she had heard Wagner’s comment. He raised his almost empty stein towards her in a toasting gesture and emptied it before handing it to her.


“I’ll have more time to talk as people leave,” she said, almost shyly. “That is, if you would like some company.”


Teppel smiled warmly and tried not to sound too eager as he responded, “I’d like that very much.”


* * * * *


Teppel spent the entire evening in the Brauhaus. After Wagner had left, he moved to the bar so that he could talk to Heidi more easily. Her free moments grew longer as the number of patrons dwindled.


During the course of the evening, they talked about many things. Teppel learned that Heidi’s last name was Kaufmann – and he wondered why he had never bothered asking what it was before tonight. She had been widowed in 1939 after being married less than a year. Her husband had been killed in Poland at the start of the war. She had no children, no siblings and as of two years ago, no living parents. She lived alone in a small flat nearby and liked to read, cook and dance.


Teppel, for his part, told her the story of Hans Teppel, Abwehr officer. It was a story that he was comfortable telling after all these years – in fact, he had lived this story for so long, that the true-life story of Robert J. Morrison almost seemed like the fictional tale. Heidi listened with interested fascination and laughed when he patted his stomach and said he liked to eat.


They had become so engrossed with their conversation that they were surprised when Max, the bartender and owner, told them that he was locking up and going home. As Teppel guiltily helped Heidi with her cleanup chores, they continued talking and laughing.


When they were finished, Teppel offered to walk Heidi back to her flat. She accepted the invitation, but suggested a warm drink before they started out in the cold night. She disappeared into the kitchen, returning a few minutes later with two steaming cups. She set one down in front of Teppel and took a seat beside him.


Teppel took a drink of the steaming brown liquid and grimaced. “I wish we could get some real coffee,” he commented.


She nodded her agreement. “There’s a lot of things I wish,” she replied, staring wistfully towards the back wall.


“Such as?” Teppel prompted.


She blinked several times before focusing her gaze upon him. “I suppose it’s not a nice thing to say to a military officer,” she said, “but I wish this war would be over.”


He smiled at her. “Not every officer likes war,” he replied. “We just do what we have to do.”


She stared at him as if surprised he would say such a thing. In the silence, they heard faint rumbling in the distance. Heidi looked quickly at the ceiling. “The nightly bombs,” she said softly.


“We should go now,” Teppel suggested. Heidi nodded her agreement.


They quickly straightened up and put on their coats. After Heidi locked the outside door, Teppel held his arm out for her. She took it with a smile and arm in arm they silently walked the two blocks to Heidi’s flat, each lost in their own thoughts. The whole time they heard a constant rumbling in the distance and saw an eerie glow in the sky. When they were halfway there, they began to hear a faint drone overhead. Without a word, the pair began to walk faster. Suddenly, the air shook with ear splitting booms as the anti-aircraft guns on the roofs of the nearby buildings let loose. They began to run.


When they reached Heidi’s building, she quickly unlocked the door and to Teppel’s surprise, pulled him in after her.


The noise wasn’t as loud after she closed the outside door, and Teppel found himself in a small hallway with a single door and a staircase leading to the upper floors. “I should get home before things get worse,” he said breathlessly as she unlocked the door to her flat.


“Nonsense,” she said, leading him into the small apartment. “It is not safe outside now. You’ll stay here until the bombing is over.” She had removed her coat and turned on a table lamp allowing Teppel to see the modestly furnished room.


“These bombing can go on all night,” Teppel pointed out.


Her smile was broad and her eyes twinkled as she said, “Then I guess we’ll have to find something to keep us occupied until morning.”


Without a word, Teppel strode over to her and wrapped his arms around her.


“Don’t you think you should remove your coat first?” she asked, her eyes sparkling with amusement.


She helped him remove is heavy overcoat, dropping it at their feet - their lips meeting even before it hit the floor. Around them the aircraft droned, the bombs rumbled and the anti-aircraft guns boomed – but they heard none of it.


Paris, Ritz Hotel

February 14, 1944, 2030 hours


Marya sat facing the mirror and dabbed powder onto her face. She stared at the reflection looking back at her. Svetochka dear, you are getting old, she thought to herself. She looked at the puff in her hand. It won’t be long before even this cannot cover up the signs of age. She sighed ruefully, knowing that she had been successful in her operations in part because of her looks. Then again, if things go wrong, I won’t have to worry about growing old – being dead eliminates that problem. So for the moment, she knew that she had to concentrate on making sure that she had a future to worry about.


She fluffed her hair and appraised her reflection critically. Feeling as satisfied as she was ever going to be, she reached for her bag and removed a cigarette. She sat back in the chair and exhaled a plume of smoke. As she watched the blue haze float to the ceiling, she thought back over the past few months. It hadn’t been a particularly difficult assignment, though it did have its moments. But since it had been her plan, she had only herself to blame for the times of boredom.


For the past several months, she had been leading Count von Waffenschmidt around the German occupied territory to prevent him from discovering the source of information being leaked from Wehrmacht headquarters to the Soviet intelligence. She had known that he suspected her of being the Soviet contact, so she had devised a plan to keep him busy – and to keep the information flowing eastward. Ever since, she had cavorted with her many high ranking German friends, hoping that von Waffenschmidt would finally move in and try to coerce the name of the contact from Marya. She had given him every opportunity to get close, flirting with him at every stop. But so far, he had been content to simply follow her from city to city, appearing surprised to run into her and her escorts. She took another drag from the cigarette. The damn fool, she thought. If not for his preferences, I would have been able to seduce him by now and somehow get him out of the way for good. Hmph! If I had grown a moustache, it would have been easy! She shook her head. No, I take that back. If I were prepubescent I wouldn’t have a problem. She had no idea how she would “get him out of the way”, but she had confidence that she would think of something when the time comes to act. She blew another plume of blue smoke skyward and smiled. And I know exactly who I want to help me when the time comes, she thought.


She stubbed out the cigarette and immediately lit another, standing to study her full-length reflection in the mirror. Still not too bad, she thought as she turned to observe it from all sides. But it’s easy with these Germans – give them a wink, a wiggle and an exotic accent, and they’ll think they’ve been able to conquer another country. She laughed and began pacing the room trying to get her mind back on what she needed to do this evening.


She had come back to Paris because she was running out of high-ranking Germans to use. In fact, she was really scraping the bottom of the barrel now – Colonel Backscheider of the Paris Gestapo. He was a somewhat important man, to be sure – but unfortunately, more important in his own mind than in reality. She had dealt with him for several months when she was in Paris posing as an exiled Russian fortuneteller. She smiled as thoughts of another man came to mind … Colonel Hogan, a prisoner at Stalag 13. She had met him when he had come to Paris to rescue a French Underground agent being held by Backscheider. She hadn’t known he was a prisoner of war at first, as he was posing as an American named Frank Dirkin. But she had soon found the truth and together they had rescued the agent and obtained the information that both of them had been after.


She took one last puff on the cigarette and stubbed it in the ashtray. Colonel Hogan, she thought. Since that first meeting in Paris, she had arranged to encounter Hogan several more times – each time enlisting his help in her plan. She had found him her equal in the art of improvising a solution to a task, and pulling it off successfully. Unfortunately, she thought, I haven’t found him susceptible to my feminine charms … yet. She knew there would be one more encounter – she had always planned to maneuver events so that Hogan could help her eliminate von Waffenschmidt. But currently, she only had a sketchy notion of how she was going to get von Waffenschmidt where Hogan could help … and tonight she planned to start the final part of her plan into action – even if von Waffenschmidt did play hard to get!


With a small smile on her face, she finished dressing for the evening. Backscheider wasn’t worth a lot of effort … come to think of it, he wasn’t worth any effort … but getting von Waffenschmidt out of the way was, and Backscheider was the perfect dupe to use. Since von Waffenschmidt outranked him, she was sure that she could arrange for Backscheider to be intimidated enough to leave them alone.


She glanced at her reflection in the mirror one more time. Marya, darling, she thought, throwing her hands out wide and laughing out loud. You look like one high-priced call girl! Continuing her laughter, she left her room and headed down to the hotel restaurant.


* * * * *


Colonel Backscheider sat alone at the table in the hotel dining room. He had been pleased to hear from Marya after many months of being absent. She had disappeared soon after the incident with the female resistance fighter, Tiger. That had been a close call for him, and he had wondered since if she had anything to do with the events that had happened. But all the doubts had melted away when he heard her purring voice on the telephone. She would be in Paris and wanted to rendezvous with him.  His heart beat faster as he remembered all their past visits.


As if on cue, he looked up at the dining room entrance to see Marya standing there, looking as beautiful as ever. As he rose from his chair, she spotted him and began to glide across the dining room as only Marya could.


She reached the table and spread her arms wide. “Backscheider, darling!” she cooed.


“Marya, my dear,” he replied. “You look ravishing.”


“But of course,” Marya replied laughing, taking a seat in the chair he was offering. As she sat, she scanned the dining room. She saw von Waffenschmidt sitting along at a table in the corner with a less-than-pleased expression on his face. She quickly looked away before he glanced in her direction, and held an empty glass out to Backscheider. “Champagne, darling,” she said with a smile. “Or have you forgotten how to treat a lady?”


Smiling back at her, Backscheider filled her glass with the open bottle from the cooler by the table. “I’m so glad you are back in town,” he said. “Will you be here long?”


She could hear the hope in his voice as he asked the question. “As long as it takes,” she replied noncommittally. “As long as it takes.”


Backscheider was silent for a moment, unsure of the meaning of Marya’s response.


Sensing his bewilderment, Marya put her hand on his and laughed. “But why talk about tomorrow when tonight is still young,” she said seductively. And with any luck at all, your night will be over soon, she thought.


* * * * *


Count Rudolf von Waffenschmidt sat in the corner of the restaurant in the Hotel Ritz, sipping his brandy and looking disdainfully around the room. He was not a very happy person at the moment. Not only would he rather not be in Paris, far away from the power hierarchy surrounding the Führer, he was not accomplishing anything on his current assignment.


He had been tasked with finding the source of classified information that was being leaked to the Russians from the High Command. For the past several months, he had been following the Russian woman, Marya, as she traipsed around the country. He knew that Marya somehow was the conduit – he had felt this so strongly that he had abandoned his surveillance around the Führer’s compound at Rastenburg – but as of yet, he had not been able to find any specific contact feeding her the information. Worse yet, the flow of information had not stopped, and he had slowly become convinced that she not only was leaking information to the Eastern Front, but also to the Allies in the West.


His superiors had been getting very impatient with his lack of results, and were suggesting that he abandon his folly - as they called it - and return to the Wolfsschanze and concentrate on find the leak there. He had been able to stall for more time, but he knew that he couldn’t stall much longer … if he intended to avoid being the subject of one of Hitler’s famous rants. He knew that if he did abandon Marya and return to Rastenburg, it would put him in a very bad light, as the investigation there was stopped before on his recommendation.


To appease them, he had come up with another plan, though it still involved Marya. The plans for the Spring push on the Eastern Front were being drawn up and would be ready in a couple of weeks. He had convinced a reluctant Himmler to allow him to deliver the plans personally, hand carrying them to the front instead of using the regular channels. He would pick up the plans from General Stauffen in Berlin and only those who had drawn the plans up would have knowledge of the contents. The key to his plan was to somehow convince Marya to accompany him around during this time. He would allow her to suggest any “detours” along the way, hoping that he would finally get more information about the network that was being used to send the plans to the Russians. He was sure that Marya would suggest a detour so that her accomplices could grab the plans. Yes, she will try to get the plans into the hands of one of her cohorts, he thought. And then I will be able to break her network and show those fools in the High Command that Count Rudolf von Waffenschmidt is a force to be reckoned with!


Waffenschmidt took another sip from his snifter. He also knew that it would be very easy to convince Marya to come with him. He snorted. Easy, yes, that would describe this Marya. Easy. Very easy! At first he was surprised by the who’s who list of high ranking German officers she cavorted with – each time flirting with them openly and then usually spending the night with them in her room. She even flirted repeatedly with him, attempting to lure him in like a spider lures its prey. Each time he had refused, only to have her laugh suggestively and tell him that someday he would give in.


Unfortunately, tonight might have to be that night. He gave an involuntary shudder at the thought. He quickly took another drink and glanced at the table where Marya sat with Colonel Backscheider of the Paris Gestapo. Backscheider! he snorted. Either she’s scraping the bottom of the barrel here, or he’s not the incompetent fool that he seems to be. He chuckled. Yes, tonight would be the night that he and Marya would become traveling companions. It couldn’t have worked out better, he thought. Backscheider wouldn’t dare stick around when I show up!


He drained his snifter and waved the empty glass towards the waiter by the bar to order it refilled. And I think it’s time I show up.


* * * * *


Marya saw von Waffenschmidt wind his way between the tables of the dining room, heading in her direction. When he arrived, she looked up and exclaimed, “Waffie, darling, what a surprise to see you here.”


Backscheider was annoyed that Marya’s attention was directed elsewhere, and looked over to find the source. Seeing von Waffenschmidt standing there, he scrambled to his feet. “Count von Waffenschmidt, what are you doing here?” he sputtered. Seeing the frown from von Waffenschmidt, he quickly added, “I mean, yes, what a pleasant surprise to see you here! I was not aware that you would be in town.”


Von Waffenschmidt gave him a cold smile. “And I was not aware that I had to clear my travel plans with you, Colonel,” he said with an intimidating edge to his voice.


“No sir, Count von Waffenschmidt. It’s just that I … I … I,” Backscheider stammered.


Von Waffenschmidt turned to Marya, “Good evening, Marya,” he said good naturedly. “It seems we meet again.”


Marya had pulled out a cigarette and placed it into her holder. Now she held it out with the obvious suggestion of a light. Backscheider began fumbling with his pockets, but stopped as von Waffenschmidt leaned forward holding a cigarette lighter. As Marya stuck the end of her cigarette into the flame, she studied von Waffenschmidt. His gaze was steady, and she thought she could see a slight trace of something that had not been present in any of the previous meetings. “Yes, Waffie, it seems that we meet again,” she said slyly. “It is as though you were following me.” Her voice had kept its seductive quality, but it also held a slight trace of smugness at the truth of the statement.


Von Waffenschmidt didn’t exactly flinch, but Marya observed a slight raise of his eyebrows. Yes, Waffie, you pig. I know you are following me, and now you know that I know. She put on her best smile as she blew a plume of smoke into the air. “Please, sit and join us,” she said.


Von Waffenschmidt smiled and sat in the seat recently vacated by Backscheider. The Colonel had been staring at both Marya and von Waffenschmidt, clearly confused by the situation. Now, seeing his chair occupied, he began to walk around the table to towards an empty one.


“So what does bring you to Paris, Waffie darling,” Marya cooed.


“I am in town for a surprise inspection of Gestapo headquarters,” he replied.


Backscheider had reached the empty chair and was in the process of sitting. When he heard von Waffenschmidt’s reply, he froze … or tried to. He ended up missing the chair and tumbled to the floor. When he rose, he found von Waffenschmidt glaring at him.


Marya laughed heartily. “The colonel seems to already have had too much to drink!” she exclaimed.


Backscheider felt himself flush with embarrassment. “Sir, if only I would have known you were coming …” he started to say.


“If you would have known I was coming,” von Waffenschmidt said evenly, “then it would hardly be a surprise inspection.”


Marya’s laugh grew louder. “That’s a good one, Waffie!” she shrieked.


Von Waffenschmidt continued to stare at Backscheider. “Well, Colonel,” he said. “Are you going to sit down or do you have something else to do?”


Marya heard the threat in von Waffenschmidt’s voice and knew that Backscheider would not stay. Not that I’m upset with that, she thought. The thought of having to spend the better part of an evening with that letch is almost enough to make me want to give up my plan. And unless I miss my guess, it seems that von Waffenschmidt is trying to put his plan in action as well. She sipped some champagne. And now, Svetochka, it’s time to act as though your life depends on it … because this time, it just might.


Backscheider continued to stand silently, alternating his glance between Marya and von Waffenschmidt. After a moment, he began shaking his head. “I think,” he began, and paused. “I’m afraid that there is a small business matter that I must attend to at headquarters,” he said finally. “Marya, maybe we can meet tomorrow night?” he asked hopefully.


“Maybe,” Marya said nonchalantly.


“And maybe he can send you a postcard from Minsk, Marya” von Waffenschmidt said calmly.


Backscheider frowned momentarily. Then he snapped to attention and saluted. “Count von Waffenschmidt,” he said.


Rather than return the salute, von Waffenschmidt made a small dismissive gesture with the brandy snifter he held in his hand.


They both watched as Backscheider hurried from the dining room.


“I’m impressed at what you will do to be alone with me,” Marya said with a small chuckle.


Von Waffenschmidt took a sip of his brandy. “Maybe you flatter yourself too much, Marya,” he said. “The man is annoying.”


Marya laughed. “Yes, I know,” she replied. “But we are alone now.” She thought she could see a small note of discomfort pass across von Waffenschmidt’s face, which pleased her. He really doesn’t want to be alone with me! “After all, you don’t really plan to inspect headquarters tomorrow, do you?”


Von Waffenschmidt shrugged. “As far as he knows, yes,” he replied. “But why talk about him when I would rather talk about you.”


“Are you sure you just want to talk?” she asked suggestively.


Von Waffenschmidt was silent for a moment, his face tight and expressionless. He shook himself slightly, as if to bring his mind back to the moment, and smiled. “For the moment,” he replied, attempting to play along with the seduction. “How long will you be in Paris?” he asked.


Marya took a sip of champagne before replying. He’s playing right into my hands, she thought. This is easy. It was almost too easy. For a moment, Marya felt a sensation of panic. Had he found out something about her? Was he about to make a move to arrest her? No, if he knew anything, I wouldn’t be sitting here now. He’s just getting tired of waiting and wants to try to force the issue. So, now is the time for me to do the forcing – and maybe I’ll just have some fun while I’m at it. “I leave for Vienna tomorrow and then on to Prague,” she replied.


Von Waffenschmidt responded with such a forced display of surprise that Marya almost burst out laughing. “What a coincidence,” he said with feigned surprise. “I have some business to attend to in Vienna and Prague myself.”


“Yes, what a coincidence,” Marya echoed with a hint of sarcasm.


Von Waffenschmidt studied her for a moment, unsure if she was mocking him. “Maybe we can travel together – it will give me a chance to really find out all about you,” he said.


Marya drank the last of the champagne in her glass and held it towards von Waffenschmidt for a refill. An excellent choice of words, she thought. I’m sure it was not an accidental phrase on your part. “Waffie, darling,” she cooed as he began to pour. “By the time our journey is over, you’ll know more than you ever dreamed of.”


Von Waffenschmidt’s arm twitched when he heard her reply, causing champagne to spill onto the table. He recovered quickly and began dabbing up the spill with a napkin. “I’m sorry,” he apologized. “I don’t know what made me so clumsy.”


Marya laughed and held he glass towards him in a mock toast. “I do, Waffie darling,” she said. He stopped his cleaning and looked at her quizzically. “Anticipation,” she whispered in her most seductive voice. Then she lifted her head and roared with laughter as the napkin fell from his fingers.


Rastenburg, East Prussia

February 16, 1944, 1530 hours


General Burkhalter stared at the countryside as he sat in the staff car on his trip to the airfield. He was not in a very happy mood. In fact, he was never in a happy mood after his meetings with the Führer. Every meeting was the same – Generals would tell Hitler what he wanted to hear, hoping to avoid one of his famous tongue-lashings. Bad news or setbacks at the front – of which there were an increasing number – were blamed on others or covered up.


Today had been especially disheartening. He had listened to General Walter Schellenberg rattle off a list of indiscretions he attributed to the Abwehr and its head, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris. Then the bombshell – an Abwehr agent, Erich Vermehren, had defected to the British.


The explosion from Hitler was as if a bomb had gone off in the briefing room. If he hadn’t been scared to death, Burkhalter would have laughed at the sight of the Führer pounding the table and stomping his feet like a child having a tantrum. By the end of the tirade, Hitler had worked himself up so much that he seemed to be foaming at the mouth as a rabid dog would.


The staff car had pulled onto the airfield and stopped next to an idling airplane outside of a very small hanger. Burkhalter climbed out of the car when the driver opened his door. He halfheartedly returned the driver’s salute and climbed aboard the aircraft. As the plane climbed skyward, he stared out the small window continued to reflect on the events of the day.


Burkhalter had been the next to report after Hitler had ordered Canaris be brought to the Wolfsschanze to explain Schellenberg’s accusations. He wished he could have reported before this news because Hitler was in such an agitated state that he interrupted several times. He complained about the costs of the Luftwaffe camps, the number of escapes, and the repeated requests for more facilities to house the growing number of Allied flyers. He did not even make his normal gushing comments about the continuing no-escape record when he mentioned Klink and Stalag 13.


It was all too depressing. He could see that Germany was losing the war – it wasn’t a matter of if, it was when. And when it does, reparations against us will be even worse than after the last war, he thought. He knew that, as a General, and as head of the Luft Stalag system, he would be held accountable for anything that happened under his command.


Burkhalter was snapped out of his thoughts by the rumble of his stomach. He glanced at his watch and realized that he hadn’t eaten anything since the morning. Remembering the food that he had picked up after the briefing, he looked around for the small package he had received at the market in Rastenburg. Damn! I left it in the staff car at the airfield. He shrugged. I could stand to skip a meal or two anyway, he thought.


As the plane droned onward, Burkhalter recalled the stop at the market in Rastenburg.


* * * * *


“Driver, stop at this market here,” Burkhalter said, leaning forward and pointing towards a small market on the town’s main road. “I would like to get some food for my flight.”


The driver nodded and pulled to a stop in front of the small building. Burkhalter got out of the car, informing the driver that he would not be long, and walked into the shop. Allowing a moment for his vision to adjust to the relative dimness of the interior, he looked around for the shopkeeper, hoping it would be the same one as before.


A man emerged from a back room and looked at the General. Burkhalter noticed a small hitch in his step and a momentary flash of something on the man’s face before he said, “Ah, guten tag, Herr General. What may I get for you?”


Burkhalter smiled – it was the same man. “Guten tag,” he replied. “I have a long flight ahead of me and I was hoping to get some food for the trip. I was in here before and you had some bread and cheese available. Do you have any today?”


“Ah, yes, I remember,” the shopkeeper replied. “We have bread and cheese today. I will get you some.” The man turned and disappeared into the back room again.


Danke,” Burkhalter replied loudly so the shopkeeper would hear. He reached into his breast pocket and removed a small photograph. Yes, the same man, he thought. Are you really Russian? How did Colonel Hogan manage to get you out of Stalag 13 and up here to Rastenburg?


Burkhalter heard some rustling from the backroom as the shopkeeper gathered his food. It doesn’t matter who you are or how you got here. I know that Colonel Hogan can do some pretty amazing things, but I don’t know how. He looked at the photograph again. It was the photograph from the Stalag 13 file of an American prisoner named Sam Minsk. With a slight smile, he placed the photograph face down on the counter in front of him. Sam Minsk – though I doubt that is your real name, you have now been permanently removed from the records of Stalag 13.


The shopkeeper returned from the back room carrying a small cloth-wrapped package. “Here you are, General,” he said.


Burkhalter took the package and dropped a large denomination bill on the counter. The bill landed on the photograph and he watched as the shopkeeper’s eyes went wide at the size of the bill, and then narrowed as he noticed the photograph.


“I’m afraid that I don’t have change for that,” the shopkeeper said.


Burkhalter shook his head. “Keep the change,” he replied.


The shopkeeper studied him for a moment with guarded eyes. He suspects a trap, Burkhalter thought.


“That is very generous of you, Herr General,” the shopkeeper said.


Burkhalter laughed. “In more ways than you know,” he replied and turned towards the door. He stopped and turned his gaze back towards the shopkeeper, who was staring at the photograph that was now in his hand. “But I will deny to anyone just how generous I am,” he said, and left the market.


* * * * *


Burkhalter chuckled softly as he recalled the shocked look on the man’s face as he stared at the photograph from his Stalag 13 file. Yes, Sam Minsk, good luck to you and all your dealings. I have a feeling we are working towards the same goal. The General sat back feeling better than he had when he first boarded the plane. His country was being ruined, and he knew that he would have to find a way out before the whole mess came crashing down. He didn’t know how, but he knew that when the time came, Colonel Hogan would be just the person that could get him out. After all, he’s been able to make use of everything I’ve sent to Stalag 13! Until that time comes, he knew that he would continue to silently do everything he could to help Colonel Hogan with whatever it was he was involved in.


Berlin, Das Brauhaus

February 17, 1944, 2100 hours


“Did you hear about Vermehren?” Major Kurt Wagner asked.


Teppel nodded as he set his beer on the table. “Ja, his defection has made a few people very angry,” he replied. “Where was he stationed? Somewhere in the east, wasn’t it?”


Turkey,” Wagner responded. “Both he and his wife were supposedly kidnapped by the British.”


“What I don’t understand is if this defection was set up to look as if they were kidnapped, why did the BBC report it as a defection?” Wagner asked.


Teppel shrugged. “Could be that they reported something that was supposed to be kept secret,” he suggested. “A lot of intelligence has been gathered that way.”


“Maybe,” Wagner said without conviction.


Teppel eyed his friend cautiously. “Do you know something?” he asked.


Wagner shook his head. “I just have a suspicion that there is something else behind it,” he replied.


Teppel laughed. “You are a very suspicious person, my friend!” he said.


Wagner didn’t laugh. “In our line of work, that can be a lifesaver,” he replied.


Teppel opened his mouth the reply, but stopped as Heidi appeared at the table. “Are you two ready for another round?” she asked cheerfully. Teppel and Wagner both nodded. “Two more beers, coming right up,” she said, and left for the bar.


It seemed like only a few seconds before she was back carrying two full steins. Heidi set the beer on the table and hurriedly left to attend to a newly arrived group of officers. Teppel stared after her silently, lost in his own thoughts.


Wagner had been watching his friend and the barmaid over the past months. There had always been an attraction between them, but he noticed that it had changed slightly in the past few days. He sipped his beer and chuckled. He knew a budding romance when he saw it. “You two seem very happy tonight,” he said quietly.


The sound of Wagner’s voice brought Teppel’s attention back to the table. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I was a little preoccupied just now.”


Wagner gave a small laugh. “I gathered that,” he said wryly.


Teppel felt his face redden slightly in embarrassment. Wagner had been teasing him about Heidi’s flirtations from the very beginning of their friendship. “She’s a very nice girl,” he said. “She’s very caring and gentle and warm …”


“Especially on a cold night,” Wagner interrupted.


“She’s the kind of person who would do anything for a friend,” Teppel continued, ignoring his friend’s comment.


Wagner raised his eyebrows and said nothing.


Teppel gave Wagner a glare of mock indignation. “You’re just jealous, my friend,” he said defensively.


Wagner burst out laughing. Teppel tried to keep his indignant look, but soon was laughing as well.


“Hans, she is very nice,” Wagner said at last. “I just think you need to be careful.”


“Kurt, you know I won’t say anything to her,” Teppel said.


“That’s not what I am talking about,” Wagner replied.


Now it was Teppel’s turn to raise his eyebrows. “The birds and bees?” he asked jokingly.


Wagner shook his head without reacting to the attempt at humor. “You know that if something happens to you, they’ll come after her next,” he explained.


Teppel nodded. “I know,” he replied. “But …”


Wagner smiled. “But she’s very caring, gentle and warm and would do anything for a friend,” he finished.


“Maybe she’s got a friend for you,” Teppel suggested. His eyes twinkled mischievously at his friend.


“Don’t you even think about playing cupid with me,” Wagner warned.


Teppel held his hands up in a gesture of resignation. “Okay, okay,” he said.


Heidi appeared at the table again. “It looks like you boys are having a lot of fun over here tonight,” she said. “Planning some secret military operation?” she asked with a wide grin.


“Actually, Hans was telling me what a caring, gentle person you were,” Wagner said, giving Teppel a devious grin.


“Oh? Telling tales out of school, Hans?” Heidi asked, putting her hands on her hips, the smile on her face belying the indignant pose.


Nein,” Teppel replied. “Kurt was just wondering if you had any friends who might be interested in meeting him.” Now it was Teppel’s turn to display a devious grin.


Heidi looked thoughtful. “Well, there’s Greta,” she said. “And there’s Liesel.”


“Now hold on, you two,” Wagner said defensively. “Don’t you get any ideas!


“You think about it, Kurt,” Heidi said. “I’ll be back when you’re ready for another beer and we’ll talk.” She gave him a slight wink and went back to attending the other patrons.


* * * * *


The next morning, General Walter Schellenberg stood at the head of the briefing table in Abwehr headquarters in Berlin. He scanned the faces of the officers gathered with a smug superiority.


“I’m sure that by now you have heard about the defection of one of your colleagues, Erich Vermehren,” he stated. He paused, though he was not expecting any response. “The Führer is very upset by this traitorous act.” He began pacing back and forth in front of the table, pausing at each turn to glare at the men in the room. “Admiral Canaris was called to Berlin yesterday to explain how this could have happened. As you can tell, the Admiral has not returned.” He stopped pacing and faced the room. “In fact, he will not return to his post here. The Führer was not satisfied with the answers he was given, and Admiral Canaris,” he said the name with a noticeable scorn, “has been reassigned to another position.”


There was a murmur in the room. Schellenberg waited a moment for the noise to subside. “As of today, the Abwehr is now under the control of the Schutzstaffel, and on the personal orders of the Führer himself, I am in charge.”


This time the murmur was louder, and several of the officers looked around uncomfortably. Schellenberg smiled at his audience. “And now that I am in command, I will promise you that things will be different around here.”


One of the officers in the room cleared his throat as if he wanted to speak. Schellenberg looked at him sharply. “You wish to say something?” he asked brusquely.


“General, sir,” the man said hesitantly. “We are all Wehrmacht officers, not Schutzstaffel officers.”


Ja, that is obvious,” Schellenberg said. “Schutzstaffel officers do not defect to the enemy.”


The man looked as if he wanted to say something further, but Schellenberg glared at him and the man shook his head and sat back in his chair.


“As I said, things will be different around here from now on,” Schellenberg continued. “And, if any of you have a problem with this, let me assure you that you are free to resign this post and be sent elsewhere.” He paused and leaned his back against the wall. “Does anyone else have anything to say?” Nobody spoke. “Good. I will be meeting with each and every one of you soon to talk in detail about your current and future duties.” His emphasis on the latter word was noticeable to everyone present.


The silence in the room was suffocating. Schellenberg could feel the discomfort and anger from the Abwehr officers. “You are dismissed,” he said flatly.


* * * * *


The evening was cold and the few people on the street were hunched inside their coats. Teppel and Wagner walked along slowly, suffering the cold for the relative privacy of the empty streets.


“This changes a lot of things,” Teppel commented.


“For some more than others,” Wagner replied. Seeing Teppel’s slight nod of agreement, he continued, “Things are now more dangerous for us.”


“We’ll just have to be more careful,” Wagner said. “After all, it’s not as if we are fabricating the data that we are reporting so to hinder the war effort.”


“I’m not as worried about that as I am about the other thing,” Wagner said.


“What other thing?” Teppel asked.


“Schellenberg didn’t actually say that Canaris was under arrest,” Wagner explained. “But that day might come, and it might come soon.”


“What does that have to do with us?” Teppel asked. He was not sure where Wagner’s thinking was heading.


“If things begin to go wrong, do you have a place where you can disappear?” Wagner asked, avoiding Teppel’s question.


“I hadn’t really thought of that,” Teppel admitted. “Why? What do you suspect?”


“I suggest you do think about it,” Wagner replied. “And soon. They may just find something out about Canaris very soon.”


Teppel still didn’t understand Wagner’s thinking about Canaris. “Again, what does that have to do with us?” he asked.


“Hans, the Schutzstaffel and Gestapo very rarely stop with one person,” Wagner said. “They’ll move on to the family, and the friends.”


As soon as Wagner said the word friends, it dawned on Teppel. “You mean because I have been friends with Canaris for such a long time, they might pick on me?” he asked.


Wagner nodded. “And since it has also been noticeable that we are friends, I would then be next,” he said.


Teppel was silent as they slowly walked along. This idea was so obvious that he was angry with himself for not noticing it sooner. He knew that Wagner was correct. If Canaris were arrested for some traitorous activity, the Gestapo would begin poking around. Suddenly, one name jumped into his mind … Heidi! He gasped audibly.


Wagner gave a slight nod. “I was wondering when you would think of that,” he said knowingly. “Heidi could also be brought into this even though she’s completely innocent.”


“But she knows nothing except that I am a Major working in Abwehr,” Teppel said.


“Since when did innocence matter to those people?” Wagner countered.


Teppel was silent. His mind was racing with all of the possibilities – everything that could go wrong. His growing affection for Heidi had seemed so simple before, but was now becoming very complicated.


“Think about what you need to do to disappear if you have to,” Wagner said. “And you’d better include Heidi in those plans, if you really do care for her.” They had reached the entrance to the Brauhaus. “I’m not in the mood for a beer tonight, Hans,” he said. “I’m going to go on home.”


Teppel nodded. “Guten nacht, Kurt,” he said. He watched his friend walk down the street and then looked at the entrance to the Brauhaus. Behind that door was Heidi, who had no idea who he really was. Would it matter to her? he thought. Should I tell her the truth now? No, I don’t think that would be a wise thing to do. He stared at the door some more. If the time comes when I have to start running, I will tell her then. He took a deep breath. Until that time comes, he would remain simply Major Hans Teppel. Wiping the frown from his face, he opened the door and walked in.


Rastenburg, East Prussia, Farm of Tadeauz Malewicz

February 20, 1944, 0600 hours


General Stauffen finished reciting the German battle plans as he had in his previous meetings. Vladimir listened carefully, mentally noting every detail so that he would be able to report it later. He noted that Stauffen had become more at ease in his presence over the course of his mission here in Rastenburg. At first, the General was cautious and only mentioned the details of the plans. Lately Vladimir had noticed that he was more conversational, and had let slip many other details that had been of interest. Today was turning out to be a very fruitful meeting.


“This will be my last report to you,” Stauffen said. “The Führer is moving to Berchtesgaden next week.”


“For how long?” Vladimir asked.


“Until the summer,” Stauffen replied. “That’s all I know. Hitler is not one for long range details.”


Vladimir laughed. “I think that is obvious from the way the war is going,” he said. “This is your last report?”


“The last report to you,” Stauffen said. “I think I can start reporting directly to my contact again once we move.”


Vladimir nodded. He knew that it had been safe for Stauffen to report to the Swiss contact long ago. “Maybe we can meet again when the Führer returns here in the summer?” he asked, hoping Stauffen would agree.


Stauffen shrugged. “If he returns,” he said suggestively.


Vladimir raised his eyebrows in question.


“He might have an accident before returning,” Stauffen said with a slight smile. “Or soon after returning,” he added.


Vladimir nodded. “You made mention of that earlier,” he commented evenly. He wanted Stauffen to give him more details, but he knew that if he seemed too eager, Stauffen would not be willing to speak.


“I have,” Stauffen agreed. “And you have proved to be what you say you are, I think I can trust you enough to tell you more.”


Vladimir smiled. Stauffen had taken the bait. And I remember Newkirk teasing me about having a face only a mother could trust, he thought.


“I have sent a request through some other contacts to London for a special explosive device,” Stauffen began. “I plan to use this device to kill the fool running my country.”


“And if you are not successful?” Vladimir asked.


Stauffen laughed. “He will not survive,” he stated firmly. “The device will be such that it can be planted in close proximity to Hitler without arousing suspicion.”


“What will it be?” Vladimir prompted. His mind was already active trying to think of what kind of device could be planted that close. Hitler was known to be very paranoid about his safety.


“The details haven’t been worked out yet,” Stauffen responded. “It will be delivered by London to a contact in Germany for me to pick up.”


Vladimir nodded. So it will be something small and inconspicuous, he thought. Probably something brought in via an airdrop. His mind flashed back to his friends at Stalag 13. It sounds like something Colonel Hogan would be asked to do. “When do you plan to do this?” he asked.


Stauffen gave a small shrug. “Whenever the opportunity presents itself,” he replied. “But once I get the device, I don’t plan to delay things.”


“What happens afterwards?” Vladimir asked. He wished Stauffen would give him all the details without needing to be prompted. But, he knew that if he was impatient, Stauffen would simply leave and he would not get this important information.


“There are many of us who are tired of the way things have been going,” Stauffen said. “Some of us are in very important positions within the Reich, although we have recently lost one of those positions.” Stauffen shook his head in sadness. “That is a shame,” he added.


“You’ve mentioned the name Valkyrie before,” Vladimir said. “Does that have anything to do with this?”


“You have a good memory, my friend,” Stauffen replied. “Valkyrie is an order that allows for the Home Army to declare martial law and assume command of the government in the event of civil unrest.”


“And since you are in charge of the Home Army, you will become the leader,” Vladimir guessed.


Stauffen shook his head. “Not me,” he said. “We have someone more suitable in mind.”


“And you think that assassinating the Führer will bring about the civil unrest to allow this order to take effect?” Vladimir asked.


Stauffen smiled broadly. “Can you think of anything that will bring more disorder to the government of Germany than Hitler’s death?” he asked.


Vladimir smiled and shook his head. “No, I can’t think of anything more effective than that,” he replied.


“I must be going now,” Stauffen said. “Inform your people that I will resume contact after the move.”


Vladimir nodded. “I will,” he replied. “And good luck to you.”


Stauffen stopped at the door of the barn. “We’re not relying on luck for this,” he commented. “We will succeed.” With that, he left the barn and closed the door behind him.


* * * * *


Vladimir was still standing and staring at the barn door when Tadeauz entered through the side entrance. “You heard?” he asked in Polish. Ever since he had come to stay with Tadeauz and Jacinta, his Polish had improved to the point where they spoke it almost exclusively.


“Yes, I heard,” replied Tadeauz. “Do you think they will be successful?”


“God help them if they are not,” Vladimir commented.


Tadeauz laughed. “A religious sentiment?” he asked playfully.


Vladimir shook his head. “A statement of fact,” he replied. “Come, let us finish the chores quickly. There are plans that must be made.”


Tadeauz looked confused. “Plans?” he asked.


“Yes,” Vladimir confirmed. “When Hitler leaves here, I will be reassigned. We should have a believable story to explain my disappearance if you are asked.”


Tadeauz laughed. “I keep forgetting that you include us in the planning,” he said. “We are not used to that.” After a moment’s hesitation, he added, “You will be missed, my friend.”


“And I will miss you as well,” Vladimir replied. “Now let us finish so we can plan before I have to leave for the market.” Together they finished the morning’s chores.


* * * * *


Vladimir signed off and cut the power to the radio. He had sent the latest German plans to the Swiss contact and informed him that Stauffen would resume contact himself after the move to Berchtesgaden.


He had then contacted The Center and informed them of Hitler’s move and the other information he had obtained from Stauffen that morning. They had been pleased to hear about the plot, but Vladimir knew that they were not pleased that Stauffen contacted London for help. He knew that his superiors trusted the Americans and British only slightly more than they trusted the Germans. ‘An ally today is a potential enemy tomorrow’ was a favorite phrase of some of the leaders.


Vladimir had been entertaining a small hope that, after Hitler left, he would be ordered to return to Moscow. He knew that it was an unlikely scenario, but the small hope of seeing his wife and family again was better than nothing. Instead, he had been ordered to contact Jack for instructions.


Making his third radio contact of the night, he had contacted Jack at the appointed time, and learned that he was to travel to Leipzig to work with him there. Since Vladimir had knowledge of the German language, he could be of use. Vladimir knew that Jack was Major Josef Freitag, stationed with the Leipzig Gestapo, and he wondered what kinds of activities he would be doing there. He lay back on his small bed and sighed. It was no use wondering – in a couple days he would be in Leipzig and would find out.


He picked up the several photographs that were on the table beside the bed and looked at them. Two of them were of his wife, Natasha, and their son Sasha. It was the third one that he stared at. This was the photograph left in the market by General Burkhalter. He stared at the image of himself that, until recently, had been his identification photo from Stalag 13.


“The General obviously recognized me from Stalag 13,” he told the image. “Why would he just give me the photo?” The image did not respond. He thought harder, trying to understand the situation. “If Burkhalter had the photograph from my file in camp, then he obviously knew that I was reportedly abducted by the Abwehr,” he continued to tell his image. “That was the cover story for Colonel Hogan’s plan to rescue me from Hochstetter.”


The image continue to stare silently back at him. “The General obviously wanted me to know that he knew who I was,” he told himself. “But why?” He continued to stare at the photo. “I see you don’t know either,” he told the photograph with a sarcastic laugh.


He put the photo down and shut his eyes in thought. What purpose would he have to just tell me that he knew who I was, but not do anything about it? Does he have some other plan in mind? I guess it’s a good thing that I am leaving here soon, he thought. If he comes back for me, I won’t be here. But what would he do to Tadeauz and Jacinta? He sighed and rose from the bed, his mind recalling Burkhalter’s words before he left the market.


That is very generous of you, Herr General.


In more ways than you know.


“What did he mean by that,” he muttered. “In more ways than I know?”


But I will deny to anyone just how generous I am.


He stared at the photograph again. “Maybe he was trying to tell me that he knew, but would not tell anybody,” he commented aloud. “But why?”


He walked over to the small empty bucket he used as a chamber pot at night. Taking one last look at his image on the photograph, he held it up to the candle that was dimly lighting his room. He watched the corner begin to burn. I don’t know what he was trying to tell me, he thought. But I don’t intend to leave this around for anyone else to see. The photograph caught fire quickly and he held it as long as he could. He watched as the flames ate away at his image, leaving nothing but black, charred ash. Quietly, he dropped it into the bucket before the flames reached his fingers.


Hammelburg Area, Hideaway Chalet of General Burkhalter

February 28, 1944, 2000 hours


The wind blew the snow in swirling gusts around the small chalet that General Burkhalter called his refuge from Berta the Battleaxe. He called it this because his wife was not aware of its existence, and he could visit without having to see, or hear, his dear Berta. A fire crackled merrily in the fireplace, generating a smoky aroma that filled the room.


Burkhalter noticed none of the elements swirling around him. His concentration was directed to the voice on the other end of the phone.


Ja, Herr Reichsführer, I did order the planes moved from Zuglitz to Berlin,” he said into the receiver. “But it was on the expert recommendation of Colonel Hoffman.” He listened into the receiver. “Ja, I realize that the Americans bombed Zuglitz and not Berlin.”


Burkhalter tugged at his collar uncomfortably. “Ja, Herr Reichsführer, I have spoken with Reichsmarschall Göring about this. Ja, I understand that he was not pleased.” He held the receiver away from his ear. “Ja, Herr Reichsführer, I understand that you are not pleased as well.”


The General wiped the sweat from his forehead – his discomfort coming more from the situation he found himself in rather than the heat of the room. “That is correct, Herr Reichsführer. Colonel Hoffman observed the predictions of this Sergeant and assured me that he would be correct.” He paused to listen. “Nein, I would not have ordered the planes away from Zuglitz without the Colonel’s personal assurance.”


“Where is she now?” he repeated into the receiver. “Herr Reichsführer, we do not know.” He flinched away from the shouting voice on the phone. “Herr Reichsführer, after giving me her assurance that the Americans would bomb Berlin, she left Stalag 13, presumable for Zuglitz. We have not been able to locate her.” He shifted on his feet. “Nein, Herr Reichsführer, we do not believe she went to Zuglitz. Her car was found abandoned along the road a few kilometers from the camp.”


“Who’s we?” he repeated. “Gestapo Major Hochstetter is heading up the investigation with my assistance, Herr Reichsführer.” He cocked his head while listening to the receiver. “Ja, immediately after the planes were ordered to move, she vanished. I agree, Herr Reichsführer, it is very suspicious.”


Ja, Herr Reichsführer, it is my belief that she had something to do with the destruction at Zuglitz,” he said. “Ja, that was Reichsmarschall Göring’s belief as well.” He tugged again on his collar. “You also agree? You do not hold me responsible for the events at Zuglitz?” he asked in surprised relief. “That’s wonderful! I mean, danke, Herr Reichsführer.”


He hadn’t realized he was holding his breath until he let it out, leaving his head swimming in dizziness. “What’s that, Herr Reichsführer?” he asked. “Any further information I may have can be discussed with General Schlesinger. Ja, I know the General. Jawohl, Herr Reichsführer,” he said and paused to listen. Jawohl. Heil Hitler!” he said before hanging up the phone with a great sense of relief.


Burkhalter walked to his bar and poured a glass of schnapps. He downed it quickly and said, “That was close.” He poured another glass and sipped this one slowly. “For a moment, I thought I was going to take the blame for this mess,” he muttered. He drank the rest of the liquid and refilled the glass from the bottle before walking to the phone again. “I’d better tell Hochstetter what Himmer concluded before he makes a fool of himself,” he said. “Not that I care if he looks foolish … and not that he won’t make a fool of himself anyway.”


He picked up the phone and dialed a number. “Major Hochstetter,” he barked into the phone. “This is General Burkhalter.” He listened to the voice at the other end of the line. “On the phone? I’ll wait.”


He sipped his schnapps while he waited.


* * * * *


As soon as Hochstetter put down the receiver, the phone rang again. He picked it up and bellowed, “What is it? Yes, yes, put him through,” he said gruffly.


After a moment, he said, “Ja General, I have just been speaking to Berlin myself.” He sat back in his chair and listened into the receiver. “Ja, I was informed that headquarters considers Colonel Hoffman responsible,” he said.


He leaned forward slightly. “I understand that Berlin considers you to be without fault in this matter,” he said with a slight sarcastic tone. “Nein, I am not implying anything, General. I do realize that Colonel Hoffman has turned up missing after this Luftwaffe fiasco.”


He sat back and extended his legs to rest his feet on the corner of his desk. “I also realize that her automobile was discovered not far from the camp,” he said.  “What’s that?” he asked. “Do I suspect Stalag 13 had something to do with this?”


He smiled. “General, the fact that this incident happened in a camp that is located right in the middle of an area that has seen an extraordinarily large number of other incidents should strike you as suspicious,” he commented. After listening to the reply from the other end of the connection, he added, “Of course we will continue to investigate Colonel Hoffman’s connection with this … as well as her disappearance.” Hochstetter heard a light knock on his door and watched as it opened to reveal Captain Dorfmann entering the room.


He abruptly sat up. “General, anytime something happens anywhere near Stalag 13, I suspect Colonel Hogan,” he said through clenched teeth. “The Gestapo will find out what happened, and when we do, heads will roll.” His scowl grew as he listened to the receiver. “I will remind you, General, that this is a Gestapo matter, and that I am in charge of this investigation.”


Dorfmann took a seat in the empty chair by the desk. As he did, he heard the squawking of an angry voice through the telephone receiver.


Suddenly Hochstetter erupted. “Bah! I don’t care if Stalag 13 is your responsibility!” he shouted. “I will follow this investigation wherever it leads.”


Dorfmann watched as Hochstetter’s face grew more and more red with anger as he listened to the phone. “I do not need your suggestions, Herr General,” he growled. “And I don’t need you to interfere in a Gestapo matter!”


