The Stalag Zone 3
2007 Papa Bear Awards - Third Place
2007 Papa Bear Awards - Nominated
Best Portrayal of a Canon Character - Hogan
This is the third story in which the Hogan’s Heroes characters meet Rod Serling. As you all know, many strange events occur to those who enter the Twilight Zone, and our boys at Stalag 13 are not immune to them.
In this episode, Colonel Robert Hogan is in for an unexpected surprise as he gets to see Stalag 13 from a different viewpoint. How will that affect the way the operations are conducted? I guess you’ll just have to join us and find out … in the Twilight Zone.
The standard disclaimer applies – I make no claims to the characters or events of either Hogan’s Heroes or The Twilight Zone. This story is simply intended for reader enjoyment.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Colonel Wilhelm Klink sat at his desk poring over the endless stack of papers. “A form for this, a form for that,” he mumbled. “I’m surprised I don’t have to fill out a form to use the toilet … in triplicate!” His mumbles were interrupted by a knock at his office door. “Go away,” he said in aggravation.
The door opened and Colonel Robert Hogan strolled into the office. “Good morning, Kommandant,” he said brightly. “Got a minute?”
“No,” Klink replied without looking up. “I’m busy, Colonel Hogan. Dismissed.”
“Kommandant, it will only take a minute,” Hogan persisted.
Klink dropped his pencil and looked up at the American
officer. “Hogan, you always say that it will only take a minute, and it always
ends up being more than that,” Klink said. “Now I am busy trying to keep up
with all the paperwork that
“And when will that be?” Hogan asked.
“Nineteen Seventy Two,” Klink mumbled dejectedly. He picked up his pencil and began scribbling on the papers again.
“I don’t expect to be here that long, Colonel,” Hogan said. “So I’ll just take my minute now.”
Klink slammed his pencil down in exasperation. “What do you want?” he asked.
Hogan shrugged. “If you’re busy, I don’t want to bother you,” he said nonchalantly.
“Hogannnnn!” Klink said.
“Well sir, I was wondering if the men could have an extra sheet of writing paper each week,” Hogan said.
“Denied,” Klink replied.
“And we were wondering if we could have an extra hour of light this week,” Hogan said.
“Why just this week?” Klink asked.
“We heard it was Hitler’s birthday and we wanted to make
him a present,” Hogan said with a smile. “We were thinking of a model of a
“Denied,” Klink replied.
“Well how about an extra slice of white bread per week?” Hogan asked.
“Request denied!” Klink said. “You’ve had your minute Hogan, now diiiiiiiiiis-missssssed!”
“That’s not fair, Kommandant!” Hogan exclaimed. “Why can’t we have just one of the things I requested?”
“Those things cost money, Hogan,” Klink replied. “And money doesn’t grow on trees.”
“You’re running this war on a budget?” Hogan asked incredulously. “I can’t believe this!”
Klink stood abruptly. “Hogan, you have no concept of what it takes to run this prison camp!” Klink shouted.
“Oh I don’t know, I’ve been doing a good job so far,” Hogan quipped.
“OUT!” Klink screamed, pointing at the door.
Hogan was about to leave when the phone rang. “Oh, I’ll get that Kommandant,” he said, reaching for the phone.
“I’ll get it,” Klink said, slapping at Hogan’s hand. He
picked up the phone. “Hallo,” he said. “Major Hochstetter, what a
pleasant surprise! No sir, I agree, it’s not a pleasant surprise. I mean, it’s
a pleasure to talk business with you … No sir, I wouldn’t want to talk to me
either.” He paused and listened. “Major Hochstetter, that’s out of the
question! I cannot possibly spare ten guards to guard the
“Tough luck, Kommandant,” Hogan said. “So how about the writing paper?”
“Hogan, get out before I have you thrown in the cooler!” Klink replied.
Hogan tried his best to look offended. “Well!” he said and turned towards the door. “I could do a better job of running this camp,” he muttered as he slammed the door behind him.
* * * * *
Klink was still doing his paperwork when the phone rang again. He picked it up. “Yes, yes, what do you want?” he asked in an annoyed tone. He immediately straightened in his seat. “General Burkhalter!” he gasped. “No, I’m never too busy to talk to you. A meeting in Düsseldorf? Tomorrow morning? You want me to be there tonight? But General!” he held the receiver away from his ear. “Yes, General Burkhalter. I’ll be there.” He hung up the phone and looked at the piles of papers on his desk. “I’ll never get this done,” he said. He stood. “Schultz!” he yelled.
The office door opened and the portly Sergeant Hans Schultz entered. “Yawohl, Herr Kommandant,” he said, saluting his superior officer.
“I have a meeting in Düsseldorf tomorrow and need to be there tonight,” Klink said. “You’re driving me.”
“Me, sir?” Schultz asked. “But you hate my driving!”
“Not just your driving,” Klink muttered. “But I have no choice. Be ready tonight.”
Schultz saluted again. “Yawohl,” he said.
* * * * *
“Hurry up with those charges, Carter,” Hogan whispered. “We’ve got to finish before those guards return from the other side of the bridge.”
“I’m going as fast as I can, Colonel,” Carter replied.
Newkirk and LeBeau emerged from the woods. “We’re all set, sir,” Newkirk said breathlessly.
“As soon as Carter gets done, we can get going,” Hogan said impatiently.
Carter ran up to the group. “I’m all set, Colonel,” he said. “In two minutes this bridge will be a pile of rubble.” He began to make explosive noises and wave his hands.
“Carter, keep it down!” LeBeau exclaimed.
“Let’s get going,” Hogan said. He heard a car on the road. “Wait, get down!”
Hogan looked through the binoculars and tried to identify the car. “I don’t believe it!” he said.
“What?” his three men said all together.
