[June 28, 1943 - Stalag 13]
Colonel Robert Hogan and his men had just finished a successful mission five miles from Stalag 13. It resulted in the destruction of a convoy transporting rockets to the northern coast of Germany and the bridge over the Dusseldorf River. On their way back to camp, they were walking through the forest and saw a road which they had to cross. The man from the underground who met them at the bridge with additional explosives to ensure the destruction of both the bridge and the convoy, walked out onto the road a moment before Hogan and his men were to come out of the forest. Suddenly, the Gestapo appeared and surrounded the man.
"Hold it!" Hogan quietly exclaimed and squatted down immediately. "Get down, quick!"
A shot rang out and the man fell to the ground, dead. Hogan couldn't believe his eyes. The Gestapo killed the man for no apparent reason!
"Achtung!! What is going on here?" Major Hochstetter inquired as he arrived on the scene from investigating the sabotaged bridge and convoy nearby.
"This man was out after curfew! He wouldn't give a reason why and was shot trying to escape," the soldier reported.
"Good work! Have the squad check the area, there may be others! Schnell!!"
As the Gestapo men quickly began to fan out in their
sweep of the area, Hogan and his crew stood and quickly made a
wide detour around them to return to Stalag 13.
On a hunch, Major Hochstetter got in his car and headed in the direction of Stalag 13 after he saw the damage done to the nearby bridge and convoy. Maybe, just maybe, Hogan is involved in this, he thought as he drove. Soon, he arrived at his destination and was admitted to the camp. As his car pulled up to the Kommandant's office, the lights were out.
Sergeant Hans Schultz approached as he saw the Gestapo car enter the camp.
"Guten Abend, Herr Major!" Schultz began.
"Never mind the pleasantries! I want to see Colonel Klink right now," he ordered in a menacing tone.
"Jawohl, Herr Major!" Schultz replied as he led the way to Klink's quarters.
Meanwhile, Hogan and his crew had just returned from the mission and were getting cleaned up in the tunnel, when Schultz opened the door to Barracks 2 and called for a roll call. The instant Schultz left, one of the other prisoners in Barracks 2, Foster, a British airman, quickly opened the trap door and called down, "Colonel, are you guys back yet?"
"Yeah Foster, we're back. What's going on?" Hogan inquired.
"Huh?" He checked his watch and shook his head. Midnight. "Let's get this craziness over with." he muttered as he climbed up the ladder behind his crew.
They lined up in formation and were counted. Hogan noticed Hochstetter's presence in camp and knew instantly that he was suspected of being connected with the sabotage tonight or else Hochstetter and his men wouldn't be here.
"All present and accounted for!" Schultz reported.
"Are you satisfied, Major?" a tired and disheveled Klink asked.
"NO!!!" Hochstetter shouted as he strode over to him and shook a pointed finger in his face, "I suspect this man in the destruction of the bridge and the convoy!"
"That's impossible, Colonel Hogan is here and has been all night."
"I believe that to be otherwise, I just can't prove it. But beware. If I ever do, heads will rrroll!!!"
Hogan had no doubts about that whatsoever. His would be the last to roll if that ever happened, he suspected. The Krauts would try their best to squeeze him dry of any and all information before he died. He forced his disquieting thoughts aside as they waited to be dismissed. When they were dismissed, all the prisoners returned to the barracks, then his crew came into his office.
"Boy, that was a close one!" Carter exclaimed, relieved they had made it back from the mission in time.
"Yes, it was. We'd better lie low for a while and I mean really low. No sabotage or escape activity for a while," Hogan ordered. "Let's get some sleep. Good night, men."
"Good night, sir," they responded, then returned to the other room to go to sleep for the night.
As he climbed into his bunk for the night, Hogan thought about what happened earlier. Another brave man died tonight at the hands of the Gestapo. Is this operation really making a difference in the war? I hope so, this man wasn't the first to sacrifice himself for our sake. Other people who have helped us in the past had been captured and later rescued by either the underground or us, but this man was one of the few who had been killed as a result of his aid. It was at times like this that he began to doubt whether it was all worth it. He drifted off to sleep.
A couple of hours later, a tremendous storm blew through Stalag 13. It damaged several buildings and took the roof off of Barracks 2. All the men woke as the wind howled above, but the removal of the roof was swift. Debris was flying everywhere. Before he could get out of his bunk, Hogan was hit in the head by a piece of loose wood, resulting in a concussion and a wound on his head. Soon, the storm passed and the weather calmed once more.