Hochstetter was silent for almost a minute, listening to the General’s reply. “Of course, General,” he said calmly. “You can be assured that I will not disrupt the operation of your precious Stalag 13 … any more than I need to.” He paused. “Nein, General, there will be no need for you to call General Schlesinger.”


“I understand, General,” he said in reply. “Heil Hitler,” he said and hung up the phone. “Schwein,” he muttered, still looking at the receiver. When Dorfmann cleared his throat, Hochstetter looked up at him. “Well?” he growled.


“There is still no trace of Colonel Hoffman,” Dorfmann replied.


“Then why are you sitting here?” Hochstetter screamed. “Get out!”


* * * * *


Burkhalter slammed the receiver down on its base. “Schwein!” he uttered as he poured another glass from the now half empty schnapps bottle. He downed it and slammed the glass onto the table.


Even though he had assurances from Berlin, he was not happy about this whole situation. “Damn that Colonel Hogan,” he said angrily. “He plays this game to get the fighters away from Zuglitz so the Americans can bomb it, and I am stupid enough to go along with it. And look at the mess it almost got me into!”


He refilled his glass. “I should give Hochstetter the information he needs and then we’ll see how Hogan deals with that!” he said, raising the glass for a drink. “But what would that solve,” he said, shaking his head. “It would prove Hochstetter right, and take Hogan and his men out of business.” He drank. “And it would most likely result in taking me down with the ship and prolonging the war.”


No, Burkhalter knew that he would try to protect Hogan as much as possible. “After all, I am certain that Hogan is exactly what Hochstetter says he is – but he doesn’t know that I’m onto him.” Would it matter if he did? I doubt it. Hogan would use me the same way he uses Klink to get what he wanted.


Burkhalter heard the rumble of a car coming to a stop in the drive. “Ah, that will be Elsa,” he said, beginning to smile. “It’s time to forget about Colonel Hogan and think of more pleasant things.”


He opened a bottle of his finest brandy and when Elsa opened the door, he was waiting with two full glasses. “My dear,” he said. “Come in and let me warm you up.”


Prague, Hotel Pariz

March 3, 1944, 2300 hours


“That was a good one, Waffie darling!” Marya exclaimed as she threw her arm around von Waffenschmidt and burst out laughing along with the rest of the table. Von Waffenschmidt sipped his brandy and gave a polite laugh.


The pair was sitting in the dining room of the Hotel Pariz in Prague, surrounded by many of the high-ranking Nazi leaders in the city. Most notable was the head of the Reichsicherheitshauptamt, or Germany’s main security office, Ernst Kaltenbrunner. Personally, Marya didn’t care for the man – but that wasn’t surprising since she personally didn’t care for any of the Nazi leaders she interacted with. But tonight, she was in her element and the life of the party.


Since their meeting in Paris two weeks ago, Marya had been traveling along with Count von Waffenschmidt. It had been his suggestion that they travel together ostensibly because they were going to the same places. Marya knew that in reality, he wanted to keep a close eye on her as part of his plan to expose her as a spy and discover her information network. She also knew that he was growing more and more annoyed by his lack of success in finding any clue about her activities.


Once they began traveling together, Marya was careful. She still put on the act of flirting and mingling with any high-ranking German officer she encountered, but she was keeping her eyes open for von Waffenschmidt’s next move. Just before dinner, he made it. Marya was told that she must travel to Berlin the next day with the Count for him to pick up a set of plans from a General Stauffen. Then she would travel with him while he delivered these plans to the Eastern Front. Marya had immediately seen that this was his final play – she knew that General Stauffen was the source of the leaked information from headquarters – and that he would be watching her very closely once the plans were in his hands.


The whole plan had amused her. Von Waffenschmidt had been frustrated at every turn while he followed her around, believing her to be the conduit of the information leaks. Now it was her chance to put her own plan into action. It was too dangerous for her and her network to leave von Waffenschmidt around – he suspected too much. All along, she had planned to somehow discredit him or eliminate him when his chase was over. Eliminating him was tricky business. In Nazi Germany, you didn’t just go around and assassinate high-ranking officers – the recriminations were too vicious. So she had concentrated her thinking on somehow discrediting him so that the Germans would take care of him for her.


And now was the time to put that plan into action. When von Waffenschmidt informed her that she must travel with him, she had protested. He had relented some, allowing her to make any detours along the way from Berlin to the Eastern Front, as long as the plans were delivered within three weeks time. He, of course, would travel with her on those detours. Her plan was working perfectly – that was what she was hoping for.


Marya sipped her champagne and glanced at von Waffenschmidt. She found the awkwardness of his attempt at being sociable very humorous. He was not comfortable around her, and she played that to her advantage as often as possible. In addition, she had noticed in the past two weeks that the harder and more openly she flirted with him, the more he drank – whether they were in a public dining room or a shared hotel room. This bit of information was something she planned to take advantage of.


Marya’s thoughts were brought back to the dinner party when she realized that Kaltenbrunner was speaking to her.


“… never struck me as a person who would appreciate the charms of a woman like you,” Kaltenbrunner said.


“It is true that Waffie is a little stiff at times,” Marya said. “But what woman doesn’t enjoy a stiff man!”


Kaltenbrunner burst out laughing, causing the rest of the assembled people to follow.


Marya raised her voice to be heard above the din. “Am I not right, Waffie darling!” she cooed. “Are we not having the time of our lives?”


Von Waffenschmidt took a large drink of his brandy, emptying the glass. “Ja, it is a barrel of laughs,” he said in an attempt at joviality.


“Rudolf, I didn’t know you had it in you,” Kaltenbrunner said between gasps of breath. “


“He doesn’t,” Marya said seriously, causing von Waffenschmidt to glare at her. “Most of the time he’s got it in me!” The table exploded into a new round of laughter.


Von Waffenschmidt rolled his eyes and stood. “I need to refill my glass,” he said. “If you will excuse me.” He began to walk towards the bar area.


“Waffie darling, bring another bottle of champagne for the table,” Marya shouted after him.


“Make that two bottles, Rudolf,” Kaltenbrunner added. “We’re having too much fun to stop now!”


* * * * *


It was after two in the morning when the party broke up. Von Waffenschmidt had continued drinking brandy – with more than a little urging from Marya – and had become noticeably inebriated. When they reached their shared hotel room, he made several attempts to unlock the door before Marya took the key and opened it.


“Waffie darling, if you have that much trouble inserting a key, how much trouble are you going to have once we get into the room?” she asked coyly.


Von Waffenschmidt staggered into the room. “Don’t you think you over do it sometimes?” he asked. “You know there is nothing between us.” He stood wavering on unsteady legs.


“Nothing is the best thing to have between a man and a woman,” she replied with upraised eyebrows.


Flustered, von Waffenschmidt was quick to reply. “You know what I meant,” he said.


Marya shrugged. “Then why am I here, Waffie darling?” she asked innocently as she shut the door.


Von Waffenschmidt opened his mouth to reply, but thought better of it. He shook his head slightly and retreated to the small private bathroom to relieve himself.


Marya smiled as she watched him disappear. You almost slipped, Waffie darling, she thought. You almost told me that I am here because you want to keep an eye on me. But tonight, I have other plans! “Waffie darling, before we turn out the lights and let nothing come between us, I’ll pour us another drink,” she said in a raised voice.


She heard a grunt from the other room and walked over to a table containing several bottles of schnapps. She poured the liquid from one bottle into two glasses and quickly reached into the hidden pocket of her dress to retrieve a small vial. For my plans, Waffie darling, you are going to have to be asleep … sound asleep, she thought as she dropped three small tablets into one of the glasses.


She had just finished hiding the vial in her dress when von Waffenschmidt returned. She picked up the glasses and handed the tainted one to him. “Prost!” she said, clinking her glass against his. When he simply stood there, she began laughing. “Waffie darling, since you are not planning to drink, why don’t I go slip out of my dress and meet you under the sheets?” she whispered, handing him her glass. “Don’t start without me!” she said as she disappeared into the small bathroom and closed the door.


Von Waffenschmidt stared numbly at the closed door and began shaking his head. He quickly drained the liquid from the glass that Marya had given him and stared again at the closed door, where he could hear Marya humming happily. “Oh no,” he mumbled, and drained the other glass.


* * * * *


When Marya emerged from the washroom a few minutes later, still fully clothed, she was happy to find von Waffenschmidt passed out on the bed. “Tsk, tsk, Waffie darling,” she said. “It is unforgivable to fall asleep on me like this.”


Now that von Waffenschmidt was out, she could get to work. With the level of alcohol in his system, and the dose of pills she had given him, she knew that he would be out for at least six hours. More than enough time to send my message, she thought.


She picked up the phone and rang the hotel operator. “Count von Waffenschmidt would like more schnapps in his room,” she ordered. “I know it is late – find someone to bring it up anyway!”


In a few minutes, there was a knock on the door. When Marya opened it, she was not surprised to see a familiar face. She had suggested this hotel to von Waffenschmidt because she knew that members of her network manned the night shifts. She admitted the man carrying a full bottle of schnapps.


The man also recognized Marya. He looked nervously at von Waffenschmidt’s motionless body. “Dead?” he asked.


Marya shook her head. “Do not concern yourself with him,” she said in Russian. “He will not awaken until the sun is up.”


“This is a very unusual way of meeting,” the man replied softly. Like Marya, he now spoke in Russian.


“It’s all I could arrange for now,” she responded. “I need to see Pavel and send a radio message to Michael. Can you get me some less conspicuous clothes?”


The man shook his head. “It’s too dangerous,” he replied. “I can get you the clothes, but the streets are still heavily patrolled.”


“I can make my way there safely,” she insisted.


The man shook his head again. “They’ve changed papers and we are under a strict curfew,” he said. “If you are caught without proper papers, you will be shot immediately.” He paused for a moment when Marya uttered a Russian curse. “I can get you papers, but it will take a day,” he said.


Now Marya shook her head. “I will be gone tomorrow,” she replied testily. “Why must these damn Germans be so paranoid?”


“Ever since Heydrich was killed, they have been suspicious … and vengeful,” he replied. “You remember Ludice?”


Da, I remember,” she sighed.


“What is your message?” he asked. “I will take it to Pavel myself.”


Marya walked over to the table and pulled a piece of writing paper from the drawer.


Nyet,” he said quickly. “No writing.”


Marya glared at him. When she realized what he meant, she uttered the same Russian curse – this time with more anger in her voice.


“I agree,” he said sympathetically. “We cannot take chances. I will remember your message. Tell me.”


She sighed. “Tell Michael, the endgame is starting. I will be in Berlin tomorrow night with escort. I want to talk to him,” she said.


“Endgame?” he asked.


Marya nodded. “He will know,” she said. “I do not know where I will be. He must find me.”


The man nodded and looked over at the bed. “It looks like you have a very entertaining night ahead of you,” he said with a small smile.


* * * * *


Marya sat in a chair watching the smoke from her cigarette curl upwards. It was past six in the morning, and she had spent the rest of the night finalizing her plans for von Waffenschmidt. After running over it for the third time, she allowed herself to relax.


“It will work,” she said softly to herself. True – there were many factors that she could not depend on, but there was much room in the plan for successful improvisation. She looked over at von Waffenschmidt, still lying motionless on the bed. “And unless you are smarter than you seem, Waffie darling, soon you will be enjoying the warm Russian spring,” she said.


She ran over the plan again. She would tell Michael the details when they met in Berlin – but if a meeting was not possible, she had to make sure the plan could succeed on its own. Yes, the plan must be able to succeed on its own, but Marya had no intention to execute it on her own. She would have help – though the other party was not yet aware of his planned involvement.


“Hogan darling,” she said. “I hate to put you into another frying pan, but I know that you will manage to help me take care of this fool.” As if on cue, von Waffenschmidt shifted his position. Yes, I will lead von Waffenschmidt to Stalag 13 and you will help me, she thought. But von Waffenschmidt will think I am there to see the magnificent Colonel Wilhelm Klink!


Von Waffenschmidt stirred again and slowly rose to a sitting position, rubbing his temples and moaning.


“Rise and shine, you Prussian stallion,” she exclaimed loudly, causing him to wince. “We still have time before breakfast – maybe we could work up an appetite!”


Von Waffenschmidt stared at her, his eyes slowly gaining focus. When she began to laugh, he groaned and buried his head under the pillows. God, I hate that woman, he thought.


Hammelburg Area, Farm of Friedrich Wagner

March 13, 1944, 2345 hours


Karl and Ilse Wagner were already in the barn when Colonel Hogan arrived for the meeting, with Newkirk, LeBeau and Carter in tow. Kinch had remained behind with Baker in camp, partly to cover for them if Klink should get nosey, but mainly because of the issues that Kinch had with the Wagner brothers after their first meetings. Hogan trusted Kinch to control himself, but he was not that trusting of Hans and Karl Wagner, so he thought it best not to tempt fate. At the barn, he left LeBeau outside as a lookout. “Where’s Hans?” he asked Karl.


“He will be here soon,” Karl replied. “Father wanted help with something inside the house.”


Hogan nodded without showing the annoyance he felt. Unlike the Wagner family, he and his men didn’t have the luxury of time when they were away from camp. Schultz would overlook their absence as long as possible, but he knew that there was a limit to the amount of time that Schultz would cover for them. And tonight, Hogan also had to meet with Erich Jonach, the local Underground leader, after this meeting was over.


Hogan was about to reply when the barn door opened to admit Hans. “Hello, Colonel Hogan,” he said in greeting.


Hogan returned the greeting and everyone began to get settled. When everyone had quieted, he pulled out a map of the area and spread it on a small crate masquerading as a table. “Do you have any more information about the progress the Kr …” He stopped himself before using his standard derogatory term for the Germans. He never liked to use it when dealing with the local Underground for fear of offending them. “Germans are making on the fuel depot?” he concluded.


Ja,” replied Hans. He reached over to the map and began pointing. “The security is still tight in this area, but the patrols have eased in the past month in the surrounding woods.” Hans knew that the woods had been patrolled more heavily after he and his team attacked and killed the two SS men in the winter. Hogan had been furious with them for that. He paused until Hogan nodded his acknowledgement and was happy that Hogan didn’t bring up the past. “They seem to have completed this section and are working on this one over here.”


“Boy, that’s going to be one big complex,” Carter commented excitedly. “When we can finally blow that thing up, it’s going to be a beaut!” He began making explosive noises and waving his hands.


“Carter, knock it off!” Newkirk complained.


“What’s your estimation on how long it will take them to complete work?” Hogan asked, ignoring Carter’s outburst.


“I think about three weeks, Colonel,” Karl answered.


Hans nodded his agreement. “That’s about right,” he agreed. “The should be fully operational in a month’s time, unless we’re going to blow it up now.”


 “No,” Hogan replied firmly. “It’s too soon.”


“But now is the time to hit them,” Hans protested. “They won’t be expecting an attack on the facility yet!”


“Now is absolutely the wrong time to move on the depot,” Hogan insisted. His tone indicated that he didn’t care to argue the point further.


“I don’t believe you would let them finish work on the site and become operational!” Karl exclaimed.


Hans reached over and put a hand on his brother’s shoulder to calm him. “Colonel, we had assumed that tonight’s meeting would be about your plans for me and my team to blow up the depot,” he said.


“I want them to be operational before we try,” Hogan replied. Hans opened his mouth to reply but Hogan cut him off, “Don’t you think it will be easier to destroy the whole place when it is stocked full of gasoline?”


“Oh boy, I do!” Carter exclaimed excitedly. “That will be one gigantic fireball!” He began to make explosive noises again.


“Carter!” Hogan said crossly.


Carter was immediately quiet. “Sorry, sir,” he said. “I kind of got carried away.”


“I wish you would,” muttered Newkirk, who grew silent upon seeing the glare from his commanding officer.


Hans silently stared at Hogan. After a moment, he nodded his head slowly. “I see what you are saying, Colonel,” he said, somewhat unconvincingly. “We’re just hoping that we are to be included in whatever plans are made when the time comes.”


Hogan shrugged. “I haven’t thought that far ahead,” he replied. “But …”


“But you’d rather have Jonach and his team do the job instead of us, is that it?” Karl interjected angrily. This time, Hans did not attempt to pacify his brother.


Hogan was silent, mentally counting to ten to stem the growing annoyance with the conversation. He felt the tension in the room growing fast as his men shifted so that they would be ready if the situation got out of hand – and at the rate things were escalating, Hogan was now thinking when it got out of hand rather than if.


“Maybe you’d rather have your precious team do the job after we have done all of the reconnaissance work?” Karl continued.


“If I can finish my sentence,” Hogan interrupted firmly. “I was going to say that I don’t see any reason to exclude anybody from the plans – whatever they may be. This will be a big job and we’ll need to coordinate everybody involved.”


Ilse had heard enough. She rose from the bucket she was sitting on and stomped over to where the men had congregated. “Will you stop your bickering?” she asked angrily. “You sound worse than a group of old laying hens fighting over the same piece of stale bread!”


Everyone stared at Ilse, standing there with her hands on her hips daring anyone to argue the point with her. She looked from man to man, saving her harshest looks for her brothers.


Hogan smiled. “I believe that your sister has more sense than any of us,” he said to Hans.


“You should see her when she really gets mad,” Hans said with a laugh.


Ilse stomped her foot indignantly. “Men!” she exclaimed before stomping back to where she had been sitting.


Hogan took a deep breath and relaxed. Ilse’s outburst succeeded in relieving the tension between the two groups – Hogan was not sure if she had intended that or not, but he was grateful. “Now, while we aren’t going to blow up the depot, I did want you to blow something else up,” Hogan said. Hogan pointed to a location on the map. “There’s a bridge right here.”


Hans nodded. “Ja, I know that place,” he said. “It’s not heavily used. Most of the vehicles use the Düsseldorf Bridge on the main road.”


“It’s about to become more popular,” Hogan commented. “Erich and his team are going to blow that bridge at the same time.” Hoping to head off another round of discontent from Hans and Karl, he quickly added, “They have been watching it for the last week looking for the right opportunity.”


Hans nodded slowly, still staring at the map. “And if we also destroy this smaller bridge, the trucks bringing material to the depot will have to make a detour all the way up here,” he said, pointing to a bridge several inches from the Düsseldorf Bridge.


“Exactly,” Hogan confirmed. “That’s a 20 mile detour.”


“So what will that accomplish?” Karl asked with impatience. “They’ll still be able to bring in the material and complete the depot.”


“But it will cost them time,” Hans informed his brother.


Hogan nodded. He could see why Hans was the leader of this small group. Both he and Karl had the hatred that drove them into sabotage activities, but Hans seemed to have a better sense of strategy – up to a point. Hogan was still not convinced that they would always be willing to do the smart thing if it meant delaying an activity for a better, and more optimal, opportunity.


“We’ll do this tomorrow?” Hans asked.


“Yes,” Hogan replied. “Erich and his team are setting their charges for midnight. You should set yours for a half hour later.”


“Why the delay?” Hans asked.


“It will give the Gestapo time to send most of their men to the Düsseldorf Bridge,” Hogan said. “And then, your bridge blows up and they have to scramble to send someone back here.”


Hans pondered the reply, still studying the map. “Explosives?” he asked.


Hogan made a motion and Carter stepped forward and handed Hans a small canvas bag. “I’ve made the bundles the right size,” he said. “And the timers can be set to give you an hour, but no more.”


Hans opened the bag and glanced in, smiling. He handed the bag to Karl and said, “This will do nicely. Colonel, consider that bridge destroyed.”


* * * * *


Isle had watched the meeting from the sidelines after her outburst had calmed things down. She knew how hardheaded and stubborn her brothers were, but she didn’t understand why they would argue with Colonel Hogan. The American obviously was an expert in planning these operations and unlike her brothers, wouldn’t jump into action without having considered the possible outcomes. The meeting went quickly, and soon Colonel Hogan and his men left.


“Karl, inform Max and Rudolf of the plans for tomorrow,” Hans said. “I’ll tell Otto and Heinrich.”


“What about me?” Ilse asked.


“You go to the house and go to sleep,” Hans replied. “You shouldn’t be involved in this anyway.”


Ilse felt her anger grow. She always had this argument with her brothers about being a part of the team. She was the reason they were involved in the first place, and she was not about to let them put themselves into danger alone. “Hans, I wish you would stop saying that,” she shot back. “You know I am going to be involved as long as you are. And there’s nothing you can do about it!”


Hans let out a big sigh. “I wish I could change your mind,” he said softly. “But since you are as stubborn as your father …”


“And you and Karl!” she interrupted.


Hans smiled. “The Wagner family trait,” he said. “All right, you take the explosives and hide them in the usual place while Karl and I are out.” Karl handed the bag to Ilse. “But before you do, split it in half and hide the other half somewhere else.”


“But why?” Ilse asked.


“You have a plan for something else?” Karl asked eagerly.


“Let’s just say that if an opportunity presented itself, I want to be prepared to act upon it,” Hans replied with a smile.


* * * * *


After leaving the Wagner farm, Hogan sent his men back to camp while he went to meet with Erich Jonach to go over the plans for the Düsseldorf Bridge. When he arrived at Erich’s house, he wasn’t surprised to find Oskar Schnitzer there as well. The three men sat in the kitchen of the small farmhouse and quickly confirmed the plans for Erich’s team.


“Hans will take care of the other bridge?” Jonach asked Hogan.


“He says they will,” Hogan replied skeptically.


“You don’t think they will, Colonel?” Schnitzer asked.


“I don’t know, Oskar,” Hogan replied with a sigh. “They have done everything else I’ve asked, but tonight they were arguing to go after the fuel depot.”


“But it’s not complete yet,” Jonach said.


“I pointed that out to them,” Hogan responded.


“We don’t have enough explosives to completely destroy the facility until they load storage tanks,” Schnitzer commented.


“I pointed that out as well,” Hogan repeated. “He seemed to understand.”


“And the bridge?” Jonach asked.


“I think it’ll be fine,” Hogan replied.


“You don’t sound convinced, Colonel,” Jonach noticed.


“It’s just a nagging feeling,” Hogan replied tiredly. “It’s probably nothing. We’ve had a lot of things happening lately and maybe it’s getting to me a little.”


“We haven’t noticed any trouble from them,” Schnitzer said. “Like you said, they’ve done everything asked of them.”


“I just want to make sure they don’t do more than they’re asked,” Hogan said. “I get the impression that Hans lets his anger get the better of him at times, and in this business, that could lead to people getting hurt.”


Both Jonach and Schnitzer nodded solemnly. They were well aware of the dangers they all faced. It had been for that reason that they had allowed Hogan to take over the coordination of all the activities of the area when he set up his operation. It was better to have one man planning everything than many smaller teams doing whatever they could think of.


Hogan glanced at his watch. “I should be getting back to camp,” he said. “Klink gets a little cranky when I don’t show up at morning roll call.”


The other men laughed as Hogan stood to leave.


Hammelburg Area, Road to Stalag 13

March 14, 1944, 1815 hours


Marya sat silently beside von Waffenschmidt in the open air watching the woods go by as the car sped along towards Stalag 13. Von Waffenschmidt ignored her, as he had for most of the trip from Berlin to Hammelburg. His demeanor had changed after he received the plans in Berlin – as if he knew the game was almost over, and he had given up the charade of civility. She had requested the diversion to Stalag 13 before they began their travel to the Eastern Front, and he had acquiesced but then informed her that they would stay only a single night before taking the train to the east.


The timetable had disturbed her – she was planning to enlist Hogan’s help in dealing with von Waffenschmidt, but with only a single night in camp, she had to find a way to communicate with Hogan without having a chance to talk to him privately. Apparently, von Waffenschmidt wasn't a complete fool because she could see that the abbreviated timetable was meant to force her to come up with a less well thought out plan – and one less likely to succeed.


It wasn't until she remembered their ingenious bug to the Kommandant’s office that she began to formulate her plan to get Hogan and his men to make an attempt to steal the plans from the attaché case chained to von Waffenschmidt’s wrist. True, von Waffenschmidt was expecting this, and would most likely catch the American. But in the end, she knew that she could count on Hogan’s ingenuity to get out of the seemingly hopeless situation. She had noticed when they had been together before that Hogan did his best thinking when under pressure.


As the car traveled along the road, they passed the site where Marya had helped Hogan and his men rescue Vladimir from the Hochstetter. That had been the time Marya had used Hogan to help her complete a mission to retrieve a Russian rocket scientist who had been helping the Germans. It had also been one of the few times when Marya had made a mistake – the reason Vladimir was being held was because of her. She had helped Hogan and his men free Vladimir as a type of atonement for her mistake. Marya didn’t like to make mistakes. Even more so, she didn’t like to admit to any mistake. I hope that I’m not making a mistake this time, Hogan darling.


But that was in the past, and she knew that they would be arriving at Stalag 13 within the next few minutes. It’s almost time for Marya to put on her act, she thought with a smile.


* * * * *


Schultz walked down the line of men in front of Barracks 2, calling out their names as he passed. When they all answered, Schultz looked at Hogan in surprise. “Everybody here?” he asked.


Hogan looked aver at Schultz. “Don’t question it, Schultz. Enjoy it,” he said.


Schultz chuckled. “You are so right, Colonel Hogan,” he said happily. “The end of a perfect day! I couldn’t ask for anything …”


He was interrupted when Klink emerged from his office. “Repooooooort!” Klink shouted as he swaggered into place. “Repooooooooort!” he yelled again.


Schultz waddled over to stand in front of the Kommandant, saluting as he came to a stop. “Herr Kommandant, beg to report that …” He trailed off, looking at the car that was entering the main gate.


“You beg to report that what?” Klink asked before noticing the car pulling to a stop nearby.


As the car stopped, Marya stood up and held out her arms. “Klink darling, I have come back to you!” she exclaimed with glee.


“To me?” Klink asked with alarm.


Marya laughed and looked back at von Waffenschmidt, who was staring at Klink without expression, a long cigarette holder in his mouth. “Look at him, Waffie! Is he not beautiful?” she asked, climbing out of the car. “Ah, Klinkie!” she exclaimed, walking up to Klink and giving the surprised Kommandant a large kiss.


Klink was speechless. He gave a half-hearted attempt to push the Russian woman away, without success - she continued to hold onto him.


“Crush me in your strong arms, Klink darling,” she cooed. “Hold me. Hurt me. It’s what I’ve been longing for.” She gave him another kiss.


Count von Waffenschmidt had gotten out of the car and walked slowly to where Marya still had her arm around Klink. “Waffie, dear,” she said. “This is my gorgeous Kommandant Klink.” She gave Klink’s face a squeeze. “Look upon him and eat your Prussian heart out!” she said, poking von Waffenschmidt with her elbow.


“Sir, I assure you for my part I have not made the slightest overtures, or the most delicate innuendos …” Klink said nervously.


Von Waffenschmidt stared at Klink impassively as Marya continued to fawn over him. “Do not concern yourself, Klink darling,” Marya said. “Waffie and I are as brother and sister. Nothing,” she said, waving dismissively toward the Count. “Oh, did I say that this is Count von Waffenschmidt?”


“Oh, Count von Waffenschmidt, it’s a great honor, sir,” Klink said, giving a small bow. “And once more, may I say, that I categorically state, that I …”


“Is it possible to transact our affairs inside?” von Waffenschmidt asked coldly. “Or should we stand outside like vegetable merchants?”


“Oh, into my office, by all means,” Klink said. “It’s a great honor, Count von Waffenschmidt.”


As Klink turned to follow von Waffenschmidt into the office, Marya grabbed his arm. “Do not be jealous of him, Klink darling,” she said. “He is nothing. You are everything!”


Klink looked at the woman as if she had a contagious disease. “How very kind of you,” he said.


Marya smiled. So far, so good!


* * * * *


Hogan watched as the car pulled to a stop and Marya, clad in her full fur coat and hat, stepped out to fawn over Klink. Klink? You’ve got to be kidding me!


“What do you make of that, Colonel?” Kinch asked.


“Things were running too smoothly is what I make of it,” Hogan replied. Every time Marya appeared, trouble never seemed to be far behind.


“I didn’t know she had a thing going with Klink,” Carter commented.


“She could not. Never!” LeBeau said forcefully. “Pure as the driven snow … practically.”


“LeBeau, do me a favor …” Newkirk started.


“Hold it, hold it,” Hogan ordered. “Look at our other visiting fireman,” he said, nodding his head towards the tall SS officer climbing from the car.


They all watched as the officer joined Marya and Klink for a small chat before heading to Klink’s office. He doesn’t seem to be a very happy sort, thought Hogan.


“She has come to see me, I can feel it,” LeBeau said excitedly.


“Did she look over here once?” Newkirk asked. “Once?”


“She could not trust herself,” LeBeau replied.


Hogan kept staring at the Kommandant’s office. She is up to something. He remembered the other times she came into camp with high-ranking officers. The last time, Hogan was supposed to witness the launching of a rocket that would destroy a British ship no matter where it was located. Another time, Hogan was used as a hostage in case of an Underground attack. I wonder what she’s done to me this time.


“This should be an interesting conversation, Colonel,” Kinch said.


“Yeah. Let’s listen in,” he replied as he headed for the barracks.


* * * * *


“That’s very interesting, Count von Waffenschmidt,” Klink said, filling a glass of schnapps for the Count. “ So you are going to the Russian Front.” Klink carried the glass over to the desk, where von Waffenschmidt was sitting in Klink’s chair. “That’s a wonderful place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to die there.” He chuckled at his meager attempt at a joke.


Marya had come to stand by the desk to be near Klink as he delivered the drink. Now she was playfully blowing the smoke from her cigarette in his direction and batting her eyelashes. She could tell that Klink was very uncomfortable with all the attention he was getting, which made her step up the assault a level or two – just for the added fun.


Von Waffenschmidt sat rubbing his chin with his empty cigarette holder, the attaché case chained to his wrist and resting on his lap. “There is a train going by here in the morning,” he said. “Marya and I will be on it. You have only tonight for love, Klink.” The Count focused his attention on the cowering Kommandant. “Enough?” he asked pointedly.


Marya smiled. “Um hmm hmm. Tell him, Klink darling,” she said seductively.


Klink looked as if he had swallowed a worm. “As a matter of fact,” he said. “I believe I am on guard duty tonight.”


Marya laughed.  “Ah ha, you are so right, Klink darling,” she cooed. En garde.” She playfully blew him a kiss and watched him cringe again. This is almost TOO much fun!


“Merely transact your sordid affairs out of my sight,” von Waffenschmidt said. “Your quarters, Klink. Do they carry out the décor of your office? Early grubby?”


Klink gave a nervous chuckle. “Grubby. Grubby, yes,” he said. “But, but home, sir.”


“Good!” von Waffenschmidt said. “I will sleep there.” He wagged his cigarette holder at Marya and Klink. “Do not disturb me,” he ordered.


The conversation seemed to be heading to a premature close. Marya knew that she needed to get the necessary information communicated before this little party broke up and she actually did have to spend the rest of the evening torturing Klink. She knew Hogan had to be listening. He’s too curious a man to stay away, she thought. And of course, he loves me!


“Waffie is petulant, Klink darling, because I forced him to come here,” she said. Then she raised her voice and directed a verbal shot at von Waffenschmidt. “Be realistic! What can you do with a suitcase chained to your wrist?” she asked.


“Really, Marya,” von Waffenschmidt shot back. “What possible difference does it make if I ignore you with one hand or two?”


“Hah!” exclaimed Marya. “You beg to be a courier so you can be a refugee from life. Ptui!”


“This is all a crashing bore,” von Waffenschmidt retorted. “You. This. Him. The Russian Front. Everything!”


Klink began to get nervous, as he always did when those who outranked him got angry. “Uh, if you will excuse me,” he said. “I must post the guard now.”


Marya grabbed him as he headed towards the door. “Ah, no, no, no. The evening belongs to me, Klink darling,” she said, pulling him close and rubbing noses with him. “Where can we go that is intimate … romantic?”


“The mess hall?” Klink said sarcastically.


“Anywhere, Klink darling,” she cooed. “With you, anywhere.” This will be almost as fun as watching von Waffenschmidt squirm when I pursued him!


* * * * *


Hogan paced the cell of the cooler like a caged animal, running the events of the evening over in his mind. Everything was going smoothly. Newkirk had been able to pick the lock of the handcuffs holding the attaché case with ease. Then it all went downhill. They looked up to find themselves staring into the barrel of a pistol, and von Waffenschmidt grinning like a young boy at Christmas.


They had been caught – red-handed at that. Hogan knew that it would be hard to talk his way out of this one. Count von Waffenschmidt had ordered them to be held until he came back from the Russian Front, so that the Berlin Gestapo could question them. Hogan really didn’t like to think of that situation.


But von Waffenschmidt had also given him some valuable information. He let slip that there were spies in the German General Staff who were sending battle plans for the Russian Front to the Russians – who would have them even before the German units did. The Germans had been watching Marya, suspecting her of heading up a very clever spy ring. And von Waffenschmidt was planning to allow Marya to expose all of her contacts so that he could break up the ring.


Hogan couldn’t figure it out. Why did Marya lead me into this trap? Did she know that von Waffenschmidt suspected her of masterminding a spy ring? Hogan found it hard to believe that Marya was that naïve. Was this stunt of hers a way of trying to shift suspicion onto me and away from her? Hogan remembered that the several times they had worked together, Marya did seem to sacrifice Hogan in order to get the action started. Did she want me to help her get the plans because they are being sent to the Russian Front a different way this time? How the hell does she expect me to help her when I’m locked up in the cooler?


Somehow he had to find a way to get onto that train and get those plans. An idea started to come to him, but he was interrupted when Carter and LeBeau snuck into the cooler from the tunnel’s secret entrance.


“Reporting for duty, Colonel,” Carter said with a smile and a small salute.


“I know what you are thinking, mon Colonel,” LeBeau insisted. “But she is innocent. Innocent!”


“And you’re out of your mind,” Hogan replied testily. “But keep your voices down.”


“She’s innocent!” LeBeau whispered.


“Then what are we in here for, double parking?” Newkirk asked sarcastically.


“All right, they set a trap and we walked into it,” Hogan said.


“I can get you out of here, Colonel,” Carter said with confidence. “See, all I gotta do is pour a couple of drops of nitro glycerin into the cell door lock there and she swings right open.”


“Not good enough,” Hogan said, crossing his arms.


“Well surely that better than doing a waltz with the Gestapo in Berlin, sir,” Newkirk said.


“I’m not planning on doing either,” Hogan insisted. “Somehow I’m going to get my hands on those plans in that attaché case.”


“But won’t they be on that train tomorrow morning that’s going to the Russian Front?” Carter asked.


Hogan’s idea finally became crystal clear to him. Yes, that might just work. “So will we,” he said.


“Maybe I should go home for that nitro glycerin,” Carter said.


“Go with LeBeau,” he ordered. “Get into a German General’s uniform – special forces. Tell Kinch to go out and set a time bomb on the tracks to that train. I want it delayed for about three hours.”


Oui, that I understand,” LeBeau said, nodding.


“Uh, Colonel, is there anything special you want me to do as a German General?” Cater asked.


They’re going to love this! “Recruit us all into the Wehrmacht,” he said.


“We’re joining the German army?” a flabbergasted Newkirk asked.


“Just for a short time,” Hogan replied.


“Oh well, if it’s only for a short time,” Carter said. He looked at LeBeau with a confused look on his face.


“On a suicide mission to the Russian Front,” Hogan said.


The men stared at their commander in disbelief. “You’re joking, right sir?” Newkirk asked.


“Trust me,” Hogan replied with more confidence than he actually felt. “Carter, tomorrow you will select me, Newkirk, Kinch, LeBeau and yourself. Tell Baker to remain here and keep his ears open. If something goes wrong, he’s to close up shop and get out of here.”


“And he says to trust him,” Newkirk mumbled.


Hammelburg Area, Düsseldorf Bridge

March 15, 1944, 0045 hours


The car hadn’t even come to a complete stop before Hochstetter opened the door and jumped out. He surveyed the damage – the Düsseldorf Bridge, completely destroyed. “Look around the woods!” he yelled, ordering the men riding in the car with him. As the two men ran into the woods, a truck pulled to a stop, followed by another staff car. Several black clad Gestapo men jumped from the back of the truck. Hochstetter began ordering them in different directions.


Captain Dorfmann climbed out of the second car and spoke to two men riding with him. One of them reached back into the car and pulled out a couple of flashlights. He handed one of the flashlights to his companion and they both walked towards the destroyed bridge.


Dorfmann then walked up to Hochstetter. “Looks like the Underground destroyed another bridge,” he said, looking to where the road disappeared.


“A brilliant observation, Captain,” Hochstetter said with scorn.


“Major …” Dorfmann started.


“Captain, maybe you should look around for …” Hochstetter began. At that moment, they heard another loud explosion not too far distant. “Before you say it, Captain,” Hochstetter growled. “Yes it sounds like another structure being blown up. Get on the radio to headquarters and see what they can find out.”


Dorfmann clicked his heels. “Jawohl, Major,” he said before walking back to the truck.


Hochstetter walked up to where the road dropped off into nothingness and scowled out over the abyss. Another bridge blown up – and this one is used by the trucks going to the fuel depot. Berlin isn’t going to like this. He heard someone walking towards him.


“They think it was the Kurtz Road Bridge,” Dorfmann said. He stood beside Hochstetter and looked out over the destroyed bridge.


Scheisse!” cursed Hochstetter. “Take a few men and get over there. I want to find out who did this!


Jawohl, Major,” Dorfmann replied. I’m surprised he isn’t blaming Colonel Hogan for this like he does for everything else, he thought as he went to round up the men.


Hochstetter walked back to his car and pulled out his flashlight. He had just turned on the beam when he saw one of his men leading a haggard looking man in a tattered German uniform up the embankment from the river. He hurried over. “Was ist los?” he asked.


“This is the guard from the bridge, sir,” the Gestapo corporal replied. “I found him down by the river.”


“What happened?” Hochstetter demanded. “Who did this?”


“I don’t know, sir,” the guard replied. “I was standing on the bridge and the next thing I knew, I woke up on the ground next to the river. My arm feels like it’s broken.”


“Bah!” Hochstetter barked. “Useless! You didn’t see anything?” The guard shook his head. “Take him to get medical attention,” Hochstetter grumbled, waving his hand dismissively.


Another of his men came jogging up from the riverbank. “What have you found?” Hochstetter asked him.


“The bridge is destroyed down to the water,” he replied. “They must have known exactly where to put the charges.”


“Of course they knew,” Hochstetter erupted. “They’ve blown up practically every damn bridge in the area!” When his man continued to stand there, he erupted again. “Get back out there and try to find the ones who did this!”


* * * * *


Dorfmann sat in the car as is wound its way down Kurtz Road towards the bridge. He was not thrilled about having to wander around the woods in the middle of the night searching for people he knew wouldn’t be there. The ones who blew the bridge up would have run away as fast as possible … unless they were extremely stupid. He sighed unhappily, dreading another night without sleep.


The car pulled to a stop where the road turned its way up to the old stone bridge. The driver aimed the car so that the dim headlights illuminated a huge pile of rubble. Dorfmann got out of the car and viewed the damage.


His driver, Corporal Josef Strauss joined him, soon followed by the other two men who had accompanied them. “Not much left, is there?” Strauss asked.


Nein,” Dorfmann replied. “I didn’t expect there to be.”


“Should we start looking now, sir?” one of the men asked.


Dorfmann nodded. “The river isn’t that wide here. Do you think you can get to the other side?” he asked.


“I know this area,” the man replied as he nodded. “There are several rocks not too far up where we can get across.”


“Good,” Dorfmann answered. “You two go see if you can find anything over there. We’ll search this side.” The men ran off quickly.


“This bridge isn’t used that often,” Strauss commented.


“It would have been,” Dorfmann said. “With the Düsseldorf Bridge destroyed, the trucks supplying the depot would have used it.”


“The Major isn’t going to like this,” Strauss replied.


“Major Hochstetter doesn’t like anything,” Dorfmann replied. Corporal Strauss stifled a laugh. “But I will deny ever saying that,” Dorfmann added.


“Saying what, sir?” Strauss asked innocently.


Dorfmann laughed. “We won’t find anything … we never do … but the sooner we start searching, the sooner we can get out of here.”


Strauss handed him a flashlight. “I’ll look over in those trees, sir,” he said.


Dorfmann sighed as the Corporal walked away. As he had said, they wouldn’t find anything, but they had to look. Hochstetter would ask how things went, and if Dorfmann didn’t even look, he would have to endure yet another tirade. Come to think of it, I’ll probably have to listen to him rant anyway.


He flashed the light around the ground absentmindedly, hardly paying attention to the ground. A flash of reflected light caught his attention and he knelt down to the ground to investigate. Shining the light around, he noticed something shiny sitting in the underbrush. He picked up the object and began turning it over in his hands. A hirschfanger – I know this design. This belongs to Hans Wagner! He was dumbfounded. A bridge was blown up not very long ago, and he finds the hirschfanger belonging to Ilse’s brother in the brush nearby. Hans is in the Underground?


His thoughts were interrupted when he heard the Corporal returning. “Did you find something?” Strauss asked.


Dorfmann quickly slipped the hirschfanger into his pocket and stood. “Nein,” he replied. “I thought I saw some footprints, but it turned out to be nothing.”


“Nothing is what I saw as well,” Strauss replied. “And nothing is what I expected to see.”


“Let’s go back to headquarters now,” Dorfmann said. “We’ve searched enough.”


“I’ll go get the other men,” the Corporal said. “I’d like to get back to a nice warm bed … I’d even be willing to share.” Strauss grinned mischievously.


Dorfmann laughed. “You’re always willing to share, Corporal,” he replied humorously. “Too bad the fräuleins never want to take you up on that offer!”


“Ouch!” Strauss replied, feigning a shot to the chest. “You’ve got to admit, I’m persistent!”


“Go get the men, Corporal Persistent,” Dorfmann replied with a smile.


* * * * *


Dorfmann sat in his office at Gestapo Headquarters with the door closed. Hochstetter was still out at the Düsseldorf Bridge and probably would be for the rest of the night.  When the Major was worked up, he was worse than a rabid bloodhound on a scent.


He held the hirschfanger in his hands, slowly turning it around. His fingers traced the outline of the knight in armor on the handle. I should turn this over to Hochstetter. It could be a break in the investigation on the Underground activity in the area. He rotated the knife again. It’s my duty to the Fatherland to catch these traitors.


He sighed and closed his eyes. But Hans is Ilse’s brother. She would never forgive me if I turned him in for the sabotage in the area. Is she is involved in this as well? If she is, she’ll be taken away along with her brother. The knife was heavy in his hands. Hochstetter won’t care whether she’s involved or not. Hans is her brother – and Hochstetter will go after the whole family.


He was shaken from his thoughts by a knock at the door. Startled, he quickly hid the hirschfanger in his jacket pocket. “Come in,” he said.


The door opened and Corporal Strauss popped his head in. “Captain, Major Hochstetter has radioed in and wants you out at the bridge,” he said.


Dorfmann sighed for what he felt was the hundredth time that evening. “Here we go again,” he muttered.


“When you are ready, I will drive you out,” the Corporal offered.


Dorfmann shook his head. “Nein, Corporal, you stay here,” he replied tiredly. “No sense in both of us suffering.”


“Maybe it won’t be so bad,” Strauss suggested hopefully.


Ja, maybe Major Hochstetter just wants me to help him pick daisies to brighten up the office,” Dorfmann replied sarcastically.


Strauss tried hard not to laugh. “I’ll make sure a car is ready for you, sir,” he said.


Danke, Corporal,” Dorfmann replied. He rose from his chair and put on his overcoat, still deep in thought. He had a duty to the Reich and his country, and he was beginning to wonder if they both still represented the same thing.


Stalag 13, Outside the Kommandant’s Office

March 15, 1944, 0900 hours


A few minutes earlier, Carter had watched Marya leave for the train station with Count von Waffenschmidt. Even though he had stayed in the shadows of Klink’s office, he thought he saw Marya glance in his direction and smile once before driving away. I wonder if she expected us to do something like this, he thought as he watched the car disappear through the main gate.


Now he stood waiting, acting as if he was reading the bulletin board by the door. He was dressed in a high-ranking General’s uniform, complete with all the trimmings. A dagger hung from his belt and he held a small scepter that only the highest of rank would dare be seen with. While he waited, he took several deep breaths, readying himself for his crazed General act. It had always amused him that he could disguise himself so little, yet fool the Germans every time simply by yelling and threatening.


He was shaken from his thoughts by the sound of the office door opening.


“Perhaps we both could take the day off,” Schultz was saying to Klink.


“Excellent idea Schultz,” Klink responded.


Neither man had noticed Carter standing by the door. Carter turned and looked on with a scowl on his face.


“Ah, my own quarters,” continued Klink. “A warm glass of milk, in my own bed.”


“So!” yelled Carter, making both Klink and Schultz jump. “Nine o’clock in the morning and already we’re going to bed.” He looked at both men, who were still too stunned to speak. “What is this – a rest camp or a prison camp?” he yelled.


Achtung!” said Schultz, snapping to attention.


“Ah, how very nice to see you, General …” Klink said, giving Cater a salute and struggling for a name.


“Reifschneider,” Carter said. “A name you will not soon forget.” This is great! Klink is so stunned that he doesn’t don’t know what’s hit him. This is going to be fun!


“Ah, certainly General Reifschneider,” Klink said in his most sycophantic tone. “A great pleasure, General Reifschneider.” He stammered on nervously, “You see, Sergeant Schultz were just, um and I, were just having a bit of a joke, you might call it.”


Carter noticed that Klink was having some trouble getting his words out. “Treason, I would call it,” Carter replied. “In Berlin we have two words for sleeping on the job – boom, boom.” He poked Klink on the chest with each boom.


“Boom, boom,” Klink repeated nervously. “Correct, sir. You’re absolutely right.” Looking over at his Sergeant, he added in a stern tone, “Remember that Schultz.”


Schultz looked surprised. “Me, Herr Kommandant?” he asked. Klink grimaced.


“So!’ Carter yelled. “Where is your security here Klink?” he asked, walking down the steps. “No one told you when I arrived? No one told you when I came through the gates, no?”


“General Reifschneider, heads will roll,” Klink said. “You can be assured of that.”


“I am – a very shiny one,” Carter replied, giving Klink an angry stare.


Klink began laughing. “Very clever, General Reifschneider,” he said. “Nobody enjoys a good laugh more than I do.”


“Enough small talk,” Carter said.


“Of course, General Reifschneider,” Klink groveled. “I mean after all, two busy men like us have no time for small talk.”


“Enough Klink!” Carter screamed.


“Enough Klink!” Klink echoed, jumping to attention. “Yes sir.”


Now it’s time to get us on that train. “Now prop open your eyes and listen to me,” Carter said, pointing the scepter at Klink. He began pacing. “I have come from Berlin to recruit a very special squad. Men who have nothing to live for, and so will not be afraid to die.” He tapped Schultz in the chest as he finished speaking. Schultz’s eyes grew wide. “In a word, prisoners!” he said to Klink.


Upon hearing the last word, Carter could see the relief flood over Klink. “Prisoners?” Klink asked. “Oh, ha-ha. Take all you want! Liberty Hall!”


“About five will do, for a suicide squad to the Russian Front!” Carter said.