“That’s Klink’s staff car!” he replied. “And it’s heading right for the bridge.”
“Colonel, those charges are going to go off any minute,” Carter said.
“And there’s no way to stop them,” LeBeau added.
“Wait here,” Hogan ordered. “I’ve got to stop him.” He began to run through the woods towards the road.
“Colonel Hogan, wait!” Newkirk said and started off after him.
Hogan reached the road in front of the bridge as the staff car was rounding the curve. He stood in the road and waved his hands wildly as the car began skidding to a halt. At that moment, the charges erupted into several huge fireballs. Klink’s staff car veered off the road and slammed into a tree. Hogan went flying through the air as the shockwave from the blast expanded outward. The last thing he remembered was the feeling of the air rushing from his lungs as he slammed to the ground.
* * * * *
“Colonel Klink, wake up!” Schultz said, shaking the man on the ground. “Colonel Klink!”
Hogan groaned and tried to push the annoying person away. “Leave me alone,” he complained.
“Colonel Klink, you are all right,” Schultz said, with some relief.
Hogan opened his eyes to see Sergeant Schultz kneeling beside him. “Schultz, quit kidding around.”
“Who’s kidding around?” Schultz replied. “You were unconscious, Herr Kommandant.”
“What are you talking about, Schultz?” Hogan asked in confusion. “It’s me, Colonel Hogan!”
“Ach du Liebe!” Schultz gasped. “Kommandant Klink thinks he is Colonel Hogan!”
Several vehicles skidded to a halt nearby. Schultz stood and began waving. “Over here!” he yelled. “Colonel Klink is injured!” He turned back to Hogan. “Herr Kommandant, the ambulance is here. They will take you to the hospital.”
Hogan’s head ached terribly. “Why does everyone think I am Colonel Klink?” he mumbled.
* * * * *
A well-dressed man in a suit stepped from the shadows and began walking down the road.
An American Colonel, stuck in a POW camp in
A German Colonel, stuck commanding the same POW camp in
Tonight their paths cross at the most inopportune time, and the American Colonel is about to experience what it is like to walk in the other man’s shoes. Tonight, they have traveled into …
The Twilight Zone.
Hogan opened his eyes and found himself staring at a white ceiling. Where am I? He looked around at the hospital room. How did I get … oh … the bridge … explosion … His head throbbed with pain. Klink! When the bridge blew up, his car went veering off the road. He looked around the small room. He was the only occupant. If I am here in the hospital, is Klink in another room?
He shifted and pulled himself to a sitting position on the bed. Every little strain made his head throb harder. Ugh. I feel like I’ve been run over by a steamroller!
The door opened and a short, stout woman walked into the room. “Oh, Colonel, you are awake,” she said cheerfully. “You have been out for quite a while. I am Gretchen, your nurse.”
“Where am I?” he asked slowly, still trying to adjust to the constant dull ache in his head.
“You are in the hospital,” she said. “You had a nasty accident when the bridge blew up.”
“There were two other people in a car,” he said, rubbing his temples. “Are they all right?”
Gretchen looked confused. “Your Sergeant is fine,” she replied. “Was there someone else in the car with you?”
Hogan looked up at her sharply and immediately regretted the quick movement. “Sergeant Schultz and Colonel Klink were in the car,” he said, squeezing his eyes shut to try to block out the pain.
“Ja, that is what I said,” she replied slowly. “You and Sergeant Schultz were in the car. Sergeant Schultz is fine and you are here in the hospital, Colonel Klink.”
Hogan’s eyes popped open immediately. “What?” he yelled. “I’m not Colonel Klink. I’m Colonel Hogan!”
“Oh dear,” Gretchen gasped. “You must have hit your head very hard.”
“Of course I did,” Hogan replied. “But I am not Colonel Klink. He’s a tall man with a bald head and wears a monocle. Do you see someone like that in this bed?”
Gretchen stared at him. “Ja, of course I do, Colonel,” she said. “You just lie back down while I run and get the doctor.”
“I don’t want a doctor!” he shouted. “I want to get out of here!”
Gretchen hurried from the room, mumbling to herself and shaking her head in pity.
“What is wrong around here?” he asked himself. “I vaguely remember Schultz calling me Klink after the explosion and now this nurse. Are these people nuts?”
He threw back the blanket covering him and slowly edged his feet to the floor. Pushing himself up off the bed, he stood gingerly on wobbly legs. After a moment’s adjustment, he took a small step. I’m getting out of here. He took one step after another towards the corner where he saw his clothes hanging. In what seemed to him like an hour, he reached the corner and leaned a hand against the wall to steady himself.
He reached for the coat hanging from a hook on the wall and stopped suddenly. That’s not my coat. That’s a German military uniform! He reached a tentative hand out and pulled a sleeve up to examine the coat. That’s Klink’s uniform! He let the coat arm drop in alarm.
“What the hell is going on here?” he said in frustration, shaking his head. As his head went back and forth he caught a glimpse of a reflection in the mirror on the wall and froze. No! He moved slowly and stood in front of the mirror, staring at the reflection. Instead of seeing himself, he saw the image of Colonel Wilhelm Klink staring back at him.
He quickly reached up and touched his face. Klink’s image also reached up. Hogan reached towards the reflection in the mirror. Klink’s image reached out towards him. As Hogan’s fingers touched the glass, Klink’s fingers met at the same point. His arm dropped like a rock. I don’t believe this! Hogan slowly reached up to the top of his head. He felt hair – his normal hair. He began running it through his fingers, lifting it up from his head and letting it drop down. Klink’s reflection made the same motions … only there was no hair running between its fingers. Oh my God! “NO!” he screamed and stumbled backwards in shock. He lost his balance and tumbled to the floor.