Most of the men in Barracks 2 had managed to avoid serious injury. Perhaps that was because the part of the building hit first by the storm was the far end and most of the men were able to dive for cover, Sergeant Ivan Kinchloe thought to himself as he looked in that direction. He hoped that Colonel Hogan had managed to dive for cover.
When the rest of the men realized the excitement was over, he noticed that Hogan hadn't come out of his office. He grabbed a flashlight, then quickly went to the room at the end of the barracks and entered. He saw Hogan lying still up in his bunk, apparently sleeping in the moonlight. Oh, no! he thought. Quickly, he grabbed a chair, moved it over to the bunk, stepped up on it and shined the light on Hogan. He saw the blood trickling from the wound over his left eye.
He stepped off the chair, quickly went back to the door and said, "Get the medic in here on the double! Colonel Hogan's been injured!"
Carter ran to Barracks 5 to get the medic and brought him to Hogan's quarters. When he inspected and cleaned Hogan's head wound, he said, "Well, he may have a concussion. Whatever hit him, hit hard. He shouldn't be moved."
"All right," Kinch replied, then left the barracks to go to the Kommandant's quarters. He saw debris littering the compound and was amazed that there wasn't more damage throughout the camp. He knocked on the door as even though it was late, the storm had kept the Kommandant awake.
"Come in!" Klink exclaimed.
The black American sergeant entered Klink's living room and said, "Colonel Klink, we have a problem."
"Send your problems through Colonel Hogan!"
"That's the problem, he was injured when the roof was torn off the barracks in the storm tonight."
"What?" Klink asked, surprised. "The roof blew off?"
"Yes, sir. One of the men is a medic and he said that the Colonel may have a concussion and shouldn't be moved. He also has a head wound which he cleaned and dressed."
Klink picked up the receiver of the phone on the table and said, "Operator, get me the hospital."
Shortly, Schultz entered the room. "There were no storm-related injuries among the men, sir."
"Be quiet, you fool!" Klink exclaimed as he held his hand over the receiver. Then, he was connected to the hospital. "This is Colonel Klink at Stalag 13. We have a man here who needs medical attention immediately. I need a doctor to come right away; he has a head wound and may have a concussion."
Schultz looked at him and he solemnly nodded. He didn't have to say anything else as Schultz already knew something had happened to Colonel Hogan or else he would be the one standing here, not him.
"All right, I'll send a doctor right away," the woman on the other end of the line responded.
"Danke." They hung up.
As a result of being hit in the head, Colonel Robert
Hogan entered another dimension, what some might call an alternate
universe, but is known as the twilight zone. He woke up lying
in his bunk, the roof over his head no more. It was early morning.
As he moved to get down, he saw a tag attached to his wrist that
Colonel Robert E. Hogan -- died June 29, 1943.
Cause: concussion/head injuries sustained as a
result of storm.
Kinch had signed his name and the rest was in German, except for the last line that read, "German European Republic."
I know I'm alive!! he thought as he sat up suddenly. For the first time in a long time, he was really scared. What if I'm really dead? What is this German European Republic? he thought anxiously, then chided himself, Come on, Hogan, get a grip on yourself. He then noticed a sickening smell in the air, the unmistakable stench of death. He carefully swung his legs over the edge of his bunk and climbed down.
When he opened the door to venture into the next room, the smell hit him and he was almost sick. The room reeked. He closed the door and went to his locker where he found his leather gloves and silk pilot's scarf. He was going to wet the scarf from the basin of water he kept in his office, but decided against it and opened the window instead. It stank so bad that he climbed out of the window, walked around to the front of the barracks and unlocked the door. "What's this doing locked?" he wondered out loud.
"I'll go back in there later." He looked around and saw the guard towers were empty and there were no goons on patrol at the gate. "What's going on here?" he muttered as he put on his leather gloves. The air out here was breathable, if a bit cold. He walked around just inside the fence and examined several buildings at random. No one was here. Stalag 13 was empty.
He returned to Barracks 2, wet his scarf in the rain barrel outside and tied it around his face to protect his nose and mouth. When he entered the main room, the stench was considerably less overpowering. As he looked around, all the bunks were filled, save four. He briefly examined the bodies in the bunks. Several looked like they had been starved to death. He closed their eyes and covered them with blankets. As he looked over to where Kinch's bunk was, he saw it had been demolished and there was a gaping hole in the floor that revealed the tunnel and therefore, the operation. As he arrived at the door leading outside again, he noticed a can sitting underneath Carter's empty bunk. He squatted down, examined the label and found it had contained Zyklon B. There was some small writing beneath this on the label which read 'Prussic acid -- HCN'. Oh my God! He thought miserably as he closed his eyes.