“After Stalag 13 they would go anywhere,” Klink gushed. “If I may say so sir.”


Carter groaned inwardly. Is he going to start that bit again about the perfect record of Stalag 13? I don’t think I can handle that. “You just did,” he said to Klink.


“Thank you for noticing, General Reifschneider,” Klink crowed. He walked over to Schultz. “Schultz, round up five prisoners!” he ordered.


Yawohl, Herr Kommandant,” Schultz replied.


“Klink!” Carter screamed. “If I had wanted you to pick the prisoners, I could have stayed in Berlin.” He walked over to Klink and beat him in the chest with his scepter. “I will pick the men!”


“And you will do a much better job, General Reifschneider,” Klink said. “Schultz, countermand that order.” Carter almost smiled when he saw Klink rub his chest where he had been hit with the scepter.


Yawohl, Herr Kommandant,” Schultz replied.


“Come!” Carter ordered. “When I see the men, I will know them!”


Carter led Klink and Schultz around the camp, looking at all the prisoners. He had worked it out with LeBeau and Kinch to make his way over to the cooler entrance, where they would be on a trash detail. When he got to the cooler, Klink saw the pair standing by the fence.


“Restricted area! Back to the barracks at once!” Klink exclaimed, waving his arms at the prisoners. “I’m sorry General Reifschneider.”


“Their names?” Carter asked.


“Corporal LeBeau. Sergeant Kinchloe.” Schultz pointed at each as he recited their names.


“Corrective discipline will be take at once, trust me sir,” Klink said.


“I shall take them,” Carter said. He saw the small smile playing on the edges of Kinch’s mouth.


“Excellent idea, General Reifschneider,” Klink agreed.


Yes, you would think anything I say is an excellent idea. “Fit them with German uniforms,” he ordered. “Wehrmacht. We fall out for the Russian Front within the hour.”


“Now wait a minute,” LeBeau protested.


“Don’t we have a choice?” Kinch asked.


“None! You are volunteers,” Carter replied. He looked at the cooler. “Who is in there?” he asked Klink.


“Oh, uh, top security prisoners held by Count von Waffenschmidt of the Gestapo, sir,” Klink explained.


“Good. I shall look at them,” Carter said as he walked towards the gate and into the building. Klink followed along behind, protesting as hard as he could, but Carter ignored him. When they reached the cell, he ordered Klink to open it.


“But General Reifschneider, my instructions are most specific,” Klink complained. “These men are to be held here until Count von Waffenschmidt returns. If they are not here, I will be shot.”


Carter allowed a small smile to appear on his face. This is going to be good. Boy, I can’t wait to see his face when I hit him with this! “If you don’t release them to me, you shall be shot now,” he said. “It is your choice.” He saw Klink cringe noticeably. Bingo!


“I think I shall prefer to be shot later,” Klink mumbled as he unlocked the cell door and stepped aside.


“Congratulations,” Carter said. “You men have just volunteered for a glorious suicide mission to the Russian Front.” Carter tapped Hogan on the chest with his scepter as he talked. He enjoyed the annoyed look that Hogan gave him. I just love it when I can do that without getting into trouble. “I need one more,” he said, waving the scepter at Klink.


“General, Sergeant Carter of our outfit would be a very good choice,” Hogan said.


“Why?” Carter asked.


“Well, he’s not too bright,” replied Hogan with a twinkle in his eye. “A perfect volunteer.”


“I’ll take him,” Carter said. “Uniforms for all, they have a train to catch,” he said to Klink.


Klink hurried away to order the uniforms. When he was out of earshot, Carter asked, “What do you mean I’m not too bright?”


“Easy, Carter,” Hogan replied. “Remember, you’re a general in the German army now. Now, make sure you get Klink to come along.”


“Got it, sir,” Carter replied. “I know what I am supposed to do even if I’m not too bright.” The smile on his face belied the annoyance of his words.


Klink returned saying, “Uniforms for everybody!”


“Klink, one thing more,” Carter said.


“Please, General,” Klink moaned helplessly.


“Klink, I am trying to help you!” Carter shouted.


“Really?” Klink replied disbelievingly.


“If you do not wish to be around when Count von Waffenschmidt returns, how about a transfer?” Carter asked. I just know he’s going to walk into this one. He’ll be begging to be sent anywhere rather than to be here when von Waffenschmidt comes back.


“Oh, anywhere. Anywhere at all, General Reifschneider,” Klink said with a broad smile on his face.


Ha! Can I call them or what? “Good!” Carter exclaimed. “You shall be the leader of the suicide squad.” The look on Klink’s face was priceless. Carter had never seen him go from elated to depressed so quickly. It’s almost too easy with Klink. Now if this would have been Burkhalter, it might have been a little more challenging … but not as much fun. “Fall out with full field pack in ten minutes. I’m returning to Berlin,” he said as he turned and casually walked from the cooler. Once he was out of Klink’s sight, rather than leave the building he went into the solitary cell where Baker was waiting at the tunnel entrance.


“How did it go?” Baker asked as Carter crawled into the tunnel and shut the entrance behind him.


“You should have seen the look on old Klink’s face when I appointed him the leader of the suicide squad!” Carter exclaimed. “I wish I had a picture of that.”


The pair had entered the main tunnel from the cooler and was hurrying back towards the barracks. “We’d better get you out of that uniform so you can get upstairs,” Baker said. “They’ll be coming for you soon.”


“They’ll probably give me an enlisted rank,” Carter mused, fingering the adornment of his current uniform.


“Yeah, talk about a demotion,” Baker replied with a smile. “From General Reifschneider to Private Carterhoff!”


Hammelburg Area, Farm of Friedrich Wagner

March 15, 1944, 1230 hours


Hans burst into the kitchen of the Wagner farmhouse, startling his brother sitting at the table. “Karl, have you seen my hirschfanger?” he asked breathlessly.


“You used it last night to cut some of the rope we used,” Karl replied.


“Have you seen it since then?” Hans asked.


Nein, that was the last I saw it,” Karl replied. The impact of the question finally hit him. “Hans, you didn’t lose it last night, did you?”


“I don’t know,” Hans replied. “I just can’t find it now.”


“Do you realize how many people know that knife belongs to our family?” Karl asked, his anxiety quickly rising. “We’ve got to find it before someone else does!”


The brothers left the kitchen to begin their search.


* * * * *


Captain Dorfmann pulled the staff car to a stop in front of Johann Mueller’s shop. He had come to escort Ilse home, as he had been doing every day for some time. On every other day, he had looked forward to this time that he could spend with Ilse. Today, he dreaded it. He could feel the weight of the hirschfanger in his pocket, and he wished he had never found it.


Dorfmann was tired. He had spent the entire night listening to Hochstetter order the men to search the woods around the Düsseldorf Bridge. Dorfmann knew they wouldn’t find anything. When he was finally able to crawl into his own bed, he couldn’t sleep – and it was all because of that hirschfanger. It belonged to Hans Wagner – Ilse’s brother.


That meant that Hans had to have been in the area of the Kurtz Road Bridge at some point. Dorfmann had gone over all of the scenarios. Hans was a hunter, and he could have lost it hunting in that area several days ago - possible, but not likely. No, every scenario came back to Hans being one of the people who sabotaged the bridge.


He spent several sleepless hours in bed, thinking over the whole situation. He knew his duty – and that was to turn the knife over to Hochstetter, which would make the Major happy and possibly even get Dorfmann a promotion for finding the identity of the saboteurs. But the more he was around Hochstetter, the less he liked the idea of making the bad-tempered man happy. And then there was Ilse …


He was not sure what to do. If he chose to overlook it, he could be considered a traitor for not identifying someone who was fighting against the government. But if he acted on it, he would be hurting the family of someone he was beginning to care deeply for. Maybe next time I can be on the bridge when it blows up. It will solve my dilemma once and for all.


He got out of the car and entered Johann’s shop. Ilse was sweeping the floor and looked up when he entered.


“Oh, hello August,” she said brightly. “I’m almost finished.”


Johann Mueller came out of the back room. “Hello, Captain,” he said. “You look tired.”


Dorfmann nodded. “The Düsseldorf Bridge was destroyed last night along with the Kurtz Road Bridge,” he said. He wasn’t sure, but he thought he noticed Ilse pause her sweeping for a split second, and then begin again at a fast pace than before. Does she already know something about this? “I was out all night looking for the saboteurs.”


“That’s terrible,” Johann remarked, with no change of expression. “Any luck?”


“None,” Dorfmann replied. “Same as always.”


Ilse put the boom in the corner and said, “All done. I’m ready to go now.”


Gute nacht, Ilse dear,” Johann said. “Please say hello to your father for me.”


“I will, Johann,” she answered. Gute nacht.”


After helping her with her overcoat, he held open the shop door for her. “Auf wiedersehen, Herr Mueller,” he said as he left the shop.


The inside of the car was quiet as it began to roll through the streets of Hammelburg. Dorfmann found that he couldn’t think of a thing to say. It was Ilse who first broke the silence.


“It’s terrible that you had to spend all night out in the cold,” she said. He shrugged and continued staring out the windshield. “I don’t think I would like to have to do that,” she went on. “You shouldn’t have to be walking around the woods on a cold night.”


“I wouldn’t have to if people wouldn’t keep blowing bridges up,” he shot back. The moment he said it, he realized that he had put a more anger in his voice than he had intended. “I’m sorry, Ilse,” he said immediately. “I don’t mean to take it out on you. I’m just tired, that’s all.”


Ilse smiled and patted his knee. “I understand, August,” she replied kindly. “Someday this war will be over and we won’t have these kinds of troubles.”


He nodded and continued to silently drive the car towards the Wagner farm. When they arrived, he helped her out of the car and walked her to the door.


“Would you like to come in, August?” she asked hopefully.


Dorfmann’s mind reeled with possibilities. He could follow Ilse into the house and arrest Hans for his suspected sabotage. Or he could simply give Hans his knife back, letting Hans know that he was wise to his activities. Shaking his head slightly, he said, “I’m sorry, but I think I should be going home tonight.”


“I understand,” Ilse replied.


No, you don’t understand, Ilse. Your brother seems to be involved in sabotage and for all I know you could also be involved. I am a Gestapo Captain who is supposed to be against those sorts of activities. The two occupations are opposites – how the hell are they supposed to coexist?


Before Dorfmann could say anything in response, Ilse leaned forward and kissed him. This was more than a polite kiss, and Dorfmann could feel something washing over him. When Ilse pulled away, she said, “Gute nacht, August.”


Dorfmann moved his lips but no sound came out. “Gute nacht, Ilse,” he finally managed to say.


He stood there for a few seconds after she closed the door, unable to move. He now knew what he had to do – that there was no other choice for him. And now that his decision was made, he felt happy. Smiling, he turned and began to walk to the staff car. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the knife, casually dropping the knife to the side of the path. Hans will find this tomorrow, and it will be as if I never had it in my possession. With his burden lifted, he got into the car and drove back to town.


* * * * *


Ilse was slowly walking back from the barn, her lantern rhythmically swinging in her hand. It was her job to check on the animals at night, and she loved the peacefulness that was usual at this time of night. The small stirrings of the night creatures out for their evening forays and the sound of the breeze through the trees were relaxing. This was the time when she let her mind wander to the pleasant things in her life.


Tonight, Captain August Dorfmann filled her thoughts. She could tell that he cared for her – maybe even loved her. She knew it was an unlikely combination. He was several years older than she was. But she didn’t care. She liked him … no, she finally had to admit to herself that she was beginning to love him. That’s all that mattered. She was forgetting to think about the fact that he was a Gestapo officer and she was involved with the local Underground. But at the moment, even that didn’t matter to her.


She spotted a glint of reflected lantern light coming from the side of the path. Bending down, she moved the lantern around until she could see an object lying on the ground. She immediately recognized it as the hirschfanger that belonged to Hans. What is this doing out here? Hans is never that careless with his hirschfanger. She picked up the knife and wiped the dirt from the blade. I’ll give it to him when I get inside … but there’s no hurry tonight. She resumed her walk towards the house, filling her mind with thoughts of love.


Train on Route to the Eastern Front

March 15, 1944, 2245 hours


Hogan and his men had been on the train for several hours, sitting in the compartment with the Kommandant and waiting for the right time to make their move. He had briefed his men on the plan before they left Stalag 13. The key to the plan was to enlist the cooperation of Marya, and his men, with the exception of LeBeau, were skeptical at first. But the more he talked of the plan, the more they saw that this would be almost business as usual for the team.


The main thing that they needed to do was to get von Waffenschmidt out of the way. Hogan would prefer to accomplish this without resorting to violence, but he was glad that the Wehrmacht uniforms that Klink had provided them included weapons. Hogan didn’t object to the killing of German soldiers – directly or indirectly – if it aided his missions, but he knew that killing high ranking officers was not something that the Gestapo would take lightly.


Getting von Waffenschmidt out of the way was only one facet of the plan. That would help Marya and her contacts – von Waffenschmidt knew too much about her – but Hogan also wanted to get a look at the plans in the attaché case. Once they had accomplished those two tasks, his men would reverse the train and head back home to Hammelburg. That was it – and it sounded simple. But Hogan knew that anytime Marya was involved, the plans were never as simple as they seemed!


When the time seemed right, Hogan had sent LeBeau to find out where the Count and Marya were located. If possible, LeBeau was to let Marya know that they were on the train so that she could help deal with von Waffenschmidt. The Frenchman had been gone for about twenty minutes, and Hogan was beginning to get worried.


To pass the time, he had decided to make Klink’s life miserable by commenting on the cold and the fact that the train was heading towards the Eastern Front. Any little mention of combat or freezing weather made the Kommandant even more morose. To twist the knife even further, any mention of Marya would send Klink into a litany of “Why me?” and deepen his self-pity.


Just as Hogan was about to send one of the men to look for LeBeau, the Corporal stuck his head into the compartment and announced that Marya was coming. This immediately set Klink off to some other part of the train – anywhere away from that woman. Hogan sent his men out as well – it was time to start the plan rolling. Carter was to find Klink and stay with him, while LeBeau and Kinch were to take over the engine and get the train heading in the other direction. Hogan would have Newkirk with him, in order to pick the lock of the attaché case, but for the present, Newkirk was to go watch the compartment where von Waffenschmidt was staying, to make sure he stayed there.


As soon as his men left, Marya appeared in the doorway. “After eternity,” she said, arms outstretched. Oh brother, Hogan thought. Here we go again!


* * * * *


As soon as the train had started, Marya was able to entice von Waffenschmidt into having a brandy. He was in a better mood now that he believed he had caught one of Marya’s contacts, so he had decided to have a drink to celebrate. Marya had been able to doctor his drink before handing it to him, and soon he was unconscious on the bunk. That takes care of him. Now, Hogan should have found a way to be on this train, and unless I guess wrong, he will find a way to try to get to von Waffenschmidt. She settled down to smoke a cigarette and wait, confident that she knew the American’s thought process well enough to be correct.


Sure enough, after what Marya thought was too long of a time, the little Frenchman poked his head in the compartment mumbling something about finding a Major Hoganburg. When he saw Marya, his eyes lit up.


“Ah, my little one,” Marya cooed. She saw him glance at von Waffenschmidt’s prone form. “Do not concern yourself. He is out cold.”


LeBeau smiled. “I knew you were working with us,” he beamed. “Colonel Hogan is here … three cars back and in the first compartment.”


“Tell him I will be there,” she replied.


“I will stay with you,” LeBeau said.


“No,” Marya said dramatically. “I could not control myself in your presence. You must go.”


LeBeau’s smile widened as he nodded and closed the compartment door.


Marya rose and checked on von Waffenschmidt. He will be out for a while. It is time to see Hogan … he will think he is here to save me - my American knight in shining armor. She smiled. I just won’t tell him that this is what I had planned!


She left the compartment and started walking back through the cars. She bumped into LeBeau again outside of Hogan’s compartment and went inside. Seeing Hogan she opened her arms and said, “After eternity - Alone at last. Hold me, Hogan.” She put her arms around him and snuggled close.


“Hold you? After what you did, I could strangle you!” he said.


Marya found it laughable that even after the several occasions they had worked together, Hogan still did not trust her. “The small one, how he trusts me,” she said. “What a lesson for you in his beautiful faith.”


Marya could tell that Hogan was getting irritated. “Look, do you have any idea at all what you are doing?” he asked. “Von Waffenschmidt used you to trap me, and he’s going to do the same thing to all your other contacts.”


“How diabolical,” Marya said sarcastically.


“It happens to be true,” replied Hogan. “Which is one of the reasons I’m here.


“Oh, how sad,” Marya said playfully, grabbing Hogan by the arm. “I thought you pursued me out of passion.”


“Look, stop the fun and games for a minute and listen to what I’m telling you,” Hogan said. “Von Waffenschmidt knows you’re an agent, and after he grabs all your contacts, he’s going to grab you.”


Rather than allow Hogan to get himself all worked up, she decided that it was time to tell Hogan the whole story. This had been her plan all along – to string von Waffenschmidt out long enough and then have Hogan help her take care of him. “I know,” she replied solemnly.


“How long have you known?” Hogan asked.


“From the beginning,” Marya replied.


“Then why this business at Stalag 13?” Hogan asked. “You knew we had Klink’s office bugged. You practically told us you were getting him out of the way so we’d make a grab for the case.”


“The attaché case is of no importance,” Marya said. “We already have the plans.”


“Then why did you have me stick my neck out?” Hogan asked.


“Because I needed your help, Hogan darling, in the larger plan,” Marya replied.


“Was that your way of getting me to help you?” an exasperated Hogan asked.


“You’re here,” Marya said, pointing out the obvious. Hogan darling, you should have known what I intended. We think so much alike, and yet you refuse to admit it.


Hogan sighed. “All right, all right,” he said, sitting down on the seat nearby. “What’s it all about?”


“First say you trust me,” Marya demanded playfully.


“Not for a second!” Hogan shot back.


Marya smiled. Always so feisty – we would make a good couple. “I like you,” she said, sitting down next to Hogan, preparing to get serious. “Now, there are generals on the German General Staff who wish to bring down Hitler,” she explained. “Every battle plan for the Eastern Front is transmitted by them in a secret code to a station in Switzerland. From there, it finds its way to Russia. Naturally the Germans know there is a leak. Von Waffenschmidt is trying to find it. Simple, no?”


“And that’s how you already have the information he’s carrying with him.” Hogan stated.


Since he didn’t phrase this as a question, Marya knew that he was beginning to see the bigger picture. “Brilliant, Hogan darling,” Marya said.


“This whole operation is just to throw von Waffenschmidt off the track,” he said. “Act as a red herring.”


Marya feigned offense. “Please, I’m a White Russian!” Marya exclaimed, hoping to prompt some sort of reaction from the American.


“We got to get rid of him somehow,” Hogan said, ignoring her prompting.


“Or discredit him,” Marya added. “Don’t worry, you’ll think of something.”


“I’ll think of something?” Hogan asked. “I will?”


“Of course you will,” Marya said confidently. “I’ve already drugged his brandy. He’ll be out at least another half hour.”


“That’s all – thirty minutes?” Hogan asked.


“Do not waste time,” Marya said. “That leaves only twenty minutes for love.” She pulled Hogan to her and kissed him hard. Marya felt him tense when their lips first met, but slowly his resistance ebbed. She kissed him harder and felt him begin to reciprocate. But as suddenly as she had started it, Hogan pulled away abruptly.


“We don’t have time for this,” he exclaimed. He stood and walked to the far end of the compartment.


“There is always time for love, Hogan darling,” she replied, patting the set where he had been sitting.


Hogan ignored the invitation. “We have work to do,” he said firmly.


“Don’t you love me?” she asked playfully.


“Look, I’m trying to help you!” he exclaimed.


“Then you do love me!” she shouted.


“Yeah, yeah, whatever makes you happy,” he replied. “Let’s just get back to von Waffenschmidt before he wakes up.”


Marya rose from the seat, smiling broadly. I almost had you, Hogan darling, and I could tell that you were almost ready to give in. But we will have more time after we take care of von Waffenschmidt, and then I will not be so easy to give up!


* * * * *


“I think this is the one, Colonel,” Newkirk said, selecting a key from his set of skeletons. “Same one as almost opened it before.” He unlocked the handcuff holding the briefcase to von Waffenschmidt’s wrist and handed the case to Hogan.


Hogan watched his master lock pick work his magic. He had found very few locks that Newkirk couldn’t handle. “Okay, Newkirk, good work,” Hogan thanked him.


“Now should I get to work on the case, sir?” Newkirk asked.


“Just take your knife and cut the seal,” Hogan instructed.


“All this and you don’t even want to open it?” Newkirk asked.


“It just has to look like it’s been opened,” Hogan explained. He knew they didn’t have time for him to explain all of the details of the plan that he and Marya had worked out.


“He’s brilliant,” Marya gushed. “Trust him, as I do.”


“Cut Newkirk,” Hogan ordered.


“Okay, sir,” Newkirk replied. “It’s your show.” He took his knife and cut the small seal protecting the lock of the case.


At that moment, the train’s brakes locked and Hogan was thrown forward into a chair across the compartment. Marya landed heavily on his lap.


“Looks like our boys got the train stopped,” Hogan observed.


Marya looked up into Hogan’s face and cooed, “What a marvelous way to take advantage of me.”


Hogan looked down into Marya’s eyes. Their close proximity and the faint scent of Marya’s perfume caused a stirring inside of him. When he noticed that she was wriggling slightly as she was sitting on his lap, he realized that it wasn’t just the perfume that was causing a stir. “Not now, Marya!” he exclaimed.


Marya laughed and gave him a small kiss on his chin. “Later, Hogan darling. Promise me, later,” she said softly.


Newkirk cleared his throat. “Um, if you two want to be alone, I think I’ll just step outside,” he said. Hogan could see a small smile playing at the corners of the Englishman’s mouth.


“Newkirk, not you too!” he exclaimed, given Marya a lift to get her off his lap.


“No sir, definitely not me!” Newkirk replied.


Hogan could feel his face redden as Marya burst out laughing. Newkirk practically ran from the compartment and after the door closed, Hogan could hear him burst out laughing as he walked away to find the rest of the team.


* * * * *


Von Waffenschmidt opened his eyes and immediately closed them again. His head felt heavy, as if someone had hit him with a brick. My head. What happened? He rose to a sitting position and began rubbing his forehead. “Oh, my head,” he moaned. He did not see Hogan and Marya sitting on the seat across from the bunk.


“You drank too much, Waffie,” he heard Marya say.


“One drink?” he asked.


“That was too much,” she replied dismissively.


Von Waffenschmidt raised his head to look at her. He saw a Wehrmacht officer sitting beside her. “It might be the climate,” the man said passively.


Von Waffenschmidt stared at the man, recognition slowly dawning on him. “You are Hogan,” he said. “Now how did you get here?” He suddenly lifted his arm to make sure the chain was in place. Then he lifted the attaché case and looked at the lock.


“Better check the seal,” Hogan ordered.


Von Waffenschmidt looked at the broken seal on the case. The plans! They’ve gotten the plans! Suddenly he lunged towards his pillow, attempting to retrieve his handgun.


“Looking for this?” Hogan asked, standing. Von Waffenschmidt looked up to see Hogan pointing his pistol at him.


“Oh, he forced me to tell,” Marya said in her most helpless manner.


You Russian bitch! You had this worked out so you could turn me over to this American to get rid of me! He stared at Hogan. The American had no expression on his face, but there was something in his eyes that told von Waffenschmidt that he meant business. “So, now you shoot me?” von Waffenschmidt asked.


“Not necessarily,” Hogan said. “But the Gestapo might.”


“Why?” von Waffenschmidt demanded. Now they want to play games with me!


“Several reasons,” Hogan said.


“For losing the battle plans?” von Waffenschmidt offered.


“They’re still in there,” Hogan said. “But we might have made copies. What happens then? You deliver them. The Russians already have the plans. You get shot as a traitor.”


“But if I say the plans might have been tampered with,” von Waffenschmidt countered.


“They shoot you for inefficiency, Waffie,” Marya said with a smile.


“I see,” von Waffenschmidt said. He knew that he was in a no win situation. So I have nothing left. No matter what, my career will be over. Berlin will order me shot, and there will be many volunteers for the firing squad. Or they might just send me to the Russian Front – which is the same as the firing squad, only colder. “Well then, go ahead. Shoot!”


Hogan shook his head. “Too messy,” he said, sitting back down beside Marya. “But you might defect,” he suggested.


“You could get me out of Germany?” von Waffenschmidt asked. Any prisoner of war who could get out of camp and onto a train heading to the Russian Front while wearing a German uniform must be able to get me out. But why would he want to save me?


“It’s possible,” Hogan said.


“But I would be branded,” von Waffenschmidt said. “And they would consider me the head of the spy ring I was sent to catch. They would take vengeance on my wife!”


“You love her that much, Waffie?” Marya asked.


An image of his wife, Greta, popped into his mind. If something would happen to her, he couldn’t care less. Their marriage was for show. He knew it, and she definitely knew it, as did all of her companions. They had come to an agreement long ago – right after she had discovered his penchant for the junge Hitler Youth boys. She would remain silent, and he would ensure that she still had access to his family wealth. No, he would not be sorry to see Berlin take vengeance on her.


“I will defect,” he replied immediately.


* * * * *


Hogan had allowed himself to relax after von Waffenschmidt had agreed to defect – that is, until Marya reminded him that they still had to get von Waffenschmidt off the train without anyone noticing him.


“You did consider that when you came up with your plan, didn’t you, Hogan darling?” Marya asked.


“Yes, I did consider that,” Hogan replied testily. “This isn’t the first time I’ve done this, you know.”


Marya arched her eyebrows suggestively.


“You know what I meant!” he exclaimed before she could comment. “I arranged for Schnitzer to be waiting for the train. He’ll take the Count away in his truck and get him back to Stalag 13.”


“Back to Stalag 13?” von Waffenschmidt asked. “But what about that incompetent Colonel Klink?”


“Don’t worry about him,” Hogan replied. “He won’t even know you’re there.”


“But how?” von Waffenschmidt asked.


“You’ll find out soon enough,” Hogan said. “But you’re going to have to get out of that uniform.”


“Wouldn’t you rather I get out of my uniform, Hogan darling?” Marya purred.


“Not now, Marya!” Hogan shot back.


“Later, Hogan darling,” Marya agreed. “We’ll have time later.”


Hogan was getting flustered with her continual flirting. “Can’t you ever be serious?” he asked. “We’ve got to get him off the train and back to camp.”


“You already have that covered,” Marya said matter-of-factly. “You want the Count out of his uniform so he’s less conspicuous. You’ll also leave the uniform on the train to make it look like he removed it when he defected and left the train. I’m way ahead of you, Hogan darling. It leaves more time for love.”


Hogan stared at Marya in disbelief. True, he did want von Waffenschmidt out of his uniform so they could sneak him into Schnitzer’s truck easier. But he hadn’t thought of leaving the uniform to back up the defection. “Oh, that’s right – I forgot. All of this is your plan,” he replied sarcastically. “So what comes next?”


Marya laughed. “I love it when you’re angry,” she cooed.


The door to the compartment opened and Newkirk walked in. “Everything’s all set, sir,” he said.


 “Even though you have agreed to defect, Count von Waffenschmidt, I’m not a very trusting man,” Hogan said. “Until you are out of the country, you’re going to be treated like a prisoner. Newkirk, take the handcuffs …”


Marya held her hands out in front towards Hogan. “Make me a prisoner of love,” she said, laughing.


“I must protest!” von Waffenschmidt interrupted.


“Go ahead, if it makes you feel better,” Hogan replied evenly. “It won’t help. And if either of you say another word, I’ll handcuff you both together!”


Obersalzburg, Hitler’s Burghof

March 16, 1944, 1120 hours


Burkhalter was glad that the Führer had moved to Berchtesgaden. The drive up the mountain to the Berghof was scenic and relaxing, which was always needed before a meeting with Hitler. Another nice thing about meeting in the Berghof was that Hitler liked to have his staff meetings in front of the fireplace in the Great Room - much nicer than being in a cramped briefing room at the Wolfsschanze. Because of all this, Burkhalter was not dreading that day’s meeting like he usually did. In fact, when the meeting began, he was in a very good mood. And when the meeting concluded without a typical tantrum from the Führer, he was even happier. It seemed that the change of scenery also affected Hitler.


But as the meeting was breaking up, Burkhalter felt his world turn upside down. The participants had rose and begun to filter away from the meeting table when Reichsmarschall Göring spoke up. “Albert, please stay behind,” he said. “The Führer and I would like to discuss something with you.”


Burkhalter was stunned. He barely managed to stammer out a “Yawohl, Herr Reichsmarschall” as he sat back down in his chair. He was too stunned to notice the sympathetic looks from those at the meeting he was friendly with. He knew that it was never a good thing to be asked to remain behind for a private conversation with Hitler.


What could he want? What did I do? Burkhalter was almost in a panic. What had gone wrong recently that they could blame on me? There was the incident with Zuglitz, but both Göring and Himmler have assured me that they blame the missing Colonel Hoffman for that. Could it be all the things that have gone wrong after getting to Stalag 13? Hitler himself gave me almost carte blanche to suggest the camp for anything that needed a safe location. Burkhalter searched his memory. Was there something that Hogan had done that he wasn’t aware of? He knew that there was always a danger that Hogan’s escapades, which Burkhalter was sure about but had no direct proof, could leave him in a bad light. Hogan, if you’ve caused me trouble, I’ll make sure that you are discovered!


By the time everyone else had left, Burkhalter had worked himself into a nervous panic. Then, as suddenly as it had set in, the panic lifted when Göring spoke. “Albert, the Führer has come up with a brilliant idea that he needs your help with,” Göring said.


When he heard that, he felt himself relax – he was not about to be sent to the Eastern Front. “It goes without saying that the Führer can count on my full cooperation,” he said, trying to keep the great relief he felt out of his voice.


“As you might be aware, the Americans have developed a new version of their P-51 fighter,” Hitler said.


Burkhalter nodded his head. “Ja, I am aware of that,” he said. “Those new machines are causing our pilots a lot of trouble.” As soon as he said it, he knew that wasn’t a particularly smart thing to say with the head of the Luftwaffe sitting next to him.


“As I have pointed out repeatedly to the Reichsmarschall,” Hitler said with a glare towards Göring. “They can now escort their bombers all the way to Berlin, and contrary to the assurances I have been given …” another glare towards the Reichsmarschall “… we have yet to be able to shoot one down.”


Burkhalter began to feel uncomfortable. He didn’t want to be in the middle of a disagreement between Hitler and Göring, and he couldn’t see why they had pulled him aside. “Mein Führer, what is it you want me to do about the P-51?” he asked tentatively.


“We want one of those planes,” Göring replied.


Bitte?” Burkhalter asked. “You want me to ask the Americans if they will give us one of their new fighters?


Hitler stared at Burkhalter for several moments, unsure how to take his question. Finally, he laughed. “Ah, a nice sense of humor you have, General,” he said. “If it were only that easy. We obviously don’t expect the Americans to simply give us a plane because we ask for it.”


Nein, Albert,” Göring added. “We want to take one of the planes.”


Burkhalter was about to open his mouth to ask his next humorous question. You want me to steal a plane from the Americans?


“Obviously, we don’t expect you to take the plane,” Hitler added.


Danke, mein Führer,” Burkhalter replied. “That would be quite a task for me to accomplish.” Hitler laughed again and Burkhalter was starting to wonder why the Führer found him so amusing.


 “At Stalag 13 – the camp run by Colonel Klunk - there is that American prisoner, what’s his name … Brogan?” Hitler asked. “The one that did that radio broadcast.”


“Hogan,” Burkhalter corrected. “Colonel Robert Hogan.” It was now dawning on him what Hitler wanted him to do. “You want me to ask Colonel Hogan to steal a P-51 from a base in England and bring it back to Germany?” Both Hitler and Göring nodded. “I’m not sure that he would agree to do such a thing.”


“I think he would do it, especially if we offer him one million American dollars for his troubles,” Hitler replied.


“We all know that the Americans will do almost anything for money,” Göring added.


The very idea of Hogan traveling to England and stealing a P-51 from an airbase and flying it back to Germany struck Burkhalter as absurd. He struggled hard against the urge to burst out laughing. What made the idea more laughable was that he got the impression that the Führer and Reichsmarschall actually believed that this was a viable plan. Actually, Göring may believe it’s a joke like I do, but he would never laugh in the Führer’s face. “I don’t know if even that would make him do it,” he said slowly. “He might just use this to get to England and never come back.”


“To make sure he does come back,” Göring said, “we will hold the rest of his fellow prisoners as hostages. I know how close these prisoners become.”


Burkhalter knew that Hogan and his men were closer than Göring could imagine, and any threat to them would make him very angry. “Ja, he would want to make sure his men are kept safe,” he agreed. “But there’s still no guarantee that he’ll go along with it once he got to England, assuming he could get there.”


“We’ve got that all worked out,” Hitler said. “Reichsmarschall Göring will fill you in on the details of how to get him to England. But we don’t plan to allow him to travel alone. We want a Luftwaffe officer to go with him, posing as an American flyer. They will travel as escapees from Stalag 13.”


One name popped into Burkhalter’s mind … Klink. They can’t expect Klink to pass as an American flyer!


“And the person we want to go with him is his Kommandant – Colonel Klunk,” Hitler continued.


“Klink, mein Führer,” Burkhalter corrected.


Ja, that’s him,” Hitler agreed absentmindedly.


“I don’t mean to be difficult,” Burkhalter said. I know what happens to those who argue with your harebrained ideas, mein Führer. “But it’ll be a difficult task for one man … two if you count on Klink to help … to steal a plane from an Allied airbase.”


“One more bit of information you must know,” Göring said. “We will tell Colonel Klink how to contact our espionage organization in England, in case they need help. We have a large network in place that will be able to provide any assistance they need.”


Burkhalter nodded. Now I know that Hogan will be tempted to try this. When he finds out about the spy network in England, he will want to get any names he can get and put it out of business. “I think I might be able to persuade him,” he replied. I don’t think he will want to bring us back a plane, but Hogan is a clever man – he’ll find a way to eliminate the spy network and NOT bring back a plane … and hopefully do it in a way that will not get me shot.


Hitler stood. “Good! I will leave you two to go over the details,” he said. “You will also be given a suitcase with the money. Brogan may want to see the money to make sure that we are serious. We want this to happen as soon as possible.”


* * * * *


On the way back down the mountain, Burkhalter sat in the back of the staff car and thought about the Führer’s idea. He still thought it was a rather foolish notion to think that an American prisoner would agree to provide any fully functional aircraft – let alone the top of the line fighter that was giving the Luftwaffe fits – to the enemy for any sum of money. He looked at the suitcase on the seat beside him. Granted, one million dollars was not just any sum, but compared to treason, it was a mere pittance.


Burkhalter allowed himself a moment to realize the irony of that thought. He had also been guilty of treason each and every time he would direct secret projects to Stalag 13, knowing that Colonel Hogan would find a way to discredit or steal the idea. But Burkhalter was doing this for a reason greater than money. He was tired of watching the fools in charge of his country driving it to ruin. And from what he saw of Colonel Hogan, Burkhalter found it hard to believe that Hogan would betray his ideals for money. No, Hogan wouldn’t just agree to this because there was a suitcase of American money in it for him.


But, there was a carrot in this that Burkhalter could dangle in front of the American. He just knew that Hogan would try his best to break up that spy ring in England once he found out about it. Burkhalter wanted this as well – with a spy ring operating in England, the war could possibly be extended for a long time. He had to get that information to Hogan … somehow.


Burkhalter knew he could simply leave the list with Klink, and like everything else he had intended to pass on, Hogan would discover it’s contents and take care of the problem. But he couldn’t think of a good reason why he would have this list or even give it to Klink. The more he thought about it, the more he decided that it would be best to present the Führer’s ridiculous plan, and when Hogan refuses to do it, drop the information about having a ring and see if that entices him to help.


He spent the rest of the trip to the airfield planning how he would present this idea to Hogan. Since the Führer wanted this to occur as soon as possible, he would call Klink the next morning to set it up for tomorrow night. Colonel Hogan, I do hope you will find a way to eliminate the German spy network. I would hate to have this war go on too much longer.


Hammelburg, Train Station

March 16, 1944, 2345 hours


Hogan stood with his men beside Klink on the platform of the train station outside of Hammelburg. They had successfully put von Waffenschmidt into Schnitzer’s dog truck, and Baker and Erich Jonach would make sure that the Count was put down in the tunnel. “How long before Schultz gets here with the truck, Kommandant?” he asked.


“Soon, I hope,” muttered Klink. “I just want to get back to camp.”


“Didn’t you like our little adventure?” Kinch asked.


“Like it?” Klink sputtered. “What was there to like? I was told I was the leader of a suicide squad to the Russian Front, had to sit on a cold train, that crazy Russian woman wouldn’t leave me alone, and now I end up back here with no explanation.”


“Yeah, invigorating, wasn’t it?” Hogan asked with a happy smile on his face. “You’ll have to thank General Reifschneider the next time you see him.”


Klink waved his hands defensively. “I don’t ever wish to see that man again!” he exclaimed. “You know Hogan,” he said, wagging his finger at the American. “Officers like General Reifschneider should be locked up. They should put him in a prison camp!”


Carter snorted a laugh, prompting Newkirk to poke him with his elbow.


Hogan was relieved to see the truck from camp pulling up to the platform. “Here’s Schultz now,” he said.


“Where’s Marya,” Kinch whispered.


Hogan shrugged. “She knows the plan – she’s supposed to go back to camp with us now, and leave tomorrow to make it look good,” he replied.


“It’s about time!” Klink said crossly. “Schultz, you dummkopf. What took you so long?”


Schultz attempted a salute as he tumbled from behind the wheel. “Herr Kommandant. I came as fast as I could.”


“A likely story,” Klink replied through clenched teeth as he returned the salute. “Hogan, get your men into the truck.”


Just then, Marya emerged from behind the small building that operated as the station house. “Oh, Klinkie,” she said, running towards the men.


“Talk about good timing,” Kinch whispered.


“Quick, Hogan. Get your men into the truck and let’s get out of here,” Klink ordered.


“But I think she wants something, Kommandant,” Hogan said.


“I know she wants something, Hogan,” Klink replied. “Me. Now get in the truck!”


“Klink, darling, I’m so glad you are still here,” Marya said, wrapping her arms around Klink. “I knew you would come to my rescue.”


“Funny, I’m not glad I’m still here,” Klink mumbled, struggling to free himself from her grasp.


Marya laughed heartily. “Ah, my Klinkie Vinkie,” she said. “Always one to joke around.”


“Klinkie Vinkie?” Hogan asked.


“Eat your heart out, Colonel Hogan,” Marya said with a wink. “You are just jealous.”


“Hogan, enough small talk,” ordered Klink. “Get in the truck!”


“That’s right, Klinkie, let us all get into the truck and go back to your precious Stalag 13,” Marya suggested. “Then you and I can finally be alone!”


We’re going back to Stalag 13,” Klink said. “You are staying here.”


Marya stroked Klink’s cheek. “But Klink darling, Count von Waffenschmidt has abandoned me here,” she said, leaning close and kissing the cringing Colonel on his nose. “I have no where else to go.”


“I’m sorry,” Klink said, trying to free himself from her grasp. “No unauthorized personnel are allowed to stay in the camp.”


“Does that mean all of us prisoners can all go home?” Hogan asked cheerily.


“Hogaaaaaaan,” Klink warned.


Marya pushed herself back from Klink and shrugged. “Oh well,” she said. “I suppose that when I am picked up by the Gestapo for loitering at the station, I’ll have to tell them the whole story.”


“You’ll just have to do that,” Klink said nodding. “The whole story?” he asked meekly, cringing at the thought of what the story might be.


“Of course, Klink,” Marya replied. “The story about how you were jealous of Count von Waffenschmidt taking me away from you...”


“Jealous?” Klink sputtered.


“…and how you pursued us with your treacherous band of prisoners to get rid of him and have me all to yourself.” she continued.


“I did no such thing!” Klink protested.


Hogan was impressed at the ease in which Marya was twisting Klink around. Damn, she’s good, he thought. She hasn’t been around him as long as I have, and she’s manipulating him as well as I do.


“Then why are these prisoners dressed in Wehrmacht uniforms?” she asked.


“We were sent on a suicide mission to the Russian Front by General Reifschneider,” Klink explained.


Rather than let Marya do everything herself, Hogan decided to jump into the argument. “That’s not what you told me!” Hogan countered. “You said that you’d teach the Count a lesson.”


Klink whirled to face Hogan. “Hogan, you keep out of this,” he ordered.


“Fine!” Hogan said. “If you want to explain it to the Gestapo yourself, be my guest.”


“Explain it to the Gestapo?” Klink repeated.


“He won’t have to,” Marya said.


Klink whirled to face Marya, on his other side. “Right, I won’t have to!” he said. “Why not?” he asked timidly.


“With Count von Waffenschmidt missing, and Klink on the train with a group of armed prisoners, they’ll just go ahead and shoot him.”


Klink whirled back to Hogan. “That’s right, Hogan,” he said. “With Count von Waffenschmidt missing, and …” He trailed off as he realized what Marya had said. “Get on the truck,” he said dejectedly.


Hogan stood by Klink, watching his men board the truck. “This was fun, Kommandant,” he said. “We should do it again sometime.”


“Hogan, get on that truck!” Klink screamed.


Hogan smiled and moved towards the back of the truck.


“Klinkie!” Marya called from the passenger side of the vehicle. “Come with me, let me sit on your lap!”


Klink stared at the Russian with his mouth agape. After a moment, he said, “Hogan, save room for me in the back!”


* * * * *


“We are under Stalag 13 right now?” von Waffenschmidt asked in amazement as he looked around at the impressive tunnel system. He was presently tied to a chair in the main tunnel area under the watchful eye - and gun - of Newkirk.


“You saw it as you came in,” Hogan said, stating the obvious.


“And Klink doesn’t know?” von Waffenschmidt asked.


“There are many things that Klink doesn’t know,” Hogan replied smiling.


Newkirk chuckled. “We like to think of it as what Klink doesn’t know won’t hurt us,” he said.


 “Klink is an idiot,” von Waffenschmidt mumbled.


“That’s one of the things he doesn’t know,” Hogan laughed. “I keep trying to tell him, but he just won’t listen.”


Von Waffenschmidt ignored the humor. “Then you are part of Marya’s spy ring?” the Count speculated.


“He is not, Waffie,” Marya said, startling everyone. She was coming down the tunnel leading from the guest quarters, following behind LeBeau. “We were just …” She had reached the main area and was standing beside von Waffenschmidt. She waved her hands in the air in a gesture of nonchalance. “Cooperating,” she concluded.


“I was just trying to save my ass from the mess you got me into,” Hogan contradicted.


Marya laughed heartily. “Semantics, Hogan darling,” she said, fluttering her eyelashes. “We get along so well together.”


“Like cats and dogs,” Newkirk muttered, earning him an annoyed glance from LeBeau.


“So what happens to me now?” von Waffenschmidt asked. “Am I to be tied up in this hole for the rest of the war?”


Hogan was grateful for the change of subject. “No, when things quiet down in a few days, you’ll be off to London,” he said.


Moscow,” Marya corrected.


London!” Hogan objected.


Marya shook her head. “Moscow, Hogan darling,” she said.


“I said he’s going to London,” Hogan countered angrily.


“Colonel Hogan, he must be sent to Moscow,” she replied. She stared at the Colonel with a serious expression – gone was the flirtatious flounce that had been present a second before.


“Don’t I have a choice?” von Waffenschmidt asked.


“No!” Marya and Hogan both replied simultaneously.


Hogan paused. The change in Marya’s demeanor startled him, though he didn’t know why. He had seen this side of her before, and knew that the over-the-top flirtations were just an act. He took a deep breath. “Look, he’s seen our whole operation here,” Hogan said calmly. “I know I can get him to London. I don’t know you can get him to Moscow without him escaping.”


“I will get him to Moscow,” Marya said evenly.


“I can’t take that chance,” Hogan said.


“Then we shoot him now!” Marya said forcefully. Before anyone could blink, she was pointing a gun at von Waffenschmidt’s head. Nobody had seen where the gun came from – it just appeared.


“Are you daft?” Newkirk asked, rising from his chair.


Hogan held out his hands. “Newkirk, relax,” he ordered. “Marya - put the gun away.”


Marya looked at Hogan with a deadly serious gaze. “He is going to Moscow,” she said.


“Why the insistence on Moscow?” Hogan asked. “I thought you just wanted to get him out of the way. It shouldn’t matter where he goes.”


Marya looked steadily at Hogan. “Colonel, what would the Gestapo think if he showed up in London?” she asked.


Hogan was silent, afraid to move lest she decide to kill the Count right where he sat. He looked at von Waffenschmidt, who was staring at Marya with fear in his eyes. He noticed beads of sweat forming on the man’s brow. I can’t blame him for being scared. If we weren’t here in the tunnel, I would just let her do it - one less Nazi running around. He thought back to his words on the train, when von Waffenschmidt dared Hogan to shoot him. Too messy – besides, we could get a lot of information from him.


“The Gestapo will think that the Underground captured him and took him away,” Marya said when Hogan remained silent. “Now what would they think if he appeared in Moscow?”


It suddenly dawned on Hogan where she was heading. “They would think that he is a traitor, and was the person leaking the information to the Russians,” he said.


“Exactly,” she replied with a smile. She lowered the gun but didn’t put it away. “Sometimes it takes you a while to see the obvious.”


The insult was not lost on Hogan. He was not happy playing second fiddle to Marya, and she did seem to be one step ahead of him in this escapade. I hate it when she’s right. “Can you get him to Moscow?” he asked with a sigh.


Marya’s smile widened. “I got your Russian friend Vladimir all the way back to Moscow,” she replied. “And back into Germany working with my people.”


Hogan chuckled. “I guess you have me there,” he said.


As suddenly as it had disappeared, the flirtatious act was back. “Hogan darling, there are many places I would like to have you,” she cooed.


* * * * *


Hogan escorted Marya through the tunnel back to the guest quarters and helped her up through the entrance into the room. “Have you given any thought to how you are going to leave camp?” he asked as he sat on the settee.


“I should have no problem,” she replied. “Klink will be so glad to get rid of me that he’d probably give me his staff car!” She poured two glasses of schnapps from the decanter and carried them over to the settee. “Klinkie, darling, since I have no way to leave camp, I’ll just have to stay here with you for the rest of the war,” she cooed mockingly as she sat, slipping back into her persona.


Hogan laughed as he accepted the glass. “I think he’d be willing to drive you back to Moscow if you keep it up!” he said.


“What about you, Hogan darling,” she murmured, reaching out to stroke his ear.


He flinched at her touch. “I think I’ll be willing to drive you to Moscow if you keep that up,” he said.


She laughed. “Then while I am still here, we should make every moment count,” she said. As she had on the train, she surprised him by lunging forward and kissing him unexpectedly, sending the glass flying to the floor. She felt him resist at first, but slowly he began to respond and she felt him kissing her back.


Abruptly, he pulled away and stood. “Marya, no,” he said breathlessly.


“Why not? You find me desirable, da?” she prompted.