The door opened and the doctor rushed into the room, followed closely by Gretchen. “Mein Gott!” the doctor exclaimed. “Nurse, help me get him back into bed.”
As the pair helped Hogan up off the floor and into bed, the doctor said, “Colonel Klink, what were you doing out of bed? You need to rest.”
“I’m not Klink!” Hogan insisted.
“Of course you are,” the doctor replied reassuringly. “You are Colonel Wilhelm Klink, Kommandant of Luft Stalag 13.”
“I’m not!” Hogan argued.
“Colonel, look in the mirror,” Gretchen said. “You will see that we are correct.”
“I did look in the mirror,” Hogan said. “I saw someone else! I saw Klink!”
“But you are Klink,” the doctor insisted.
The door opened again and General Burkhalter hurried into the room. “Doctor, is he all right?” he said.
“General Burkhalter!” Hogan exclaimed. “Tell these people who I am!”
“Klink, what are you talking about?” Burkhalter asked.
Hogan groaned. “Not you too!” he said in exasperation.
“Doctor, what is he babbling about?” Burkhalter asked.
“He keeps insisting that he is not Wilhelm Klink,” the doctor replied.
“I’m not!” Hogan said.
“Of course he’s Wilhelm Klink,” Burkhalter said. “Look at him – tall with a bald head and a blank look on his face. That’s Klink.”
“But I don’t want to be Klink!” Hogan cried.
“That’s too bad for you, Colonel,” Burkhalter said firmly. “Because nobody else does either!”
“General,” the doctor said. “Please do not upset him further. He hit his head pretty hard in the accident.”
“Surprising that hitting something that empty could cause a problem,” Burkhalter commented with a small smile.
Hogan glared at the General. “I am not Klink. I’m Colonel Robert Hogan, United States Army Air Corps!”
Burkhalter’s eyes went wide and he began laughing. “So he’s finally got to you, has he Klink?” he asked.
“I’m Hogan,” Hogan said softly.
“Hogan was at Stalag 13 this morning for roll call,” Burkhalter said. “I saw him personally.”
“But I’m here – how could I be back in camp?” Hogan asked.
“You were not back in camp,” Burkhalter replied. “Hogan was back in camp. You were here, Klink.”
“Doctor, how long will he be in the hospital?” Burkhalter asked.
The doctor shook his head. “There’s no way to tell for sure,” he replied. “I will give him a sedative now because he needs some rest. He should be well enough to leave tomorrow, but if he keeps insisting he is someone else …”
“If he keeps insisting he is someone else,” Burkhalter said menacingly. “I will make sure that he thinks he’s on the Russian Front!” Burkhalter turned and stomped from the room.
“There, there, Colonel,” the doctor said soothingly. He took the hypodermic that the nurse handed him and flicked it a few times to shake the air from the tube. “Let me give you something that will help you rest.”
“I don’t want to rest, I want to get back to my barracks!” Hogan said as the doctor jabbed the needle into him.
“You just relax, Colonel Klink,” the doctor said.
“I’m not Klink!” Hogan said as his consciousness slipped away.
It was dark and Hogan sat in the back of the staff car as it rolled through the main gates of Stalag 13. The car has been sent to the hospital to drive “Klink” back to camp. It rolled to a stop in front of Klink’s quarters and Sergeant Schultz hurried to open the door.
“Welcome home, Kommandant,” Schultz said, giving a salute as Hogan climbed out of the car.
“Yeah, yeah,” Hogan said, waving his hand as he strode up the steps to the Kommandant’s quarters. He still couldn’t understand why everyone thought he was Wilhelm Klink or why he saw Klink in the mirror, but he had resigned himself to carrying out the charade … whatever it might be. “I don’t wish to be disturbed until morning, Schultz,” he said as he closed the door behind him.
When he was inside, he went immediately towards the liquor bottles. “If I am going to have to play Klink, I might as well get something out of it,” he muttered as he poured a glass of schnapps and downed it in one swallow. He grabbed the bottle and retreated to the settee … intent on emptying the entire bottle.
* * * * *
Hogan walked slowly into the Kommandant’s outer office the next morning, wishing he hadn’t managed to empty the entire schnapps bottle. His head felt heavy and his mood was even heavier. Luckily, Burkhalter had remained in camp and handled the morning roll call.
Fräulein Helga did not look up as he entered, but said, “Good morning, Kommandant.” Hogan mumbled a greeting and retreated to the Kommandant’s office and sat behind the desk. Almost immediately, there was a knock at the door. “Now what,” he muttered, looking at the mess on the desk.
The door opened and Helga stuck her head in. “Oh, I forgot to mention that General Burkhalter wanted me to tell you that he expects those reports finished by tomorrow,” she said.
“Reports?” Hogan asked.
“The reports you were working on before your accident,” she replied. “He said now that you’re back, you don’t have an excuse to ignore them.”
“Wonderful,” Hogan muttered as the door closed. He began to read some of the papers from the many piles. “Requisition vouchers, finance reports, accounting sheets … lovely. I’ve become a paper pusher.”
Without enthusiasm, he dove into the paperwork, intent on finishing whatever it was he was supposed to do and get it out of the way. Hell, if they don’t like what I give them, they can do it themselves!
Hogan spent several hours poring over the numbers. He was
surprised to find that
Hogan had been toiling on the paperwork for a couple hours when the office door opened.
“Herr Kommandant, Colonel Hogan wants to see you,” Helga said.
Hogan frowned. I’m Colonel Hogan, dammit! “I’m much too busy,” he replied. “Send him away!”
At that moment, Klink barged through the door, brushing past Helga – a little too closely, Hogan thought – and she closed the door behind him after giving him a small wink. Helga winking at Klink? What is going on here?
“Good morning, Kommandant!” Klink said brightly.