He went outside, pulled down his scarf, looked around and headed past the cooler for Klink's quarters. What he saw in the compound just outside the cooler was even worse. The bodies of four men lie against the building. With a sinking feeling that he already knew who they were, he walked over, pushed open the gate and looked. They had been shot by a firing squad. All of them, Carter, Kinch, LeBeau and Newkirk, they were his friends and crew, loyal to him until the end. He rarely cried, but in this case, his grief overwhelmed him and tears flowed freely down his cheeks. He went to each one and closed their staring eyes. "May your souls rest in peace, my brave friends."
"What happened here?" he asked an empty camp.
Walking over to the Kommandant's office, he considered what he had already seen. Maybe I can find out what happened -- or will I just find more bodies? He entered the office, which was empty, except for some newspapers. Slowly, he sat down, went through the drawers, found some papers, pulled them out of the drawer and began to read a newspaper. He had brought his German-English dictionary to help with anything he might find. As he read, he found the war in Europe had ended, with the Germans victorious. "What the??? How did they win?"
The pile of papers he found in one of the drawers of Klink's desk was indicative of the last days of Stalag 13. Klink was sent to Berlin and the Gestapo took over the camp. The next document gave details about the discovery of his death following the storm and subsequently of his operation two days later, signed by Major Wolfgang Hochstetter.
"I can only imagine Hochstetter's reaction to learning he was too late to capture me. However," he sighed wearily and pinched the bridge of his nose between thumb and forefinger. "He was able to discover my operation and the guys suffered for it!"
At the bottom of one of the pages, it indicated the names of the men who were suspected of aiding him in his operation and of their brief trial. On the next page, he saw the order for their execution by firing squad. He slammed his fist on the desk in frustration. "Why did this happen?!?"
He read on the next page that all of the other prisoners had been sent to other camps, except for the men of Barracks 2 who were also suspected to be in complicity with his operation even though they had not been formally charged or tried for it. They were to be killed using gas while they slept. The men in the yard had been held in solitary confinement overnight and were shot the next morning. When he looked at the document with the date of his death on it and compared it to the date of these events, the dates had only been a couple of days apart.
"Oh no ! It all happened because I , I died." A wave of guilt washed over him and he closed his eyes in despair.
When he opened them again, he shifted his attention to another newspaper. He found that several weeks later, after the end of the war in Europe, the Germans advanced the war to America and the Russians had allied with the Nazis. All the nations conquered by the Germans had their armed forces conscripted into the ranks of the German military to fight against the Americans. Another paper showed the American front, which was drawn at the Mississippi River from the East and the Cascade Mountains from the West.
What happened to the world I knew? Is this some kind of sick cosmic joke? he thought as he continued to read the headlines and main stories of the newspapers as best he could. The more he read, the more depressed he became. First the destruction of the European underground, then the Nazis conquered the British Isles and then they continued west. When he finished reading the papers, he saw it was getting dark. I've sat here all day! He reached over and wearily pulled the chain on the desk lamp to turn on the light, but there was no power. As he put the papers back in the drawer, he decided to go into town and see whether any of the local underground organization still remained.
He sighed, "It's time to leave. I need something to cover up my uniform. If the war here is over, then any non-German uniform will stand out like a sore thumb." Upon searching the closets, he found a long, dark coat which he put on over his uniform before leaving camp.
As he walked into town, he thought it was strange to not be sneaking around. He noticed the sun was almost gone. I've got to find a place to spend the night. The Germans don't like people snooping around outside at night, he thought as he walked.
When he arrived in town, he found the vet's office. Now, though, it was part of Gestapo headquarters. It was late and not many people were out on the streets. Sneaking through the shadows, he approached the hofbrau and saw nothing but Gestapo men everywhere. Then, he saw a man signal him from a nearby house and quickly walked over to where the man was standing in the doorway. He recognized him as Schnitzer, the vet, who quickly drew him into his house and shut the door.
Anxiously, Schnitzer said, "It's past curfew! If you're found outside, you'll be arrested!"
"Thanks," he replied. "Do you know me?"
Oscar Schnitzer looked closely at his visitor after closing the door behind him. Then, it dawned on him who this man was. "Colonel Hogan?" he asked in disbelief.
"I thought you were dead, that was what your man Kinch told me the last time I saw him when Stalag 13 was still open."
"The last thing I remember was waking up in the middle of the night just after the roof of the barracks had been torn off by a storm. Everything suddenly went black, then I woke up in the barracks with this tag on my wrist."
He pulled it from his pocket, showed it to him and continued, "I found that all the men in my barracks had been killed using cyanide gas while they slept."