Da,” Hogan replied quickly. “I mean yes … I mean no!” He huffed in frustration. “It’s just not a good idea,” he said, turning away. “I should go.” He began to move towards the tunnel entrance.


“Hogan,” she said softly.


Something in her voice made him stop. He turned to look at her. The way she reclined on the settee with her hair flowing down over her shoulders reminded him of his dear Lisa - she had struck a very similar pose on their honeymoon. Lisa, you looked so lovely sitting there. We were so happy – and so in love. He remembered that moment as if it were yesterday … and the moments on the settee immediately afterwards. It didn’t take us long to begin work on building our family!


Hogan kept looking at Marya without really seeing her. His insides churned – he didn’t want to go. He realized that he did find this woman – this Russian who created so much trouble for him – desirable … very desirable. But as much as he wanted to stay, all he could think about was Lisa and what he would be doing to her. Why would Marya different than the others? He knew the answer … Lisa might be able to understand the others – that was in the line of duty with no real emotion involved. But Hogan knew that if anything happened here with Marya, it would be because he actually wanted it to happen.


“Marya, I want to stay – more than anything in the world right now,” he said. “But it’s not a good idea.”


“Hogan darling, it would be good,” she cooed. “Very good.”


“No,” he said. “It would be very bad.” She’s not going to leave me alone. She’ll keep trying and pushing, and eventually I’m not going to be able to fight it anymore. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Marya, Kinch is the only person here in this camp who knows this, but I happen to be married.” He thought he saw a flicker of reaction in her eyes, though her face remained expressionless. “You know what marriage is, don’t you?” he asked sarcastically.


“I’ve had many husbands,” she replied. “None of them were mine, of course.” Married? I never would have pictured Hogan as married! “Are you telling me that you’ve never …” She waved her hands in the air, “… strayed while you’ve been here?”


Hogan was silent for a moment before giving a barely noticeable nod. “Unfortunately I have, but only in the line of duty,” he replied with a sigh. He saw a bemused expression appear on her face as she silently mouthed the words in the line of duty. “With you, it would be different … it would be because I wanted to,” he said, wondering why he had even made the admission. “Look, I happen to love my wife … and I just couldn’t do that to her.”


Marya watched Hogan thoughtfully for several moments. “All the good ones are taken,” she said, smiling warmly. “Please stay,” she added. “Just to talk.”


Hogan studied Marya closely, looking for any sign of insincerity. He saw none. “No more flirting?” he asked.


“Tonight, no,” she said simply. Then Hogan saw the transformation … it was like the sun suddenly bounding up over the Eastern horizon - the persona was back. “But after tonight, Hogan darling, it’s back to business as usual!” She gave him a wink and burst out laughing.


Oh brother, he thought as he returned to the settee. What am I getting myself into?


* * * * *


As Hogan climbed over the bunk rail into the barracks the next morning minutes before the roll call bell, he was greeted by jeers from his men.


“Late night, Colonel?” Carter asked. “You look beat.”


“I’ve been up all night,” Hogan explained.


“That’s our Colonel Hogan!” Newkirk added playfully. The men in the barracks laughed.


“Knock it off, Corporal,” Hogan ordered. He caught Kinch staring at him with a raised eyebrow. “We just talked.”


“It’s been a long time since I just talked with a lady,” Newkirk chided.


Before Hogan could respond, the roll call bell rang and Baker climbed up from the tunnel. “Marya is watching the Count,” he told Hogan.


“Good,” Hogan replied. “Let’s get out there before Schultz comes in and complains. I don’t think I could handle that this morning.” He followed his men towards the door, noticing that Kinch hung back to wait for him. “Don’t say anything, Kinch. All we did was talk,” he said.


“Who’s saying anything?” Kinch replied with a grin.


Stalag 13, Barracks 2

March 17, 1944, 2230 hours


When Hogan entered his office, he left the light off. He had just told his men about Burkhalter’s crazy idea, and his mind was jumbled with thoughts of the evening.


I can’t believe that Burkhalter expects me to steal a plane and give it to the very same people holding me here in this German paradise.


A million dollars – that’s a whole lot of simoleons!


A Luftwaffe officer being sent with me to England - with my luck, it’ll be Klink.


A German espionage organization in London to help us out - good luck! I think we’d need a lot more help than that.


How does Burkhalter expect me to simply fly off with a P-51 and manage to navigate through German controlled airspace?


How the hell can someone get away with taking off in a stolen plane? We’d be shot down before reaching the channel.


He began to remove his jacket.


I have to admit, those fräuleins were very nice! Eva is the spitting image of Helga.


An image of his wife Lisa popped into his mind – it was right before he left for London. Now Robbie, don’t you go flirting with those English women!


I didn’t dear. I didn’t mess around with any of the English women before I was shot down - German, French and unless I am careful, a Russian after I was shot down – but none while I was in England.


I can’t believe you would do this to me, his wife’s image said.


But honey, I was just doing my job.


And the Russian?


He shook his head to clear the unpleasant train of thought from his mind. He placed his jacked on the back of his desk chair and headed for his bunk.


A million dollars for a P-51.


Flying back to Germany safely.


Safe conduct to Switzerland? Now that’s a good one!


German espionage in London.


Burkhalter must be crazy!


Greta and Eva have an apartment in Hammelburg … maybe I should pay them a visit!


He stopped in his tracks.


There’s a German espionage ring operating in London – obviously large and efficient enough to be able to aid in an effort to steal a plane from a British airfield.


He smiled to himself in the dark. If I can get over there and find out something about that organization, the boys in counterintelligence just may be able to put it out of business. He chided himself for not thinking of that sooner.


Is it possible? I’m sure Burkhalter’s plan will get me to London, but I would have to get in touch with someone there to alert them to this idea. I can’t do it over the radio – too many people would then be in on it. He began pacing. If I could get a message to Colonel Forbes from CI, I could brief him on everything and we might be able to pull it off.


He continued to pace carefully in the darkened room. The brass won’t be too keen on giving up a P-51. He stopped and snapped his fingers as an idea came to him. That’s it! They would have no trouble giving me a plane like that!


It was at that moment he decided that he would take Burkhalter up on his offer. The General obviously thought Hogan could be bought, and wouldn’t suspect this kind of treachery in return. If everything worked out, the German organization in London would be identified and he would be back in camp in a few days.


It seemed to Hogan that he had been mulling this over for hours, but it had only been a few minutes – his men would not yet be asleep. He hurried out of his office to let them know what he planned to do.


* * * * *


Burkhalter rose from his bed and slipped on his pants. He could barely see the sleeping form on his bed in the diffuse moonlight filtering into the window of his chalet. Ah, Greta my dear. Colonel Hogan doesn’t know what he’s missing. Maybe I should let him find out, and he wouldn’t refuse my offer!


He walked into the outer room to pour a drink and reflect on the events that occurred before he and Greta returned to his chalet for a nightcap … among other things.


Colonel Hogan had rejected Burkhalter’s offer of a million dollars to steal a P-51, which was no surprise to the General. But he got the feeling that Hogan was very tempted. He had even added an extra bonus that wasn’t in Göring’s original plan and offered Hogan safe passage to Switzerland. But that hadn’t worked either.


He sipped his drink. I could tell that you were most definitely tempted when I mentioned the espionage organization in England. Burkhalter knew that Hogan would spend the night thinking of the money, the girls and the plan. He had told Hogan that the girls would be back the next night – and every night until he accepted the offer. It wouldn’t surprise me if Hogan comes back night after night just to spend time with the lovely fräuleins – I know I would! He thought of Greta snuggled in his bed in the other room. Maybe tomorrow I will bring Eva back here and show her how much I appreciate her cooperation as well.


He chuckled softly. Yes, having this chalet was definitely a good thing. The fact that his wife was far away in Berlin and didn’t know about it was the best thing. For a fleeting moment, he had the image of his wife, Berta, snuggled in the bed in the next room. A shiver ran down his spine … some thoughts were better left alone!


He finished his drink and returned to the bedroom. When he slipped off his pants and climbed into bed, Greta rolled over and snuggled closer. The General then had a thought that was to good to leave alone, and he gently woke the sleeping beauty with a kiss. Soon, both of them were too preoccupied to have any thoughts for some time afterwards.


* * * * *


Kinch looked at the form of Count von Waffenschmidt slumped in the chair in the corner of the tunnel’s open area. Marya had drugged his water a few minutes earlier. “How long will he be out?” he asked her.


“Several hours,” she replied. “I was tired of listening to him complain.”


Kinch observed Marya as she looked scornfully at von Waffenschmidt. She was calm and composed, most unlike her off-the-wall persona she usually exhibited. She had left the camp that morning, much to Klink’s relief, and had come back in through the tunnel just after dark. “How long have you been leading him around?” he asked. He had heard the whole story of how von Waffenschmidt had suspected her of being a spy and was following her around.


“Several months now. It was fun at times,” she admitted. “Especially because he resisted my feminine charms.” She pulled out her cigarette case and offered one to Kinch.


He accepted and held out the candle for her to light her cigarette. After lighting his, he asked, “Is that why you’re always after Colonel Hogan – because he resists?”


She laughed. “Partly,” she replied. “But there is a big difference between your Colonel and that lout,” she said, pointing her thumb towards the unconscious Count. “I am neither young enough or boyish enough for that Aryan twit.” Kinch raised an eyebrow in surprise. “Besides, it’s human nature to want something more when you can’t have it.”


“So that explains LeBeau’s obsession with you,” Kinch said with wry smile.


“My little French admirer,” she said smiling. “He’s so cute. But Colonel Hogan is so …” she paused and looked at Kinch knowingly, “… married.”


Kinch tried unsuccessfully to keep the look of surprise from his face. “I take it he told you.”


Marya nodded. “He also told me that you were the only other person here that knows it,” she replied. “Why is that?”


Kinch shrugged. “He says he’s afraid that the men will lose respect for him because of all his … escapades,” Kinch responded, struggling for a nice term for Hogan’s indiscretions.


Marya laughed. “That’s crazy,” she replied.


“I keep telling him that it would make no difference to any of them,” he replied. “But he keeps refusing and gets angry when I bring it up.” Kinch thought of saying more but stopped himself.


“You seem to think it’s something else?” Marya asked. Kinch nodded. “Guilt, perhaps?” Kinch nodded again. “It fits,” she said. “Last night we talked about the kinds of things we both have to do in our line of work. I could sense that he was holding something inside every time this subject came up.”


“He was newly married when he shipped out,” Kinch explained. “In his mind, they are still on their honeymoon.”


“And he’s never met his son – only seen pictures,” Marya stated. “And now even that has been taken away from him by Hochstetter.”


Kinch smiled. “You two must have covered a lot of information last night,” he said.


Marya smiled back. “Unfortunately we had plenty of time to talk,” she replied.


“He doesn’t say much about the lack of mail anymore,” Kinch said. “But I can see that it really eats him up inside when we get our letters from home.”


“He’s strong willed and stubborn,” Marya observed.


Kinch laughed. “That’s why he’s so resistant to your … feminine charms,” he said. “But the whole situation is eating him up. He thinks he shouldn’t have cheated on his wife.”


“I know some of how he feels,” Marya said softly. “He knows it’s something that he has to do to make this assignment successful, but deep down, it’s something he doesn’t want to do.”


Kinch looked at Marya in surprise.


Marya caught the look and laughed. “Sergeant Kinchloe, do you honestly think I enjoy cavorting with all those fat, sweaty German pigs?” she asked. Kinch was silent. “It’s part of what I need to do to complete my assignments.”


“And all the flirting?” he asked.


Suddenly she slipped into her persona. “Kinchie darling, the flirting is the fun part,” she cooed, causing Kinch to chuckle. “It’s the other activities that are not so pleasant. Most of the time, I try to get them drunk enough that they simply pass out.” She paused and looked at von Waffenschmidt. “Or, if I can slip something into their drink, I’m off the hook. I just make them think something happened.”


Kinch laughed. “I suppose I never thought of you any other way than easy … no offense intended,” he said.


Marya smiled. “None taken, Sergeant,” she said. “A wise man once told me something that I think applies to Colonel Hogan as well.”


Kinch raised an eyebrow to prompt her to continue.


“He said that in this kind of work, you have to keep your real self bottled up inside you most of the time,” she said. “But if you cannot let your real self emerge occasionally and share that with someone else, the person you really are will fade away forever.”


Kinch nodded thoughtfully. “The man knew what he was talking about,” he replied. “I think the Colonel is fighting some of that. He doesn’t think he can show his real self to his men, and yet he doesn’t want it to disappear.”


“It was your friend Vladimir who told me that, Sergeant,” Marya said. “We were on the way back to Russia at the time and we became quite close on that trip.”


Again Kinch was surprised. He opened his mouth to ask a question, but Marya interrupted before he had a chance.


“I think I know what you are going to say,” she said with a smile. “And he is another man that resisted my feminine charms because he was too in love with his wife. We simply became good friends.”


Vladimir is a good man,” Kinch said. “We became good friends while he was here.”


“I know, “ Marya replied. “He told me.”


The two spent the rest of the night talking. Marya told him about Vladimir’s reunion with his family and his new assignment. In turn, Kinch related stories about Vladimir’s time in Stalag 13, and how ‘Sam’ became one of the gang. By morning, Kinch realized that his initial impression of Marya was greatly understated. She was a more complex person than he had thought.


Stalag 13, Barracks 2

March 18, 1944, 2045 hours


Hogan finished packing his small bag and was almost ready to go. Burkhalter had seemed ecstatic that he had agreed to the crazy plan to steal a P-51, and as Hogan had expected, Klink would be the person to make the trip with him. Oh well, we might succeed anyway. He had just given Baker a brief and uninformative message to send off to Colonel Forbes in London telling him to expect contact. When Baker questioned the lack of information, he had explained that they needed to keep it as quiet as possible because they would be interviewed and it needed to seem like a legitimate escape. Klink isn’t too bright, but I don’t want to take any chance of him getting wise to my plan. I sure hope Forbes is smart enough to make sure that the interviewers will not know anything about the Stalag 13 operation since we aren’t coming through the normal channels. The last thing I want is Klink getting wind of what we do here … I’d hate to have to explain to Burkhalter how Klink got left behind in England!


He looked around his office to see if he forgot anything. If all goes well, I’ll be back here in a few days and maybe things will finally calm down a bit! He opened his office door and walked out into the barracks. He saw Marya sitting at the table with the rest of the men.


“Hogan darling, you must not leave before you kiss me goodbye,” she said seductively as she rose from the table.


“How about we just shake hands and leave it at that?” he suggested.


Marya wrapped her arms around his neck and leaned heavily against him. “Hogan darling, you are such a romantic,” she said dramatically. “I told you it would be business as usual, Colonel,” she whispered in his ear, giving it a small nibble.


Hogan was fully aware of the wolfish murmurs coming from his men. “Uh, right,” he stammered as he tried to untangle himself from her grasp. “When do you plan to take von Waffenschmidt out?” he asked, changing the subject.


“Tomorrow night,” she answered as she took a seat on the tabletop. She made an obvious show of crossing her legs. “That leaves us only a few more minutes to say goodbye.”


“Send me a postcard from the Kremlin,” he said with a touch of irritability. She had warned him that she would continue her incessant flirting, so he shouldn’t be surprised now. But he wasn't in any sort of mood to play her games – he had a mission to complete.


Marya laughed heartily. “Your resistance is charming, Hogan darling,” she said.


The door to the barracks opened and Schultz walked in. “Colonel Hogan, General Burkhalter says you are ready to leave now,” he said, coming to a stop beside Marya at the table.


Hogan groaned to himself. Great, just what I needed – Schultz to discover Marya back in camp. “Carter, how many times have I told you to lock the door?” he said crossly. “You never know what kind of riff-raff might walk in.”


“Riff-raff?” Schultz asked curiously. He looked over at Marya and asked, “Is that a good thing or a bad thing?” She shrugged and Schultz suddenly recognized her as not being one of the men. “You? What are you doing back in camp? The Kommandant isn’t going to like this!”


“Then why tell him?” Hogan asked.


“He must know,” Schultz said firmly. “He will be very upset with me if I don’t tell him.”


“He will be very upset with you if you do tell him, Sergeant,” Marya said calmly.


“Oh yeah?” Schultz asked quizzically. “How so?”


“Schultz, ask yourself this … How excited do you think the old Bald Eagle will be to see Marya again after what he just went through?” Hogan asked.


“Good point,” Schultz said decisively.


“Besides, she’ll be gone tomorrow anyway,” added Newkirk.


“Yeah, she’ll be taking Count von Waffenschmidt out of camp tomorrow night,” Carter said, drawing an icy glare from Hogan.


“Count von Waffenschmidt?” Schultz asked timidly. “Is he here too?”


“Schultz, do you really want to know?” Kinch asked.


“To that question, I would say my answer is most definitely … no,” Schultz replied.


“Would you like to hear what I am going to tell my men before I leave?” Hogan asked.


“Colonel Hogan, you know that I prefer to hear nothing and know nothing,” Schultz replied.


Hogan smiled. “Good,” he said. “Carter …” He made a small motion with his hands and Carter walked over to Schultz and stuck a finger in each of the guard’s ears.


“All right, I only have a minute, so listen up,” he said. “Kinch, hold down the fort here and keep your ears open. If things don’t go as planned in England, I’ll get word to you over the radio.”


“Right, Colonel,” Kinch acknowledged.


“And give Marya any help she needs tomorrow night to get the Count on his way,” he continued. He saw each man nod his acknowledgement.


“Good luck, sir,” Newkirk said.


“Thanks,” Hogan replied. “With Klink along for the ride, I’ll need it!” He picked up his small bag. “All right, Schultz. I’m ready now.”


Schultz remained motionless.


“Carter,” Hogan said.


“Yeah, Colonel?” Carter replied.


“You can take your fingers out of his ears now,” Hogan said with a sigh.


* * * * *


Burkhalter felt like celebrating. He had just talked to Reichsmarschall Göring to inform him of Hogan’s acceptance. The Reichsmarschall was very pleased and had gushed about how happy the Führer would be when he heard. Burkhalter could care less if Hitler was happy … he was happy because he knew that Hogan would do his best not to deliver a plane. And with the bumbling fool Klink along, Hogan won’t have to do much to sabotage the effort.


He poured some schnapps into a glass and drank it down. He sighed and looked at the empty glass. Six month ago, he was in Berlin drinking glass after glass of this magic elixir in an attempt to forget about the war troubles. He drank out of anger, frustration, depression, hopelessness … and any other number of negative reasons.


Tonight, however … tonight will be vastly different. He would drink in celebration … celebration of the fact that he was able to convince Hogan to take a trip in which the American would hopefully break up a German espionage ring. He would drink in celebration of the fact that he was no longer in Berlin. He would drink in celebration of the fact that it had been weeks since he had been forced to listen to the shrill bleating of his wife.


“General, are you going to bring the champagne over?” came a voice from the settee.


“I’ll be right there, my dear,” he replied. He popped the cork on one of the bottles that was chilling nearby. As the bubbly liquid foamed out of the bottle, he heard giggles from the settee. He finished pouring the three glasses and began to carry them to the settee. He saw that both Eva and Greta were eager with anticipation. Yes, this is definitely a night of celebration – bubbly wine, two bubbly fräuleins and no wife to nag me. This is the perfect way to fight a war!


He held the glasses out to the women and sat between them. He was glad that both of them decided to accept his invitation tonight. Greta was wonderful the night before, but tonight would be double the fun!


* * * * *


“Do you know where you are taking him tomorrow night?” Kinch asked Marya as they looked over the chessboard between them. It was Kinch’s turn to man the radio, and they had been spending the time talking over a game of chess. He was not surprised to find that she played the game very well.


She studied to board in silence for a moment before moving her rook. “Da, we will go to a small farmhouse about 15 kilometers from here,” she replied. “My network will then get him traveling towards Russia.” She looked up at him. “Check,” she said with a smile.


Kinch studied her move – he was beginning to realize that he had been led into a trap. Seeing no other move, he moved his queen in position to block the rook. He knew it would be his last move. “Do you know what you’ll need from us?” he asked.


“If you could spare two men to escort us, that would be helpful,” she replied. She reached towards the chessboard.


“Let me say it before you do,” he said smiling. “Check mate.”


Marya laughed and leaned back from the table.


“I must say that you play chess with a very unique style,” he said.


“I try to do everything with a unique style!” she replied.


Kinch laughed. “I’ll send Carter and Newkirk out tonight,” he said. “I don’t think I can trust LeBeau with you!” He glanced at his watch. “Oops, I’d better get upstairs. I’ve got roll call in 5 minutes.”


Before Kinch went up for roll call, she took a pencil and scribbled a few things on his message pad. “What’s this?” he asked.


“Contact information in case you ever need to get in touch,” she said simply. “This is agent Michael in Berlin.”


Kinch remembered before when they were planning to rescue Vladimir from Major Hochstetter. “Michael is Major Kurt Wagner?” he asked.


Marya looked at him. “You have a good memory Sergeant,” she replied. “He is the primary agent on my team. He knows you are Papa Bear and will know how to get in touch with me.”


Kinch nodded and slipped the paper into his pocket.


Berlin, Abwehr Headquarters

March 20, 1944, 1130 hours


Major Hans Teppel stood beside the map in the briefing room, identifying the locations he was talking about with a long wooden pointer. “Our naval observers seeing some buildup and fortification in the Dover area here,” he said, moving the pointer in a circular motion around the area on the map. “And even up into this area here.”


“What is our degree of certainty,” Schellenberg asked curtly.


“We have confirmation from Arabel, General,” Teppel replied. “One of his men is a dockworker in the area.”


Schellenberg nodded. “Arabel’s information usually does confirm what we suspect,” he said. “And the degree of buildup?”


“Slow,” Teppel responded. “We are not seeing a quick, massive buildup.” The room was silent for a moment until Teppel continued. “We have also intercepted radio traffic indicating that this is the First United States Army Group being staffed.”


“It looks as if they are getting ready for their attempt at invading the French coast,” one of the assembled officers said. “Probably right there at Pas de Calais.”


“The evidence is pointing to that,” Teppel agreed.


“We just gather the information,” Schellenberg admonished. “The General Staff and military planners decide what it means.”


“There is one other bit of information we’ve intercepted, General,” Teppel said. “The Allies have placed the United States General Patton in charge of this new army group.”


“Patton?” Schellenberg asked in surprise. “What about Montgomery?”


“His Twenty-first Army Group is currently in this area,” Teppel replied, pointing to an area on the map. “And from what we’ve heard, their order of battle is somewhat secondary to Patton’s group.”


“Interesting,” Schellenberg mumbled. “We need to keep an eye on this First Army Group.”


Yawohl, General,” Teppel responded.


“Anything more on the British Fourth Army Group in the North?” Schellenberg asked.


Teppel shook his head. “Nothing since last week,” he replied.


“Excuse me, General,” another of the assembled officers interrupted. “We do have information that I believe is related.”


“Go ahead, Major Heiden,” Schellenberg said.


“We have reports that British diplomats have approached Sweden for permission to fly through their airspace,” Heiden said. “This could be significant in terms of an invasion through Norway.”


Schellenberg nodded. “I agree,” he said. “Keep looking into that. Anything more?”


Teppel shook his head. “That is all I have,” he said as he returned to his seat.


“General, I’ve heard that the Schutzstaffel is looking for Count von Waffenschmidt?” Heiden asked.


Teppel glanced at Major Wagner, who gave him a knowing look in return. Of all the people in the room, they alone knew what had happened, or rather what was supposed to happen, to the Count.


“Do not concern yourself with Count von Waffenschmidt,” Schellenberg replied tightly. “As a highly trained Schutzstaffel officer, he often performs undercover investigations.”


“I’ve heard it said that they think he has defected?” another officer asked.


Schellenberg gave the officer a murderous glare. “Schutzstaffel officers do not defect to the enemy,” he growled.


Something in the General’s voice told Teppel that the officer would probably be on his way to a colder climate by tomorrow morning.


“Now, is there anything else?” Schellenberg asked with hostility. He glared at each officer in the room, daring them to open their mouths. “You are dismissed,” he said.


Nobody spoke as they left the briefing room. Wagner and Teppel left the room together and turned down the hall towards their offices. “Care for some lunch, Kurt?” Teppel asked.


“That sounds fine, Hans,” Wagner replied. “And maybe a beer as well.”


* * * * *


They sat at their favorite table in the Brauhaus and gave their order to Gretchen, the afternoon barmaid. She quickly brought their beers and promised that their food would arrive shortly.


“It sounds as if Marya completed her mission,” Teppel said.


“It does, doesn’t it?” Wagner replied.


“Schellenberg didn’t seen too thrilled that the Count was missing,” Teppel commented.


Wagner chuckled. “Imagine his displeasure if von Waffenschmidt shows up in Moscow,” he said.


“You don’t think he would like that?” Teppel asked sarcastically. He sipped his beer. “Have you heard from Marya?”


Wagner shook his head. “Not recently,” he replied. “The last time I heard from her, she was traveling with von Waffenschmidt and was going to try to visit your friends in Hammelburg for some help.”


Teppel was surprised. “How was she going to make contact with the Count around?” he asked.


Wagner took a sip of his beer and smiled. “She’s very resourceful, in case you have forgotten,” he replied.


“How could I forget,” Teppel replied with a laugh. “What was her plan for the Count?”


Wagner shrugged. “Abduction, elimination - In that order. Basically, whatever was necessary,” he replied.


Teppel was silent. Elimination was not a pleasant thought, though he knew that in their line of work, that always had to be a possibility.


“She plans to be in Berlin as soon as she can, maybe you can ask her,” Wagner replied with a gleam in his eye.


Gretchen had returned with their food and Teppel took a large drink of beer. Oh brother. If Marya comes here and acts as she did the last time, Heidi will be furious!


Hammelburg, Hofbrau

March 20, 1944, 2000 hours


Marya sat alone at the table in the Hofbrau, sipping on a beer. Count von Waffenschmidt had been sent on his way early in the morning, and she had decided to take a small break before heading to Berlin to check in with Michael. She had had only a brief opportunity to brief him on the events of the past several months, and wanted to find out what had been going on while she was traipsing around the continent with von Waffenschmidt. In addition, she liked the fact that she could sit here in the Hofbrau and not be bothered by some of her many high-ranking acquaintances.


As she sat, she engaged in one of her favorite activities and studied the people gathered in the room. She recognized a couple of the guards from Stalag 13 who were sitting together at one of the tables. I’m surprised that rotund one, Schultz, isn’t here – especially since Klink is away with Hogan at the moment. She saw several local residents gathered together for their evening entertainment. Over in one corner table, she saw several local Gestapo men – Corporals, if she caught the insignia correctly – being loud and boisterous. As she studied their table, one of the men looked in her direction and caught her observing them. He smiled and raised his glass towards her in a toasting gesture.


She gave a half-hearted nod in return. She didn’t want to do anything to bolster the man’s courage – the last thing she wanted was to have to fend off a young, arrogant fool that has had too much to drink. Sure enough, much to her dismay, he got up from the table and began walking in her direction.


Abend, fräulein,” he said when he reached her table. “Can I buy you a drink?”


She held up her glass. “I seem to already have one,” she said with a measure of disdain.


“Another for when you are finished, perhaps?” he persisted.


“I drink slowly,” she replied.


He sat himself down in a chair across from her. “Then perhaps you would like some company while you drink,” he said.


Marya could tell that his patience was wearing thin, but so was hers. She knew that she would never be able to get rid of him without making a scene – which was the last thing she wanted to do right now. She smiled at him. “Since you are so insistent, please join me,” she said.


The Corporal smiled broadly, already thinking of the fun he was planning to have with her later.


Marya reached into her bag and removed a cigarette. She also subtly removed the small vial containing her supply of pills that would put the poor fool to sleep.  As she held her cigarette out for him to light, she unscrewed the cap and dropped a couple tablets into her lap. She blew a plume of smoke in his direction. “Danke, Captain,” she said.


“Corporal,” he corrected.


“Surely a man as strong and handsome as you must be an officer,” she cooed. Bozhe moi! The lies I have to tell in this job.


He beamed at her arrogantly. “Well, I am up for a promotion,” he said.


“And you’re sure to get it,” she said. The sad thing is that idiots like you are the ones that actually do get promoted. She made a show of looking over at the table where his friends still sat. She gestured to herself and then at the Corporal. “They must want you,” she said.


He turned to look. While his head was turned, she plopped the pills into his drink. “I don’t see anyone looking for me,” he said when he turned back around.


Marya shrugged. “Maybe it wasn’t important,” she said, raising her glass towards him in a toasting gesture and then taking a sip.


The Corporal picked up his glass and, after toasting Marya, drained the last of the liquid from the glass.


Marya smiled at him. “Maybe you should order two more,” she said. “I need to powder my nose.” She rose from her seat. “Now don’t you go away,” she said sweetly.


She began to walk away from the table, and before she had gone more than a few steps, she heard his head thump to the table. Sleep tight, loverboy.


She had reached the door and was about to leave when it opened and she found herself face to face with major Hochstetter. They looked at each other for a moment before he recognized her.


“You!” he exclaimed.


“Funny, I was about to say the same thing,” she said.


“Where do you think you are going?” he demanded.


“I am leaving, Major Hochstetter,” she said. “Or do you have a problem determining the obvious.”


Hochstetter let out a low rumble. “You are going nowhere,” he said. “Every time you show up, something bad happens.”


She smiled. “I could say the same thing about you, Major,” she said.


“Your smart remarks do not endear you to me, Marya,” he growled.


Her smile broadened. “Marvelous, then I shall have to continue them,” she said, and tried to walk past him.


He grabbed her arm and whirled her around. “You are going nowhere,” he said. “I have been looking for you ever since you ran off with that Russian rocket scientist. You are a spy, and now that I have you, you will be exposed!”


“Are you sure you can handle it, Major?” she asked. When he stared at her in confusion, she added, “How many times have you seen a woman expose herself before?”


Major Hochstetter seethed in anger. “You are under arrest,” he said. “Come with me.” He began to lead her out of the Hofbrau.


“And you are crazy!” she said with anger as she pulled her arm away.


Hochstetter pulled out his gun. “You will come with me willingly, or you will be shot,” he screeched. He was unaware that a small crowd had gathered around them and had been listening to the entire conversation.


Marya began laughing. “Major Hochstetter, I’m surprised at the lengths you have to go in order to have a woman expose herself to you,” she said.


The gathered crowd began to rumble with laughter as Hochstetter led Marya away.


Hammelburg, Gestapo Headquarters

March 20, 1944, 2230 hours


Marya fumbled through her handbag and removed her small metal cigarette case. Removing a cigarette from the case, she tapped it lightly against the metal. She met Hochstetter’s hostile glare with a wry smile as she placed the cigarette in her mouth and leaned forward expectantly for an offer of a light.


Hochstetter simply continued to glare at the Russian standing before him in his office.


Marya laughed. “Major, darling,” she cooed. “Didn’t your mother teach you how to treat a lady?” She waggled the cigarette in an obvious gesture.


Hochstetter snorted derisively as Captain Dorfmann stepped forward with the cigarette lighter from the desk.


Marya accepted the light and exhaled a long plume of smoke into Hochstetter’s face. She felt satisfaction as the Major’s upper lip began to twitch. “Danke, Captain,” she said to Dorfmann with a wide smile. “It’s a pity that you are not the one in charge. We could have a lot of fun interrogating each other.” She laughed as she saw the Captain begin to flush with embarrassment.


“Apparently you do not realize the seriousness of your situation,” Hochstetter said menacingly, trying to get control of the situation.


Marya looked back at Hochstetter and took a long pull from her cigarette. She blew the smoke into the air and said nothing.


“I think you know why you are being detained?” Hochstetter asked.


Marya knew very well why Hochstetter had brought her to Gestapo Headquarters. She also knew that he was correct in suspecting her of being a spy. But she had no intention of letting him know how right he was. He was a dangerous man – but not so much because he was cunning or intelligent. She had tangled with men more conniving than this, and had always managed to come out ahead. But Hochstetter was the type who was dangerous because he was unstable and insecure. She would have some fun with Major Hochstetter, but would have to be careful not to cross the line and send him over the edge. She smiled broadly and said “Because you find me irresistible, darling.” She looked over at Dorfmann and gave him a wink.


“I have no trouble resisting you,” Hochstetter said through clenched teeth.


Marya laughed heartily. “You are playing hard to get,” she said. “They all play hard to get in the beginning. It makes it so much more exciting.” She raised her eyebrows suggestively and took another drag on her cigarette. “I do enjoy a nice game of foreplay,” she added.


Fräulein,” Hochstetter started.


“Marya, darling,” Marya corrected.


Fräulein Marya,” Hochstetter started again.


“Marya,” she said. “I am just Marya.”


Hochstetter took a deep breath and clenched his teeth. “You are a just a spy,” he hissed.


Marya laughed again. “I am a White Russian,” she said glibly.


“You are a Russian spy,” Hochstetter countered.  “You are spying for the Communists against the Fatherland.”


Marya abruptly stopped laughing. “I am a White Russian, Major,” she said coldly. “My family was brutally murdered by the Bolsheviks. I escaped here to Germany long before your government came to power in this country and have been in constant fear of being tracked down by the same people who murdered my family.” She paused and glared at him. Everything she was saying was, of course, a lie. Her parents had been ardent Bolsheviks and indeed been brutally murdered … but it was a small band of White Russians who carried out the deed. It was that event that had led her into espionage, first infiltrating the White Russian movement and then moving to Germany to continue the ruse.


“Believe me, Major, I have no desire to help the people that drove me from my homeland.” She said, continuing to glare at Hochstetter, meeting his icy stare. After a long moment, Hochstetter looked away. Round one to me, she thought.


“I do not trust you,” Hochstetter grumbled. He looked back at Marya. “And I do not believe you. I know you are a spy.”


Marya suppressed a chuckle as she blew the smoke from her cigarette in the air. Then she looked over at Dorfmann and said, “The Captain believes me. Don’t you, Captain?”


Dorfmann was speechless. His mouth opened and closed a few times, but he was too dumbfounded to think of a reply.


“The Captain believes what I tell him to believe,” Hochstetter said loudly.


Marya turned back to Hochstetter and smiled warmly. “Of course he does, Hochstetter darling,” she cooed. “But if we are to make beautiful music together, we must trust each other.” She stepped forward and reached out to stroke his cheek.


Hochstetter’s reaction was not what Marya expected. He immediately reached up and grabbed her arm, squeezing it hard. “The only music I want to hear from you, Fräulein Marya, is the sound of your confession,” he growled.


Marya met his eyes defiantly. Hochstetter was hurting her arm, but she was determined not to let him know it.


“You do not realize who you are dealing with,” Hochstetter continued, “or how much trouble I can cause you.”


“And you do not know who you are dealing with, Major,” Marya hissed. “And how much trouble my friends can cause you.” She realized that he might see this as the hollow threat that it was. She did know people, on both sides of the war, that could make life difficult for him, but none of them were here at this moment … and none of them even knew she was here.


Hochstetter smiled derisively. “Oh, I know who you are,” he said softly, moving closer to her. “And I know what you are. And maybe it is time to let Captain Dorfmann here, and all of the other men in my headquarters, experience just what you are.”


The accusation stunned Marya. Being called a spy was one thing, but Hochstetter had just called her something worse – something much worse. The fact that Marya had had to accommodate many important men in the German hierarchy to perform her job did not mean that she had to tolerate hearing it from someone like Hochstetter. In an instant, she snapped. A combination of rage and deep shame flooded over her. She let out a low growl as she took her free hand and slapped the Major across the face as hard as she could, causing Hochstetter to release his grip on her other arm.


Hochstetter’s eyes burned with fire as he reached towards the red mark she had left on his face. She immediately knew that she had just crossed the line. She knew what he was going to do before he moved, but yet she still was unable to prepare herself.


Hochstetter took a step forward with a punch, hitting Marya hard in the middle of her abdomen. Marya felt the air rush from her lungs as she doubled up and fell to the floor. Her head pounded loudly with each beat of her heart as the blood made a rushing sound in her ears. She lay on the floor, unable to catch her breath – unable to move. Through the haze she could hear Hochstetter speak, but was not able to make out the words. Svetlana dear, she thought. I think you might have gone too far this time.


* * * * *


Captain Dorfmann stared in shock at Marya curled up on the floor. He looked over at the evil grin on Hochstetter’s face.


“It seems that our prisoner is having trouble remaining on her feet, Captain,” Hochstetter gloated. “I think you should help her into that chair.”


“But, Major,” Dorfmann said.


Hochstetter glared at Dorfmann, and the Captain decided that arguing with him now would not be beneficial. He reluctantly walked to Marya and lifted her as gently as he could into the chair near where she had fallen.


“I think the fall has disoriented her,” Hochstetter said. “We should make sure that she is able to stay in her seat.” While Dorfmann was busy with Marya, Hochstetter had walked to his desk and removed several lengths of rope from one of his drawers. He tossed the rope to Dorfmann. “Here, this should help her remain seated,” he said.


Dorfmann caught the rope and stared at Hochstetter in disbelief. “Major, she is in no condition to try to escape,” he said. “I think this is unnecessary.”


Hochstetter turned his fiery eyes toward the Captain. “And I think I can easily find another aide who will follow orders,” he threatened.


Dorfmann stared back at Hochstetter. He recognized the threat, and knew that the Major would have no trouble at all transferring him to a combat unit. Reluctantly he started working the rope around Marya’s doubled up figure in the chair. He paused when she gasped in pain after he tried to lean her back in the chair.


“The arms and legs as well,” Hochstetter ordered.


Dorfmann sighed and proceeded to tie her arms and legs to the chair. When he was finished, he retreated to the far corner of the room – well away from the Russian woman. He was sickened by the events that followed. This is insane, he thought. I think the Major has gone too far this time.


* * * * *


Marya finally started to get her breath back as Dorfmann was moving her to the chair. As the haze of the pain began to clear, she turned her focus to Major Hochstetter. He was standing behind his desk obviously taking joy from watching her being tied to the chair. Still feeling the pain from the blow to her midsection, she made no effort to resist the restraints.


Her mind raced. For years she had known that there was a possibility that she could be discovered. But Hochstetter hadn’t discovered anything – he simply just believed she was a spy. Not that it mattered much. She knew that Hochstetter could simply execute her without proof. But she also suspected that he didn’t want to do that – yet. She knew his type well – the type that found a perverse ecstasy in inflicting as much pain as possible to a person before their inevitable death.


No, she knew Hochstetter would not kill her right away. He wanted her confession first, and all of the information that would come with it. So it’s a battle of wills you are looking for, Major, she thought. If you think you are going to get any information from me, you are sadly mistaken. I do not intend to make this easy for you. Hochstetter seemed unaware that she was studying him watching her. Yes, you are enjoying this, aren’t you? This is better than sex for you, isn’t it? Now that she was able, she took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. This helped her clear the last of the fog from her head. Hochstetter wanted to play his little game, and she was determined to make things as difficult as possible for him. In the back of her mind, she was afraid of what he could do, but she knew that she would die before divulging any information that would jeopardize her network in Germany.


Dorfmann had finished tying the ropes and had retreated to the far end of the room. Marya looked at him – he seemed to be in a state of shock, with a scared look in his eyes. I don’t think the Captain was expecting this kind of behavior from Hochstetter – he looks as thought he’s about to be sick.


She made an over exaggerated attempt at a struggle before looking directly at Hochstetter. Well, Major, I’m not going to sit here and wait for you to make the first move. Let’s get this over with – either you will kill me, or you won’t – it’s as simple as that. And I’ll bet you don’t have the testicles to do it.


She opened her mouth to speak, but the only sound that emerged was a raspy croak. Taking a deep breath, she tried again. “Major, you are a kinky one,” she croaked. “Ropes and someone to watch.”


Hochstetter stepped from behind the desk. “I assure you, Fräulein Marya, that I have no desire for you,” he said.


Marya tried to laugh, but it was little more than a rasp. “You are such a charmer,” she said calmly. “I bet you say that to all the girls.” She watched as Hochstetter tensed. “Do you always have the Captain tie your women up for you?” she asked. “Afraid they will turn and run when they see you out of your uniform?”


Hochstetter’s face broke out in an evil smile. “I’ll have you know that I can have any woman I please,” he said with a humorless chuckle.


Marya snorted derisively. “It’s just too bad that you don’t please any women,” she replied.


Hochstetter let out a low growl and stepped closer to Marya. “Enough of these games,” he shouted. “You know what I want from you.”


Marya met his eye with her most innocent look. “But Major, I am just a whore,” she said. “You said as much before. What else could you want from me?” She batted her eyelashes a few times and smiled at him.


He frowned. “You are a spy,” he growled. “You know it and I know it. And I want to hear you admit it.”


“But darling, if you already know it, then it is not necessary for me to admit it,” she replied tartly.


Hochstetter lashed out and slapped her hard across the face. “What are you doing in this area?” he screamed. “Who are your contacts?”


“I was here staying at Stalag 13 until recently, as I told you before,” Marya responded. “I came here with Count von Waffenschmidt.”


“And where is he now?” Hochstetter demanded.


“I do not know,” she lied. “He disappeared and left me stranded.”


Hochstetter lashed out again, slapping her on the other side of her face. “I don’t believe you!” he yelled.


“I can call Stalag 13 and check her story, Major,” Dorfmann said from the corner.


Hochstetter wheeled around to face the Captain. “You will do nothing until I tell you to, Captain,” he seethed. “Is that clear?”


The Captain closed his mouth with a frown and nodded slowly. Marya could sense that the Captain was getting more and more upset with way he was being treated by Hochstetter.  I’ll have to keep that in mind … maybe I will get a chance to use that.


Hochstetter turned his attention back to Marya. “And now, you do as I tell you,” he snarled. “You are a Russian spy. Am I correct?”


Marya paused before answering. She wanted to extend this interrogation as long as possible, in the hopes that Hochstetter would soon tire of the game. She realized sadly that when he tired of the game, she would most likely be dead. He wants me to beg like a dog for my life, she thought. He’s not just satisfied in getting me out of the way - he wants to watch me be humiliated. Ha! You have a better chance of sprouting wings and flying away, Major! You can beat me, you can hurt me physically, but you will not break me. She smiled at him and said, “Yes, it is true …” She paused for the briefest of seconds, watching a wide grin begin to appear on Hochstetter’s face. At that moment, she continued, “That I am a Russian.”


Hochstetter leaned forward in anticipation. When Marya stopped talking, he frowned. “And?” he asked.


“And what?” she responded. “I am a Russian.”


“You are a Russian spy!” he screamed.


“So you keep saying,” Marya replied glibly. “In fact, you seem so convinced that I am a spy, that if I didn’t know otherwise, I would believe it myself.”


Hochstetter stared at Marya with his mouth agape – too astonished to speak. As Marya began laughing, she watched his face turn red.


Suddenly Hochstetter exploded. He lashed out and slammed his hand to the side of her head, snapping it violently to the side. Before she could recover, he hit her with the other hand. Marya’s neck snapped as he hit her again and again.


As sudden as the beating started, it stopped. Marya’s head pounded with pain and she tasted blood from where she had bit her tongue. Hochstetter stood before her panting – his eyes burning with rage. “You are a Russian spy,” he said slowly. “And I want to hear you admit it.”


Marya tried to look at Hochstetter and found that she lift her head. Every time her heart beat, it echoed like thunder in her brain. Flashes of lightning blurred her vision. She tried to speak. “I, I,” she sputtered softly. “I am,” she was able to get out before a choking cough shook through her – the blood from her bleeding nose was gathering in her throat. “I am a Russian sssssssss,” she managed to croak out, fading into a hiss.


Hochstetter leaned forward, eager to hear her admission. He lifted her head so that he could see her face as she signed her own death warrant.


ssssssssss,” Marya had continued hissing. As soon as her head was raised, she spit the blood that had gathered in her mouth and smiled as it hit the surprised Major in the face. He jumped backwards, wiping the mess from his eyes. When he looked back at her, she felt satisfaction to see the seething anger in his face. Then she surprised even herself. She began laughing again.


Hochstetter began to let out a primal growl. It started as a low rumble and quickly grew into a deafening roar. He lunched forward with his fist clenched, and hit Marya as hard as he could. Marya let out a gasp as a sharp pain shot through her ribcage. The chair flew backwards and Marya felt herself falling. As her head smacked the floor, her vision exploded in a flash of whiteness. She could still hear Hochstetter screaming as her consciousness faded. This is it. It’s been a fun ride.


Stalag 13

March 21, 1944, 0045 hours


Kinch was startled awake by the alert of the incoming call. He fumbled with the headset as he plugged into the tapped line to listen. He could tell immediately that Schultz was also startled awake by the call.

Hallo, Stalag 13,” Schultz said sleepily. “This is Sergeant Schultz speaking.”


Hallo. This is Major Hochstetter,” Hochstetter said sharply.


“Major Hoch …” Schultz stammered. “Hallo, Stalag 13,” he said, sounding more awake. “This is Sergeant Schultz speaking.”


“You said that already,” Hochstetter grumbled. “Get me Colonel Klink, Sergeant.”


“I’m sorry, Major,” Schultz said. “Colonel Klink is away from camp with General Burkhalter. Captain Gruber is in charge while he is gone.”


“Fine, get me Captain Gruber then,” Hochstetter ordered.


“Of course, Major,” Schultz said. “I will get him right away.” There was a clunk as Schultz dropped the phone handset on the table. After a split second, he was back on the line. “Do not go away, Major. I will be right back.” Another clunk as Schultz went to get the Captain.


“Idiot,” Hochstetter mumbled.


Kinch grinned. Hochstetter had no great love for Schultz. Come to think of it, Hochstetter has no great love for anybody. What does Hochstetter want? Kinch began to think of what could have happened to cause Hochstetter to call at this hour.


After a couple minutes, Gruber got on the line. “Hallo Major Hochstetter,” Gruber said. “What can I do for you?”


“I have arrested the Russian woman Marya for espionage,” Hochstetter said. “I have already begun my interrogation.”


Kinch let out an involuntary gasp. He quickly covered the mouthpiece when he remembered that he could be heard on the line.


Hallo?” Hochstetter asked.


“I am still here, Major,” Gruber said calmly.


“There must be static on the line,” Hochstetter commented.


“I was not aware that Marya was a spy, Major,” Gruber remarked, getting the conversation back on subject.


“She is, and I am going to prove it,” Hochstetter said.


Kinch’s mind was racing. He’s got Marya and has started questioning her. From the sound of it, he doesn’t have any proof of anything yet. This is a good thing.


“Why exactly are you calling Stalag 13, Major?” Gruber asked. Kinch could tell that the Captain wanted nothing better than to be able to get back to bed.


“She has told us a story of how she was abandoned at Stalag 13 by Count von Waffenschmidt,” Hochstetter said. “I am calling so that you can tell me it is a lie.”


“I hate to disappoint you, Major,” Gruber said. “But that is the truth.”


“What?” Hochstetter asked in disbelief.


“She did arrive in camp with Count von Waffenschmidt and left the other day by herself,” Gruber explained. “The Count obviously left before her on his own.”


“That can’t be,” Hochstetter mumbled.


“I can have Colonel Klink call you when he gets back to camp,” Gruber offered.