“What’s good about it,” Hogan replied. “Wait a minute … did you just call me Kommandant?”
Klink looked confused. “Of course,” Klink replied. “I’ve called you some other things, but never when you were around to hear them.”
Hogan blinked in surprise. That sounded just like something he would have said. “So you think I am the Kommandant, too?” Hogan asked.
Klink laughed. “Sometimes,” he replied. “Sometimes I think you’re just a big pain in the …” He stopped. “Oh, sorry. That’s one of the things I say when you aren’t around to hear.” Klink smiled.
“And who do you think you are?” Hogan asked warily, actually afraid of the answer he knew he would get.
“Me?” Klink replied. “Aw, come on, Kommandant. You know who I am.”
“Humor me,” Hogan said.
“It’s me, Colonel Hogan,” Klink said. “Your favorite American prisoner of war.”
Hogan winced. There – he said it … and exactly like I would have said it to Klink. This has got to be some kind of nightmare. He sighed. “What do you want, Kl … Hogan,” he said tiredly.
“Well sir, I was wondering if the men could have an extra sheet of writing paper each week,” Klink said.
“Denied,” Hogan replied. Something began gnawing at the back of his brain.
“And we were wondering if we could have an extra hour of light this week,” Klink said.
“Why just this week?” Hogan asked. There’s something familiar about this whole conversation.
“Since you just returned from the hospital, we thought we
would make you a ‘welcome home’ present,” Klink said with a smile. “We were
thinking about a model of a
“Denied,” Hogan replied. Didn’t I have this same conversation with Klink the other day?
“Well how about an extra slice of white bread per week?” Klink asked.
“Request denied!” Hogan said. “diiiiiiiiiis-missssssed!”
“That’s not fair, Kommandant!” Klink exclaimed. “Why can’t we have just one of the things I requested?”
“Those things cost money, Kl … Hogan,” Hogan replied. Damn, I did have this exact same conversation … only I was on the other side of the table! “And money doesn’t grow on trees.”
“You’re running this war on a budget?” Klink asked incredulously. “I can’t believe this!”
Hogan stood abruptly. “Hogan, you have no concept of what it takes to run this prison camp!” Hogan shouted.
“Oh I don’t know, I’ve been doing a good job so far,” Klink quipped.
Oh my God – is this what it feels like every time I come into this office? “OUT!” Hogan screamed. He clinched his fist and waved it in the air. “Hmmph!” he grunted. Oh no, I’m starting to ACT like Klink now!
After Klink left the office, Hogan dropped into his chair. This has got to be a bad dream. Any minute now, LeBeau will be waking me up and telling me it’s time for breakfast. He looked around the office. Somehow I’m getting the feeling that it will be Schultz bringing me lunch. He sighed and began to get back to the paperwork.
He hadn’t worked for more than a minute when the phone rang. He picked it up. “Yes, what is it?” he asked crossly.
“Is that the way you answer the phone, Klink?” came the voice from the other end.
Hogan recognized the voice on the phone. “Major Hochstetter,” he said. “It’s always a pleasure to be interrupted by you.”
“Bah! It’s never a pleasure when I have to talk to you, Klink,” Hochstetter barked.
“You can say that again,” Hogan agreed.
“What?” Hochstetter asked.
“Nothing, Major,” Hogan replied. “What do you want this time?”
“I heard about your near miss with the explosion of the Adolf Hitler Bridge the other night,” Hochstetter said. “Most unfortunate.”
“Unfortunate that it was a near miss, or unfortunate that it happened at all?” Hogan asked sarcastically.
The line was quiet for a moment. “Ah, yes,” Hochstetter said. “Anyway, I called because I need more of your guards to help with the cleanup.”
“What?” Hogan cried. “Why should I supply any men to help with the cleanup of the bridge?”
“Because you were responsible,” Hochstetter
A chill ran down Hogan’s spine. I was responsible … of course I was responsible. But you can’t know that! “You can’t prove that,” Hogan said quickly. “Just because I was in the hospital because I was near the bridge when it blew up …”
“Klink, I was talking about you being responsible for the guards that were on duty that night,” Hochstetter said suspiciously. “What are you talking about?”
Hogan stopped. Of course, I forgot that he thinks I am Klink. “Was I talking about something?” Hogan asked. “I don’t think I was talking about anything. If I was talking about anything …”
“KLINK! SHUT UP AND LISTEN!” Hochstetter screamed.
“Yes sir, shut up and listen,” Hogan said.
“I want ten more men this afternoon, or you’ll find yourself on the first train to Stalingrad,” Hochstetter said with a restrained fury.
“I’d like to see you try,” Hogan muttered.
“What?” Hochstetter said in surprise.
Hogan clamped his mouth shut. Damn, I said that out loud. I’d better not do that. Hochstetter really can do something to me now. What am I saying – I am still Colonel Hogan – no matter what everyone else thinks!
“Klink, are you still there?” Hochstetter asked.
“Yes, Major,” Hogan said. “Ten guards this afternoon. You’ll have them.”
“I know,” Hochstetter said curtly. Hogan heard the line click dead as Hochstetter hung up.
“Schwein,” Hogan mumbled. He slammed down the phone and looked at the papers on the desk. I wish I would wake up from this nightmare soon.
Hogan looked at his watch. Well, it’s that time. I should get out there and get it over with. He left Klink’s office – no, his office now - and walked through the outer office past Helga’s desk. The secretary had gone home for the evening. I wish I could leave this place too. Pausing in front of the outer door, he took a deep breath. “Well, here goes nothing,” he said to himself.
As Hogan climbed down the two steps leading to the compound, he almost tripped and fell. He was looking at the line of men – his men – standing in front of the barracks, laughing and joking amongst themselves. The sight of Klink standing in his position in the line made him want to throw up.
“Repooooooooooort!” Hogan yelled.
Schultz came shuffling up to him and saluted. “All present and accounted for, Herr Kommandant,” he said.
“Good,” Hogan replied. He was about to turn around and walk back to his office when he stopped. He realized that he should say something to the men. He – or Klink, rather – had been gone from camp for a couple days, so it seemed like a time to reassert his – or Klink’s – authority. I’ve got to keep thinking, this is only a dream. I am Robert Hogan. I am not Wilhelm Klink. I am not the Kommandant of Stalag 13.
Schultz looked expectantly at Hogan. “Can I dismiss the men now, Kommandant?” he asked.
“No, Schultz,” Hogan replied wearily. “I will address the men,” he said in a louder voice.
The line of prisoners began hooting and jeering at the prospect of one of Klink’s pompous speeches. Hogan saw Klink make a “cut” motion to his men and they grew silent immediately.
“Now you all know,” Hogan began, “that I have just returned from being in the hospital …”
The men began cheering and continued until Klink motioned for them to quiet down.
“Where I ended up,” Hogan continued, “after almost being
killed when the foolish Underground tried to blow up the
“Almost isn’t good enough, Kommandant. Why do you go back and try it again!”
Hogan was stung by the words that he knew came from Corporal Newkirk. The prisoners began laughing.
“Let me assure you,” Hogan went on, “that Major Hochstetter …”
A chorus of boos erupted from the men.
“Will find those responsible,” Hogan continued, ignoring the interruption, “and make sure they can’t do it again.” Sure he will. I was responsible for that … and what did it get me? A life sentence in hell as Wilhelm Klink!
“Lots of luck to him,” Carter yelled.
“Yeah, Hochstetter couldn’t find a loaf of bread in a bakery!” LeBeau added.
The men began laughing again and Klink stood there with his arms crossed, as Hogan always had done, smiling at the fun his men were having at their Kommandant’s expense.
As Hogan looked at the scene, a feeling of sadness came over him. I should be the one standing there with the smug look, allowing my men to jeer you, Klink. You should be standing here … not me! He shook his fist in frustration and yelled, “Diiiiiiis-missssed.” He turned and stomped back to his office, hearing the jeers and hoots of laughter following him.
* * * * *
Hogan retreated to the Kommandant’s quarters … my quarters, he thought – and considered drinking the night away again. What would that accomplish? I’d wake up tomorrow and still be stuck in this nightmare.
He flopped on the settee and let his mind race. What had happened? How could this happen? He was Colonel Robert E. Hogan. But why did he see Wilhelm Klink staring back at him when he looked in the mirror? And why does everyone think Klink is me? Can’t they tell by looking at him that it’s not me? He let out a huge sigh. Everything seemed to be as it was before, except for this one minor change. Minor, right! And this war is just a small argument!
He stopped abruptly. Was everything else the same? Everything that he had encountered had been, but what about the operation at Stalag 13? Was it the same?
He rose from the settee and hurried over to the stove. He gave it a small push and it moved. I’ll be damned! The tunnel entrance! He rolled the stove out and saw that there was indeed a trap door beneath it. He quickly pushed the stove back and headed for the door. Let’s find out about the others.
Hogan proceeded to wander around the camp, checking for all of the things that he and his men had put together. He found that the tunnel entrance in the cooler was there, the bugs in the Kommandant’s office were in place, and even the small peephole from the outer office was there. He couldn’t check it without being too obvious, but he would put a hundred bucks down that the emergency tunnel entrance was in the same tree trunk.
When he returned to his quarters, his emotions were all jumbled. He was happy that things, for the most part, were as they had been. But it saddened him to be living on the other side of everything. What if this isn’t a dream? What if Klink and I really died in that explosion and this is the hell I have to live in for eternity because I was responsible? He walked over to the liquor bottles. What if I just get drunk?
* * * * *
The next afternoon, Hogan was in the Kommandant’s office about to eat his lunch when Klink bounded in without knocking.
“Don’t you ever knock?” Hogan asked with annoyance. Of course he never knocks ... I never did!
“Good afternoon, Kommandant,” Klink said cheerfully. “Is it time for our game of chess?”
“Not now, Colonel,” Hogan replied. “Can’t you see I’m about to eat lunch?”
Klink sat in the guest chair and reached towards the plate. “Thank you, Kommandant,” he said. “Don’t mind if I do!” He picked up one of the sandwich halves.
Hogan slapped his hand and took back the sandwich. “That is my lunch!” he said sharply.
Klink shrugged. “If you don’t want to share …” he said.
“No, I don’t want to share,” Hogan answered. He was about to take a bite of the sandwich when the phone rang. He put the sandwich back on the plate and picked up the phone. “Yes?” he said. “Yes, Major Hochstetter, how many men do you want this time?”
Hogan turned slightly away from Klink, who was still sitting in the guest chair. “You don’t want any men? Excellent. Well, if there’s nothing else …” He paused to listen. “No, Major Hochstetter. I was not trying to get rid of you. It’s just that …” Pause. “Yes, I realize that you wouldn’t call unless it was important, but you see it’s …” Another pause. “Yes, I know that the Gestapo doesn’t have time for unimportant people like me, but …” Another pause. “I wish you would get to the point, Major.” Hogan held the phone away from his ear as loud squawking emerged from the earpiece. “Yes sir, shut up and let you talk.”
Hogan was silent as he listened to Hochstetter. “You say the ball-bearing plant on the edge of town is now fully operational? Sir, you really didn’t have to call just to tell me that. What? Yes sir, shut up.” He listened again. “But sir, surely there are many more capable people to put in charge of security of the plant. What’s that? You agree, but I’m the only person handy. Thank you for the vote of confidence, Major.” He listened some more. “I understand, sir. If anything happens to the plant, heads will roll. What? Oh, my head will roll. Yes, thank you for clearing that up. Heil Hitler.” He put the phone down and rose from his chair.