“The last thing in the world I want is to talk to that fool,” Hochstetter barked. “I’ll get the information I am looking for without any help. Heil Hitler!”


Gruber didn’t have a chance to respond before Kinch heard the click from Hochstetter ending the call. “Schwein,” Gruber grumbled as he hung up his handset.


Kinch sat there dumbfounded. Hochstetter had Marya and had already begun his interrogation. He knew what that meant – and it wasn’t a pretty thought. She obviously hadn’t said anything yet … but Kinch knew that it was only a matter of time before anybody would crack under Hochstetter’s interrogations.


We’ve got to do something to get her out of there. He dropped the headset on the table and hurried up to tell the rest of the men.


* * * * *


Hochstetter hung up the phone. So she was telling the truth about Count von Waffenschmidt. I wonder where he went off to … and why was the Russian woman traveling with him?


Hochstetter had a lot of questions, but not a lot of answers. An evil smile spread across his face. It will be fun trying to get the answers he wanted … and he knew that with his techniques, he would get the answers he wanted to hear – whether they were true or not.


* * * * *


Kinch scrambled up the ladder and into the darkened barracks. “Hey guys, wake up,” he said as he climbed over the bunk rail.


“What is it, Kinch?” LeBeau asked sleepily as he tumbled from his bunk.


“Problems … Big problems,” Kinch replied. “Carter, watch the door.”


Carter tumbled out of his bunk and was about to turn on the light.


“And leave the lights off,” Kinch said. “We don’t want Schultz to get nosey.”


“Blimey, Kinch,” Newkirk exclaimed as he sat up in us upper bunk. “Something happen to the Colonel?”


“No,” Kinch replied. “It’s Marya.”


“What’s wrong with Marya?” LeBeau asked quickly.


“Hochstetter’s got her,” Kinch responded.


“Are you sure?” Baker asked.


“I just hear Hochstetter tell Gruber,” Kinch replied. “He wanted confirmation of her story about being left here by Count von Waffenschmidt.” There was a dramatic pause before Kinch added, “He said he’s already begun his interrogation.”


“We’ve got to do something!” LeBeau gasped. The Frenchman jumped up and began heading towards the tunnel.


“Hold your horses, LeBeau,” Baker said as he grabbed LeBeau’s arm to stop him. “Let’s not be too hasty.”


“Baker’s right,” Kinch said. “We can’t just barge in there without thinking or else we’ll be prisoners as well.”


“But we can’t just sit her and let Hochstetter torture her!” LeBeau exclaimed.


“We won’t, LeBeau,” Kinch promised. “But with the Colonel gone, we’re going to need help.”


“If we’re going to take on Hochstetter and the Gestapo, we’ll need a bloody battalion of help,” Newkirk quipped.


“Before she left, Marya told me how to get in touch with her man in Berlin if we ever needed to,” Kinch said. “And I think we need to.”


“What are we waiting for, Kinch,” LeBeau said excitedly. “Let’s contact him now.”


“Right, let’s go,” Kinch said, heading for the tunnel entrance.


* * * * *


With the rest of the men gathered around, Kinch began tapping on the telegraph key. “Papa Bear calling Michael,” he tapped out. “This is Papa Bear calling Michael. Come in Michael. Over”


He stopped and listened to the headset while the rest of the men waited impatiently. LeBeau paced across the open area like a caged animal. In thirty seconds he repeated the broadcast.


It was after the fourth attempt that the response came. “Papa Bear, this is Michael. Go ahead.”


Kinch tapped in the proper acknowledgement code and waited for the correct response.


When all the preliminaries were out of the way, Kinch began tapping out the message. “Marya being held by Hammelburg Gestapo. Major Hochstetter has begun interrogation. Need help to rescue. Over.”


Almost immediately, Kinch received a response. “Please repeat.”


Kinch typed the message again, and after a long pause, the response came in. He transcribed the message on his pad as he listened. He sent acknowledgement that he received the message and signed off.


“Well, what did he say?” LeBeau asked impatiently as Kinch removed his headset.


Kinch read the message. “Message understood. Please stand ready. Someone will contact you within twenty-four hours. Please advise if situation changes. Over.”


“That’s it?” LeBeau fumed. “We just sit here and wait while Marya is being tortured?”


“LeBeau, calm down,” Baker said reassuringly.


“That’s right, mate,” Newkirk added. “These are Marya’s people, and they want her out as much as you do.”


“So?” LeBeau countered. “A lot can happen in twenty-four hours!”


“Louis, we need to do what Michael asks,” Kinch said. “He is Major Kurt Wagner from the Abwehr, and Marya said he is her primary agent. He wouldn’t tell us to wait if he didn’t think it was the right thing.”


“Kinch is right, LeBeau,” Carter added.


LeBeau looked at the faces of his friends. After a moment, he let out a big sigh. “I guess you’re right,” he said. “I just don’t like to think of what she’s going through.”


“None of us do, my friend,” Baker said, patting the Frenchman on the back.


* * * * *


Wagner transcribed the message coming through from Papa Bear. With each letter he wrote, he became more and more concerned.


“Please repeat,” he tapped out on his telegraph key, not believing the message he wrote. When the message was repeated, word for word, he just stared at the paper.


Marya being held by Hammelburg Gestapo. Major Hochstetter has begun interrogation. Need help to rescue. Over.


Marya captured by the Gestapo. Bozhe moi! This is not good. We’ve got to get her out of there. I need to get in touch with Freitag in Leipzig.


He tapped out a response to Papa Bear and signed off. He glanced at the clock … he would be able to contact Jack – Major Josef Freitag – in about fifteen minutes. Between them, they should be able to figure something out.


He paced while he thought of all of the possibilities. Major Hochstetter was holding her and he had already started trying to get information from her. He knew that Marya was strong, and could hold out during all but the most brutal torture. But he didn’t want her to be held long enough for any harm to come to her.


He glanced at the clock again – it was time. He went to the radio and tried to contact Jack.


* * * * *


Vladimir sipped his tea slowly. He had been staying with Major Josef Freitag since he had left Rastenburg. His new assignment was to work with the Major, and it had been intimidating at first. He looked at the black SS uniform hanging from a hook on the wall. It had been very strange for him to have to put on that uniform for the first time.


Suddenly the telegraph on the table began clattering. “Major, a message coming in,” he said to Freitag.


Freitag hurried over to the table and put on the headset. Vladimir watched as he tapped the key and transcribed the incoming message. Freitag’s face grew tight as he scribbled on the pad, and Vladimir knew it was not good news. Freitag tapped out a return message and began a conversation with the person on the other end. After several minutes, he signed off.


“Problem?” he asked as Freitag removed the headset.


Da, a big one,” Freitag replied. “That was Michael. He received a communication from Papa Bear.”


“Papa Bear?” Vladimir’s ears perked up. “That’s Colonel Hogan … my old group.”


Freitag nodded. “Da, and he says that Major Hochstetter is holding Marya in Hammelburg,” he said tightly. “They are requesting help.”


Vladimir gasped. “If Colonel Hogan is asking for help, it must be bad,” he said.


“That’s why we are going to Hammelburg, my friend,” Freitag replied.


“We?” Vladimir asked.


“Of course,” Freitag said. “I can get Marya away from Hochstetter, but you know the area. And you also will know the best way to get in touch with Papa Bear. I’ll want him to help.”


“We will be going to Stalag 13?” Vladimir asked.


“If that is the best way,” Freitag replied.


Vladimir thought for a few seconds. “If we can arrange to stay overnight in Stalag 13, I can get in touch with Colonel Hogan,” he said. He was visualizing the vast system of tunnels that lead to all of the buildings. If they could get into the guest quarters, they would be able to contact Hogan easily.


“Good,” Freitag said. “Get into uniform. I’ll make a few calls and we’ll get underway within the hour. There is no time to waste.”


In less than an hour, Vladimir was behind the wheel of a staff car with Major Freitag, speeding across Germany towards Stalag 13. I’m going home … again.


Hammelburg, Gestapo Headquarters

March 21, 1944, 0500 hours


Smoke rising from a cigarette … Red marks on Hochstetter’s face … Punch in the stomach … Can’t breathe … Laughter … Screaming … Blows to the head … Bleeding … Growling … Pain … Throbbing … Falling … Nothing to hold on to … Blinding flash.


Marya woke with a start with sweat beading on her brow. Her head felt heavy and throbbed rhythmically with every beat of her heart. Gestapo Headquarters. Hammelburg. The room was dark, but light from the hallway crept in through the cracks around the door. She tried to sit up and gasped as a sharp pain shot through her left side. My head is throbbing. My side hurts. My lip feels like it has taken over my entire face. Congratulations, Major Hochstetter. You managed to beat up a woman. You’ll try for a child next?


One by one she tried to move her arms and legs. Everything was fine until she tried to lift her left arm. The pain shot through her like a bolt of lightning. I guess I’d better not do that again. She took a breath. The pain was there, but not as sharp. I know it’s my ribs, but what I don’t know is if they are broken or merely bruised. She found the choice ironic. Does it really matter which?


She lay still, thinking about her situation. Michael knew that she would head for Berlin after sending von Waffenschmidt on his way. By now, he would have heard from the agents along the travel route, but he would not know that she had decided to stay in Hammelburg one extra day before starting her trip. He wouldn’t expect her for another day or two – and by that time, it would be too late for her.


If Hochstetter were to report my arrest to his superiors, Jack would definitely catch wind of it. But she knew that Hochstetter was the type of person who was looking for some way to advance. He wouldn’t report anything to his superiors until he got the answers he wanted … He wouldn’t want to share the credit.


So is this where it all ends? Am I to be done in by a short, egotistical, hot-tempered twit with the I.Q. of a rock? Her odds did not look good.


She heard a click at the door and had to turn her head away from the bright light that streamed through the open doorway.


Fräulein Marya,” a voice said. She recognized the voice – it was Captain Dorfmann. “I have brought you some food.”


“Take it away,” she croaked. “I will not eat.”


“You must eat,” he insisted. “You need to keep up your strength.”


“Why, so Hochstetter can beat me even longer?” she asked. Her voice was barely above a whisper.


Dorfmann was silent for a long while. “Not all of us are like Hochstetter,” he said finally.


She turned her head to look at the Captain. He looked back at her sympathetically. “Unfortunately for me, there is at least one,” she said.


“I’m sorry,” he said softly, and set the food on the floor by the door.


So am I, she thought as he closed the door of the cell.


* * * * *


Schultz was nervous as he shut the door to the barracks. He had seen many signs already that day to make him think that something was going on with the prisoners. And when something was going on with the prisoners, he had to be extra careful. It wasn't that some of Colonel Hogan’s schemes came very close to getting him sent to the Eastern Front – he knew that the Colonel would do his best to make sure he didn’t. It was just harder for him to keep his long-time promise to the Colonel to see nothing, and know nothing that he and his men were up to. The way he figured it, if he really didn’t know anything, he wouldn’t have to lie about it afterwards.


That morning at roll call he had noticed a tension among the prisoners. This always made him nervous because it meant that they were up to something. Then the Kommandant and Hogan returned to camp and Schultz escorted Hogan back to his barracks. The men were happy to see him, but Schultz could tell that they were very anxious to tell him something. Hogan, on the other hand, was in a good mood and wanted to tell how he and Klink had stolen the plane and flew it back almost to Stalag 13.


Hogan had just mentioned how the plane that they had stolen really had a Messerschmitt engine in it, and would be useless to the Germans, when Schultz had heard a metallic clinking. He had heard that noise before, and it was usually followed by a sudden obvious desire for the prisoners to force him out of the barracks.


The same thing had happened just now. I know they are up to something – and I am glad that I don’t know what it is.


* * * * *


As soon as Schultz closed the door, Baker rushed to the bunk and tapped the trigger mechanism to open the hatch. As soon as the ladder was down, Kinch climbed up.


“Colonel, I’m glad you are back,” he said.


“What’s the problem, fellas?” Hogan asked. “I’ve been getting the feeling that something is wrong around here.”


“Not here, sir,” Newkirk said. “In town.”


“What’s going on in town?” Hogan asked suspiciously.


The rest of the men looked at Kinch, so Hogan did as well.


“Um, Colonel, we, I mean, I intercepted a call from Major Hochstetter last night,” he said.


“Hochstetter?” Hogan asked. “Has he been snooping around here while I was gone?”


“He’s arrested Marya and is holding her in Hammelburg!” LeBeau exclaimed.


“Hochstetter has Marya?” Hogan asked disbelievingly. “Are you sure?”


Kinch nodded. “Yes, sir,” he said. “Hochstetter was calling for Klink to confirm that Marya had been here with Count von Waffenschmidt and told Captain Gruber that he had arrested her and had begun interrogating her.”


Interrogation? That usually means various ways of inflicting pain on people in order to get them to confess to anything you want them to. “We’ve got to think of a way to get her out of there.” Hogan said. In his mind, he was already running over some of the ways they might be able to do it. “Carter, how would you like to play General Reifschneider again?”


“You think Hochstetter will go for it?” Carter asked.


“It’s worth a shot,” Hogan replied.


“With shot being the key word,” Newkirk muttered.


“Colonel Hogan, I will go,” LeBeau said with determination.


“You?” Newkirk laughed. “You’re too short!”


“What’s your suggestion – that we sit here and let Hochstetter do whatever he wants?” LeBeau shot back angrily.


“All right, hold it down!” Hogan commanded. “We’re not going to let Hochstetter get away with this.”


“Colonel, I’ve already talked to one of Marya’s people,” Kinch said, interrupting before things carried on any longer.


“Marya’s people?” Hogan asked. “Who?”


“Before she left, she told me how to get in touch with Michael, her Berlin contact, in case we ever needed her for something,” Kinch explained. “Since we didn’t know when you would return, we decided that it was best to get in touch with him.”


Hogan was silent for a moment. He was not used to needing outside help, but in this case, it made sense to have someone from Marya’s team involved. “Good job, guys,” said Hogan. “We can use the help. Also, her people have more to lose if she happens to talk, and they deserve a warning that it might happen. What did Michael say?”


“He said that someone will contact us later today,” Kinch replied.


“That’s it?” Hogan asked. “Did he say who would be contacting us? Or when? Or what he wanted us to do?”


“No, sir,” Kinch replied. “He just said someone will be in contact later.”


“Damn!” Hogan swore. “Every minute Marya is in Gestapo Headquarters means another minute Hochstetter has to harm her.”


Stalag 13

March 21, 1944, 1500 hours


Hogan sat at the table in the barracks drinking a cup of coffee. It had been a very frustrating day since he had arrived back to Stalag 13 to find that Hochstetter had arrested Marya. He felt helpless just sitting in camp doing nothing to rescue her. He hated to think of what Hochstetter might be doing to her. Suddenly the door burst open.


“Gestapo car just entered camp, Colonel,” LeBeau said breathlessly. “Two men – an officer and a guard.”


“Hochstetter?” Hogan asked.


LeBeau shook his head. “Not Hochstetter,” he said. “I couldn’t get a good look. I don’t recognize him.”


Hogan sat in silent contemplation.


“Marya knows our whole setup,” Baker commented. “If she talked…”


“She would never do that!” LeBeau exclaimed.


“All right, hold it down!” Hogan ordered. “Let’s just go listen in and see what’s happening. If she did talk, this could be bad. We need to be ready for anything.”


They scrambled into Hogan’s office and waited while Baker set up the coffee pot.


“Major Freitag, it’s an honor to have you visit Stalag 13,” they heard Klink saying.


Danke, Colonel Klink,” Freitag replied.


“I must admit that it is a surprise to have the Gestapo visit our Luft Stalag,” Klink said. “A pleasant surprise,” he added quickly.


“I have some business in town,” Freitag said.


“Oh, are you here to see Major Hochstetter?” Klink asked.


“I am here on Gestapo business, Colonel,” Freitag replied tightly. “And since you don’t seem to be wearing a Gestapo uniform …”


“You are quite correct, Major Freitag,” Klink groveled. “You have your business and I have mine.”


“What I was wondering is if you had accommodations for my driver and me while I am in town,” Freitag said.


“Oh, I don’t know, Major,” Klink said hesitantly. “We’re a prisoner of war camp and don’t really have the room …”


“Oh, that is too bad,” said Freitag in a patronizing tone. “I guess I will just have to inform General Schlesinger that I could not find accommodations ...”


“There’s no need for that, Major Freitag,” Klink replied quickly. “I think the guest quarters is empty – you can use it as long as you like.”


* * * * *


“Just like Klink to cave in like that,” Newkirk commented.


“Who’s General Schlesinger?” Carter asked.


Hogan had been listening to the conversation quietly. He knew who General Schlesinger was … Hochstetter’s boss. Why would General Schlesinger send someone here into this area? Unless … Now he rose and put on his hat. “Keep listening, fellas,” he said.


“Where are you going, Colonel?” Kinch asked.


“To Klink’s office,” he replied. “I want to get a read on this Major. If it sounds like we’ve been sold out, you guys get moving.”


“But what about you?” Carter asked.


“I’ll be fine,” Hogan replied. “Just keep listening in.”


He left the barracks and hurried to Klink’s office as fast as he could.


* * * * *


Hogan paused briefly to give Helga his normal greeting of a kiss on the forehead before bursting into Klink’s office. He stopped dead in his tracks. Major Freitag was sitting across from Klink’s desk and his driver was standing at attention against the far wall. It was the driver that made Hogan stop.


Vladimir! It was all he could do to stop himself from walking over to the man and greeting him. Vladimir stared expressionlessly back at the American, but Hogan saw a very small nod towards Major Freitag. So this is the contact from Marya’s group. Kinch said there would be someone, but he didn’t say it would be so overt.


“Dismissed, Colonel Hogan,” Klink said irritably. “I am busy and don’t wish to be disturbed.”


“Kommandant, aren’t you going to introduce me to your guest?” Hogan said flippantly as he entered the room and closed the door. He studied Major Freitag as he sat in the chair. I have to admit, he’s playing the part very well – he has that air of arrogance that all the Gestapo nutcases have.


“Colonel Hogan, it is none of your business,” Klink replied.


Hogan ignored Klink and walked over to the Major. “Colonel Robert Hogan,” he said. “I’m the senior POW officer.”


“Hogaaaaaan,” Klink groaned.


“Major Josef Freitag,” Freitag replied, raising his eyebrows slightly. “Aide to General Schlesinger.”


“Are you going to be here long?” Hogan continued. “Kommandant Klink didn’t tell me you were coming.”


“Hogan!” Klink said sharply.


“It’s not often that we get important visitors here,” Hogan said.


“Colonel Hogan!” Klink screamed.


“What is it, Kommandant?” Hogan asked.


“You are interrupting!” Klink exclaimed. “Now get out!”


“I was only going to suggest that LeBeau cook you and your guest dinner tonight,” Hogan said.


Klink immediately began beaming. “Oh yes, Major, we have a French prisoner, Corporal LeBeau, who cooks marvelous meals. You must join me for dinner.”


Hogan smiled. Bingo! I knew that would get Klink to shut up!


“I’m sorry, Colonel,” Freitag said. “But I have business to attend to in town tonight and will not have time to dine with you.”


This guy really is good. “I’ll have LeBeau send something to the guest quarters,” Hogan prompted. “You are staying in the guest quarters, aren’t you?”


“Hogan, where he is staying is none of your business,” Klink said.


“I have to know where to send dinner, Kommandant” Hogan complained.


“Colonel Hogan, your offer is most appreciated,” Freitag said. “Maybe some other time.”


Hogan shrugged as if it didn’t matter much to him.


“Colonel Klink, if you could show me to your guest quarters now,” Freitag said, as he gave a small glance towards Hogan. “I have had a long drive and wish to rest before my business in town.”


It didn’t take much for him to pick up on my clue. I wonder if Vladimir briefed him on our operations here before they arrived. “Well, I must be going,” said Hogan.


“So soon?” Klink commented sarcastically.


“I know, it never seems like we have enough time to visit, Kommandant,” Hogan quipped.


“Hogan, diiiiiis-missssed!” Klink screamed.


* * * * *


Hogan burst into the barracks.


“They are on their way to the guest quarters,” Baker said.


“Excellent,” commented Hogan. “Everybody stay alert. I think this is the contact we’ve been waiting for.”


“What?” Newkirk gasped. “The Gestapo is our contact?”


“Kinch, come with me,” Hogan said, ignoring the questions and heading for the tunnel entrance.


“Where?” Kinch asked.


“We’re going to the guest quarters,” Hogan said. “The rest of you stay ready.”


* * * * *


Kinch waited at the tunnel entrance to the guest quarters with Hogan. He wasn't sure what they were waiting on, or why they were going to burst in on a Gestapo Major. He also wasn't sure why Hogan felt that this was the contact from Marya’s group. Surely they wouldn’t be as obvious as to come into camp impersonating the Gestapo!


Suddenly the entrance opened, startling Kinch. Hogan began climbing up. “Come on, Kinch,” he said.


Kinch popped his head through the opening, not sure what he would find … and found himself staring at Vladimir wearing a Gestapo Corporal’s uniform. “Sam!” he exclaimed.


Privyet, Ivan,” Vladimir replied. “It is good to see you again.”


“Sam, how are you? What are you doing here?” Kinch asked.


“We will have time for pleasantries later,” Freitag said calmly. “Right now we have business to attend to.”


“Right,” Hogan agreed. “I have to say that this disguise is unexpected, but it is the best way of getting into the Hammelburg headquarters.”


“Colonel, I assure you, this is no disguise,” Freitag replied. “I am the Aide to General Schlesinger.”


Hogan’s mouth opened in surprise. “You’re joking,” he said.


“No, Colonel Hogan,” Freitag said. “I am a real Schutzstaffel Major.”


Hogan looked at Vladimir for confirmation.


“It is true, Colonel Hogan,” Vladimir said.


“Well I’ll be,” Kinch commented softly. “Talk about highly placed contacts.”


“Colonel, I can deal with Hochstetter,” Freitag said. “But I would prefer to have him away from headquarters when I take Marya away. Can you arrange that?”


Hogan thought for a moment. “I think we should be able to arrange that,” Hogan said. “But if she disappears when he is out, he will make life miserable around here. He already thinks I am responsible for everything that happens in this part of Germany.”


“From what I understand, Colonel, you are,” Freitag replied casually, motioning towards Vladimir. “I plan to confront Hochstetter personally. But I want to get Marya away from him before I do. It will make my threats more … meaningful.”


Hogan nodded thoughtfully. “I understand,” he said. “Do you need any of us to go along with you?”


Freitag thought for a moment. “If possible, I would like to have one person,” he replied. “We won’t need a show of force, but I would like to have another officer who will remain in the car while I am inside the building.”


“I think we can handle that,” Hogan replied. “You have it planned out already?”


“I plan to simply go to Gestapo Headquarters in Hammelburg and demand that she be released to me,” Freitag replied with a smile. “They will do so.”


“Just like that?” Hogan asked disbelievingly.


“Just like that,” Freitag confirmed. “As I mentioned, I am the Aide to General Schlesinger – Hochstetter’s superior. Marya just happens to be a favorite of the General. He would not like to hear that the Major has been detaining his Marya.”


Hogan grinned. “I see,” he said. “And if Marya is already in your possession when you confront Hochstetter, he’ll be in no position to deny that he is holding her.”


“Exactly,” Freitag said. “Can you arrange to have Hochstetter leave Headquarters at 2100 hours tonight?”


“I’m sure we can arrange for something,” Hogan said.


“Sabotage, Colonel?” Kinch asked.


Hogan shook his head. “I was thinking of something a little bigger,” Hogan said. “Hochstetter may send his own Aide to investigate a normal sabotage attempt – for some reason, we have so many in this area - but if he heard about a meeting of all of the local Underground leaders, he would be sure to be on hand for that himself.”


“An anonymous tip from Frau Newkirkberger,” Kinch stated.


Hogan smiled as he nodded. “I believe we have your diversion, Major,” he said.


“Good,” Freitag replied. “Vladimir informs me that you have medics in your outfit.”


Hogan nodded. “We have two,” he said. “Sergeant John DeSoto and Sergeant Roy Gage. They’re very good. How bad do you expect her to be hurt?”


“I don’t know,” Freitag replied. “But I want to be prepared. Vladimir and your man will bring Marya back to camp once we can get her released. I will stay at Gestapo Headquarters to talk to Hochstetter when he returns. Marya will need to be looked at immediately.”


“They’ll be ready,” Hogan promised. “How will you get back to camp?”


For the first time, Hogan saw Freitag smile. “If I am significantly annoyed with the Major, I will simply take his car,” he replied.


“You should anyway,” Hogan laughed. “But maybe Vladimir should come back for you instead.”


Stalag 13

March 21, 1944, 1500 hours


Hogan sat at the table in the barracks drinking a cup of coffee. It had been a very frustrating day since he had arrived back to Stalag 13 to find that Hochstetter had arrested Marya. He felt helpless just sitting in camp doing nothing to rescue her. He hated to think of what Hochstetter might be doing to her. Suddenly the door burst open.


“Gestapo car just entered camp, Colonel,” LeBeau said breathlessly. “Two men – an officer and a guard.”


“Hochstetter?” Hogan asked.


LeBeau shook his head. “Not Hochstetter,” he said. “I couldn’t get a good look. I don’t recognize him.”


Hogan sat in silent contemplation.


“Marya knows our whole setup,” Baker commented. “If she talked…”


“She would never do that!” LeBeau exclaimed.


“All right, hold it down!” Hogan ordered. “Let’s just go listen in and see what’s happening. If she did talk, this could be bad. We need to be ready for anything.”


They scrambled into Hogan’s office and waited while Baker set up the coffee pot.


“Major Freitag, it’s an honor to have you visit Stalag 13,” they heard Klink saying.


Danke, Colonel Klink,” Freitag replied.


“I must admit that it is a surprise to have the Gestapo visit our Luft Stalag,” Klink said. “A pleasant surprise,” he added quickly.


“I have some business in town,” Freitag said.


“Oh, are you here to see Major Hochstetter?” Klink asked.


“I am here on Gestapo business, Colonel,” Freitag replied tightly. “And since you don’t seem to be wearing a Gestapo uniform …”


“You are quite correct, Major Freitag,” Klink groveled. “You have your business and I have mine.”


“What I was wondering is if you had accommodations for my driver and me while I am in town,” Freitag said.


“Oh, I don’t know, Major,” Klink said hesitantly. “We’re a prisoner of war camp and don’t really have the room …”


“Oh, that is too bad,” said Freitag in a patronizing tone. “I guess I will just have to inform General Schlesinger that I could not find accommodations ...”


“There’s no need for that, Major Freitag,” Klink replied quickly. “I think the guest quarters is empty – you can use it as long as you like.”


* * * * *


“Just like Klink to cave in like that,” Newkirk commented.


“Who’s General Schlesinger?” Carter asked.


Hogan had been listening to the conversation quietly. He knew who General Schlesinger was … Hochstetter’s boss. Why would General Schlesinger send someone here into this area? Unless … Now he rose and put on his hat. “Keep listening, fellas,” he said.


“Where are you going, Colonel?” Kinch asked.


“To Klink’s office,” he replied. “I want to get a read on this Major. If it sounds like we’ve been sold out, you guys get moving.”


“But what about you?” Carter asked.


“I’ll be fine,” Hogan replied. “Just keep listening in.”


He left the barracks and hurried to Klink’s office as fast as he could.


* * * * *


Hogan paused briefly to give Helga his normal greeting of a kiss on the forehead before bursting into Klink’s office. He stopped dead in his tracks. Major Freitag was sitting across from Klink’s desk and his driver was standing at attention against the far wall. It was the driver that made Hogan stop.


Vladimir! It was all he could do to stop himself from walking over to the man and greeting him. Vladimir stared expressionlessly back at the American, but Hogan saw a very small nod towards Major Freitag. So this is the contact from Marya’s group. Kinch said there would be someone, but he didn’t say it would be so overt.


“Dismissed, Colonel Hogan,” Klink said irritably. “I am busy and don’t wish to be disturbed.”


“Kommandant, aren’t you going to introduce me to your guest?” Hogan said flippantly as he entered the room and closed the door. He studied Major Freitag as he sat in the chair. I have to admit, he’s playing the part very well – he has that air of arrogance that all the Gestapo nutcases have.


“Colonel Hogan, it is none of your business,” Klink replied.


Hogan ignored Klink and walked over to the Major. “Colonel Robert Hogan,” he said. “I’m the senior POW officer.”


“Hogaaaaaan,” Klink groaned.


“Major Josef Freitag,” Freitag replied, raising his eyebrows slightly. “Aide to General Schlesinger.”


“Are you going to be here long?” Hogan continued. “Kommandant Klink didn’t tell me you were coming.”


“Hogan!” Klink said sharply.


“It’s not often that we get important visitors here,” Hogan said.


“Colonel Hogan!” Klink screamed.


“What is it, Kommandant?” Hogan asked.


“You are interrupting!” Klink exclaimed. “Now get out!”


“I was only going to suggest that LeBeau cook you and your guest dinner tonight,” Hogan said.


Klink immediately began beaming. “Oh yes, Major, we have a French prisoner, Corporal LeBeau, who cooks marvelous meals. You must join me for dinner.”


Hogan smiled. Bingo! I knew that would get Klink to shut up!


“I’m sorry, Colonel,” Freitag said. “But I have business to attend to in town tonight and will not have time to dine with you.”


This guy really is good. “I’ll have LeBeau send something to the guest quarters,” Hogan prompted. “You are staying in the guest quarters, aren’t you?”


“Hogan, where he is staying is none of your business,” Klink said.


“I have to know where to send dinner, Kommandant” Hogan complained.


“Colonel Hogan, your offer is most appreciated,” Freitag said. “Maybe some other time.”


Hogan shrugged as if it didn’t matter much to him.


“Colonel Klink, if you could show me to your guest quarters now,” Freitag said, as he gave a small glance towards Hogan. “I have had a long drive and wish to rest before my business in town.”


It didn’t take much for him to pick up on my clue. I wonder if Vladimir briefed him on our operations here before they arrived. “Well, I must be going,” said Hogan.


“So soon?” Klink commented sarcastically.


“I know, it never seems like we have enough time to visit, Kommandant,” Hogan quipped.


“Hogan, diiiiiis-missssed!” Klink screamed.


* * * * *


Hogan burst into the barracks.


“They are on their way to the guest quarters,” Baker said.


“Excellent,” commented Hogan. “Everybody stay alert. I think this is the contact we’ve been waiting for.”


“What?” Newkirk gasped. “The Gestapo is our contact?”


“Kinch, come with me,” Hogan said, ignoring the questions and heading for the tunnel entrance.


“Where?” Kinch asked.


“We’re going to the guest quarters,” Hogan said. “The rest of you stay ready.”


* * * * *


Kinch waited at the tunnel entrance to the guest quarters with Hogan. He wasn't sure what they were waiting on, or why they were going to burst in on a Gestapo Major. He also wasn't sure why Hogan felt that this was the contact from Marya’s group. Surely they wouldn’t be as obvious as to come into camp impersonating the Gestapo!


Suddenly the entrance opened, startling Kinch. Hogan began climbing up. “Come on, Kinch,” he said.


Kinch popped his head through the opening, not sure what he would find … and found himself staring at Vladimir wearing a Gestapo Corporal’s uniform. “Sam!” he exclaimed.


Privyet, Ivan,” Vladimir replied. “It is good to see you again.”


“Sam, how are you? What are you doing here?” Kinch asked.


“We will have time for pleasantries later,” Freitag said calmly. “Right now we have business to attend to.”


“Right,” Hogan agreed. “I have to say that this disguise is unexpected, but it is the best way of getting into the Hammelburg headquarters.”


“Colonel, I assure you, this is no disguise,” Freitag replied. “I am the Aide to General Schlesinger.”


Hogan’s mouth opened in surprise. “You’re joking,” he said.


“No, Colonel Hogan,” Freitag said. “I am a real Schutzstaffel Major.”


Hogan looked at Vladimir for confirmation.


“It is true, Colonel Hogan,” Vladimir said.


“Well I’ll be,” Kinch commented softly. “Talk about highly placed contacts.”


“Colonel, I can deal with Hochstetter,” Freitag said. “But I would prefer to have him away from headquarters when I take Marya away. Can you arrange that?”


Hogan thought for a moment. “I think we should be able to arrange that,” Hogan said. “But if she disappears when he is out, he will make life miserable around here. He already thinks I am responsible for everything that happens in this part of Germany.”


“From what I understand, Colonel, you are,” Freitag replied casually, motioning towards Vladimir. “I plan to confront Hochstetter personally. But I want to get Marya away from him before I do. It will make my threats more … meaningful.”


Hogan nodded thoughtfully. “I understand,” he said. “Do you need any of us to go along with you?”


Freitag thought for a moment. “If possible, I would like to have one person,” he replied. “We won’t need a show of force, but I would like to have another officer who will remain in the car while I am inside the building.”


 “I think we can handle that,” Hogan replied. “You have it planned out already?”


“I plan to simply go to Gestapo Headquarters in Hammelburg and demand that she be released to me,” Freitag replied with a smile. “They will do so.”


“Just like that?” Hogan asked disbelievingly.


“Just like that,” Freitag confirmed. “As I mentioned, I am the Aide to General Schlesinger – Hochstetter’s superior. Marya just happens to be a favorite of the General. He would not like to hear that the Major has been detaining his Marya.”


Hogan grinned. “I see,” he said. “And if Marya is already in your possession when you confront Hochstetter, he’ll be in no position to deny that he is holding her.”


“Exactly,” Freitag said. “Can you arrange to have Hochstetter leave Headquarters at 2100 hours tonight?”


“I’m sure we can arrange for something,” Hogan said.


“Sabotage, Colonel?” Kinch asked.


Hogan shook his head. “I was thinking of something a little bigger,” Hogan said. “Hochstetter may send his own Aide to investigate a normal sabotage attempt – for some reason, we have so many in this area - but if he heard about a meeting of all of the local Underground leaders, he would be sure to be on hand for that himself.”


“An anonymous tip from Frau Newkirkberger,” Kinch stated.


Hogan smiled as he nodded. “I believe we have your diversion, Major,” he said.


“Good,” Freitag replied. “Vladimir informs me that you have medics in your outfit.”


Hogan nodded. “We have two,” he said. “Sergeant John DeSoto and Sergeant Roy Gage. They’re very good. How bad do you expect her to be hurt?”


“I don’t know,” Freitag replied. “But I want to be prepared. Vladimir and your man will bring Marya back to camp once we can get her released. I will stay at Gestapo Headquarters to talk to Hochstetter when he returns. Marya will need to be looked at immediately.”


“They’ll be ready,” Hogan promised. “How will you get back to camp?”


For the first time, Hogan saw Freitag smile. “If I am significantly annoyed with the Major, I will simply take his car,” he replied.


“You should anyway,” Hogan laughed. “But maybe Vladimir should come back for you instead.”


Hammelburg, Gestapo Headquarters

March 21, 1944, 2055 hours


Carter sat in the car with Vladimir and Freitag waiting for Hochstetter to leave. They were parked down the street from the headquarters building, where they could see the entrance but not be seen themselves.


Colonel Hogan had originally planned to accompany Freitag to Hammelburg, but Kinch had pointed out that of all the men in camp, Hogan was the one Hochstetter would most easily recognize. So in the end, Carter had been selected as the one who could best pass for a German officer. I wonder if I should be insulted by that thought. “You want me to stay in the car while you go in,” Carter said. He wanted to go over the plan once more to make sure he understood his role.


“Correct,” Freitag replied. “Vladimir and I will go in. If Vladimir doesn’t return with Marya in twenty minutes, you come in to look for us.”


“And I should stress that General Schlesinger will be upset if we are not back in Berlin on time,” Carter said.


Leipzig,” Vladimir corrected.


Leipzig, right,” Carter said. I have such a problem remembering the right city name. I’ve got to remember, Leipzig … Leipzig.


“I do not expect a problem,” Freitag said. “Primarily, I wanted someone who could pass for me when Vladimir returns Marya to the camp.”


“Major, it looks like they received the phone call,” Vladimir said, pointing towards the headquarters building. A truck had pulled up to the entrance and a small squad of men was coming down the steps towards the truck. They saw Hochstetter come out, gesturing at his men furiously. When his staff car pulled up, he jumped in and they drove away.


After the truck turned a corner and was out of sight, Freitag shifted in his seat. “This is it,” he said. “Vladimir, drive up to the front of the building and we’ll go in.”


* * * * *


Captain Dorfmann sat behind his desk, rearranging the paperwork that had built up throughout the day. He looked up when he heard the sound of footsteps, and was surprised to see a well-decorated SS Major walking towards him. He scrambled to his feet when he recognized the insignia of Himmler’s personal staff. Why do these things always happen when Major Hochstetter is out? “Heil Hitler,” he said, snapping to attention and giving the salute.


The Major casually returned the salute and began taking off his gloves. “I am Major Freitag, Captain,” he said. “General Schlesinger’s Aide. I would like to speak to Major Hochstetter.”


General Schlesinger! What is his Aide doing here? “I’m Captain Dorfmann,” he replied. “Major Hochstetter just left.”


Freitag shrugged. “Then I will just have to deal with you,” he said without emotion.


Dorfmann felt a chill run down his spine. Oh no, I don’t need this. “What can I do for you, Major?” he asked haltingly.


“You are holding a Russian woman named Marya,” he said, pausing for confirmation.


Yawohl, Major,” Dorfmann replied. “Major Hochstetter suspects that she is a spy.”


“Major Hochstetter does not know what he is talking about,” Freitag replied. “You will bring the woman here at once.”


“But Major …” Dorfmann started.


“I said at once, Captain,” Freitag said coldly.


Dorfmann nodded nervously and picked up the phone. “Bring the Russian woman to me at once,” he barked into the handset. Major Hochstetter isn’t going to like this. “Sir, Major Hochstetter …”


“I will deal with Major Hochstetter later, Captain,” Freitag interrupted.


Dorfmann was about to protest again when he heard footsteps coming their way.


* * * * *


Freitag heard the footsteps approaching. He turned toward the sound and was appalled to see Marya stumbling as she was prodded towards them by one of Hochstetter’s men. In one smooth motion, he unsnapped his holder and drew his pistol. “If you touch her once more, I will kill you,” he said harshly, aiming his weapon at the guard.


The guard stopped in his tracks and Marya tumbled forward and fell to the floor.


“Corporal, help her,” Freitag ordered.


Vladimir rushed to Marya and gently tried to help her to her feet. Marya grimaced in pain as Vladimir lifted her left arm.


“I will be all right,” Marya whispered. “Please, my other arm.” Vladimir quickly moved to her right side and helped her to her feet. “I need to sit,” she said.


“What is the meaning of this?” Freitag asked harshly.


“Major, I  I …” Dorfmann began.


“I should shoot you now,” Freitag said coldly, pointing his weapon at the Captain. It was an empty threat designed only to intimidate Dorfmann. He had no intention of shooting the Captain … but Dorfmann didn’t need to know that.


Nein, Major Freitag,” Marya said hoarsely. “The Captain had nothing to do with this. It was Major Hochstetter.” Freitag nodded and slowly put his piston back into his holster.


“You know this woman?” Dorfmann asked in surprise.


Freitag nodded. “I ask you the same question, Captain,” he replied. “Do you know who this woman is?”


Dorfmann shook his head. “I know only that her name is Marya and she is Russian,” he replied.


Freitag seemed satisfied with that answer. “That is all you need to know, Captain,” he said. “But I will tell you that General Schlesinger will not be happy to see her in this condition.”


* * * * *


Vladimir had been shocked to see Marya’s condition. He stood by her side as she sat in the chair grimacing in pain.


“Corporal, take her to get medical attention immediately,” Freitag said.


Vladimir nodded and clicked his heels in reply. Since his German was not very good, he knew it was best if he did not speak.


“You are taking her?” Dorfmann asked.


“Of course,” Freitag replied.


“But it would be worth my life if Major Hochstetter returned to find her gone,” Dorfmann complained.


“As it will be if you attempt to prevent me from taking her,” Freitag replied coldly. “Corporal, I said immediately!”


Vladimir clicked his heels again and helped Marya up from her chair.


“Captain, I will deal with Major Hochstetter,” Vladimir heard Freitag say as he helped Marya down the hallway. He gave Hochstetter’s guard an angry glare as he passed.


When they reached the outside door, Vladimir helped Marya slowly descend the steps. He saw Carter jump from the car and rush over to help.


“How bad is she?” Carter asked.


“I am fine,” Marya replied.


“She is lying,” Vladimir corrected, earning him a quick glare from Marya. As she took the last step, the glare turned to a grimace. “Sveta, you’ll be in the back with Carter while I drive,” he said to her in Russian. “Can you make it back to camp?”


Da Volodya,” she replied. “I am fine.”


“You are not fine,” he replied in English for the benefit of Carter. “And we do not have time to argue. Let’s get in the car and get back to camp.”


Marya looked at him and Vladimir saw the familiar twinkle in her eye. “Give a man a Gestapo uniform and he thinks he owns the world,” she said with a raspy chuckle.


* * * * *


Dorfmann was very nervous. Major Hochstetter is going to be furious when he returns to find Marya gone. He was so insistent that she was a spy. “Major Hochstetter isn’t gong to like this,” he said timidly.


“As I said before, I will deal with Major Hochstetter,” Freitag replied.


“Major, I just …” Dorfmann started. “I just wanted to say that I did not like what Major Hochstetter was doing. I know it sounds like I’m trying to get out of my responsibility …”


“Captain, Marya has said that you had nothing to do with this,” Freitag replied.


“If I could have stopped him, I would have,” Dorfmann went on as if he hadn’t heard Freitag’s response. “He seems to be on a personal mission to prove she is a spy.”


“Captain,” Freitag said loudly, hoping to get Dorfmann’s attention. “I do not hold you responsible for this in any way. There was nothing you could have done.”


Dorfmann looked at Freitag for a moment before replying. “Danke, Major,” he replied. “I just wish there was something.”


* * * * *


Freitag sat back in Hochstetter’s chair and put his feet on the desk. He would settle in and wait for Hochstetter to return. He looked at his watch and saw that he would have some time before the fictitious Underground meeting that Hochstetter went to break up.


Marya didn’t look good at all. There seemed to be something wrong with her left side, and judging from the bruises on her face, she’s been hit several times. He felt his anger growing, and briefly thought about allowing it to take over. That would be bad. Marya will now get the best medical attention Colonel Hogan’s men can give, and it would serve no purpose to strangle Major Hochstetter … though that is a very pleasant thought right now.


Freitag sighed deeply. Hochstetter will pay for this … sometime, someway, he will pay. Freitag knew that the General didn’t have a very good opinion of Hochstetter – in fact, it wouldn’t take much for Schlesinger to ship the Major off to a combat unit on the Eastern Front. Yes, that would be an appropriate way for him to pay.


But Freitag also knew that it could also be a bad thing for Colonel Hogan’s operation. Up to this point, Hogan had been able to operate in the area without leaving any proof for Hochstetter to find. If someone with any amount of brains replaces Hochstetter, Colonel Hogan wouldn’t be in business very long.


No, Freitag knew that he would have to leave Hochstetter alone on this day. A devious grin slowly appeared on Freitag’s face. But if I can accomplish it, I will put a scare into you that you won’t believe. And then we’ll see how tough you can be with soaked pant legs!


Hammelburg Area, Hammelburg Road

March 21, 1944, 2145 hours


Vladimir drove the car as fast as he dared through the wooded countryside back to camp. He cursed the moonless night, which made it hard for him to see the ruts and potholes that littered the gravel road. With every jolt the car took, he heard Marya gasp with discomfort.


“We’ll be there in five minutes,” he said. “Is everything all right back there?”


“We’re fine, Sam,” Carter replied. “Just try to avoid the bumps, okay?”


“I’m trying,” Vladimir replied, not taking his eyes from the dimly lit road. Damn! What a mess this is. I need to hurry back to camp as fast as I can because Marya is hurt, but I have to be careful driving through this minefield for the very same reason. He swerved to the left to avoid a large hole that suddenly appeared in front of the car. Damn!


“Sam, we’re almost there,” Carter said. “Slow down to a normal speed so we don’t attract attention.”


“Right,” Vladimir responded with aggravation. “And you sit there and try to act like Major Freitag, and let me do the driving!”


* * * * *


Colonel Hogan paced around the barracks like a lion in a cage. “Any sign of them yet, LeBeau?” he asked.


The Frenchman leaned back from the sink that doubled as their periscope to the outside compound. “Nothing yet, sir,” he replied.


“Damn!” Hogan swore.


“Colonel, that’s the tenth time in the last five minutes that you’ve asked,” Kinch observed.


“They should be here by now,” Hogan said angrily.


Kinch looked at his watch. “It’s not that late,” he replied. “Things will be fine, sir. Major Freitag knows what he’s doing.”


“And Carter is with them,” LeBeau replied helpfully.


“Blimey, you had to go and mention that,” Newkirk muttered. “They may have a shot anyway.”


Hogan was used to the friendly teasing that went on between the men. But tonight he was in no mood to hear it. “Cut it out, fellas,” he said.


“Colonel, there’s a car coming through the gate,” LeBeau said with his eyes glued to the faucet eyepieces. “It looks like Freitag’s car.”


“All right, this is it,” Hogan said, bounding over to the tunnel entrance and banging on the activation switch. “Kinch, you’re with me. Newkirk, go get Gage and DeSoto and meet us in the guest quarters.” He began to climb down the ladder.


“What about me?” LeBeau asked in a huff.


“Keep Schultz occupied so he doesn’t notice anything,” Hogan replied.


“But Colonel!” LeBeau protested.


Hogan stopped on the ladder and looked at LeBeau. He knew the feelings that the Frenchman had for Marya. “All right, you’re with me as well,” he said.


LeBeau nodded and ran towards the tunnel entrance as everyone scrambled to his assignment.


* * * * *


Vladimir drove the car through the compound towards the guest quarters. From the time he had spent in camp before, he knew exactly where to go so the guards would not be able to see the car. He was out of the car as soon as it came to a stop and ran to the passenger side door where Carter was helping Marya climb carefully out of the back seat.


The door to the guest quarters opened as they were climbing the steps, and Vladimir could see the concern on Hogan’s face. “How is she?” Hogan whispered.


“I am fine, Hogan darling,” Marya whispered back.


“She’s hurt, Colonel,” Carter contradicted. “Hochstetter did a number on her.”


They were inside and Hogan quickly shut the door. LeBeau and Kinch had closed the curtains and turned on the lights. Vladimir and Carter ushered Marya to the bedroom and helped her into the bed.


Marya saw Hogan staring at her and she patted the bed beside her. “Care to join me, Hogan darling?” she said.


“Same old Marya,” LeBeau said as he stood beside Hogan.


“Ah, my little one,” Marya said. “Please forgive my appearance. Major Hochstetter can be a little … destructive.”


“After what he did to you, I’ll take care of him,” LeBeau said, dragging his finger across his throat.


“Where’s the patient?” Sergeant Roy Gage said as he entered the room. He flashed Marya a smile. “Howdy, little lady,” he said to her.


Marya smiled at him as he approached and began to look her over. “The patient must be me, Sergeant.”