“Troubles, sir?” Klink asked, following Hogan to the schnapps.
Without looking up, Hogan removed the top of the schnapps decanter. “Please just let me eat my lunch in peace. Dismissed,” he said.
“Kommandant, it can’t be that bad,” Klink said, picking up two empty glasses and filling them. He took a drink from one and handed the empty glass to Hogan.
“Colonel, if you only knew how bad it is right now,” Hogan replied.
Klink held up his glass in toast and drained it. “Well Kommandant, I will leave you alone with your lunch,” he said. He put the glass back on the cabinet and turned to leave. Hogan watched him cross the room. When he passed in front of the wall mirror, Hogan was shocked to see a reflection of himself passing by. Klink looks like me in the mirror and I look like him? No wonder everyone thinks he is Colonel Hogan!
After the door closed, Hogan raised his glass to drink and found it empty. “Damn!” he said and put the glass on the cabinet. He looked over to his desk and saw that the plate was empty as well. Klink had stolen his sandwich. He shook his head sadly. Of all the people in the world, I should have known that was going to happen!
That night, Hogan lay in the comfort of the bed in the Kommandant’s quarters, unable to sleep. He had decided that it would be bad for him to spend every evening drinking himself into oblivion, so tonight he had refrained. He was starting to wonder if that was a wise decision as he lay there tossing and turning.
He was almost beginning to get used to the entire situation – which scared him. The last thing in the world he wanted to do was to get comfortable being Wilhelm Klink! Things were very different these days – though he couldn’t fathom how it had gotten this way - yet everything seemed so familiar. Why shouldn’t it – everything is the same, except for me … and Klink.
A thought struck him. When Klink had been in the office this afternoon, Hochstetter had called to say that the ball-bearing plant on the edge of town was now fully functional. If that had happened before, I would have been trying to think of a way to blow it up - maybe not tonight, but sometime soon. If things were really the same as before, was Klink over in the barracks with the men discussing ways to take care of the plant? I would have sent Newkirk and Carter out to scout the area to find the best way to destroy the facility.
That led to another thought. I am responsible for the security of that plant. If something happens to it, something will happen to me! He checked that thought. His every instinct wanted to see that plant destroyed, but Hochstetter had threatened him if something should happen to it.
He tossed and turned for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, he got out of bed and went out to the main living area of the quarters. When he saw the stove, he made up his mind. I’m going to do a bit of exploring. Ever since he discovered that the tunnel entrance was there, he had fought off the urge to climb down it. Tonight, he decided, he would give in to that urge and visit the familiar surroundings.
He moved the stove aside and opened the trap door. Carefully descending the steps, he found himself in the quiet darkness of the tunnel. Home sweet home. He moved quietly because he wasn’t sure if any of the prisoners were in the tunnel – and it would not look good to them to have their Kommandant sneaking around in their private underground domain! Their Kommandant? I am not their Kommandant … I’m their Colonel, dammit!
He walked down the emergency tunnel and peeked up through
the entrance. Just as I suspected, it’s the same tree trunk! Feeling
satisfied, he went back to the main area that housed the radio equipment.
Everything was as Kinch always left it – the headset
… the microphone … the lever to pump up the antenna on top of the flagpole.
Then he noticed some writing on Kinch’s notepad and
picked it up. It contained notes for a message to
Hogan heard stirring from the barracks above and the sound of tapping on a bedpost. Someone was coming down! He tossed the notepad back on the table and quietly went back towards the entrance to Klink’s quarters. My quarters now, I guess.
He quickly climbed the ladder and shut the trap door, moving the stove back into place. If he was conflicted before, now that he knew there was something planned, the conflicts had grown stronger. What do I do? Do I allow my men to succeed and help the Allies win the war? That could prove to be fatal for me personally. He let out a wry chuckle. I wonder if the men still have the same desire to make sure their Kommandant never takes the blame for their actions. But what if he didn’t allow the attack to take place? I know their tunnel layout. I know the way they operate. I could have a squad of men in place and stop them from setting the charges. I could even discover their tunnels and put them out of business. He shook his head. I can’t to that to those men. They are my men – we’ve been through a lot together. I couldn’t expose them as saboteurs.
He sat down hard on the settee and let out a huge sigh. It’s going to be a long and sleepless night.
* * * * *
Hogan spent the next day thinking about what he was going to do. By the evening, his mind was made up and he had come up with a plan. He looked at his watch. The boys should be leaving here soon. They will need enough time to get to the plant and set the charges … at least, they would if I was still in charge.
At 11:30, he put on his coat and summoned his car, telling the guard he was driving himself to the ball bearing plant to check up on security. He drove through the wooded road towards town with the determination of a man with a definite plan.
He parked the car on the road well enough away from the plant to ensure that it would not be seen, and set out through the woods to the north side of the plant. The night noises were heavy in the air, and Hogan walked as quietly as he could. He didn’t want to take any chances of being heard.
He reached the edge of the woods near the plant and crouched in the darkness, scanning for any signs of movement. He saw three shadowy figures moving around the large diesel tanks that held the fuel to power the plant’s generators. Why isn’t there a guard on this side of the building? He looked around to see if he could see the rest of the team. He saw the other two men working near the other end of the tanks. After a few minutes, both groups converged, not twenty feet from where Hogan was crouched.
Hogan saw Klink, dressed in black clothes with black smudges on his face. The men were talking softly and Hogan could not hear what they were saying. Klink gestured in the direction of Stalag 13, and the men quietly took off. He’s sending them back first to make sure they are not being followed.
This was his chance - Klink had his back turned. Hogan drew the pistol that he had brought with him and quietly moved out of the woods towards Klink. He rushed the man and hit him in the back of the head with the butt his pistol. Klink slumped to the ground unconscious.
Hogan looked down at the man who used to be the Kommandant of Stalag 13. “I’m sorry, Colonel Klink,” he said. “But this is how it’s got to be.” He put the gun back into its holster and began to pace. “For some bizarre reason, I seem to be thought of as Wilhelm Klink. But I am not – I am Robert Hogan. As Robert Hogan, I want to see this plant blown up. But as Wilhelm Klink, I know that I can be shot if the plant blows up. I can’t have it both ways.” He shook his head. “I can’t go through life as Wilhelm Klink.” He stopped and looked at the man on the ground at his feet. “And I can’t let you go through life as Robert Hogan.”
Hogan looked towards the plant, knowing that the explosives would go off any second. “So we wait, Wilhelm,” he said. “When the plant blows, both Wilhelm Klink and Robert Hogan will be caught in the blast and killed. It’ll make no difference who is who if we are both dead.” He shook his head. “This is not the ending I had planned when I started my operation … I needed to use you to successfully run the operation. But I never intended …” He paused, the words sticking in his throat. “To kill you,” he finished.
At that moment a horrific explosion ripped through the diesel tanks. Hogan went flying through the air as the shockwave from the blast expanded outward. The last thing he remembered was the feeling of the air rushing from his lungs as he slammed to the ground.
* * * * *
“Colonel Hogan, wake up!” LeBeau said, shaking his commanding officer. “Colonel Hogan!”
Hogan groaned and tried to push the annoying person away. “Leave me alone,” he complained.
“Colonel Hogan, you are all right,” LeBeau said, with some relief.
Hogan opened his eyes to see Corporal Louis LeBeau kneeling beside him. “LeBeau, where am I?” he asked.
“In the tunnel, sir,” LeBeau replied.
Hogan blinked his eyes and looked around. He was in the main room of the tunnel, surrounded by his trusted team. They were dressed in their black saboteur outfits and each had black smudges on their face. “I am in the tunnel,” he said. “But how?”
“We had to carry you back from the ball-bearing plant,” Newkirk said.
Hogan tried to sit up. LeBeau reached out to help him. Ball-bearing plant? He thought hard. The last thing he remembered was waiting for the explosives to blow up … as Colonel Klink! “Quick, get me a mirror!” he ordered. His men looked at him strangely. “Come on, a mirror. Now!”
Carter ran into another tunnel room and returned quickly with a small mirror. He handed it to Hogan, who looked into it. “It’s me!” He exclaimed happily, looking at his own face, black smudges and all, staring back at him.
“Who else would it be, sir?” Carter asked, looking worriedly at the rest of the men.
Hogan began laughing. “You’d be surprised, Carter,” Hogan replied, still admiring himself in the mirror.
“What happened, Colonel?” Kinch asked. “You knew the charges were going to go soon. Why’d you stay so close to the tanks?”
Hogan opened his mouth to reply, but nothing came out. I can’t tell them that I stayed around hoping to be blown to bits with … “Colonel Klink!” he exclaimed.
“What about the Kommandant?” Kinch asked.
“He was there!” Hogan replied.
“What?” the men said in surprise.
“He was there with me,” Hogan said. “He hit, I mean I snuck up on him and knocked him unconscious so he wouldn’t recognize me.” Hogan paused … he couldn’t tell them the truth. “I was, uh, trying to drag him away from the area so he wouldn’t get hurt when those tanks blew. Didn’t you see him when you found me?”
“No, Colonel,” Newkirk replied. “We only saw you.”
Hogan scrambled to his feet, though LeBeau had to help him again. “Let’s get out of these clothes and get upstairs,” he said. “We have to check on Klink.”
* * * * *
They had just climbed out of the tunnel and closed the bunk entrance when Schultz burst into the barracks. “Colonel Hogan! Colonel Hogan!” he exclaimed breathlessly.
“What is it, Schultz?” Hogan asked.
“Did you hear about Colonel Klink?” Schultz gasped.
Hogan’s blood froze. Oh God, Klink is dead! “No, what happened?” he asked.
“He’s in the hospital again!” Schultz said. “There was an explosion at the ball-bearing plant tonight and Colonel Klink was caught in it.”
“What was he doing there, Schultzie?” LeBeau asked.
“The guard at the gate said he went to check on security at the plant,” Schultz said.
“Is he going to be all right?” Hogan asked, dreading the answer.
“I don’t know, Colonel Hogan,” Schultz said sadly. “I hope so.”
Hogan sat down on the closest bunk. I hope so too.
Hogan and his men sat around the coffee pot on the desk in his office, listening to the events taking place in the Kommandant’s office. Klink had spent three days in the hospital and had just returned to camp, with Hochstetter not far behind.
“Hochstetter sure is mad at Klink,” Carter said.
“Yeah, it’s a good thing Burkhalter is still here,” Kinch agreed. “He’s not happy when Hochstetter accuses one of his men of anything.”
“All right, hold it down!” Hogan ordered. “I want to hear what’s going on. If Hochstetter blames Klink and sends him to the Russian Front, our operation might be in jeopardy. The next Kommandant just might not be as easy as Klink.”
* * * * *
“Klink, you are in trouble!” Hochstetter bellowed. “I told you if anything happened to that plant, heads will roll!”
“Major Hochstetter, I … I …” Klink stammered.
“Major, Colonel Klink just got back from the hospital,” Burkhalter said. “I think he still needs some rest.”
“I don’t care if he needs some rest,” Hochstetter growled. “I want some answers!”
“But I do care, Major Hochstetter,” Burkhalter said. “You may ask your questions, but if I am satisfied with the answers, you’d better be as well.”