Gage was gently touching the bruises on the side of her face. “I sure hope so,” he said. “Otherwise, I’d better stop pawing at you!” Marya chuckled.


“Where’s DeSoto?” Hogan asked.


“He’s on his way, Colonel,” Gage said, not looking up from his examination. He had begun moving Marya’s limbs, looking for broken bones. When he moved her left arm, Marya winced in pain. “Well, well,” he muttered. “Looks as though we’ve found something. Where exactly does it hurt?”


Marya smiled at him. “What makes you think it hurts?” she joked. He gently probed her side, causing her to winch again.


“Hmmm,” Gage said thoughtfully.


“What do we have?” Sergeant John DeSoto asked as he entered the room.


“Hogan darling, did you invite the entire camp in here to, as the Sergeant put it, paw all over me?” she asked.


“Actually, I think everyone should be leaving,” Gage said. “We’ll need to remove some clothing to examine these ribs more closely.”


Hogan nodded. “I agree,” he said. “Come on everybody. Let’s let the medics do their job.” He began ushering people towards the door.


“Hogan darling, you can stay,” Marya said. “Maybe if you see what you are missing …” She raised her eyebrows seductively and smiled.


* * * * *


“I don’t think she’s hurt as bad as she could have been,” Carter observed as they sat in the main room of the guest quarters waiting for Gage and DeSoto to finish their examination.


“How can you say that?” LeBeau exclaimed. “Didn’t you see her in there in all that pain?”


“LeBeau, I think Carter is right,” Vladimir said. “You know what Hochstetter is capable of.”


“If we wouldn’t have gotten her out when we did, she would be worse,” Kinch said.


The room was silent for a moment. “Ivan, I should send a message to Michael to let him know that we’ve got her out and that she’s hurt,” Vladimir said. “And then Carter and I have to get back to Hammelburg to pick up Major Freitag.”


Kinch nodded. “Come on, Sam,” he replied. “I’m sure you remember the way to the radio.”


* * * * *


“I don’t believe the ribs are broken, Colonel,” DeSoto said as he pulled a long bandage out of his bag. “Looks like a bad bruise.”


“How long until she’s able to travel?” Hogan asked, thinking of how she was going to get out of camp.


“I’d say a couple of weeks, sir,” DeSoto replied. “We’ll wrap her up and as long as she doesn’t move around too much, the ribs will get better.”


“That could be a problem,” Hogan said to himself. “She can’t stay in here the whole time.”


“Hogan darling, I’ll just stay in your quarters,” she cooed. “It’ll be so … cozy.” She made the last word as seductive as she could.


“With the shape you’re in, little lady, I don’t think you’ll be doing that sort of, um, activity for a while,” Gage said with a grin.


“You’d be surprised, Sergeant,” she responded with a smile. “I can be very … resourceful.”


Hogan rolled his eyes as Gage and DeSoto choked on their laughter. “Just get her wrapped up,” he said with some irritation. “I’ll see that we get the solitary cell set up for her to stay for the next two weeks.”


“Good idea, Hogan darling,” she said. “We’ll have our privacy then.”


Hogan didn’t comment and as he left the bedroom, he heard Gage and DeSoto burst out laughing.

Hammelburg, Gestapo Headquarters

March 22, 1944, 0100 hours


Hochstetter stomped angrily down the hall toward his office. He had spent the entire evening on a wild goose chase. That’s the last time I believe a senile old woman. He had reached out to open the door of his office. She calls us to report that there will be an important meeting of Underground leaders in a barn outside of town, and what do I find? Cows! Unless the entire Underground is led by a herd of cows, this was a complete waste of time.


He opened the door and entered his office, still muttering to himself. “If I ever find that old woman …” He stopped in surprise when he saw a Gestapo Major reclining in his chair, his feet up on the desk. “Was ist los?” he asked angrily. “Who are you and what are you doing in my office?”


The Major looked at Hochstetter without expression with his fingers steepled in front of him. “Which of your three questions would you like answered, Major Hochstetter?” the Major asked calmly.


“All of them, you fool!” Hochstetter barked. “You seem to know me, but I don’t know you.”


“I am Major Freitag from the Leipzig Gestapo,” Freitag replied.


“That doesn’t explain why you are sitting in my chair,” Hochstetter replied testily.


“It wasn’t meant to, Major,” Freitag replied. “You simply wondered who I was.”


Captain Dorfmann suddenly appeared in the doorway. “Major Hochstetter, you are back,” he said.


“A brilliant observation, Captain,” Hochstetter retorted. “Why is this man in my office?”


“This is Major Freitag,” Dorfmann replied.


“Bah!” Hochstetter screamed. “What is this man doing here?”


* * * * *


Freitag watched the exchange between Hochstetter and Dorfmann with amusement. He knew Hochstetter’s type – very short tempered and impatient with everyone … and not too bright. The fact that he had been sent out by Colonel Hogan’s phony telephone tip and hadn’t found anything would only make him more angry and unstable. This is going to be fun.


“Major Hochstetter,” Freitag said calmly. “If you will shut up for a moment, I will tell you why I am here.”


Hochstetter glared at Freitag with fire in his eyes. “Who are you to tell me to shut up?” he shrieked.


“I am the personal Aide to General Schlesinger, Major,” Freitag said. “That is who.”


Hochstetter’s eyes narrowed slightly, but he remained silent.


Ah good. He seems to know that I hold all the high cards in this game. Freitag smiled. “That is better,” he said. “Now I will tell you why I am here.”


“It’s about time,” Hochstetter mumbled.


“Yes Major, it is about time for you to explain your actions,” Freitag said.


“What?” Hochstetter exploded.


“You are holding a Russian woman named Marya, are you not?” Freitag asked. He saw Dorfmann open his mouth to speak. He wagged his finger at the Captain to keep him silent. He was not ready for Hochstetter to know that he had already taken Marya away.


“What if I am?” Hochstetter countered.


“Come now, Major,” Freitag replied calmly.


“I am holding prisoners who are traitors to the Third Reich,” Hochstetter said evasively.


“Would you care to join them?” Freitag asked.


Hochstetter glared at Freitag. “That won’t be likely,” he muttered.


Freitag swung his legs off the desk and leaned forward. “Now Major, since you haven’t answered my question, let me do it for you,” he said. “You are holding Marya. I would like to know why.”


“That is none of your business,” Hochstetter growled through clenched teeth.


Freitag smiled. “Ah, but it is my business, Major,” he said. “And you will release Marya to me now.” He shot a glance at Dorfmann to make sure he wasn’t about to speak.


“I will do no such thing!” Hochstetter screamed. “That woman is a spy!”


Freitag laughed. “I don’t think she is a spy,” he said. “Do you think she is a spy, Captain?”


“Of course he thinks she’s a spy,” Hochstetter bellowed.


“Amazing,” Freitag said, shaking his head in amusement. “You must be a ventriloquist, Captain. I didn’t even see your lips move.” Freitag noticed a small smile quivering at the corners of the Captain’s mouth.


“You are a fool if you don’t think she is a spy!” Hochstetter said derisively.


“Major, I happen to know that General Schlesinger doesn’t think she is a spy,” Freitag said. “Would you say that he is a fool as well?”


Hochstetter opened his mouth to reply, but quickly thought better of it.


Freitag reached for the telephone. “Maybe we should call the General so you can tell him what you think of him,” he said.


Hochstetter quickly shot forward and put his hand on Freitag’s as it began to lift the handset.


“Major, you have three seconds to remove your hand before I break every finger on it,” Freitag said icily. Hochstetter glared defiantly back at him. Ein. Zwei.” As he began to utter the next number, Hochstetter quickly jerked his hand away, muttering a string of curses under his breath.


“A wise decision,” Freitag said calmly.


“Why are you so concerned about the welfare of this Russian woman?” Hochstetter asked.


Freitag had decided from the beginning that he would not answer any question from Hochstetter. It would be better to keep frustrating him. “Major Hochstetter, six months ago, I did you a great favor,” he said instead.


“Oh? I find that hard to believe,” Hochstetter said.


“You called me and asked me to detain Marya and her traveling companion, both of which you had given valid travel authorizations,” Freitag explained. “Do you recall the incident?”


Ja, I recall that incident,” Hochstetter blurted. “And if you would have detained them for me, I would have had my spy six months ago!”


Nein, Major,” Freitag contradicted. “You would have found yourself in a combat unit in the Ukraine the very next day.”


“What? You are crazy!” Hochstetter exclaimed. “That woman is a spy!”


“Major, that woman is the favorite consort of General Schlesinger,” Freitag said evenly. He paused to let the statement sink in. “Now you tell me, Major, what do you think the General will do when he finds out you have been detaining her?”


Hochstetter was speechless.


“And, what do you think he would do if you have laid a finger on her?” Freitag asked. “You haven’t laid a finger on her, have you, Major?”


“Well, I … I …” Hochstetter stammered.


“Tsk, tsk, Major Hochstetter,” Freitag said in a patronizing tone. He could see the anger growing inside Hochstetter – the man was beginning to breathe rapidly and his eyes were narrowing.


“Bah!” Hochstetter exploded. “If you want the woman, you can have her!”


Freitag smiled. “Captain, would you like to tell him, or should I?”


“Tell me? Tell me what?” Hochstetter demanded. “Captain, what have you been keeping from me? I’ll have you transferred …”


“Major Hochstetter, shut up!” Freitag demanded. “He did only what a superior officer ordered him to do.”


“But I am his superior officer!” Hochstetter said.


“As am I,” Freitag pointed out.


“You are interfering with my office?” Hochstetter asked in disbelief.


“No Major, I am operating for the office of General Schlesinger,” Freitag remarked. “Need I remind you that he is your superior officer?”


Hochstetter growled low in his throat. “So what is it that you haven’t told me?” he demanded.


“I released the Russian woman to Major Freitag earlier this evening, Major,” Dorfmann said nervously.


“You did what?” Hochstetter screamed. “Captain, pack your bags … and I suggest you pack something warm. I’m going to send you on a little journey.”


Freitag watched Dorfmann flinch. “You will do no such thing, Major,” Freitag said.


“How dare you interfere …” Hochstetter warned.


“Major Hochstetter, I would suggest that for once in your life, you think before you open your mouth,” Freitag countered. His voice was calm and even.


Hochstetter stopped suddenly and glared at Freitag.


“The Captain did as I ordered, Major,” Freitag said. “Which is his duty. And if I hear that anything happens to him on account of his following my orders, I assure you that General Schlesinger will hear about everything.”


“Are you threatening me, Major?” Hochstetter asked.


Freitag rose from the chair in a flash and strode towards Hochstetter. I’ve had enough of this! It’s time to make him shut his big mouth. He reached out and shoved Hochstetter against the wall, holding him against it by the throat. “Major Hochstetter, I do not need to threaten you,” he said with controlled fury. “When I came here, I found that Marya had been beaten and is injured. You’d better hope that the injuries are not as bad as they seemed to me, because if they are, I will inform General Schlesinger of what happened.”


Hochstetter gurgled an unintelligible response as he struggled to pull Freitag’s hand from his throat.


“If that happens, Major, I can guarantee that you will die,” Freitag continued. “Very suddenly. You see, your name is not thought of in high regard in Berlin. Underground activity in your sector is rampant, and the only explanation you ever give is that some prisoner from the local Luft Stalag is responsible. You are on thin ice, Major Hochstetter. I would suggest that you do not press your luck and decide to skate on it.” Hochstetter’s face was becoming quite red. “Do I make myself clear?”


Freitag released his grip on Hochstetter’s throat. Hochstetter gasped and coughed, trying to breathe again.


“I said, do I make myself clear?” Freitag said menacingly.


Yawohl, Major,” Hochstetter croaked.


As Freitag turned to leave, Hochstetter spoke up again. “Major, if you already had Marya, why this charade?” he asked.


“I wanted you to know who took her, and why,” Freitag replied, and turned for the door. When he got to the doorway, he turned back with a smile on his face. “Besides, I just had to experience your sparkling personality for myself,” he said, and left.


* * * * *


Dorfmann tried hard to resist the urge to laugh at Freitag’s parting comment – with the way he was treated tonight, Hochstetter would probably shoot him on the spot.


“I had her and she managed to get away again,” Hochstetter grumbled.


“Major,” Dorfmann said.


“Don’t say another word, Captain,” Hochstetter ordered disdainfully.


Dorfmann clicked his heels and left the room as fast as he could. What an ass. He hurried down the hall, hoping to catch Major Freitag before he left the building. He caught up to him next to the exit.


“Excuse me, Major,” he said.


“What is it, Captain?” Freitag asked.


“I … Major Hochstetter … it’s just that …” Dorfmann stammered.


Freitag smiled. “Relax, Captain Dorfmann,” he said. “Major Hochstetter will not do anything to you because of this. I meant what I said, and he knows it. And as you know, any personnel transfers have to go through the General, so I will know about anything that happens.”


Dorfmann breathed a sigh of relief. “Danke, Major,” he said.


“No thanks are necessary,” Freitag said. “After all, there has to be someone in this office with a brain.” He laughed as he walked out the door.


* * * * *


Colonel Hogan sat in the guest quarters with Freitag, listening to the events that happened in Hammelburg that evening. Marya was getting some much-needed rest, but not before LeBeau insisted she fill herself with some chicken soup he cooked up especially for her.


“I can just see the look on Hochstetter’s face when you told him you already had Marya,” Hogan said with a laugh.


Freitag nodded. “That was worth the trip here all by itself,” he agreed. “One of these days though …”


“I’ll flip you for the pleasure,” Hogan said tightly. “If I ever get a chance, I’ll pull the trigger myself. But killing Gestapo officers has a way of upsetting people.”


Freitag nodded. “We do tend to take that seriously,” he said.

Hogan had almost forgotten that Freitag was not playing his part. “Anything you could do to ease our suffering by getting rid of him?” he asked.


“All this hostility because he accuses you of Underground activity?” Freitag asked.


“No, not that,” Hogan said. “I have other reasons.” He was reluctant to elaborate about his lack of mail and some of the other things that were going on.


Freitag didn’t press the issue. He simply nodded and said, “I could easily inform General Schlesinger about what he did to Marya and he would be gone,” he said. “And I thought of doing that. But, would you rather have someone with more intelligence in his place?”


“By someone with more intelligence, you mean …” Hogan said.


“Practically anybody!” Freitag replied with a laugh. Hogan laughed along with him.


“I see what you mean,” Hogan said. “We might not have it so easy if the local Gestapo head was harder to fool. How long will you be staying here?”


“I will be leaving at daybreak,” Freitag said. “Vladimir will remain here until Marya is well enough to travel and leave with her.” Freitag suddenly smiled. “He can catch up with his friends here.”


Hogan smiled. “He will like that,” he said. “And we will too. Vladimir is a good man.”


Freitag nodded. “Marya chooses well,” he said. “Did Vladimir get in touch with Michael?”


“Yes,” Hogan replied. “He’s been briefed.”


“Very good,” Freitag replied.


“Major, I wonder if you could tell me something,” Hogan said. When Freitag nodded, he went on, “Tell me about Marya.”


Freitag smiled. “Colonel Hogan, I don’t think we have enough time for me to tell you everything!’ he said.


The two men spent the rest of the night talking.


Hammelburg Area, Farm of Friedrich Wagner

March 22, 1944, 2300 hours


“So are we all in agreement?” Hans Wagner asked his team. He looked from man to man, looking for confirmation. “Max? Heinrich? Otto? Rudolf? Karl?” Each man nodded when his name was called.


“Well I’m not in agreement!” Ilse exclaimed.


“Ilse, keep quiet!” Hans rebuked.


“I will not!” she replied. “We should not do this. It’s too dangerous.”


“If you don’t want to do this, then go into the house,” Hans said. “We are going to do it.”


“But it’s heavily guarded,” Ilse argued. “There are not enough of us to get away with it.”


“Ilse, your Captain Dorfmann told you that the full compliment of guards is not at the site yet,” Karl said.


“He’s not my Captain Dorfmann, Karl,” Ilse admonished. “And I don’t know why you are insisting on doing this now. Colonel Hogan said …”


“I don’t care what Colonel Hogan said,” Hans said strongly. “He just doesn’t want to share the credit for such a large target. He wants his own team to do it.”


“Hans Wagner, I don’t believe you!” Ilse said. “Is that what this is all about? Are you jealous of Colonel Hogan?”


“We’ve done everything he’s asked, and yet he still won’t give us the important targets,” Hans complained.


“So you’re going to risk your life – and the lives of all of us - just to prove that you can be stupid and foolhardy?” Ilse asked. “I think Colonel Hogan knows what he’s talking about, and he says we should wait.”


“And I say we’re not going to wait,” Hans said. “Now go into the house and let us plan. And then you’ll see that we’re just as good as the great Papa Bear.”


Ilse harrumphed in displeasure. “I just can’t understand you men,” she huffed.


Hans waved her away indifferently. He didn’t care to hear her complaints. He waited while she stomped out of the barn and slammed the door.


“Now, since we’re all in agreement, let’s start planning,” Hans said.


“Are we still going to do it tomorrow?” Rudolf asked.


Hans nodded. “The sooner the better,” he said.


“What is your plan?” Otto asked.


Hans spread out his map of the area and began explaining his plan. He pointed out several areas where he and his men would be, and explained exactly what was supposed to happen.


“Do we have enough explosive to do the job?” Karl asked after Hans had finished. “I know we have been keeping back some of the explosives we get from Colonel Hogan – but did we hoard enough yet?”


Hans nodded. “I think we do,” he replied. “And we also have the timers that we need. I think we’re all set.”


There was a low rumble of conversation as the men talked about the following night. After a while, the meeting broke up and Hans and Karl found themselves alone in the barn.


“Do you think we will be successful?” Karl asked as they left the barn and headed for the house.


“Of course,” Hans replied confidently. “We can’t fail.”


* * * * *


Karl held the flashlight while Hans set the timer on the bundle of explosives. “Do you think ten minutes is enough?” he asked.


Ja,” Hans replied. “It takes the truck exactly five minutes to travel from this turnoff to the gate of the depot. That gives them five more minutes to drive into the depot and park next to the holding tanks.”


Karl turned off the flashlight when Hans finished with the timer. They settled down to wait for the truck that was due in the next few minutes.


They heard rustling and muffled footsteps coming towards them. Soon, Max scrambled into the bushes beside them. “The truck is on its way,” he said breathlessly.


“Good,” Hans replied. He smiled to himself in the dark. In ten minutes, the fuel depot will be destroyed and Colonel Hogan will have to take me seriously.


They saw the lights of the truck as it slowed down to make the turnoff. Hans hunched in the bushes waiting for it to pass, pressing the release to start the timer. He leapt out as it passed and tossed the bundle of explosives into the back of the truck.


“Come on, let’s get out of here,” Hans said, beginning to run towards home.


* * * * *


The truck bumped slowly along the dark road.


“Fritz, stop the truck here for a second,” the passenger said. “I need to find a tree.”


“But we’re almost there, Gunter,” Fritz replied. “Can’t you wait?”


“You know what’ll happen when we get there,” Gunter said. “We’ll be stuck for an hour.”


Fritz nodded. “That’s true,” he replied as stopped the truck. “Be quick about it.”


Gunter hopped out of the truck and was gone for a couple of minutes. When he returned, he looked relieved. “That’s much better,” he said. “Let’s get going.”


Fritz laughed. “Now you’ve got me wanting to go!” he said, and got out of the truck. When he got back in, he too was relieved. “There, now let’s get this thing to the depot.” The truck resumed its slow progress down the bumpy road.


* * * * *


Hermann Gluck stood by the main gate of the fuel depot. It was boring duty, but he was glad that his assignment was here instead of some combat unit on the Eastern Front. “I’d rather be bored to death than shot to death,” he would always tell himself. Most nights, he had to fight off the boredom and struggle to keep from falling asleep. The only break in the boredom was always the arrival of the nightly deliveries.


He heard the truck coming before he saw the bouncing headlights rounding the curve in the road. He scrambled over to unlatch the gate and opened it to allow the truck to enter. He raised his hand to wave at the driver as it passed, but the driver never saw it.


The explosion ripped the truck apart, sending pieces flying dangerously through the air. Hermann stood frozen in shock, his hand in the air waving at the furious fireball erupting in front of him. I should probably run away. He didn’t see the jagged piece of metal hurtling through the air towards his head – and a split second later he crumpled lifelessly to the ground.


* * * * *


Captain August Dorfmann was in the main office of the fuel depot when the rumble of the explosion shook the building.


Scheisse!” he exclaimed as he ran from the building. He saw the huge fireball where the main gate of the compound used to be. “Scheisse,” he repeated. “Get the firefighting equipment to the main gate at once,” he yelled, running towards the burning remains of the transport truck. The alarm siren of the compound began blaring and men began scrambling to their emergency duties.


The fire burned brightly and Dorfmann shielded his eyes to scan through the mess for any survivors. He spotted the crumpled body of the gate guard and ran towards it, yelling to a Corporal for help. “Help me get that man away from the truck!”


When they reached the body, Dorfmann rolled it over and heard the Corporal gasp. “That’s Hermann!” the Corporal said.


“That was Hermann,” Dorfmann corrected. The shrapnel from the exploding truck had impacted the man in the forehead, right below the rim of his helmet. The poor bastard probably didn’t know what hit him. “Come on, let’s get away from here before the rest of the truck explodes,” he said, dragging the gagging Corporal away to a safe distance.


“I think I’m going to be sick,” the Corporal gulped.


“I already am,” Dorfmann said silently.


Stalag 13

March 24, 1944, 0845 hours


Colonel Hogan had retreated to his office immediately after roll call. He was not a happy person at the moment. Yesterday had been another mail day, and yet another day when Schultz did not call his name. His lack of mail hadn’t been bothering him as much lately, but with what had happened to Marya, he just couldn’t prevent his hatred for Hochstetter from bubbling to the surface.


That damned Hochstetter! How dare he keep me from my family! It’s bad enough that I am stuck over here never having seen my little boy. He fumed as he thought of his young son who had never met his father. And now he goes and beats on Marya to try and get her to confess to something for which he has no other proof. He will pay for all this … somehow, someway, he will pay.


* * * * *


Sergeant Schultz walked slowly towards Barracks 2. He was supposed to bring Colonel Hogan to the Kommandant’s office at the request of General Burkhalter, but it was the last thing he preferred to do at the moment. The Colonel had been in a very bad mood that morning at roll call, and Schultz suspected it had something to do with his lack of mail.


What does Major Hochstetter hope to accomplish by keeping mail from the Colonel? I know he suspects the Colonel of being responsible for all the bad things that happen in this area, but can’t prove it. The portly Sergeant let out a long sigh. I know that there is some monkey business going on, but don’t care to know any of the details. I just wish the Colonel would start getting his mail again.


* * * * *


“And you got to see your family again?” LeBeau asked. He was holding a tray containing small pieces of buttered toast and was placing small bits of scrambled eggs on them.


“Yes,” Vladimir replied. He was sitting on the bench at the table in the barracks, talking with his old friends. He had changed out of the Gestapo uniform and was wearing one of his old uniforms that had been left behind when he had gone away. It was as if he had never left. “They were very surprised to see me.”


“What in the ‘ell are you making, LeBeau?” Newkirk asked, looking at the small bits on the tray. “Scrambled egg sandwiches?”


“I don’t have enough eggs for everyone, so I’m stretching things,” LeBeau explained. “Just leave the cooking to me and you go back and do whatever it is that you do.”


“And that first night, my family slept with the neighbors and gave my wife and I the flat to ourselves,” Vladimir continued as he described his homecoming for Kinch and Carter.


“But I don’t understand,” Carter said. “If they were so happy to see you, why did they sleep somewhere else that night?” As he stopped talking, realization hit him and he began to blush. “Oh, I get it now.”


Vladimir laughed. “You haven’t changed a bit, Andrew,” he said.


LeBeau had finished his tray and began to carry it over to the table when the door to the barracks opened. “Colonel Hogan,” Schultz said as he entered the barracks and closed the door. “The Kommandant …” He looked around, not seeing Hogan. “Colonel Hogan?”


“He’s in there, Schultz,” Newkirk said, motioning towards the Colonel’s office. “Why don’t you leave him alone today? He’s not in a very good mood.”


“Newkirk, the Kommandant wants to see him at once,” Schultz insisted. “Ooo, that looks good,” he said as he spied the tray LeBeau was carrying. He snatched one of the small morsels from the tray before LeBeau could stop him.


“Hey, stop that,” LeBeau protested. “Those are for us prisoners!”


Schultz tried to chuckle as he chewed his food. He slapped Vladimir on the back. “You don’t mind if I have one, do you?” he asked, not recognizing him.


“You can have mine, Schultz,” Vladimir replied.


When he heard him speak, Schultz did a double take and looked at Vladimir again. “You?” he exclaimed as he finally recognized him. “What are you doing here? How did …” he stammered.


“It’s good to see you again, Schultz,” Vladimir said with a large smile on his face.


Schultz closed his eyes. “When I open my eyes, you will not be here,” he said. He opened one eye slightly and looked at Vladimir. He quickly closed it again. “I see nothing!” he said.


The door to Hogan’s office opened and the Colonel stomped into the main room. “What’s all the racket out here?” he asked crossly. “Schultz, what are you doing here? Don’t you have anything better to do?”


“But I do, Colonel Hogan,” Schultz insisted. “I came here to tell you that the Kommandant wants to see you at once.”


“Okay, you told me, now you can go,” Hogan shot back. He walked over to Schultz and began to usher him to the door and followed him out of the barracks.


After they had left, the door opened again and Schultz popped his head into the opening. “It’s good to see you again, Sam,” he said with a smile.


* * * * *


“Colonel Hogan, the Kommandant has told me of your adventure to England,” Burkhalter said to Hogan. “But I wanted to hear your version of the story.”


Hogan harrumphed in annoyance. “If the Kommandant told you what happened, why do you need to hear it from me?” he said testily.


Burkhalter studied Hogan closely. “I found it a little hard to believe that Klink overpowered three guards single-handedly to get you to the plane,” he said, throwing an annoyed glance in Klink’s direction. Klink gave a weak placating smile in return.


“I find that hard to believe as well,” Hogan replied. “Okay, here’s what happened. We stole the plane and on the way back the engine conked out. We bailed out and the plane crashed. That’s it. Can I go now?”


Burkhalter didn’t know what to say to this abrupt outburst. Something is bothering him. Normally, he’d have come back with a better shot at Klink. He opened his mouth to reply but was interrupted when the office door burst open.


* * * * *


Hogan stood with his arms crossed waiting for the General to speak when the office door burst open. Major Hochstetter strutted into the room, sneering at everyone.


“Ah, Colonel Hogan. Why am I not surprised to see you here?” Hochstetter said.


“What do you want, Major?” Burkhalter demanded.


“General Burkhalter, I am surprised to see you here,” Hochstetter replied.


“You didn’t answer my question,” Burkhalter said. “What do you want?”


Rather than answer the question, Hochstetter strode over to face Hogan. “Where were you last night, Colonel?” he asked.


“He was right here in this camp,” Klink answered. “Where else would he be?”


“Maybe he could be in the woods a few miles from this camp,” Hochstetter said calmly. “Throwing explosives into trucks and trying to blow up a fuel depot.”


“That’s ridiculous!” Klink exclaimed.


Hochstetter leaned closer to Hogan. “Is it, Colonel Hogan?” he asked menacingly.


Hogan remained silent, but was beginning to boil inside. He was not in the mood to play these games with Hochstetter.


“Last night, someone attempted to blow up the fuel depot by throwing explosives into one of the delivery trucks,” Hochstetter explained. “They failed. The truck exploded as it went through the main gate. Three men were killed and the gate was destroyed, but nothing else in the depot was damaged.”


Hogan remained silent. Who the hell tried to blow up that depot? Erich wouldn’t do it without my knowledge. It suddenly dawned on him who would do this. Hans Wagner! Damn him – I told him that we were going to wait until it was fully operational. Now Hochstetter will tighten up security and make it even tougher for us to do the job.


“Well, Colonel Hogan – it seems that you failed,” said Hochstetter mockingly.


Hogan had had enough. “I’m getting tired of you!” he exploded. “Every time something goes wrong around here and you can’t find the ones who did it, you blame me, yell and scream and call everyone incompetent fools. Maybe you should look in the mirror to see who the real incompetent jackass is around here.”


Hochstetter had taken a step backwards, surprised at the force of Hogan’s outburst. He quickly recovered and stepped forward, raising his hand to strike the American. Hogan tensed for the blow he expected to come, ready to lash back at the diminutive Gestapo Major.


“Major Hochstetter – that is enough!” Burkhalter yelled.


Hochstetter whirled to face the General. “You are preventing me from interrogating a suspected saboteur?” he asked in surprise.


“No, Major,” Burkhalter said icily. “I am preventing you from physically assaulting a prisoner of war protected by the Geneva Convention.”


“Bah!” Hochstetter yelled. “He is guilty and I will get the truth from him!”


“Do you have proof, Major?” Burkhalter said. Without waiting for a reply, he continued, “I don’t think you do, so you have no reason for being here. You are dismissed, Major.”


“General, you don’t seem to understand the seriousness of this,” Hochstetter countered.


I said you are dismissed!” Burkhalter bellowed. “Get out!”


“General, when I find proof that Hogan is responsible for everything that goes on around here, I will take care of you as well,” Hochstetter threatened.

Burkhalter grinned. In a battle of wits, I’ll bet on Colonel Hogan over Major Hochstetter any day. “Major, I would be surprised if you were smart enough to find proof that the sun rises in the East every morning,” he quipped.


Hochstetter let out a low growl and slammed the door as he left.


Hogan felt a small sense of relief when Hochstetter left. He had struggled hard to suppress the urge to let loose on the Major.


“Colonel Hogan, you may go,” Burkhalter said. “We’ll talk about the P-51 some other time.”


Without a word, Hogan left the office.


* * * * *


As Burkhalter left the Kommandant’s office, he was surprised to find Sergeant Schultz waiting for him.


“General Burkhalter,” Schultz said as he gave a salute. “May I talk to you?”


“Do you have a problem, Sergeant?” Burkhalter asked.


Nein, General,” Schultz replied hesitantly. “Colonel Hogan has the problem.”


Burkhalter wasn’t surprised to hear this after witnessing Hogan’s strange behavior. “What kind of problem does he have?” he asked.


Schultz cleared his throat nervously. “I found out from the mail courier that Major Hochstetter has ordered that his mail was to be rerouted to Gestapo Headquarters.”


“Are you sure, Sergeant?” Burkhalter asked.


Yawohl, General,” Schultz replied. “All of his mail, incoming and outgoing, is being held. The Colonel has not received any mail for months.”


Burkhalter was shocked that Hochstetter would do such a thing. No wonder he is in a bad mood.


“I just thought that …” Schultz started.


Danke, Sergeant,” Burkhalter interrupted. “I will take care of it.”


Schultz snapped a salute. “Yawohl, Herr General,” he said.


* * * * *


As his car drove through the main gate, Burkhalter was lost in thought. Hochstetter was holding Hogan’s mail and it was beginning to take its toll on the Colonel. This would not bode well for Hogan’s operation, whatever that might be - and it also was a problem for the General and his plans. He knew quickly what he had to do.


“Driver, take me back to headquarters. I must speak to the postmaster,” he ordered. “And then we will visit Gestapo Headquarters.”


“General, your flight to Berchtesgaden …” the driver said.


“Can be delayed,” Burkhalter finished for him. “I am not due in Obersalzberg until tomorrow.”


Hammelburg, Luftwaffe Headquarters, Office of the Luft Stalag Postmaster

March 24, 1944, 1130 hours


General Burkhalter strode into the office of Captain Dunkelberger, the Luft Stalag postmaster for the Hammelburg area. Dunkelberger shared the office with Captain Dingle, the supply officer, and Burkhalter found both men sitting at their desks.


“Captain Dingle, don’t you have something to deliver?” Burkhalter asked.


Nein, General,” Dingle replied. He then noticed the glare from the General. “I mean, ja.” He picked up a folder from his desk. “I have to take these papers to, um, to …”


“You have to take those papers on a tour of the building,” Burkhalter said, finishing his sentence. “And they would like the scenic tour.”


Dingle nodded his head nervously. “Jawohl, General,” he said, rising from his desk. “The scenic tour.”


Burkhalter waited until Dingle had left the office and then closed the door. He turned back to Dunkelberger, who was staring at the General with fear in his eyes.


Burkhalter smiled at the Captain, and was amused to see a slight flinch. I don’t blame him for being scared – seeing as how I ran Captain Dingle out of the room in such an obvious manner. “Captain Dunkelberger, you are currently the postmaster that handles the mail for Stalag 13, is that correct?” Burkhalter stressed the word currently, hoping to scare the Captain even more.


Dunkelberger nodded. “Jawohl, General,” he replied meekly.


“It has recently come to my attention that the mail for an American officer, one Colonel Robert Hogan, is not being delivered to him,” Burkhalter said slowly. “Is this true?”


Dunkelberger nodded again. “Jawohl, General. Major Hoch…” he started.


“And I have also heard that you are delivering the mail that should go to Colonel Hogan to Major Hochstetter,” Burkhalter interrupted.


Dunkelberger nodded again. “Major Hochstetter ordered …” he replied.


“And all of Colonel Hogan’s outgoing mail is also being delivered to Major Hochstetter?” Burkhalter asked, interrupting the Captain’s attempt at an explanation.


Burkhalter could see beads of sweat beginning to appear on the Captain’s brow as he nervously nodded yet another time. “Jawohl, sir,” he replied quietly.


“May I ask why I was not informed of this?” Burkhalter asked harshly.


“Major Hochstetter ordered me not to mention it to anyone,” Dunkelberger explained.


“Captain, you are a Luftwaffe officer, are you not?” Burkhalter asked. Dunkelberger nodded. “And you are the Luft Stalag postmaster, correct?” Another nod. “And I am in charge of all of the Luft Stalags in the Reich, am I not?” The nodding continued. “Which makes me your superior officer?” The nodding was now continuous. “And apparently I pass down my orders to you through Major Hochstetter.”


Dunkelberger continued nodding until he realized the meaning of the General’s last statement. He quickly began shaking his head. “Oh no, sir,” he stammered. “But Major Hochstetter is Gestapo.”


Burkhalter placed his hands on the desktop and leaned toward the Captain, causing him to lean backward in his chair. “The Gestapo has no jurisdiction over the prisoners in the Luft Stalags unless I hear it from Herr Himmler personally,” he said in a menacing tone. “And unless you hear it from me, they are not to interfere.” He paused to stare silently at the trembling Captain. “And if they do, I expect you to inform me immediately!”


Captain Dunkelberger opened and closed his mouth repeatedly, unable to respond. Burkhalter saw that the man was sweating profusely. “You seem to be a little warm, Captain,” he said. He stood and removed a piece of paper from his jacket pocket. It’s time to put a real scare into him. “Do you know what I have here?”


Dunkelberger shook his head.


“It is your transfer,” Burkhalter replied. “All it needs is a date and my signature, after which you will find yourself in a location where you will not be at all warm.” Burkhalter enjoyed the reaction from the man. If he knew what was really on the paper – notes for Burkhalter’s upcoming meeting with the Führer – he wouldn’t be so scared. What he doesn’t know could definitely hurt him.


Dunkelberger swallowed nervously. “Herr General, I … I,” he stammered.


“Captain, you will disregard Major Hochstetter’s order and immediately resume Colonel Hogan’s mail,” Burkhalter said. “And if I hear of any future disruption …” he waved the paper slightly. “Do I make myself clear?”


Jawohl, General!” Dunkelberger replied with relief.


“Good,” Burkhalter said, a smile appearing on his face. “I’m glad you enjoyed our little chat.” He turned and left the office without another word.


* * * * *


Burkhalter’s car pulled to a stop in front of Gestapo Headquarters. “Driver, wait here until I return,” he ordered before stepping out of the vehicle and climbing the steps to the building. Hochstetter is going to love to see me, after what we went through this morning. He walked down the hallway, informing the guard that he was to see Major Hochstetter, and barreling past before the guard could object.


Hochstetter looked up when his door opened and a sneer spread across his face when he recognized the General. “What do you want?” he barked.


Burkhalter sat down casually in one of the guest chairs. “And a pleasure to see you again too, Major,” he said with an amiable smile.


“Make yourself at home, General,” Hochstetter said sarcastically.


Burkhalter ignored the remark. “Major Hochstetter, it seems like you have taken it upon yourself to stick your nose into Luftwaffe business,” he said. “Again.”


“So what if I did?” Hochstetter remarked defiantly. Then a look of confusion spread across his face. “What are you referring to?”


“For your information, I have rescinded your order to my postmaster,” Burkhalter said, indirectly answering Hochstetter’s question. “Colonel Hogan will again be receiving his mail.”


Burkhalter noticed Hochstetter’s breathing becoming more rapid as the Major sat in stony silence. Burkhalter also remained silent.


“General, you are once again interfering in Gestapo business,” Hochstetter growled after a moment.


“No, Major,” Burkhalter replied with a smile. “You are once again sticking your nose in places it does not belong.”


“Are you telling me how to run an investigation?” Hochstetter blurted.


“No Major, I am reminding you that you have no authority over Luftwaffe prisoners of war,” Burkhalter said calmly.


“General, the Gestapo has the authority to investigate …” Hochstetter began.


“And that authority would be relayed from General Schlesinger to me,” Burkhalter interrupted. “You have informed the General of your actions, and he has approved of them, has he not?” Burkhalter knew that it wasn’t the case and wanted to hear Hochstetter admit it. Hochstetter remained silent.


Burkhalter smiled. “I thought as much,” he said smugly. “I must commend you, Major. The last time I spoke with the General about you, he discussed giving you a different assignment.”


Hochstetter smiled. “Is that so?” he replied. “A promotion would be nice.”


Burkhalter’s smile widened. The fish fell for the bait. Now it’s time to reel him in. “Actually, the word he used was transfer, not promotion, Major Hochstetter,” he replied. His smile turned to a chuckle as he watched Hochstetter’s shocked expression. “Would you care to discuss your suspicions with the General?” he asked. “And if he agrees with you, then I will relent and allow the resumption of the hold on Colonel Hogan’s mail.”


“Ah, General, there is no need to bother General Schlesinger with this,” Hochstetter groveled. “I’m sure we can come to an understanding.”


“I’m sure we can,” Burkhalter replied. “And that understanding will be that you are not to harass the prisoners – any of the prisoners – in my Luft Stalags without written authorization from General Schlesinger.”


Hochstetter was getting angry again. Burkhalter could see his face becoming redder with each breath. “That’s not much of an understanding,” he muttered.


Burkhalter shrugged. “For my purposes, it will do,” he replied. “Now, there is the matter of all of the mail that you have in your possession.”


“”What about it?” Hochstetter asked.


“You will give it to me,” Burkhalter replied. At once.”


“General, I assure you that I will …” Hochstetter began.


“Assure me of nothing,” Burkhalter shot back. “Give me the mail.”


Hochstetter opened his mouth to reply but apparently thought better of it. He opened a desk drawer and retrieved a small bundle and handed it to the General. Burkhalter looked at the bundle and began clucking his tongue. “Tsk, tsk, Major,” he said disapprovingly. “The outgoing mail as well.”


Hochstetter let out a rumble as he retrieved another bundle and tossed it in Burkhalter’s direction. “There! You have your precious mail,” Hochstetter yelled. “Now you can leave.”


Burkhalter laughed as he stood.


“You do realize that you are allowing the most dangerous threat to the Third Reich to continue to operate,” Hochstetter said tightly.


Burkhalter paused at the door. “Ja, I do realize that, Major,” Burkhalter replied. Hochstetter’s eyes bulged and his mouth opened, but Burkhalter spoke again, cutting off any reply. “But with one word to General Schlesinger, your operating privileges can be revoked!”


Hochstetter let out an unintelligible shriek as Burkhalter closed the door. As he walked down the hall, he heard Hochstetter screaming and then the crash of several items hitting the office wall. It’s always fun to take the toys away from those little spoiled brats!


* * * * *


When Burkhalter returned to Luftwaffe Headquarters, he gave the packet of outgoing mail to Captain Dunkelberger with orders that it be expedited on its way. The Captain was very happy to oblige to try to get back into Burkhalter’s good graces.


Burkhalter held on to the packet of incoming mail. I will deliver this to Hogan personally and let him know that it will not happen again. He thought about what it must have been like to be stuck in a prison camp with no news from home. What am I thinking about! I’m sure Hogan has more contact with the outside world than I do!


But the mail delivery would have to wait. Burkhalter was due in Obersalzberg the next morning for his weekly briefing with the Führer. He thought briefly about informing General Schlesinger of what Hochstetter had done. That would take care of Hogan’s problem for good. But I wonder … who would replace Hochstetter? If it was anyone with any amount of intelligence, Hogan might not be able to operate as freely. The last thing Burkhalter wanted was for someone to get the proof of Hogan’s activities that Hochstetter craved!


Stalag 13, Solitary Confinement Cell

March 24, 1944, 2345 hours


Marya saw Hogan stick his head into the solitary confinement cell. He seemed surprised to see her sitting up on the small metal cot talking quietly with LeBeau.


“Come in, Hogan darling,” she purred, motioning him in.


“I expected to find you resting,” he said softly, climbing through the tunnel entrance. “You need to build up your strength again.”


“With my little one here feeding me, I will not starve,” she said smiling. She patted LeBeau on the arm and said, “Colonel Hogan and I have some things to discuss.” She turned to Hogan and in her most seductive tone added, “Don’t we, Hogan darling?”


LeBeau rose from the small stool by the cot and gathered the bowl that contained the rich broth he had brought for her. “I will be back with breakfast in the morning,” he said. As he passed Hogan on his way to the tunnel entrance, Marya noticed a playful smile pulling at the corners of his mouth. “Remember, mon Colonel, Sergeant DeSoto said she shouldn’t engage in strenuous activity for a while.”


Marya began chuckling and Hogan swatted at LeBeau’s head as he passed. “Not you too!” he complained.


After the Frenchman had disappeared into the tunnel, Marya said, “We are alone now, Hogan darling. You can take advantage of me now!”


Hogan made a show of rolling his eyes. “Are you going to start that again?” he asked. Marya smiled and patted the stool. As Hogan sat on the stool, he studied the Russian woman carefully. He could tell that she was still in noticeable pain from the bruised ribs, and would be for several more days. The bruises on her face had darkened, but they too would pass in time.


Marya watched him looking at her. “I’m not the most attractive person at the moment, da?” she asked.


Hogan shrugged noncommittally. “I’ve seen worse,” he mumbled. He seemed distracted, as if he was lost in thought.


“Hogan darling,” she said softly. When he didn’t respond, she tried again. “Colonel Hogan.” She changed her intonation, as if beckoning him from afar. She waved her hand back and forth in front of him. “Yoo hoo,” she said.


He blinked his eyes several times as he tried to focus again. “Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention,” he said sheepishly.


“You have a lot on your mind?” she prompted. She had an idea what was bothering him.


“Yeah, that’s it,” he replied quickly – too quickly. “First the von Waffenschmidt thing, then this little trip to England for Burkhalter and now this …” he said motioning towards her, “this little incident of yours with Hochstetter, and …” He trailed off, leaving the sentence unfinished.


“And your little incident with Hochstetter,” Marya said, finishing his thoughts.


“With the mail?” he asked. “That doesn’t bother me.”


Marya laughed. “Hogan darling, you may be able to lie to the Germans, but if I can give you some advice – never try to lie to a woman,” she said.


Hogan looked confused. “I don’t know what you are talking about,” he said, attempting to be convincing.


“Hogan, Major Hochstetter has cut off your mail,” Marya said seriously. “Your connection to your family – to your wife and child – has been severed.” She saw him wince when she mentioned his family. “See, you are bothered by this.”


“It won’t affect my operations,” he said forcefully. Marya got the impression he was trying to convince himself instead of anyone else.


“Hogan darling, we are so much alike,” she pointed out. “I know exactly how everything is affecting you.”


“Sure you do,” he scoffed. “And maybe you can enlighten me since I don’t seem to know myself as well as you do?”


Marya snorted. “Hogan darling, let me ask you one question,” she said. “Why is it that only Kinch knows about your secret family?”


Hogan stared back at her silently before exhaling in disgust. “Is that what you think?” he asked testily. “What is it with you and Kinch and this obsession with my personal life?”


Marya grimaced as she shifted herself to a more upright position. “Since you don’t seem to want to answer my question, why don’t I answer it for you,” Marya said.


“Hell, you might as well,” Hogan huffed as he rose from the stool and stomped to the opposite end of the cell. He turned and face Marya. “All right, let’s hear it,” he said angrily.


Marya laughed. “You are proving my point,” she said. Hogan huffed again, and Marya could tell that he was getting more and more annoyed with her. “Hogan, look at me. Do you know why I look like this now?”


“Hochstetter beat you up,” he blurted. “What kind of answer is that?”


“And do you know why Hochstetter beat me?” she asked patiently.


“He wanted you to confess to being a spy,” he answered tersely. “I don’t see what this has to do …”


“Hochstetter began hitting me only after I hit him first,” Marya interrupted. Hogan stopped in mid sentence, too shocked to speak. “And do you know why I hit him?” she asked.


Hogan shook his head.


“I hit him because he said something about my associations with various men,” she explained. “I lost control … I lost my temper and snapped.”


“But …” he said, pausing for a second. “But I’ve seen you lose your temper before.”


She shook her head quickly. “No, Hogan,” she corrected. “You’ve seen me act like I lost my temper, just like you’ve seen me act like the biggest tramp in Europe.”


“So why would you lose your temper about that?” he asked. “You have been cavorting with a lot of men and did, um …” He trailed off, unsure how to finish he sentence.


“And some of them I did have to sleep with,” she finished for him. “But most of the time I only made them think I did.” She noticed his puzzled look and laughed. “The joys of alcohol and sleeping pills,” she said.


“So why did you …” he started.


“All those things I did because it helped my assignments,” she quickly interrupted. “Not because I wanted to. And …” she paused to take a deep breath before continuing. This conversation was beginning to make her feel a little uncomfortable – this was not something that she liked to admit to anyone. “And deep down, I am ashamed that I have had to do them. I am, after all, just a woman.”


Hogan stared at Marya with a look of realization.


* * * * *


Hogan continued to stare at Marya. Damn, she could be talking about me.


“So you see, Hogan darling, you may think that these things won’t affect your operations, but you too will snap and do something stupid,” she said.


Suddenly the events of that morning came flooding back to him. He remembered his short temper when Hochstetter confronted him, and how close he was to doing exactly what Marya had done and striking out at him. She’s right. I can’t let things get to me like that. Hochstetter has been trying to find a reason to haul me in and work me over, and today I almost gave him that reason.


“You are too quiet, Hogan darling,” Marya said softly.


Hogan sighed and walked back to the stool to sit down. He told her what had happened in Klink’s office that morning and how he had almost lost his temper. “I guess I need to watch myself a little closer,” he said.


“Hogan, I have a little friendly advice for you,” she replied. “You have a good team of men here. You trust them with your life every day – so I think you need to think about trusting them enough to let them into your life.”


Hogan stared at the cell wall silently, thinking about everything that had been happening. “I don’t know,” he said with a small shake of his head.