Hochstetter glared at the General for a moment before continuing his questioning. “Klink, why did the plant blow up?” he asked.
Klink opened his mouth to reply but Burkhalter interrupted, “Because someone planted explosives near the diesel tanks, you idiot!”
“It seems very strange that there were two explosions within a week, and Colonel Klink was present at both,” Hochstetter said, trying to sound menacing.
“Major Hochstetter, just what is your question?” Burkhalter asked.
“I want to know why Colonel Klink was at the ball-bearing plant when it exploded!” Hochstetter bellowed.
Klink cringed. “I … I … I,” he stammered.
“If you would have bothered to read the report that was sent to your office, you would know that he went to check on security,” Burkhalter said, beginning to lose his patience. “While he was walking around the perimeter, he was hit on the head from behind by the saboteurs as they were trying to get away.”
“So he says,” Hochstetter blurted.
“And so I say, Major,” Burkhalter said.
“Are you trying to hinder my investigation, General Burkhalter?” Hochstetter asked.
“Major Hochstetter, you have Colonel Klink’s report,” Burkhalter said, reaching for the phone. “And now maybe it is time for Reichsführer Himmler to have my report.”
“There’s no need to bother the Reichsführer, General,” Hochstetter said, immediately softening his tone. “I believe I have all the information I need from Colonel Klink at this time.” He stood and walked towards the door. He opened it and turned around. “But if I find that Colonel Klink had anything to do with either explosion, I will bother the Reichsführer personally and you both will find yourselves in trouble!” he said before he slammed the door.
“Schwein,” Burkhalter and Klink said together.
* * * * *
“Well, it sounds like old Klink is off the hook,” Kinch said, unplugging the coffee pot.
“I guess everything’s back to normal again,” Carter said cheerfully.
Hogan began laughing. “Carter, I couldn’t agree with you more!”
* * * * *
Sleep eluded Hogan. He had been trying to sleep for the last several hours, but his mind was still occupied by the events that he had been through in the last week. Or did I really live through them? Maybe it was all a nightmare.
He had talked to Klink after Hochstetter left, and the Kommandant did not appear to remember anything out of the ordinary. He talked about the explosions and the events of the week between as if nothing unusual had happened. Hogan still couldn’t shake the feeling that he had actually lived the events. He had never had a dream that seemed as real. Before he left, Hogan had even tried to wheedle the extra writing paper, electricity and bread out of the Kommandant, and was shocked when Klink simply agreed and said he wanted to be left alone.
He dropped down from the top bunk, annoyed that he was not able to get to sleep. Maybe if I walk around downstairs for a while, I’ll get tired. He walked quietly through the barracks, careful not to disturb the sleeping men. He opened the tunnel entrance and climbed down carefully.
As soon as his feet hit the ground, he thought he heard a shuffling in the tunnel. He stopped and listened, but heard nothing except his own breathing. You’re getting jumpy, Rob! He started through the main tunnel room, but stopped at Kinch’s table. The notepad that Kinch normally kept near the radio set had been moved to the other side of the table – and there was writing on the top sheet.
Hogan picked up the notepad and read the note. He stared at the page in shock and quickly looked around. “No, it couldn’t be … could it?” He shook his head quickly and dropped the notepad on the table. “Nah, impossible,” he said, climbing back up the ladder into the barracks.
* * * * *
A tall well-dressed man in a suit stepped out of a side tunnel and walked towards the desk in the main tunnel room. He picked up the notepad from the desktop.
It is very easy to criticize another person for the job they are doing. But when you walk a mile in their shoes, you find that there is always more to the situation than meets the eye. Colonel Robert Hogan has just found out the hard way - being a Kommandant of a German prison camp is not a dream job … even though his experiences of the past week were just a dream … or were they?
The man looked at the note and read:
Colonel Hogan - Now you know what it is really like to be Kommandant of Stalag 13.
And now Colonel Hogan also knows what it is like to walk into …
The Twilight Zone.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A few notes about this story ...
This story could have been longer and gone into more detail about the changes, the situations, and even inserted more events into Hogan’s experience as Klink. But I wanted to write it as if it would have been a half hour television episode. As such, there are many little details (and some major details) that could have been explored and have been left to the reader’s imagination.
For instance, this is written from Hogan’s point of view only. We do not know if Klink, when “playing” Hogan, really knew what was going on. Did he remember being Klink or in his mind was he always Hogan? If he did remember being Klink, how did he interact with the prisoners while he was Hogan? What were his thoughts during the transition?
what about the message left in the tunnel at the end? Was it Klink who left it?
That could be assumed, but the reader never witnessed Klink in the tunnels
after things returned to normal. If it was Klink, what effect does this have on
Hogan’s operation? What effect does it have on the relationship between the
senior POW officer and the
A couple of readers commented about the language being spoken by the different characters after the switch. This was never pointed out – and is another item that can be speculated about. Did Hogan, as Klink, speak in German effortlessly or did he have to remind himself that he should speak in German? What languages would be used between the different participants? To be honest, this little detail never occurred to me while writing the story, so all I can say is that maybe we should treat it like the television show where it seemed that every German officer that came to camp spoke English exclusively, even when Hogan wasn’t in the room with them.
There are many different possibilities for all of these items, and each can be explored. My initial goal was to come up with a story that fit the mold of a Twilight Zone episode – which always tried to make the viewer step out of the trappings of logic and explore different alternatives. Many Twilight Zone episodes could be confusing if you tried to apply logic to them – and maybe this story falls into that category as well.
However, when reading this story, I say that the reader should apply some logic to various unexplained threads and see where they lead. I would find it very interesting to see side stories following these threads … like Klink’s point of view, or what happened afterwards. Will I write them? All I can say is … it’s a possibility.
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.