Marya was about to say something when a huge yawn interrupted her. “I think I need some rest, Hogan darling,” she said. “Can you send Vladimir down? There is some information that I would like radioed to Michael.”


Hogan nodded as he rose and headed for the tunnel entrance. “I’ll send him right down,” he said. Before he squatted down to crawl into the tunnel, he stopped and looked at Marya. “You know, you did get one thing wrong,” he said.


“I’m rarely wrong, Hogan darling,” she said with a grin.


“You are definitely not just a woman,” he said, smiling back at her.


Marya’s grin widened. “Why don’t you come over here and say that, Hogan darling,” she cooed.


* * * * *


Kinch studied the chessboard carefully before moving one of his white pawns. After the move, he sat back on his stool and lit a cigarette. He offered one to Vladimir, who accepted and continued to study the board.


“I’ve missed our games,” Kinch commented.


“I have missed them as well, Ivan,” Vladimir replied, not looking up from the board. “With all of the work needing done on the farm, Tadeauz and I never had much of a chance to play.


Kinch chuckled. “I still can’t picture you milking a cow!” he said.


“It took a little while to get used to it,” Vladimir admitted. “And I could have simply sat there and let Tadeauz and Jacinta do all the work … they expected me to do that since I was in charge.”


“That doesn’t sound like you,” Kinch pointed out. “You’d be the first one volunteering to help out.”


“And I surprised them,” Vladimir said with a small smile. He reached out and moved one of his black chess pieces.


The two men sat in silence for a moment until Kinch moved a white piece on the board. As Kinch finished moving, they heard footsteps echo in the tunnel and Colonel Hogan emerged into the large open area, concentrating on the ground in front of him as he walked.


“Is Marya resting, Colonel?” Kinch asked.


Hogan shook his head and looked at the two men. “Huh?” he grunted. “Oh, yes she is resting,” he replied. “She wants to talk to you,” he said to Vladimir. “She has some things for you to radio to Michael.”


Vladimir began to rise from his stool and Hogan put his hand on the Russian man’s shoulder. “After your game,” he said.


Vladimir smiled and moved his black queen. “Checkmate,” he said to Kinch. “Now I can go.”


Hogan laughed as Kinch gave a playful swipe at Vladimir as he headed towards the tunnel leading to the coolers.


“You never could beat him, could you?” Hogan asked.


Kinch shook his head. “And I’m out of practice now, too,” he commented.


“But we play all the time!” Hogan exclaimed.


Kinch stared silently back at Hogan with a playful glint in his eye.


Hogan laughed again. “Your silence is deafening,” he said sarcastically.


“I never said anything!” Kinch protested.


Hogan waved away the remark. “Never mind,” he said. “Did you get in touch with Erich?”


“Yes, he will tell Hans that we will meet him and his group tomorrow night at their farm,” Kinch replied.


“Good,” Hogan said. “Thanks.” He turned towards the ladder leading up to the barracks.


“Um, Colonel?” Kinch asked tentatively. Hogan turned. “Is there something wrong?”


Hogan stared back in confusion. “No, what makes you think something is wrong?” he asked.


“When you came from visiting with Marya, you looked as if something was bothering you,” Kinch explained.


Hogan was silent for a moment. “Oh that,” he said finally, letting out a big sigh. “It seems that she has stolen your speech.”


Now it was Kinch’s turn to look confused. “I don’t follow you,” he responded.


“Marya was telling me how stupid I was not to tell the men about Lisa,” Hogan replied. When Kinch opened his mouth to reply, Hogan stuck his hand up to stop him. “Don’t you start again,” he said.


Kinch stared at his commander in silent contemplation. After a moment, he said, “Permission to speak freely, sir.”


“Always,” Hogan replied.


“This is man to man, not Sergeant to Colonel,” Kinch added.


Hogan nodded. “I understand,” he replied.


Kinch sighed. “Well, I agree with her,” he said. “And I also think that you are insulting the men with this attitude.”


“Oh?” Hogan prompted, hoping to hear more.


“You can get mad at me for saying this …” Kinch began. “But if you think that the men will think any different of you just because you are married …”


“And haven’t been faithful,” Hogan interrupted.


“Oh, like that means anything to them,” Kinch blurted. “They all recognize what kinds of things we must do in order to succeed in our mission.” He rose from his stool and began pacing. “Sir, the men respect you, and have proved to you that they would stand beside you no matter the circumstances – and you’ll recall that we’ve had some pretty risky circumstances. I think you owe it to them to return that respect and be straight with them.” He stopped pacing and faced Hogan. “And you owe it to yourself … and Lisa … to be honest.”


“Kinch …” Hogan started.


“Colonel, ask yourself one question,” Kinch interrupted, not giving Hogan a chance to respond. “What do you think Lisa would say if she knew that you wouldn’t tell the men closest to you that you are married to her? Don’t you think she would believe that you were ashamed of her?”


“What would she think about the transgressions?” Hogan countered.


“I don’t know,” Kinch replied honestly. “But if she loves you – really loves you – she will understand … and so will the men.” He smiled. “Now if you want to send me off to the cooler, I’ll understand.”


Hogan chuckled. “Kinch, I appreciate your concern, but …” he paused.


“But you’re not going to say anything,” Kinch finished.


“But I’m not going to say anything … yet,” Hogan corrected. “I have a lot to think about, Kinch. And this business with Hans Wagner has got to come first.”


Kinch nodded. “Permission to keep nagging you until you say something to the men, sir?” he asked lightly.


“Permission denied!” Hogan exclaimed with a laugh.


“Too bad,’” Kinch replied with a shrug. “I guess you’ll have to court martial me.”



Stalag 13, Tunnel under Barracks 2

March 25, 1944, 2300 hours


The men were crowded into the large room of the tunnel complex, preparing to leave for their meeting with Hans Wagner. Hogan had decided that his entire group would go. He meant it more as a show of unity, but he also did not trust Hans Wagner, and if things got ugly, he wanted to make sure he had numbers on his side.


Vladimir also offered to accompany them. At first, Hogan was a little surprised – when he was in the camp before, Vladimir had always shied away at venturing out of the camp. Now the man seemed to have a confidence that he didn’t have before. Hogan guessed that the confidence came from the fact that he had been working undercover in an area very close to Hitler for the past several months, and from everything he had heard from Marya, had been doing a great job.


Marya shuffled down from the solitary cell where she was recuperating. “I’ll mind the radio while you are gone,” she said.


“Aren’t you supposed to be resting?” Hogan asked.


Marya smiled. “I won’t exactly be planting potatoes down here, Hogan darling! I can sit here or I can sit in my cell – there is no difference.”


Hogan smiled back. “All right, it seems we’re all set,” he said. “Now when we get there, remember – I don’t want to start trouble, but Hans and his group have to know that they are endangering all of us with their actions.”


“And Erich’s men too,” Kinch added.


“That’s right,” Hogan agreed. “Erich will be there as well with some of his men. We have to rein these people in before something bad happens.”


“We’re ready, sir,” Newkirk said. “If they don’t see reason, we’ll beat some sense into them!”


“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that,” Hogan said. “But if we have to, we may have to take them out.” There was an uneasy murmur in the room.


“You mean …” Carter asked as he slid his finger across his throat.


“No, not that,” Hogan said. “What I mean is that if they don’t agree – and convince me that they will play nicely, we’ll have to take the whole group and send them someplace where they will not cause any trouble.”


“Send them to the Gulag, Hogan darling!” Marya quipped.


“I was thinking someplace a little warmer,” Hogan replied.


“Send them to London?” LeBeau asked.


Hogan nodded. “They know too much about the local Underground – and us – to be left here,” he said. Hogan looked around the room at the assembled group. They looked ready. “All right men. Let’s go.”


* * * * *


Hans Wagner looked up as the door to the barn opened and his brother Karl entered. “Well?” he asked.


“They will be here shortly,” Karl replied. “Max went to get the others.”


“Good,” replied Hans excitedly. He was happy. His team had successfully blown up the fuel depot, despite Colonel Hogan’s insistence that it be left alone for the moment, and now the Colonel wanted to meet with his group. Hans was sure that the American wanted to congratulate him on their successful action.


As if trying to read his brother’s mind, Karl asked, “What do you think Colonel Hogan wants to talk to us about?”


Hans smiled. “Congratulations, of course,” he said confidently. “He’s heard that the fuel depot has been destroyed and wants to tell us that we did a good job.”


“Hans, do we know that the fuel depot is destroyed?” Ilse asked. “We haven’t been back there to check.”


“Of course it’s destroyed,” Hans said, dismissing her pessimism. “We had it timed perfectly.”


“Ilse, you worry too much,” Karl chided.


“One of us has to!” Ilse exclaimed. “You two don’t seem to think anything can ever go wrong.”


“Ilse, we know what we are doing,” Hans explained. “After all, didn’t we manage to do something that the famous Papa Bear was afraid to do?”


“Maybe,” Ilse replied. “But I still think we need to be careful.”


* * * * *


Erich Jonach waited along with Oskar Schnitzer and Johann Mueller in Mueller’s shop. “Johann, how long did Oskar say he would be at his butcher shop?” Jonach asked.


Mueller glanced at the clock. “He should be here soon,” he replied. “Doctor Hauser will not be joining us tonight. Frau Buchbaum’s baby has decided to grace the world with its presence this evening.”


Jonach smiled. “Heinrich will be happy,” he commented, and then returned to the business at hand. “We can head for the rendezvous when Oskar arrives. Colonel Hogan wants to meet us before going to meet Hans.”


“What does the Colonel hope to accomplish with this meeting?” Mueller asked. “Hans has already attacked the depot.”


Jonach shrugged. “I don’t know, Johann,” he replied. “Hogan wanted to wait and attack the depot once it became fully operational. I think he wants to tell Hans that we all need to work together.”


Ja, we do,” Schnitzer added. “If we don’t, then it won’t be long before something bad happens to one of us.”


“I just hope Hans will listen to him,” Jonach said.


“Hans never listened to anyone,” Mueller replied. “Except his father – and the way he has been lately, I’m not even sure his father has any influence anymore.”


Just then, the door opened and Oskar Meyer entered. “I’m sorry I am late,” he replied.


Jonach clapped his hands together. “That’s fine, Oskar,” he said. “And since we’re all here, let’s go meet Colonel Hogan.” Without another word, he opened the door of the shop and stuck his head out. Seeing nobody on the street, he motioned the rest of the small group to follow.


* * * * *


Captain Dorfmann was lost in thought as he walked slowly through the deserted nighttime streets of Hammelburg. Much had happened lately to cause doubts in the Captain’s vision of his future. He had just rounded a corner and was in the shadow of the building when the sound of a door opening pulled him from his thoughts. He stopped and pressed himself against the wall.


Up ahead, he saw a head appear in a doorway, looking in each direction. Then the man emerged from the doorway and began walking across the street. Dorfmann remained silent as he watched three other men follow the first, the last one turning to lock the door of the shop they emerged from. That’s Johann Mueller! What’s he doing out at this time of night? He squinted to try and catch the identity of the other men. That looks like Erich Jonach in the lead, and I can tell the walk of old Oskar Schnitzer anywhere. It wasn’t until the men had completely crossed the street and were out of sight on the cross street that he placed the last person. Oskar Meyer, the butcher?


It didn’t seem right to him that those four would be out at this time of night, and in a group. He quickly made up his mind to try and follow them to see what they were up to.


As he quickly trotted across the street, he was silently grateful that he was wearing his black SS uniform – better to remain unseen. His heart pounded in his ears as he peeked around the corner to see the backs of the men disappearing in the darkness.


He followed the men out of town and through a small neck of woods to a small clearing. Dorfmann eased up behind a large clump of bushes and watched the four men enter the clearing. Dorfmann was surprised to see an even larger group of men emerge from the woods at almost the same time. There must be about six or seven men meeting with them! It was then when Dorfmann realized that this must be a meeting of Underground units.


His heart thumped loudly in his chest and he tried hard to keep his breathing under control. His mind swirled with all the confusing information. He found that he cared deeply about Ilse Wagner, but he had a very strong suspicion that one, if not both, of her brothers were involved in sabotage activity. Now he found that the shopkeeper she worked for also seemed to be involved in the Underground. In that clearing there are almost a dozen members of the Underground, meeting to plan their next attacks – and Johann Mueller is one of them! Isle works for Johann – is that how her family got involved in the Underground?


It wasn’t long before the large group began to leave the clearing. Dorfmann quickly noticed that they were not breaking off into different directions, but were all heading the same way. He made up his mind – he would follow them to find out where they were going. As he padded softly through the underbrush, he was grateful that his father had taught him the art of stalking prey in the woods when he was a boy. He was able to remain far enough behind the group that he was not noticed, but follow closely enough that he did not lose sight of them.


After a while, the group seemed to arrive at a farmhouse. Dorfmann slowed his progress, his eyes open for anyone hiding in the woods as a lookout. He saw one of the members of the group veer off and walk around the perimeter of the farmhouse clearing, looking for anyone following them. As he dropped silently to the ground, he also saw another man standing silently behind a large oak.


Soon the first man, then the second, moved into the clearing and entered the barn where the rest of the group had gone. As he moved towards the clearing, and itch of recognition tugged at Dorfmann’s brain.


Then it suddenly hit him. This was the Wagner farm! This group of people had come to the Wagner farm for a meeting!


Dorfmann knew what he had to do – he was very near the fuel depot and could round up a group of guards to break up the meeting. But this was Ilse’s family, and Ilse might be in that barn. He didn’t want anything to happen to her.


He leaned his head against a large tree and squeezed his eyes shut. Oh God, what should I do?


Hammelburg Area, Farm of Friedrich Wagner

March 25, 1944, 2345 hours


Hogan led the delegation into the barn and found Hans and Karl Wagner there with the rest of his team. He waited while everyone filed into the barn and found a place. Hogan looked around – it was crowded. Along with Hans and Karl, their sister – it took Hogan a moment to remember that her name was Ilse – was there with three more members of his team. Hogan had brought his entire team in addition to Vladimir, and Erich had brought the three chief members of his team. People were leaning against any wall or beam that was available.


Within a few seconds, the barn door opened again and LeBeau entered. “All clear, sir,” he said to Hogan. “One of their men is also out there keeping watch.”


“You saw him?” Hans asked with a hint of surprise.


“He didn’t want me to,” LeBeau said. “But he’s not very good at hiding – and I’m very good at noticing things.” Hogan smiled at the way LeBeau casually indicated to Hans that his men were not as good as they thought.


The door opened again and Wagner’s man entered, nodding his head in response to Hans’ questioned glance. “He agrees with your man, Colonel,” Hans said. “It’s all clear outside.”


Hogan took a deep breath as he glanced towards Erich Jonach. “Shall we start?” he asked. The Underground leader nodded slightly.


Hogan turned towards Hans and was taken aback when the man smiled at him. “I know why you are here, Colonel,” Hans said. “You heard about what my group did to the fuel depot.”


“Yes, I heard,” replied Hogan.


“Now you see what we can do,” Hans said excitedly. “We managed to destroy the depot even though you were afraid to make the attempt.” There was a hint of defiance and smug superiority in his voice.


“Yes, I see what you can do,” Hogan replied evenly. He was determined to hold his temper as long as possible. He wanted Hans to realize that all of the Underground groups must work together in order to survive, and he had the feeling that antagonizing the man was not the best path to take. He also wanted them to see that they were not as good at this as they seemed to think. “I see that you can blow up a truck, destroy the main gate of the compound and kill three men, but not destroy the depot.”


“What?” Hans gasped. “It has to be destroyed! We destroyed it.”


“No, Hans,” Hogan said. “You didn’t destroy it. All you did was to make Hochstetter angry and force him to increase his security.”


“I don’t believe you,” Karl interjected. “How do you know this?”


“I heard it from Hochstetter as he told the Kommandant of Stalag 13,” Hogan replied. He decided that he didn’t want to tell them that Hochstetter had accused him of the attack.


“He just said that to make you think we didn’t do any damage,” Hans said defensively. His good mood had evaporated and Hogan could see him getting visibly agitated.


“What purpose would that serve, Hans?” Jonach asked, stepping forward beside Hogan in a show of unity. “Have you seen the facility since the explosion?”


Hans hesitated before answering. “What would be the point?” he asked sarcastically. “It’s been destroyed.”


“In other words, you haven’t seen it,” Hogan said. “So you don’t know how damaged it is.”


The silence in the barn was stifling. Hogan could feel that the tension level had risen. He took a deep breath and tried to ease that tension. “Why did you even think of trying something now?” he asked. “The depot was not fully loaded with fuel, so any damage you would do would only make a small scar on the facility.”


Hans looked at his men before replying. “We didn’t want it to become fully operational,” Hans explained. “We thought …”


“No, you didn’t think, Hans,” Hogan interrupted. “If you would have, you would have waited until all the fuel tanks were filled before making an attempt.”


Hans exploded. “Why do you keep insisting that the fuel depot begin to operate?” he bellowed. He didn’t wait for an answer before continuing. “I know why. You want to see this country destroyed. Winning the war just isn’t good enough for you – you want to see the German people beat down so that you can conquer us. We are the ones who have the most to lose – it is our country!”


Hogan was momentarily stunned by the outburst, but before he could reply, Johann Mueller spoke up. “Hans, what you are saying makes no sense.”


“It makes perfect sense to me,” Hans said.


“Is that what this is about?” Hogan asked. He couldn’t believe that all of this mess was because Hans was afraid that the allies wanted to occupy and conquer Germany. Mueller was right - it made no sense.


“Colonel Hogan, may I say something?” Vladimir asked.


Hogan saw a determined look in the Russian’s eyes. “Go ahead,” he said, and was surprised when Vladimir walked over and stood right in front of Hans.


“Your words do not match your actions,” he said to Hans.


“Of course you would say that,” Hans said harshly. “You’re with them – not one of us.”


“No, I am not, as you put it, one of you,” Vladimir said. “In either sense of the phrase. I am with them, like you said, and I am siding with Colonel Hogan in this disagreement though I am not one of them,” he paused knowing that what he was about to say would really annoy Hans. “I am a Russian, not an American.”


Untermenchen,” Hans sputtered viciously.


Hogan was about to say something when Vladimir surprised him – he began laughing.


“You see,” Vladimir said. “You recite the words of your National Socialist leaders, and yet you want to blow up a fuel depot which is needed for the successful completion of the war started by those National Socialist leaders. You need to work on your conflicting ideology.”


“And you need to go back to your country,” Hans said.


“I would like nothing better,” Vladimir replied calmly. “As would Colonel Hogan and all of his men. But they are all here – and here by choice – to help defeat the same National Socialists whose words you recite. And they do it so that the German people – like yourself – can live a normal life again.”


“What he says makes sense, Hans,” Mueller added.


Vladimir smiled again. “But that’s not the reason why you are acting this way, is it Hans?” he asked.


Hogan was impressed by the Russian’s argument, but he jerked his head around towards Vladimir at his question. He wasn't sure where he was leading, but the way he asked it made it seem like he knew something.


“I’m doing it because I want to see that fuel depot destroyed so it won’t help the Gestapo,” Hans countered with all the bravado he could muster.


“Hans Wagner, stop lying!” Ilse said angrily. “You know you did this because you want everyone to think you’re just as good as Colonel Hogan.”


Hogan felt his jaw drop as Vladimir nodded his head in agreement. He couldn’t believe it. “You gotta be kidding,” he muttered.


“Ilse, keep out of this!” Hans ordered. “You don’t know anything.”


“She knows more than you give her credit for,” Vladimir said. “She’s smart enough to know that you are not as good a leader as you think.” Hogan couldn’t believe it – the Russian had known all along. “That’s something you don’t realize, Hans,” Vladimir continued. “Operations in this area have been successful because of Colonel Hogan, not in spite of him, as you believe. They will be less successful if you think that you know how to do things better.”


Hans took a step towards Vladimir and tried to shove him aside. “How dare you,” he growled. “You don’t know anything about this.”


Vladimir held is ground, even though the German was bigger. “I know that you are reckless,” he replied. “And reckless leaders usually end up getting their men killed. Sometimes they even get other people killed.”


“I don’t have to take that from the likes of you,” he growled, and tried to shove Vladimir harder. Vladimir still did not budge.


Hogan put a hand on Kinch’s shoulder, as the Sergeant was about to step in to help his friend. Suddenly a voice from behind startled everyone in the barn. “But you do have to take it from me, Hans,” the voice said. Everyone turned towards the voice to see Friedrich Wagner standing by the door.


“Father, what are you doing here?” Karl asked.


“This concerns me and so I thought I should be here,” Friedrich replied.


“It does not concern you, Father,” Hans said forcefully.


“Yes it does,” Friedrich replied. “I am the head of this family, and when the family is being dishonored, I am concerned.”


“Dishonored?” Hans sputtered. “I’m fighting for our country and you tell me I am dishonoring the family?”


Nein! You are not fighting for your country!” Friedrich answered. “You are doing this for all the wrong reasons. You are doing this for your own ego as your sister has pointed out.”


Nein!” Hans yelled.


Kinch leaned closer to Newkirk. “I can’t believe I came all the way to Germany to participate in a psychoanalysis session,” he whispered.


“Yeah, it looks like we are in the middle of a family feud,” Newkirk whispered.


“Hans, do not shame me further by lying,” Friedrich said evenly.


Hans was stung by his father’s words. He hung his head and refused to meet his father’s stern gaze.


Hogan stepped forward. “Hans, we are all fighting a battle here,” he said. “You, me, Erich, Oskar … all of us … together. And together is the only way we will be successful. If we just go off and do whatever we want – we will fail.” He walked over and stood beside Vladimir. “If you are doing this for the notoriety, that is the wrong reason. Does it really matter who blows up a certain bridge, or tunnel, or convoy? Is it more destroyed if you do it instead of Erich … or me?”


Hans was silent, but Hogan persisted. “All that matters is that the bridge … or tunnel … or convoy … or in this case, fuel depot, is destroyed and cannot be used to win the war.” Hogan glanced at the rest of Hans’ group. “Let me tell you a story …” He paused when he heard Newkirk snicker.


“Save your stories,” Hans said angrily.


Hogan ignored the comment and went on. “Recently, a friend of Vladimir’s was arrested by Hochstetter – it was a dicey situation because she could provide him with a lot of information if she broke under interrogation. She needed to be rescued, and I was ready to go … but I never did.”


“So the point of your story is that you left her there to be tortured?” Hans asked with a hint of sarcasm.


“No, the point of my story is that it made more sense for someone else to go in and get her out,” Hogan replied. “It was suggested to me – correctly, I might add – that I stay behind … and I wasn't too happy about it. You could say that my pride was wounded.” He shrugged. “But it was the right thing to do and Hochstetter no longer has his prisoner.” He paused and looked at Hans. “Do you see what I am saying?” Hans stared silently back. “You see, Hochstetter would have recognized me and who knows how bad it could have gotten after that.”


“So what, you saved yourself and put someone else in danger. Is that your point?” Hans barked.


“No, my point is that there is a proper time and a proper place for everything,” Hogan replied. “And when the time comes, there will be a proper group of people to act on it. Hans, think about it. When the fuel depot is fully operational, it will be full of petrol in those storage tanks. All it takes is one tank to blow and it will trigger a chain reaction.”


“Boy, will it!” Carter said excitedly. “That place will blow sky high!”


Hogan sighed. “Carter!”


“Oh, sorry sir,” Carter apologized.


“As I was saying,” Hogan continued, “Once it is operational, it will be easier to blow up. That would be the proper time.”


“And when that time comes?” Hans asked guardedly.


“And when that time comes, we will decide the proper way to do it,” Hogan replied. “Whatever makes sense at time.


“Even if it is not you and your men?” Hans asked.


“I told you, it makes no difference who actually does it,” Hogan replied with sincerity. “As long as the depot is destroyed. It may even make sense for the Luftwaffe to bomb it for us – but I won’t know until the time comes.”


Hans laughed. “Like the Luftwaffe would bomb their own fuel depot just because we think they are the best ones for the job,” he said sarcastically.


“Why not?” Hogan shot back. “We’ve arranged it before.”


Hans stared at Hogan for a long time, and then looked at his brother before replying. “I think I speak for the entire team,” he said. Karl nodded. “We’ll work with you, Colonel Hogan … for now.”


Hogan smiled. “I’m glad to hear that,” he said with some relief. But he was disturbed by the addendum that had been placed on the statement. Trouble had been averted for the moment, but deep down, Hogan had the feeling that trouble was what he would eventually have with Hans Wagner.


* * * * *


Dorfmann watched the group of men leave the barn and disperse through the woods. He was again glad that he was wearing his black uniform and would not be noticed.


He had crouched in the woods the entire time the meeting was in progress, occasionally hearing the raised voices of the occupants inside. This must not be a friendly meeting, he had thought. At one point, he was about to leave when he saw Ilse’s father, Friedrich, walk from the house to the barn and enter. The whole family is involved!


He had pondered many questions while he waited for the meeting to break up. Why were they meeting in the Wagner barn? Was the Wagner family the leaders of the local Underground? How involved was Ilse in this madness? Did she go along on the bombing missions with her brothers? Was she the one who threw the bomb into the truck that had killed three men the night before?


All of these questions whirled around his mind – but one question kept returning to nag at him … Was Ilse just using him to try to get inside information on what the Gestapo knew about the Underground? The question haunted him, and he could only see one answer … Yes, she was using him.


That thought hurt him greatly. He knew that deep down inside, he loved Ilse Wagner. He loved everything about her – her exquisite looks, silky black hair, the rosy tinge to her cheeks when she blushed, and her melodic laugh. Being with her and experiencing her bubbly personality intoxicated him more satisfyingly than an entire bottle of schnapps could ever do. And now, thinking that all of it was just an act – that she was using him – sapped all of the energy from his body. He knew now what he must do …


No, he wouldn’t expose her and her family as Underground saboteurs … unless he had to, but he could never again see himself escorting her home from her long days at work in town, or enjoying his midday meal while staring across her desk into her deep, beautiful eyes. With a long, dejected sigh, he buried the hope of spending the rest of his life with her.


After the meeting had broken up and the participants had gone their separate ways, Captain August Dorfmann slowly rose from his hiding place and trudged through the woods toward home. Tonight I am going to get very drunk. And tomorrow … who the hell cares about tomorrow.


Stalag 13

March 26, 1944, 1000 hours


Hogan was still in a bad mood as he sat at the table in the barracks, stewing about the recent events. He was tired and nothing had been going right lately. His men, sensing his mood, had cleared out of the barrack in order to stay out of his way.


Hogan was busy lamenting his troubles to himself when Schultz came into the barracks looking for him. “What is it now, Schultz?” he asked crossly.


“Colonel Hogan, General Burkhalter wants to see you in the Kommandant’s office at once,” Schultz replied.


“What does blubber butt want this time?” Hogan asked.


“I know nothing!” Schultz recited. “Nothing!”


“Spare me, Schultz,” Hogan complained. “Tell Burkhalter to come here if he wants to talk to me. I’m tired of being the one that has to walk across the compound.”


“Colonel Hogan, please,’ Schultz begged. “I do not ask you for much …”


Hogan laughed. “No, you never ask for much,” he said. “Only chocolate bars, apple strudel and anything else LeBeau is cooking.”


“But that’s not much,” Schultz insisted. “Please, Colonel Hogan,” the Sergeant begged. “The General wants to see you. He’s even sent Klink out of the office so he could talk to you alone.”


Hogan’s ears perked up. “Alone?” he asked. “Why does he want to talk to me alone?” His curiosity was aroused … just why would Burkhalter want to talk to him alone? Even when he asked Hogan to steal the P-51, Klink was part of the conversation.


“Colonel Hogan, this time I truly know nothing,” Schultz insisted.


Hogan sighed as he rose from the table. “All right, let’s go,” he said.


As they left the barracks, a look of confusion came over Schultz. “Blubber butt, Colonel Hogan?” he asked. “What is a blubber butt?”


Hogan laughed. “Come on, Schultz! You know,” Hogan chided. “Blubber butt, tub of lard.” Still seeing the confused look on the guard, he added, “The one man in the Luftwaffe besides Hermann Göring who could make you look thin!”


Schultz chuckled. “General Blubber Butt,” he muttered.


Hogan smiled, his bad humor fading a bit. “And Sergeant Tub of Lard,” he quipped.


“Jolly joker,” Schultz replied.


* * * * *


Burkhalter looked up as the door to Klink’s office opened and Hogan walked in. “Ah, Colonel Hogan,” he said pleasantly. “So nice that you could join me. Please sit down.”


Hogan looked at Burkhalter skeptically as he sat in the guest chair. “What is it now, General?” he asked. “Do you want me to travel to England and steal a submarine this time?”


Burkhalter laughed. “No, no. The attempt on the P-51 was enough,” he replied. “Pity I couldn’t give you the million dollars just for the attempt. Our team of scientists are going over the wreckage of the plane, but it seems that the plane exploded on impact, and the pieces are a little too small to piece back together.” He noticed a faint smile toying at the edges of Hogan’s mouth and wondered if the explosion really occurred on impact … or if it was planned to happen before. If I know Hogan as well as I think, the explosion was planned from the beginning.


“What a shame,” Hogan responded sarcastically.


“No matter,” Burkhalter said. “I did not ask you to come here to talk about opportunities lost.”


“And just why did you want to see me?” Hogan asked. “And why isn’t Klink around?”


“What I have to say concerns you and does not concern Klink,” Burkhalter replied.


Hogan tried to hide his look of surprise. “Don’t tell me you finally got tired of the old windbag and transferred him,” Hogan wondered.


Burkhalter laughed again. “No, nothing like that,” he replied. “Doing that would prompt my own transfer.” In response to Hogan’s raised eyebrows, he added, “The Führer is very happy with the no escape record of this camp, and I would be foolish to allow something to ruin that record.”


“We aim to please,” Hogan quipped, starting to become impatient.


“And that is why you are here,” Burkhalter continued. “I am correcting a situation that could jeopardize the …” he paused to find the proper word, “happiness of this camp.”


“Happiness?” Hogan asked. “You call this happy?”


“Maybe that was the wrong English word to use,” Burkhalter admitted. “Let’s just say that a situation recently came to my attention and I am here to correct it before it causes any problems.”


Hogan was wary. “And that situation is?” he prompted.


“Colonel Hogan, you have not been receiving any mail for some time now, correct?” Burkhalter asked.


“Maybe,” Hogan replied cautiously.


“Come now, Colonel,” Burkhalter assured him. “I know you haven’t and I am here to tell you why.”


“Wonderful,” Hogan said. “Tell me why so you can rub my nose in it and get a laugh?”


Burkhalter chuckled. “Nothing of the sort,” he replied. “I recently found out that Major Hochstetter had ordered my postmaster to forward all of your correspondence – both to you and from you – to him rather than allowing it to be delivered.” At the mention of Hochstetter’s name, he saw Hogan tense. “I have rescinded that order. It will not happen again.”


“General, you’re a busy man – all that trying to win the war for the master race kind of stuff,” Hogan said with some bitterness. “Why does this concern you?”


“Simple, I am correcting a situation before it causes me any problems,” Burkhalter explained. “As I mentioned before, anything that disturbs the status quo of Stalag 13 could prove detrimental to my position.”


“So now I am supposed to be grateful to you for this gesture?” Hogan asked.


“Nothing of the sort,” Burkhalter replied. He saw that Hogan was not impressed. “I’m just trying to prevent trouble for both you and your men and myself. If you or your men would attempt escape, one of them could be hurt. And if you successfully escaped …” he paused, allowing himself to smile. “I could be hurt.”


Hogan nodded slightly, as if that was the answer he expected. “General, since you have been so nice to take care of this … problem,” Hogan began with a smile, “I’ll tell you what I’ll do. When I do decide to escape, I’ll be sure and phone you from London.”


Burkhalter smiled back. “If you do, you’d better try and reach me at the Eastern Front,” he replied.


Hogan laughed. “General, you surprise me,” he said. “This borders on a very humanitarian action on your part.”


Burkhalter’s smile grew. “We all have our faults, Colonel Hogan,” he replied.


Hogan rose from the chair. “If that will be all, General …” he said.


“There is one more thing you can do, Colonel Hogan,” Burkhalter replied.


“I knew it,” Hogan replied with a frown. “What is it now?”


Burkhalter picked up the bundle of letters from the desktop and tossed it to the American. “You have a lot of reading to catch up on,” he said.


* * * * *


Hogan looked at the bundle of letters in his hands in shocked amazement. Letters! My letters! He looked at the General. “I think I can handle that assignment easily!” he said happily. He snapped Burkhalter a salute and bounded out of the office.


He walked across the compound towards the barracks as if he were walking on air. I can’t believe I actually have letters to read! There must be a dozen of them from Lisa here!


He opened the barracks door and found everyone crowded around Kinch, chattering excitedly. “What’s going on?” he asked with some concern. “Is there a problem?”


“No problem at all, sir,” Newkirk replied. “Kinch was about to read us the latest exploits of Nimrod that he received from London.”


“You mean you actually want to hear about everything he has done in the past week?” Hogan asked in amazement. “You guys always hate hearing about his exploits.”


“Not any more, Colonel,” LeBeau answered.


“Why the change?” Hogan asked.


“We all talked it over …” Carter started.


“We all heard what you said to Hans Wagner last night, Colonel,” Kinch explained. “And we realized that we were all guilty of the same sort of jealousy towards Nimrod as Hans has towards you.”


“And we decided that it doesn’t matter who hurts the dirty Boche, as long as they are hurt!” LeBeau exclaimed.


Hogan smiled at his men. “Well don’t let me stop you, Kinch. Start reading!” he ordered.


“Yes sir!” Kinch replied.


* * * * *


Kinch had just finished reading the various acts of sabotage attributed to Nimrod over the past week when Schultz entered the barracks, wearing a large smile on his face.


“Uh oh,” Newkirk said. “’E looks like the cat that just ate the canary.”


“Looks more like the hippo that just ate a dozen of them!” Hogan said. “What do you want, Schultz?”


“I do not want anything from you,” Schultz replied.


“Now there’s a switch,” Carter mumbled.


“No, this time it is you that will want something from me,” Schultz continued.


“And that is?” Hogan asked skeptically.


Schultz walked over to the Colonel and handed him two envelopes. “Mail call, Colonel Hogan,” he said.


The barracks erupted in a loud cheer with all the prisoners loudly proclaiming their happiness with the resumption of the Colonel’s mail. Schultz tried to pass out the rest of the mail, but the noise was too loud for anyone to hear the names he called out. After a few futile minutes, he simply dropped the rest of the letters on the table and began to leave.


“Hold it down a second!” Hogan yelled. When it grew quiet, he said, “We just got mail a couple days ago, Schultz. Why again so soon?”


“I know nothing!” Schultz replied. “The messenger just said that the postmaster has decided to send the mail twice a week from now on.”


“Hey Schultz, any mail for me?” Vladimir said from the bunk he was sitting on.


Schultz looked at him with a look of mock indignation. “Jolly joker,” he said.


* * * * *


After Schultz left, Hogan took the rest of the bundle out of his jacket pocket and showed the men. “A present from Burkhalter,” he said. “It seems that he has rescinded Hochstetter’s order to the postmaster and my mail has been resumed.”


Again a loud cheer rose from the men.


“Colonel Hogan,” Vladimir said loudly, causing the cheering to subside. “Why do you suppose Burkhalter would go against a Gestapo order?”


Hogan shrugged. “I don’t know,” he replied truthfully. “Maybe he was not happy that Hochstetter was poking his snout into Luftwaffe business and wanted to reassert himself.”


“Let the Boche fight amongst themselves for a change!” LeBeau said.


“Exactly,” Hogan agreed. “Now if you men will excuse me, I have a lot of reading to catch up on!” He retreated to his office, leaving his men to share their news from home.


* * * * *


Vladimir sat on the bunk deep in thought while the rest of the men read their letters and shared their contents. Why is Burkhalter doing something nice for the Colonel? That doesn’t sound like the General Burkhalter that I remember.


His thoughts drifted back to the day when Burkhalter stopped into the market he was working at in Rastenburg. When the General had left, his Stalag 13 identification photo was left behind on the counter.


Burkhalter obviously recognized me and knew who I was … yet he did not do anything about it. And now he’s being nice to the Colonel. It’s almost as if he is on our side! The thought flabbergasted him. That can’t be it … maybe he’s just trying to make it seem like he’s on our side as part of some larger plan.


The more Vladimir thought about it, the more things didn’t make sense. He was pulled from his thoughts when Kinch tapped him on the arm.


“How about a game of chess, Sam,” Kinch said.


Vladimir nodded and rose from the bunk. “That sounds like a good idea,” he replied.


* * * * *


After Hogan had retreated to his office, he had reclined on his bunk and read through all of the letters. There were several from his parents, which he set aside to read last. He had taken the many from Lisa and read them all in order. There was a snapshot or two in every letter, giving him a look at his son and how he had been growing. Upon seeing the pictures, tears welled in his eyes. I wish I were there to see you grow, Bobby.


In the last letter, there was a snapshot of a smiling Lisa, blowing a kiss to the camera. She looked as beautiful as ever, and Hogan felt his chest grow tight with desire to see her, feel her and smell her again. As he read the last letter, his chest tightened further …


Dearest Robbie,


It has been a while since we have received a letter from you. Mama is frantic with the fear that something bad has happened to you in that prison camp. She has heard all of the stories about how prisoners are treated. Papa and I have been trying to reassure her that you are fine, but she will not believe it. I don’t know why we haven’t heard from you, but I can feel deep inside that you are alive and well. I know that sounds like a strange thing to say, but no matter the distance that separates us, you are a part of me and if something bad happened to you, I would feel it. There are no logical words that can explain that feeling. I long for the day when I can feel your arms around me, and the tingle of your kiss upon my lips. Be safe, my love.


With all my love,



When Hogan read this letter, all of the anger and tension that had built up because of Hochstetter’s action bubbled to the surface. Anger mixed with sadness, hate mixed with love, relief mixed with worry. He slowly folded the letter and picked up the photograph of Lisa. How dare you do this to my family Hochstetter! My mother is sick with worry that something has happened to me and my family … my wife … has no idea what has happened. Lisa’s image blurred. Somehow, someday, Major Hochstetter, I will get even. I will make you pay for what you have done. Hogan pressed the photograph to his lips and then did something that he had rarely allowed himself to do since he was a child … he began crying.


* * * * *


After all his pent up emotions had been drained away, Hogan remained on his bunk, composing himself for the rest of the day. He felt better – the pressure and tension of the ordeal had gone and was replaced by a new feeling of resolve. He would get back at Hochstetter, but on his terms and in his own time. His mission at Stalag 13 was more important than any personal feelings he harbored, but if and when to opportunity arose …


He picked up the photograph of Lisa and looked at it. It was obviously taken in the winter – she was standing in front of the fireplace at his parents’ home in Connecticut with a fire blazing away. God you are beautiful. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have you as part of my life. He ran a finger across the photograph as if he were caressing her cheek. I remember the reactions when people found out we got married. For some reason, they just couldn’t picture me being “tied down” to one woman. I guess it’s because of my flirtatious nature that you used to always get so upset with. He chuckled softly to himself. If you think I was flirtatious back then, you should meet Marya! He shook his head. On second thought, that might be a bad idea!


He gazed at the picture. So what should I do, darling? Is Kinch right? Am I doing a disservice to the men – and to you – by telling them that you are my sister and Bobby is my nephew? You know I’m not ashamed of you at all, don’t you? He let out a deep sigh. Do you understand about everything I have done while I’ve been here? You know I would never do anything to hurt you. The photograph stared silently back at him.


After staring silently at Lisa’s image for several moments, he propped it against the wall on the shelf above his bunk and climbed down. Deep down he knew what he had to do … but what he didn’t know was how – or when – he was going to do it.


Stalag 13, Barracks 2

April 3, 1944, 0030 hours


Hogan heard a soft knock at his door. “Come in,” he said, rising to a sitting position on his top bunk.


The door opened and Vladimir entered the room. “We’re all set, Colonel,” he said, closing the door behind him.


“Good,” Hogan replied. Realizing that what he said could be misinterpreted, he added quickly, “I don’t mean that it’s good that you are finally going away. I meant …”


Vladimir laughed. “I understand, Colonel,” he replied. “I have enjoyed the time I’ve spent here. It was nice to see everyone again. But the war goes on, and we all have our parts to play in it.”


Hogan dropped softly from the bunk and extended his hand to Vladimir. “Sam … Vladimir, good luck to you,” he said, shaking the Russian’s hand.


“And to you as well, Colonel Hogan.” Vladimir replied. “I hope our paths will cross again.”


“Under better circumstances,” Hogan replied.


Da, that is true,” Vladimir agreed. “And Colonel, I want to thank you for what you’ve done for me.”


Hogan looked puzzled. “What did I do?” he asked.


“It is because of you that I was successful in my last assignment,” Vladimir replied. “When Marya placed me in charge of the team in Rastenburg, I did not know what I was going to do. So I thought about how you lead the team here at Stalag 13 – never shying away from doing the most difficult or dangerous missions yourself, always seeking input from the men, and most importantly, never dismissing that input just because it was not your own idea. I tried to follow your example, and I feel that the people working for me accepted and respected me more for that attitude.”


Hogan didn’t know what to say. This was the first time that one of his men – and he did still regard Vladimir as one of his men – had come out and said how much they respected him as their leader. He knew that all of the men genuinely did, but it had always been unspoken … until now. “I … um,” he stammered. “I don’t know what to say,” he said. “Thank you for the compliment.”


The two were silent for a moment before Vladimir cleared his throat. “Colonel, there is something else I wanted to tell you,” he said. “I’m not sure what to make of it, but I wanted to let you know about it.”


Hogan’s brow furrowed with concern. “Is there a problem?” he asked.


Vladimir shrugged. “Maybe it’s nothing,” he said. He paused and let out a deep sigh before continuing. “When I was in Rastenburg, one of my jobs was to work in the market owned by Tadeauz, one of my men. One day, General Burkhalter came into the market after leaving a meeting at the Führer’s compound, the Wolfsschanze.”


“Did he recognize you?” Hogan asked.


“At the time, he didn’t seem to,” Vladimir replied.


“At the time?” Hogan repeated. “Do you think so now?”


Vladimir nodded. “He came back in another time after that, supposedly to get food for his trip, like the first time,” Vladimir explained. “I went into the back room to get him something, and when I came back out, there was a photograph face down on the counter. After he left, I looked at the photograph and saw that it was my Stalag 13 identification photo.”


“Are you sure?” Hogan asked quickly.


Vladimir nodded again. “It was that photograph,” he said. “But it was what he said that confused me.”


“What was that?” Hogan asked.


“He had put down a large bill to pay for his items and told me to keep the change,” Vladimir said. “When I told him he was very generous, his reply was that he was generous in more ways that I knew, and that he would deny to anyone just how generous he was.”


Hogan thought about Burkhalter’s reply for a silent moment. “Maybe he didn’t feel that it was worth the trouble it could cause him to report you,” he speculated. “After all, having a Russian posing as an American in one of his camps wouldn’t be a good thing for him to admit to.”


Vladimir shrugged. “I don’t know,” he replied. “I just wanted to tell you about the incident.”


“Thank you, Vladimir,” Hogan said. “Now, I suppose Marya is impatiently waiting in the tunnels for you?”


Nyet, Colonel,” Vladimir said with a smile. “She’s impatiently waiting in the tunnel for you!”


* * * * *


As Hogan climbed down the ladder from the barracks, he heard Marya’s voice. “Hogan darling, you have come to wish me farewell!” When he hit the floor, he turned to see Marya standing with her arms wide open.


“Do you have everything you need?” he asked, trying to remain somewhat dignified in the face of her obvious flirtation.


She shrugged. “There are a few more things that I want,” she replied. “But I know when a battle is lost.”


Hogan heard a small rumble of suppressed laughter from his men. “As long as you are well enough to travel,” he commented.


“Your Sergeant DeSoto has examined me thoroughly and pronounced me fit,” she replied. She wiggled her eyebrows suggestively. “Would you like to confirm his diagnosis?”


Hogan had to fight hard to keep from laughing himself at that comment. “I’m not sure you’re well enough to handle one of my thorough examinations,” he replied with a straight face.


Marya looked back at him in surprise, not used to a comeback like that from him. His men could not hold back, and began laughing.


“Do not be so sure about that, Colonel,” Marya replied. “But to answer your question, Vladimir and I are all set and must be going.”


“What do you plan to do next?” LeBeau asked her.


“I will go to Berlin,” she replied. “I promised a friend I would return.” She saw a small look cross over the Frenchman’s face. “Do not be jealous, my little one,” she said reassuringly. “He is just a friend.”


“LeBeau, give it up,” Newkirk chided. “She’s too much of a woman for you!”


“I am French,” LeBeau retorted. “There is no such thing as too much of a woman! You show me any woman …”


“My uncle had a bull on his farm that used to, um, you know, with any cow it could find,” Carter interrupted.


“What the bloody ‘ell does that have to do with anything?” Newkirk exclaimed. “We’re talking about people and you’re talking about cows?”


“Fellas, hold it down!” Hogan ordered. “Marya, if you ever need anything, you know where to find us.”


“Promises, promises,” she muttered with an amused expression. There was a moment of silence until Marya held open her arms and said, “Hogan darling, aren’t you going to give me a kiss goodbye?”


Hogan heard Newkirk snort a small laugh. He saw the glint in Marya’s eye and said, “Oh, what the hell!” He grabbed her and bent her over backwards in a sweeping gesture and kissed her. He could feel her hesitation and knew that she did not expect this from him. Slowly, as the kiss lingered, she began to soften and return the kiss. Hogan was aware of the loud cheering and clapping of the men in the enclosed tunnel area.


When they separated, Marya was breathing hard. “Maybe I should stay here for a few more days, Hogan darling,” she purred breathlessly.


Hogan smiled. “Don’t press your luck, sweetheart,” he replied.


Marya laughed heartily. “There’s hope for you yet,” she said. “Too bad I won’t be around to take advantage of it.”


‘Why don’t you stick around to be taken advantage of?” Hogan asked saucily. The men hooted and hollered and Hogan caught Kinch looking at him with a raised eyebrow. He gave the Sergeant a wink and walked over to Vladimir to shake his hand again. “You take care of yourself, Vladimir,” he said.


“Thank you, Colonel,” he replied. “And now I should escort Marya out of here before you take care of her!”


Another roar of laughter rose from the men as Marya gave Vladimir a playful swat on the back of his head. “I’ll deal with you later,” she said lightly, which caused another round of laughs.


“Promises, promises,” Vladimir said, mimicking Marya’s earlier response to Colonel Hogan.


“You keep yourself out of trouble,” Hogan said to Marya.


“But Hogan darling, trouble is my middle name!” she replied and leaned forward to give him another small kiss. She took advantage of the situation to whisper into his ear, “Remember what I said, Hogan. You are a lucky man to have such a close team. Show them, and your wife, the respect that they deserve.”


He nodded as she pulled away. “Have a safe trip,” he said.


The rest of the men said their goodbyes, and Marya and Vladimir began their journey back. Hogan sent LeBeau and Kinch along to make sure they made it safely to their first stop – Marya’s contact in the area.


* * * * *


The whole crew was still in the tunnel when LeBeau and Kinch returned. “They are on their way,” LeBeau said as they reached the main radio room in the tunnel.


“Good!” Hogan commented. He cleared his throat nervously and said, “And since we’re all here, I have something to tell you all. It’s about Lisa.” He saw Kinch glance quickly in his direction and he nodded his head at Kinch’s silent question.


“Your sister?” Carter asked.


“Actually, she’s …” Hogan faltered, unsure exactly the words he wanted to use. He cleared his throat again and continued, “She’s my wife.”


“What?” echoed Newkirk and LeBeau together.


“You married your sister?” Carter asked with a shocked look on his face.


Newkirk popped him on the head with his hat. “You don’t marry your sister, Andrew,” he admonished.


Hogan took a deep breath and began. “Lisa and I were married right before I shipped out from the states. We hadn’t been married very long, but it was long enough to know that she was expecting Bobby before I left.”


“Bobby is your son?” Carter asked.


“Andrew, that’s usually how it works,” Newkirk chided. “Now let the Colonel continue.”


“Anyway, when I was stationed in England, I had a bit of a reputation,” Hogan continued.


“You have one here too, mon Colonel,” LeBeau said with a smile.


“He didn’t want to leave it behind in England when he came here,” Baker said dryly, adding his bit of humor. “Those Englishmen wouldn’t know what to do with it.”


“Hey!” Newkirk exclaimed.


“How could he leave it behind?” Carter asked.


“Andrew!” Newkirk warned.


“I had this reputation as a ladies man when I was in England,” Hogan continued, “though I don’t really know how that happened. I have always been known as someone who could sweet talk the ladies, but while in England, I never really followed through. But nobody, with the exception of Kinch, knew that I was married. For some reason, and I really don’t know why anymore, I didn’t want to tell anyone. I guess I liked the idea of having the reputation, and didn’t want anyone to think that I would be the kind of person who would cheat on his wife.”


“But after you got here?” LeBeau asked.


“After I got here, I actually had to follow through in some of these situations,” Hogan explained. “And that made it even harder to admit to anyone I was married. Oh, I tried to justify it by saying that it would be detrimental to our mission if people like Hilda and Helga knew I was married. Part of why they like to cooperate with me seems to be the hope that I will make it a permanent relationship.”


“But why didn’t you tell us?” Newkirk asked.


Hogan let out a big sigh. “That’s a tough question to answer, Newkirk,” Hogan replied. “I suppose that I thought you all would think less of me.”


“That’s bleedin’ crazy, sir” Newkirk exclaimed. “With all due respect, I’d have thought even more of you!”


“You would,” Kinch said softly, giving Newkirk a small jab in the back.


“Sir?” Carter asked hesitantly.


“What is it, Carter?” Hogan replied.


“If Lisa was really your wife and not your sister, wasn’t it hard for you to go without mail for so long?” Carter asked. “I know I would be really upset.”


Hogan looked at Kinch before answering. “Yes, it was very hard, and I was getting a little upset,” he replied. “Kinch here kept trying to get me to tell you all about it, but I just … I don’t know, I just couldn’t get up the courage to tell you.”


“You were afraid?” Carter asked. “I thought you were never afraid! You never acted afraid of anything.”


“We all get scared, Carter,” Hogan replied. “I think some of it was that I was ashamed – and still am – of what I had done to Lisa. I don’t know how I am going to tell her about the things I have done here. I’m afraid she won’t understand.”


“She’ll understand, mon Colonel,” LeBeau said. “Trust me, she’ll understand.”


“I wish I could be sure about that, LeBeau,” Hogan replied.


“Um, sir, since you feel so bad about all of this …” Newkirk started.


“Yes?” Hogan prompted.


“I’ll be glad to fill in for you with Hilda, Helga or any other beautiful woman that wants to take your clothes off,” Newkirk said with a huge smile on his face.


Hogan laughed. “Yes, I believe you would be glad to do that!” he replied.


“But I don’t think it would have the same effect,” Kinch quipped. “There’s a big difference between filet mignon and rump roast!”


“Oh and I suppose I’m the rump roast?” Newkirk said indignantly.


Kinch just smiled as the rest of the men laughed at Newkirk.


“Colonel, now that you are getting your mail again, you must be happy,” Baker said. Hogan nodded. “And we won’t tell anyone that you are married if you don’t want us to. Isn’t that right guys?”


Hogan heard agreement from all the men. “Thanks fellas,” he replied. “And I think we should keep it between us for the moment. Unless Hochstetter figured it out from my letters that he had kept and probably read, the German’s don’t seem to know either. That could still be to our advantage.”


“You’re thinking about Hilda and Helga?” Kinch asked.


Hogan nodded. “I’d like to keep those wells of information pumping,” he replied. When he heard the jeers from Newkirk and LeBeau, he added, “You know what I mean!”


* * * * *


The group broke up soon after, leaving Kinch in the tunnel to man the night shift. Hogan remained behind to speak with him.


“Are you happy now that it’s in the open?” Hogan asked. “It’s what you’ve been wanting me to do.”


Kinch smiled. “Are you happy that it’s in the open?” he countered. “I told you the men would understand.”


“Yeah, you were right,” Hogan admitted. “I should have listened to you.”


“Of course,” Kinch replied, still smiling. “Everyone knows that it’s not the officers that make an outfit successful!”


Berlin, Das Brauhaus

April 7, 1944, 1800 hours


Marya walked through the streets of Berlin. She had just come from Kurt Wagner’s flat where they had gone over the message she wanted him to send off to The Center. After leaving Stalag 13, she sent Vladimir to Leipzig to touch base with Jack and then he would return to Rastenburg. Hitler was not currently using his Wolfsschanze headquarters, but he was certain to return sometime during the summer, and she wanted Vladimir to be in place when that happened. And even with Hitler’s absence, there was information to be obtained in the area.


She was now on her way to meet Hans Teppel at the Brauhaus. Wagner would meet them there when he had finished sending the message. She was disguised again as Kurt’s sister, deciding that ‘Marya’ should remain out of the public eye for the moment. Teppel was unaware that she was in town, so the visit would be a surprise.


When she entered the Brauhaus, she saw Teppel sitting at a corner booth talking with Heidi, the barmaid. She smiled to herself. This will be good! He’s not going to know what to make of this. Both Teppel and Heidi caught sight of her as she maneuvered her way towards the table. She saw Teppel’s mouth open in surprise as he recognized her.


“Hansie, darling! It’s me, Greta,” she cooed as she reached the table. “It has been much too long since we have been together.” She slipped down onto his lap and gave him a passionate kiss.


When their lips parted, he sputtered. “Mar… Greta! What are you doing?” he asked, almost blowing her cover.


“I have returned to you,” she said breathlessly, kissing him on the nose. “We can now be together again.”


“What?” he exclaimed.


“I told you I would return after I completed my business out of town,” she said truthfully. Heidi cleared her throat. Marya looked up at her. “I remember you from the last time I was here,” she said. “You are Heidi.”


Hans tried desperately to free himself from under Marya. “Ja, this is Heidi,” he said quickly. “And we are … um, we are seeing each other.” He managed to squirm so that Marya was sitting on the booth beside him rather than on his lap. “So you see, Ma … Greta, you and I just couldn’t be together.”


“But Hansie, you are too much man for just one woman,” Marya cooed. “Isn’t that right, Heidi?”


Ja, that is right, Greta,” Heidi agreed.


“Heidi!” Teppel shrieked, his voice louder than he had intended. He became aware of other patrons staring in their direction. “Heidi, what are you saying?” he asked in a quieter tone.


“I’m agreeing that you are too much man for one woman, Hans,” Heidi replied. “I don’t think I can fully satisfy you.” She shook her head regretfully.


“But Heidi!” Teppel sputtered.


“See, Hansie?” Marya said. “Heidi and I will share you and we will all be happy.”


Teppel looked at both women as if he had never seen them before. His mind reeled with confusion as the two women began discussing arrangements.


“How should we do it?” Heidi asked, taking a seat across from Marya. “Every other day?”


Marya shrugged. “We could do that,” she agreed. “Or we could each take three days in a row,” she suggested.


“With a day off to rest up?” Heidi asked.


Hans buried his face in his hands. “Why me?” he muttered.


“Because you are an irresistible man, Hansie!” Marya answered, tugging playfully at his ear. “How would you prefer to share us?” she asked.


“I wouldn’t,” he replied.


“I know,” Heidi said brightly. “He can have us both on that extra day.”


“I can’t believe this!” he exclaimed.


Heidi rose from the table when she saw Max beckon her to the bar to pick up an order. “No need to decide right away, Hans,” she said. “You think it over and I’ll bring you another drink.”


When Heidi had gone, Teppel turned on Marya. “What in the hell do you think you are doing?” he asked incredulously. “Are you trying to ruin my relationship with Heidi?”


Marya stared back at him with a look of innocence. “Of course not, Hansie,” she said sweetly. “I’m just trying to work out an arrangement that’s acceptable to all of us.”


“But I don’t want there to be an all of us!” he exclaimed.


When Heidi returned to the table, she was carrying a bottle of champagne in a cooler and was accompanied by Kurt Wagner. “I thought we should celebrate,” she said.


“Great! What are we celebrating?” Wagner asked, taking a seat at the table.


“There’s nothing to celebrate!” Teppel said.


“Of course there is, Hansie,” Marya said. “We must celebrate the three of us being together.”


“Oh?” Wagner said, raising an eyebrow and looking at Teppel.


“Oh Greta, it might be easier on Hans if you moved into my spare room,” Heidi said. “That way he can come to the same place every day.”


“Stop this now!” Teppel said forcefully. “Don’t I have anything to say about this?”


Marya and Heidi looked at each other for a moment and burst out laughing. Teppel stared at them as if they had lost their minds. “What are you laughing at?” he asked. “This is not funny!” The women continued laughing and Wagner began chuckling.


“Oh, Hans,” Heidi said between laughs. “The look on your face was so funny!”


Teppel’s jaw dropped. “What?”


“Hansie, how does it feel to be had by two women at the same time?” Marya asked with a twinkle in her eye. “Heidi and I had this all arranged.”


Teppel was flabbergasted. “How? Why?” he shook his head in disbelief. “I don’t believe this.”


“Greta came in here earlier and we talked,” Heidi explained. “We thought we would play a trick on you.”


“And you knew about this?” Teppel asked Wagner. Wagner nodded. Teppel began to laugh, more in relief than at the humor of the situation. “Well, you certainly got me,” he said.


“One of us does, anyway,” Marya said with a glint of humor. “Why don’t you open the champagne?”


“What, and celebrate the three of us?” he asked with a smile.


“To celebrate the two of you,” Marya corrected. “It’s my treat.”


Heidi noticed Max waving at her for another order pickup. “You’ll have to celebrate for me,” she said. “I’ve got work to do!”


* * * * *


“Did you talk to our friends back home?” Marya asked as Teppel poured three glasses of champagne.


Wagner nodded. “They agreed with Sam returning to farming, and commended you on your successful journey,” he said.


“What did they say about the complications?” she asked, taking a sip of the bubbly.


“Calling Jack about that pleased them,” Wagner replied. When he saw Marya open her mouth to say something, he held up a hand to stop her. “I informed them that it was Hans’ friends who did that,” he said.


Teppel sipped his champagne. He understood snippets of their conversation, even though they were speaking in a vague abstract since they were in a public place. “I’m glad everything turned out for the best,” he said. “My friends are good at what they do,” he added in the same vague abstract. “What are your plans now, Greta?” he asked Marya.


Marya shrugged. “Whatever needs done,” she replied.


“There was one more thing,” Wagner interrupted. He lowered his voice and continued. “They did express concern over the lack of information on the inevitable invasion by the Americans and British.”


“Have you been relaying the information that we are gathering?” Teppel whispered.


Wagner nodded. “But as you well know, the Allies aren’t telling us their plans, so we can’t be sure we’re getting the real story,” he said.


“And apparently the British and American’s aren’t telling the Russians anything,” Teppel observed.


“Not surprising,” Marya said. “The Russians don’t tell the Americans and British everything either.”


“Here’s to alliances!” Teppel said sarcastically, raising his glass in toast.


“Speaking of alliances, Hansie,” Marya cooed. Teppel eyed her suspiciously. “Is your alliance with Heidi of the long-term variety, or just one of convenience?”


Teppel kept looking at Marya. There was a twinkle in her eye as she asked the question, but he got the sense that she was not just asking him in order to tease him some more. “I have thought about, as you put it, a long-term alliance. But you left out the third kind,” he said. “Undecided.”


Marya smiled briefly before her expression turned serious. She leaned forward so Teppel could hear her. “Kurt has told me what has happened with the Abwehr in the last few months,” she whispered. “It does not bode well for the future. Once the Schutzstaffel gets control of something, Himmler does not like to let it go easily. It is my prediction that the Sicherheitsdienst will fully engulf the Abwehr before too long.”


“Have you heard something?” Teppel whispered, looking between Marya and Wagner.


They both shook their heads. “Just a suspicion,” Marya replied.


“Hans and I have had several conversations about this … and about Heidi,” Wagner added. “I will stress it again, my friend, you must have a contingency plan.”


“And if you care about Heidi in more ways than just physical,” Marya said, pausing to allow Teppel to see her bemused expression. “You must include her. Maybe I shouldn’t tell you this … but that woman really cares for you, Hans.”


Teppel listened quietly, pondering the meaning of their words. He looked over at Heidi, who was busy setting full steins of beer on a table full of Wehrmacht officers. She was smiling and talking to them as she worked. “She doesn’t know the truth about me,” he said quietly.


“She probably shouldn’t know yet,” Marya said. “Unless you think you can fully trust her.”


“Based on the conversations we have had, I believe I could,” Teppel said. “But I don’t want to burden her unnecessarily.”


“Just keep in mind that you may not have a chance once something happens,” Marya pointed out.


Teppel nodded slowly. “That thought has occurred to me,” he said.


At that moment, Heidi appeared at the table and the conversation quieted. “It sure got quiet here all of a sudden,” she said. “Am I missing anything?” she asked brightly.


Marya chuckled. “Hans was just telling us how he’s been thinking about a long-term alliance with you,” she replied glibly.


Heidi began to blush and looked shyly at the floor. Teppel had been taking a drink from his champagne glass as Marya spoke and now sputtered in surprise. He looked at Marya and saw her laughing at him. “I … um …” he stuttered.


“Oh come now, Hansie,” Marya chided. “You’re not getting any younger!”


Teppel was slowly recovering from his coughing fit. “Speaking of not getting any younger, Greta,” he said.


Marya dipped her fingers into her champagne and flicked the liquid at Teppel. “You’d better be careful, Hansie darling,” she said with a laugh. “I might just have to tell Heidi some stories about you!”

* * * * *


After the Brauhaus had closed, the four of them sat at the table until the small hours of the morning talking and laughing. The low rumble of the nightly Allied bombings began, and Marya and Wagner decided that they’d better leave. Heidi hurried to finish her cleaning and Teppel accompanied the pair to the door.


“Hans, keep your eyes open,” Marya advised. “And take care of her.”


Teppel nodded. “And you be careful yourself,” he said. “Stay away from men like Major Hochstetter.”


Marya chuckled. “It’s my business to remain close to men like Hochstetter,” she said. “But I will be more careful.” She leaned forward and kissed Teppel on the cheek. “And I expect an invitation to the wedding,” she said.


Teppel closed the door behind them and locked it. He turned to look at Heidi busily wiping the tables and putting the chairs up for the night. Wedding? Who’d have thought I would even consider something like that when I went undercover. He let out a long sigh. I suppose someday I will have to tell her … but will she be sympathetic or turn me in as a traitor? He shook the thought out of his mind. There would be time for that later. Tonight he would enjoy just being together.




April 7, 1944, 1800 hours


Captain August Dorfmann walked out of the Hofbrau on the edge of town and proceeded slowly along the road. He had just eaten and was glad that he had left the staff car back at Gestapo Headquarters. I need to walk off all that food … and it’s a nice evening for a walk anyway, he thought as he turned the corner into the central part of the town. He looked at his watch. And I don’t have to hurry either. Hochstetter will be gone by now – off somewhere doing who knows what. Dorfmann knew little about the Major’s life outside of the office – and preferred it that way. Hochstetter was not a pleasant person when it was in the office … God knows how unpleasant he is outside of the office.


His thoughts were interrupted when someone opened the door of the shop he was passing and rushed out the door, running headlong into him.


Es tut mir leid,” the woman said. “I didn’t see you – I didn’t mean to bump into you.” She looked up at Dorfmann.


Ilse! Dorfmann was surprised – it had been almost two weeks since the Underground meeting at the Wagner family farm, and he had been staying away form her since.


“August!” Ilse said, her face brightening with a smile. “It’s nice to see you!”


Hallo Ilse,” Dorfmann replied. “I trust you are doing well,” he added, somewhat formally, all the while thinking … Have you been planning your next act of sabotage?


Ilse’s smile wavered. “I have been fine, August,” she said. “And how have you been?”


Dorfmann shrugged slightly. “I can’t complain,” he replied. I’ve been feeling terrible every time I think about how you have been using me.


Ilse’s smile disappeared. “Oh,” she said quietly.


An awkward silence descended over the pair. Dorfmann shuffled his feet a bit as he debated with himself – should he stay and talk or walk away?


Ilse broke the silence. “I haven’t seen you in a while,” she said.


“I’ve been busy at the fuel depot since the explosion a couple weeks ago,” he responded. The explosion that could have killed me if it had come one minute later!


“Oh,” Ilse said, averting her eyes and looking at the ground. “Do you know who is responsible for the explosion?”


He wanted to scream. You! You and your brothers are responsible for it! Instead, he took a deep breath. “The Underground is responsible,” he replied bitterly. Ilse flinched at the remark, and Dorfmann regretted lashing out. “I’m sorry, Ilse,” he said apologetically. “I’m just tired. I was at the depot when the explosion happened, and I’m still somewhat shaken by it.”


Ilse waved away his apology. “I understand,” she said haltingly. Dorfmann could tell she was upset. He could see tears beginning to well up in her eyes. “I’ve got to go home now,” she said quickly, and began walking away.


As Dorfmann watched her walk away, something tugged at his heart. She’s really upset. When I mentioned the explosion at the depot, she seemed genuinely sorry that it had affected me. He shook his head slightly. Could I have been wrong in thinking that she was using me? He continued to watch her walk away. I should give her a ride home at least.


He began to walk after her. “Ilse, wait!” he shouted.


* * * * *


Ilse sat in the front seat of the staff car as it moved cautiously down the dark road. Dorfmann stared ahead silently. Ilse had made attempts at conversation, but each of her attempts was met with terse replies followed by silence, so she had given up. On several occasions, Dorfmann looked as if he were about to say something, but always ended up letting out a big sigh and remaining silent.


Ilse shifted in the seat so that she could study the Captain. He’s changed. We’ve never had this much trouble having a conversation – usually he’s cheerful and animated. Now … She felt a twinge of guilt. He said he’s still shaken from the explosion. I never thought he would have been at the depot when we tried to blow it up. What if he would have been killed? She felt herself shudder. Could she live with herself if the actions that her brothers killed him? No, it’s not just my brothers. Even though I may not have been the one to throw the explosives into the truck, I was there. What if I had killed him? What about the three people that did die? I helped kill them. What did they ever do to me that they deserved to die? Now it was her turn to let out a big sigh.


Dorfmann looked over her. “You seem troubled,” he commented. “Ilse, I am sorry I snapped at you before.”


“August, I understand,” she replied. “I’ll be fine. It’s just been a long day.” Ilse Wagner, you are a liar! The car had turned into the lane that led to her family farm and was pulling to a stop in front of the house. “Would you like to come in for a moment?” she asked hopefully.


Dorfmann shook his head. “I’m sorry, some other time,” he replied. “I have to be at the fuel depot soon.”


“Oh,” she said. She opened the door and got out of the car. Before closing it, she leaned in and asked, “Will you be stopping by the shop for lunch again soon?”


Dorfmann stared at her for a long moment before replying. “I ….” He paused. “I will stop by if I can get away,” he said.


Ilse nodded her head and shut the door of the staff car. She watched as it turned around and headed back down the lane. She wondered if things would ever be the same between them. Please come back soon, August.


Obersalzburg, Burghof

May 20, 1944, 1230 hours


General Burkhalter sat back on the large comfortable divan in the Great Room and looked out through the gigantic windows at the mountainside scenery surrounding the Burghof. He gave another silent nod of thanks to Hitler for moving his headquarters to Obersalzburg. The meetings were still as drab and boring as before, but when he wasn’t presenting his status, Burkhalter could relax in spacious surroundings rather than in a cramped and stuffy briefing room in the Prussian forest of Rastenburg.


Burkhalter had already given his status – more of the same numbers and more praise for Klink and his no escape record. The Führer was now receiving reports on other theaters of the war and cycling through periods of calm confidence in his will to win the war and raving fits on the competence – or lack thereof – of his various commanders. Burkhalter was forced to remain, usually for the entire briefing, because for some unknown reason, Hitler did not dismiss him after his status presentation as he did with others. I don’t know whether I’m being rewarded or punished. Since he had no choice in the matter, he always decided to make the best of it.


Now he sat back and thought about the events of the past several weeks. It had been fairly quiet on his watch since he had had his confrontation with Hochstetter. The Major had still made his presence known around the Hammelburg area, and was still a pest, but he seemed to be leaving Klink – and more importantly Hogan – alone.


Hogan, he suspected, had not been very quiet. He chuckled to himself. Hogan. I don’t know exactly what he is doing, but I know that every time there is something strange going on around the Hammelburg area, Hogan must be involved. Burkhalter had to stop himself from laughing out loud. Outwardly, some of his schemes seem pretty funny. Imagine, convincing Klink that there was a mineral spring in the middle of Stalag 13! Oh, Klink had never come out and admitted that it was Hogan’s idea, but I know that the pompous bald headed idiot couldn’t come up with an idea like that!


It hadn’t been very long ago that he had received an invitation to the new bathhouse that Klink had created in the camp. At first, Burkhalter was tempted to tell Klink what an idiot he was, but the idea struck the General something that Hogan might have thought up for some reason. So in the end, he brought several of his junior officers and enjoyed a day soaking in a tub. He never did quite figure out what the American was up to … maybe someday I might get a chance to ask him!


Burkhalter had to stifle another laugh – it wouldn’t be prudent to laugh while the Führer was being given the status from the Eastern Front. I would love to see the look on Hogan’s face if I can ever tell him that I have been responsible for sending much of the information he’s been “secretly” obtaining over the past year. I wonder if he would believe that I ordered Klink to be in charge of painting the Luftwaffe Headquarters in Hammelburg because I knew he would find a way to talk Klink into allow his men to do the work. And Burkhalter knew that the American was successfully able to get his hands on the Luftwaffe fight deployment orders because soon after the office was painted, the Allied bomber routes mysteriously changed to areas where the fighter coverage was not as strong.


“ … can’t see how we can win the war if incompetents like that are not doing all they can to defeat the enemy of the Fatherland!” Hitler screamed, bringing Burkhalter out of his daydreams. Another commander must have decided that it would be a good idea to retreat and regroup rather than sacrifice every last man for a losing cause. Well, mein Führer, I am doing all I can to defeat the biggest enemy of Germany … you! If Colonel Hogan can funnel to the Allies even half of the information I am sending towards Stalag 13, the war will be shortened and men can stop dying to support your delusions.


Burkhalter found that line of thinking ironic. It was traitorous to be sure, and if he ever uttered those words aloud, he would most likely be shot. This was a line of thinking that he had to keep to himself … even his wife would shudder at the thought of speaking against the mighty Führer. Then again, I shudder every time I think of my wife. As if to prove his point, he felt an involuntary shudder travel up his spine. Terrible … and every time I have to spend more time with her, it becomes more terrible. He had seen his wife twice in the last two months – thought not by his own choice. He had had business in Berlin on two occasions, and both times, one of his aides had informed his wife that he would be in Berlin. Since he could not deny that fact when she called to check, he had had to stay at his own home on those trips. If that Captain survives at the Eastern Front, he will not make that mistake a third time!


Burkhalter had even had to see his sister, Gertrude, once during that time span. Out of the blue she called and asked to accompany him on his upcoming inspection tour of Stalag 13. How she knew I was preparing for an inspection of Stalag 13 I’ll never know … but I have my suspicions. Gertrude claimed that Klink sent her a letter indicating that he would love to spend time with her. But that struck Burkhalter as ludicrous. He had tried several times to convince Klink that Gertrude would make a good match for him, but the Colonel had always expressed his reluctance. Why would he change his mind only to get her in Hammelburg and tell her that he didn’t like her? Another laugh fought hard to emerge. Gertrude was mad – I think Klink finally found some way to keep her away forever! And I also think that Hogan found a way to blow up a munition train … it wasn’t long after we left camp that one blew up – quite near to where Gertrude had said Klink had taken her for a drive. Another laugh tried to bubble up, this one stronger than all the others. Wouldn’t it be funny if it were Klink instead of Hogan who was leaking the information to the Allies?


Hitler’s agitated screaming brought Burkhalter out of his daydreams again. “Why can’t you just follow the orders that I give you?” the Führer yelled. “You don’t have to think. Just pass on my orders!”


Mein Führer, we have been bombed at every location that we meet,” General von Scheider explained. “The General Staff has not been able to effectively communicate your orders.”


“Maybe I need a new General Staff!” Hitler screamed as he slammed his fist on the table in front of him.


“Sir, we need a place to meet that is safe from Allied bombing,” von Scheider responded. “A place where we can be sure that the communication lines would not be destroyed.”


“Have you actually looked for such a place?” the Führer asked sarcastically.


Jawohl, mein Führer,” von Scheider replied. “But every time we find one, it seems that the Allies know we are there.”


“General von Scheider,” Hitler said evenly. “If you do not find a way to communicate my orders to the front line units effectively, I will find someone who can.”


Burkhalter had been watching the exchange and was glad that he was not on the receiving end of that tirade. He suddenly had what he thought was a brilliant idea. He cleared his throat nervously and spoke. “Excuse me, mein Führer,” he said. “I believe I know the perfect place for the General Staff to meet.”


“A place that is safe from Allied bombing?” von Scheider asked. Burkhalter nodded.


“And where is this place, General Burkhalter?” Hitler asked, becoming somewhat impatient with the whole subject.


“The Allies would never bomb a place that contains their own men,” Burkhalter explained.


Before Burkhalter could finish, Hitler jumped in an interrupted him and spoke to General von Scheider. “Of course! General, you and your General Staff will meet at Luft Stalag 13,” he said.


“A prison camp?” von Scheider exclaimed.


“Do you have a problem following orders, von Scheider?” the Führer asked. Von Scheider shook his head. “Good! You will be safe from Allied bombs at this camp and the Kommandant – Colonel Klunk – has a perfect record of no escapes, so the prisoners will not cause you any trouble.”


Burkhalter laughed to himself. Ah, to the contrary, main Führer. I am hoping that the prisoners will be able to cause a great deal of trouble … or at least be able to sneak a look at some of your deployment and defense orders!


Yawohl, mein Führer,” von Scheider replied. “We should be ready to convene at Stalag 13 in two weeks.”


Hitler was pleased with “his” idea of using Stalag 13 as a meeting place and after dismissing von Scheider, went on with the briefing in somewhat of a better mood. Burkhalter was simply anxious to be dismissed so he could get back to his hideaway near Hammelburg. A nice quiet evening with Elsa would be a very pleasant diversion from all of this.


* * * * *


On the drive down the mountain, Burkhalter pondered everything he had heard in the briefing. The Allies seemed to be massing troops in the Western part of England and it looked like an invasion of the French coast was imminent. All the signs pointed to a landing point at the Pas-de-Calais, as that was the narrowest point of the channel.


Everything Burkhalter had heard pointed to one simple fact. Germany would lose the war. It was not a matter of “if”, but one of “how soon.” He had known this was coming, which was why he had decided to try and do whatever he could to speed up the end of the war. And when he finally surmised that Colonel Hogan was somehow running an operation in Stalag 13, he had been secretly directing as much information his way as possible.


But now that the end was coming closer, Burkhalter began to worry about his own future. He knew that since he was a General, and reported directly to the Führer, his future in Allied hands did not look very promising. There had been a lot of brutality inflicted on civilians by the German forces as they conquered the countries of Europe – much more than in the previous war – and he knew that those countries would want to exact their revenge on a defeated Germany.


But what could he do? It’s true that he had been secretly trying to help out what he thought was an Allied espionage operation … but there was no proof that he had done anything – just his own word. Like that will get me anywhere! His best bet would be to try to flee the sinking ship called Germany before it was too late. But even that was risky, because he would just be held prisoner and dealt with in the same manner after the war concluded.


The more he thought about it, the more things pointed to his only option. When the time came for him to leave, he would have to try to convince Colonel Hogan that he had been helping him without his knowledge, and that he wanted to defect. Burkhalter had a strong feeling that if he could convince Hogan his intentions were genuine, Hogan could convince the other high ranking Allied commanders. Yes, that is my only choice. When the time comes, I will place my fate in the hands of Colonel Hogan to do with as he wishes.


He sat back in the rear seat of the staff car and looked out the window. But when exactly will the time come?


Berlin, Das Brauhaus

June 1, 1944, 1730 hours


Kurt Wagner walked into the Brauhaus and headed towards his normal table. Heidi spotted him and waved, and he made a drinking motion and pointed towards his table. She nodded and headed towards the bar to get him a beer. Wagner settled into the booth along the back wall.


Hallo, Kurt,” Heidi said cheerfully, setting a full stein of beer on the table in front of him. “Is Hans with you tonight?”


Hallo, Heidi,” Wagner replied. “Hans will be here in a little while. He had some things to finish up at headquarters.” Heidi nodded and hurried away to take care of the rest of the patrons.


“Finish up,” Wagner snorted as he took a sip from the stein. “That sums it up accurately. The Abwehr no longer exists … how much longer will Hans and I be here in Berlin?”


Earlier that afternoon, the officers of the Abwehr had received the news from General Schellenberg – the Abwehr was being dissolved and the Sicherheitsdienst would now handle all intelligence activities. As Wehrmacht officers, they would all be free to take another assignment – combat, naturally – or if they wished, they could remain in the office and continue their previous activities … subject to the approval of Schellenberg, of course. The other stipulation to remaining was that they would be teamed with a Sicherheitsdienst officer, who would direct their activities. Several officers immediately indicated that they would rather take a combat assignment than be subjugated to the SS so completely.


Wagner snorted again. What’s the difference now? We’ve been under the thumb of the SS for the past few months. He knew what the difference was … Schellenberg had succeeded in eliminating the entire Abwehr entity, where before he was simply directing it. True, it was a small semantic difference, but it was a huge psychological difference. The former Abwehr officers would be like chickens living in a fox den.


Wagner and Teppel had both indicated that they would prefer to remain in their positions. They both had obvious reasons, as they were using those positions to gather intelligence information for Germany’s enemies. But first, they both had to be approved by General Schellenberg … something that was not a guarantee. Wagner had already talked with the General, and had been approved. Teppel was currently being interviewed – the term Schellenberg used for the process that seemed more like interrogation to Wagner.


Wagner took another sip of his beer. The whole situation made him nervous – he felt that his days as Major Kurt Wagner were becoming numbered. He was mentally reviewing his contingency plan for his disappearance when he spotted Teppel entering in the Brauhaus. Teppel saw him and headed towards the table.


* * * * *


“Well?” Wagner asked as Teppel sat down.


“I have been deemed acceptable for now,” Teppel said, mimicking Schellenberg’s manner of speaking.


Wagner laughed. “Well, I suppose that’s a good thing,” he replied. “But it’s the for now part that worries me.”


Teppel nodded as Heidi arrived at the table carrying a beer for him. “Hallo, Hans,” she said cheerily. “Are you boys eating tonight?”


Both Teppel and Wagner nodded. “The usual?” Teppel asked, to which Wagner nodded again.


“I’ll have it right up for you,” Heidi replied, and hurried away.


“I’m going to ask her to go with me when the time comes,” Teppel said quietly once she had left.


Wagner nodded. “I could have told you that,” he said with a smile.


Teppel nodded his head. “I suppose there was never any question,” he replied. “But I still had to convince myself that it was the best thing to do.” He looked over to watch Heidi floating around among the tables.


“She has no family?” Wagner asked.


“None,” Teppel replied.


“That makes it easier to decide on her part,” Wagner pointed out.


Teppel looked sharply at Wagner. “What’s that mean?” he asked.


Wagner chuckled. “Don’t forget, Hans, you can’t force her to come with you,” he said. “It will have to be her choice.” Wagner looked over at Heidi. “Though I don’t think you will have to do much to convince her.”


Teppel laughed and raised his glass. “I hope you’re right,” he replied.


Heidi soon appeared carrying two heaping plates. She set one in front of each man, took their empty steins and promised to return quickly with the refills.


* * * * *


Teppel sat alone at the booth, watching Heidi lock the door behind the last customers of the evening. Max was finishing up behind the bar and almost ready to leave. “One more beer, Major?” the bartender asked.


Ja, danke Max,” Teppel replied. Max filled another stein from the tap and brought it over to the table, setting it in front of Teppel. “Be careful going home,” Teppel said to the bartender.


Danke, you do the same,” Max replied and headed for the door.


Heidi locked the door behind Max and came over to the booth, giving Teppel a quick kiss on the cheek. “It won’t take me long to clean up,” she said.


Teppel nodded. “No hurry,” he said.


As Heidi went about her cleaning, Teppel sipped on his beer and pondered the events of the day. Life had changed drastically and he was now unsure how long he would be able to remain in Berlin. Hell, I’m not even sure how long I’ll be able to remain in Germany.


He had decided that when the time came, he would use his connections to get back to London. His superiors in the OSS might not agree with that decision, but it was his life on the line, not theirs. And besides, if I have to leave Germany, it means my usefulness here is finished. I have no reason to remain behind. He thought about Heidi. Aside from her, that is.


Heidi suddenly sat down across from him in the booth, surprising him from his thoughts. “You look like something is wrong, Hans,” she said. “Care to talk about it?” She paused before adding, “Or is it something that you can’t talk about?”


He looked at her for a moment and then took another drink from his stein. Yes there is something wrong, and we do need to talk about it. Do you realize that you have been sleeping with an enemy of the Third Reich? I’m a spy, Heidi. I am really an American who has been spying on Germany for the Allies. Very soon I will have to leave Germany and you will never see me again unless you want to go with me. All these thoughts ran through his mind as he set the stein down on the table.


He looked at Heidi, who was looking back at him expectantly. He let out a sigh. “Yes, there is something bothering me,” he said finally. “I’m …” he stopped as an argument flared in his head. How can you tell her you are a spy now? You know that could jeopardize everything. … But I love her and I know that she loves me. She won’t betray my secret. … But you don’t know that! All you know is that she likes to be with you – what do you really know about her? … I know enough! … Do you? He shook his head slightly and let out a deep sigh. You’re right, now is not the time to tell her everything … but I must tell her something. “I’m not sure how much longer I will be allowed to remain in Berlin,” he said.


Heidi’s eyes grew large. “You’ll be leaving? When?” she asked.


He reached over and took her hands in his. “I’m not saying that I am leaving,” he reassured her. “You see, the Abwehr is no more. It has been totally replaced by the Sicherheitsdienst.”


He felt her tense. “You are SS now?” she asked.


Nein,” he replied. “That is why I am not sure how much longer I will be allowed to remain in Berlin. They have decided to allow me to continue the same work as before, but they may decide in the near future to eliminate all former Abwehr officers.”


“Eliminate?” she asked in a nervous voice.


“Not like that, my dear,” he said. “I just may have to go somewhere else.”


“Where? The Eastern Front?” she gasped.


He shook his head. “Not there, but somewhere far away,” he said vaguely.


“I will go with you!” she said firmly.


“But you don’t know where it is!” he replied.


“I don’t care. I will go with you wherever you have to go,” she said.


He smiled at her. “I wish I could be sure you meant that,” he said softly.


Heidi smiled back as she rose from the booth, pulling Teppel along with her. When they were both standing, she wrapped her arms around him and kissed him passionately. “Let me show you how much I mean it,” she murmured. They sank to the floor of the barroom and minutes later, as the rumbling of the nightly bombings shook the city, she did.


England, SHAEF Headquarters

June 4, 1944, 0030 hours


Colonel Hogan left the office of General Tillman Walters and began walking down the hall. He glanced at his watch. It’s going to be tight. I might just get back by roll call in the morning.


“Colonel Hogan,” a voice called from behind.


Hogan turned around to see a General heading in his direction. “General Barton,” he said, offering a casual salute and then extending a hand.


Barton laughed and shook Hogan’s hand. “Not much on military formality,” he said in his gruff voice. “I can’t say I blame you. The British are a little too stuffy about that for my tastes.”


Hogan laughed. “I remember that from when I was stationed here,” he replied. “I see you made it back from Germany safely.”


“That’s why I wanted to see you while you were here,” Barton replied. “We never got a chance to talk after that English chap on your team – Corporal Newkirk?” Barton paused, being unsure of the name. When Hogan nodded, he continued, “When Newkirk told me the whole story. When I got back here, I checked into your operation – after getting clearance, of course. You’re one tightly held secret around here.”


“It keeps us alive, sir,” Hogan replied with a smile. “If word leaked out, the Krauts wouldn’t have very far to go to find us.”


Barton laughed. “Well, I got the straight scoop from Till,” he said, jabbing a thumb in the direction of General Walters’ office. “And I requested a transfer here so I could help support your mission.” When he saw Hogan’s confused look, he added, “Someone has to coordinate all the supply drops. Hell, I’ve even flown one since I got back, and it’s only been a few weeks.”


“I hope you won’t expect us to bail you out of jail again if the Krauts shoot you down!” Hogan quipped.


Barton laughed again and slapped Hogan on the back. “I want to thank you for that,” he said. “And apologize for the things I said in from of that Kraut Colonel – what was his name, Fink?”


“Klink,” Hogan replied. “But Fink is pretty accurate as well.”


“Anyway, you got time for a quick drink before you have to head back?” Barton asked. “My treat.”


Hogan shook his head. “Maybe some other time, sir,” he replied. “My Kommandant the Fink will have a fit if I am not back by roll call.”


“You have an open invitation,” Barton said. “Whenever you can make it.”


Both men turned as General Walters’ door opened. “Oh Hogan,” Walters said. “Good, you’re still around. Oh, hello Aloysius.” Barton nodded a greeting.


“Is there a problem, General?” Hogan asked as Walters closed his door and joined them in the hall.


“No problem at all,” Walters said. “But before you go, someone wants to talk to you.”


Barton laughed. “You’re getting called to the principal’s office, Hogan!” he exclaimed. “You’ve been a bad boy!”


“I know that,” Hogan replied with a smile. “But I don’t know how anyone around here found that out!”


“Follow me,” Walters said, trying to suppress his laughter. “You might as well come along too, Aloysius.” Barton nodded and followed.


* * * * *


General Walters opened an unmarked door and stepped aside. “After you, Hogan,” he said.


Hogan entered the room and stopped dead. Sitting around a large conference table in the middle of the room was enough brass to make a marching band. He stiffened to attention and gave a formal salute. “General Eisenhower, sir!” he said.


The General was sitting at the head of the table, surrounded by his senior staff. He returned Hogan’s salute. “At ease, Colonel,” he said, taking a drag from a cigarette. “This is an informal meeting. Smoke if you’d like.”


“Sir, if you could make it quick,” Walters said. “His plane is ready and he must be back for his morning roll call.”


“Of course,” Eisenhower said. “Hogan, General Walters has told you what we’d like you to do.” Hogan nodded. “I can’t go into too many details, but I wanted to elaborate on just how important this is.”


“Do you think that is wise?” one of the men seated at the table said with a frown. Hogan recognized him as General Bernard Montgomery. “Some of the information may leak out.”


“Oh hell, Monty,” Eisenhower replied. “What we’re asking this man to do will help save the lives of many men – your men – when the landings begin. The least we can do is to give him some information. I don’t plan to hand him the entire battle plans.”


“I’ve heard about some of his bizarre ideas,” Montgomery went on. “And General Walters himself has told us how informal he is with his men.”


Hogan felt himself getting angry. “Do you think it’s wise that you’ve been told about my operation, sir?” he said to Montgomery. “After all, some of the information may leak out.”


General Barton laughed along with the men sitting at the table. Hogan saw Eisenhower fight back a smile. “You tell him, Hogan,” Walters said.


“Thanks, Pops,” Hogan replied.


“A perfect example of what I was saying,” Montgomery said. “Referring to a superior officer as Pops.”


“With all due respect, sir,” Hogan said. “I am stationed in the middle of a German POW camp. I live every day, all day, among the men of my team. We don’t have the support of a brigade of armed troops – we have only ourselves. I don’t have the luxury of adhering to the pompous military rituals you are referring to.”


“The military is based on discipline,” Montgomery said.


“I have discipline,” Hogan countered. “But I also have something I feel is much more important to my operation. I have the respect of my men. They talk and I listen. They don’t always agree with my ideas, and are free to suggest their own. But whatever I decide to do, my men will follow.”


Montgomery gave a nod of his head. “Touché, Colonel,” he replied. “I may not agree with your style, but I cannot argue with your success.”


“Gentlemen, we can save the discussion on military procedure for later,” Eisenhower said. “Colonel Hogan has a plane to catch, and I have some things to tell him. Please, sit down, Colonel.”


* * * * *


Hogan rose from the table along with the rest of the men. He accepted handshakes from each one as they filed by. When it was Montgomery’s turn, the British General shook his hand and said, “Godspeed, Colonel Hogan. Maybe we can continue our discussion after the war.”


Hogan smiled. “Same to you, General,” he said. “I’ll meet you in Berlin.” Montgomery laughed.


Eisenhower was the last to shake Hogan’s hand. “Colonel, I know you’ll do your best,” he said.


“Of course, sir,” Hogan replied. “I hope it makes a difference.”


Eisenhower smiled. “I’m sure it will,” he replied. “Just as I am sure it will be a very interesting plan!”


General Walters escorted Hogan to his waiting plane. “They’ll take you as close to camp as possible,” he said. He held his hand out.


Hogan shook his hand with a large smile. “If you’re ever in the neighborhood …”


“I’ll make sure I’m not!” Walters replied. “Now get going!”


Hogan gave a playful salute. “Yes, sir … Pops!” he said.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Author’s Notes


I would like to thank everyone that has been reading and reviewing this story. This is part 2 of a 3 part “tie-in” between my story Two Missions for the Price of One and a yet to be named story that will tell the “story behind the story” of the episode The Missing Klink (and Nimrod). This three part saga was originally intended to be a single story that set up some of the background necessary for telling the tale of Nimrod – but it grew into something that ended up weaving many threads together. Part 3 will wrap up several more threads and cover the time period of the July 20th, 1944 assassination attempt on Hitler, ending right before The Missing Klink episode. (If the names Hans and Karl Wagner seem familiar … yes, it is Hans Wagner that Hogan hopes swap a kidnapped Klink for by convincing Hochstetter that Klink is Nimrod in that episode.)


If you have read this far and are disappointed by the somewhat lack of involvement of our Heroes in this story, I must apologize. The events of this story lent themselves to allowing the other characters to develop some interactions to be explored in the remaining two stories of this series. I can promise that the boys will return front and center in Part 3.


As you can tell from the dates on this story, it covers a full 6-month period of time. As such, there have been some incidents that have been mentioned, or were not covered in great detail. This was by design – as it leaves room in the universe for future stories to be written to fill in the gaps. One notable example would be Hogan’s trip to London with Klink to steal the P-51.


Historical Notes


Wherever possible, I have tried to remain true to actual historical events that are referenced. However, at times I have changed some facts in order to better integrate into the story.


For example, Schellenberg actually did take over the Abwehr when Canaris was removed, and actually did lobby the Führer to make this change. It was the defection of Erich Vermehren, a minor Abwehr agent stationed in Turkey, which facilitated Canaris’ dismissal. Also, on June 1, 1944 the Abwehr was dissolved and fully absorbed into the Sicherheitsdienst, SS intelligence. I have tried to stay true to these facts. I was, however, unsure of the disposition of the Wehrmact officers that we in the Abwehr, so Kurt Wagner and Hans Teppel have remained working their previous positions. Many Abwehr officers did resign, even opting for combat positions, rather than work under the SS – which I did not have Teppel or Wagner do.


Also, Hitler did use the Wolfsschanze as his headquarters during this timeframe. Sometime in the spring, he moved to Berchtesgaden until sometime after D-Day. Since I was not able to find exact dates for this shift in headquarters, I have timed it to make sense in this story.


Another instance is with the character of General Stauffen. In this story, he relates to Vladimir that he is part of a group that intends to assassinate Hitler and implement Operation Valkyrie. I have placed this character in charge of the Replacement Army, which would seize power via martial law in the event of civil unrest. In reality, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg was the officer who had a major role in the assassination plot of Hitler, and he was a staff officer in the Replacement Army. The character differences I have used are due because in the episode D-Day at Stalag 13, it is a General Stauffen who comes to Stalag 13 to pick up the briefcase to be used to assassinate Hitler. I have simply taken this character and given him the additional role of being the source of the leaked information about battle plans of the Eastern Front, for which Count von Waffenschmidt suspects Marya. General Stauffen and his briefcase will appear in Part 3.


So even though I have tried to be as historical accurate as possible, one must recognize that it is a work of fiction, and also based on a fictional television series that also was not completely historically accurate.


What’s in a Name?


Some readers who are fans of the 1970’s television show Emergency will have noticed the names given to the camp medics – Sergeant Roy Gage and Sergeant John DeSoto. Gage and DeSoto were the paramedics from that show. This usage was not an accident – rather than use the standard “Wilson” as a medic here, this story is a little different. However, the pair’s first names have been transposed, so these really are not intended to be the same characters. (I must thank Patti and Marg for the names, as they used them in the original story outline that some of the plot points are based upon.) I have used these names simply as what I would call, “author levity” – it is always difficult to come up with names for characters, and occasionally using names like this allows for some humor to be injected into the story. After all, I have given the butcher in Hammelburg the name Oskar Meyer!




As you can tell from the story, I am trying to tie in as many episodes to the timeline as makes sense, in some sensible order. The television episodes are not really intended to have occurred in the order they were televised, and if you really look at them, they are not always consistent with each other. This has been somewhat of a challenge, but it is fun to try to piece them into the story, even if I don’t fully cover them.


In some cases, I have been able to inject original characters into an episode when the episode did not specifically give a name to the character. In the opening chapter, the episode My Favorite Prisoner is referenced. In that episode, Hogan’s crew breaks Captain Sears out of Gestapo Headquarters and deals with a character credited as “Gestapo Officer” – no name given. This fits my story because I can have that officer be Captain Dorfmann. (I won’t go into the fact that the officer in the episode was wearing an SS Major’s insignia … after all, Hochstetter wears an SS Colonel’s insignia!)


A complete timeline of the episodes referenced in this 5 story series will appear in the Author’s Notes of the final story … which may not be the final story in this universe if I decide to go back and explore some events in more detail!


Text and original characters copyright 2006 by Jeff Evans

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