"Worse, I found the men who participated in the operation with me shot outside the cooler in a deserted Stalag 13. What happened to the world I knew?!?" Hogan asked desperately.
"When your operation was discovered six months ago, it was the key to the downfall of the underground network in Europe. The Gestapo crushed all resistance and the German army was able to finish taking over Europe after Russia allied with them."
He inhaled sharply. "Is there anything that can be done to stop them?"
"Short of assassinating Hitler, probably not."
"Can you tell me more about what has happened recently?"
"Well, General Hochstetter and the Gestapo are in charge of this entire region now. Colonel Klink was sent to Berlin and may be on the American front by now, who knows? It's bad enough that Hitler now resides in the White House in Washington."
"General Hochstetter?" Hogan inquired, shocked.
"Yes, he was promoted after he smashed the underground network in Europe."
"I'll bet he was," he commented bitterly.
Schnitzer went into his kitchen, came back, gave him some food and allowed him to rest at his home for the night while he considered the options open to him now. It would be difficult if not impossible for him to get home now. He realized that all these events had transpired after his death and the subsequent discovery of his operation at Stalag 13. Just then, he remembered his train of thought before he had gone to sleep the night of the storm. Is this operation really making a difference in the war?
Apparently, his operation was more important than even he had known or suspected. If they didn't survive to continue their efforts against the Germans, this horrific future would be the result. If he ever returned to the world he knew, he would see to it that the Germans never discovered the operation.
"Colonel? You may sleep here tonight."
"Thanks, Schnitzer." It was late and he went to sleep on an old mattress in an inner room, hoping for the best, even though the worst had occurred.
Back at Stalag 13, a doctor arrived in an ambulance which parked in front of the Kommandant's office. He got out and Schultz escorted him to the office. To the men waiting to take the injured man to the hospital, he said, "Wait here. I'll be right back."
They walked into the office. "Herr Kommandant, the doctor is here."
"Where is the injured man?" the doctor inquired.
"Come with me, Herr Doktor," Klink replied. He left the office and crossed the compound to Barracks 2. On their arrival, Klink led the doctor into the office at the end of the barracks. When they entered, Kinch and the medic were at Hogan's bedside.
"Gentlemen, this is a doctor from the local hospital. He will examine Hogan."
The doctor carefully stepped up on the chair to examine the patient in the top bunk. He removed the bandage on the man's head, saw his condition wasn't good and that he had lost a lot of blood. "What happened to him?" he asked.
"He was hit by a piece of debris after the barracks' roof was removed by the storm," Kinch replied.
"Bring a stretcher. He needs to be moved to the hospital for treatment immediately or he won't survive," the doctor said.
Soon, the men arrived with a stretcher and Hogan's body was carefully moved onto it without disturbing him too much. The men lowered the stretcher down from the top bunk and took it outside to the ambulance in the compound. Shortly, it left camp for the hospital.
Klink went to leave the barracks.
"Colonel Klink? Are you going to the hospital?" Kinch asked.
Klink turned back towards him. "Yes, Sergeant, I am."
"May I accompany you?"
At first, Klink thought it was some kind of trick to escape, then saw the look on the black man's face. It was one of deep concern for a friend.
"Thank you, sir." They then left the barracks and crossed the compound to the motor pool.
"Schultz!" Klink called.
"Yes, sir?" Schultz replied as he waddled up to his commanding officer.
"Drive us to the local hospital."
Shortly, Klink's staff car arrived at the hospital. When they arrived, they found Hogan had been taken to an emergency room where the doctor and a nurse tended to his injury. Afterwards, he was taken to a room for recovery. Once they found the room, they were about to enter when the doctor saw them and motioned for them to remain in the hallway. When he emerged, Klink asked nervously, "Well? How is he?"
"He was in serious condition and had lost a lot of blood when we arrived but we cleaned and stitched the wound and we're giving him some blood. I think that with rest he will be fine," the doctor replied.
"How long will it take him to recover?" Kinch asked, concerned for Hogan's health.
"I don't know. We will keep him here for several days under observation," was the doctor's reply.
"Can we see him?" Klink asked. He wanted to make sure that Hogan wasn't fooling the doctor and had escaped.
"Yes, but I will ask you to not stay long. I will leave orders that he is not to be disturbed at all after the two of you leave, unless there is an emergency, then we will contact you, Colonel Klink. When you leave, please leave a number where you can be contacted day or night. For the time being, there will be someone present in the room to monitor his condition at all times and I will be available at any time, if I'm needed here. You may put a guard outside his room if you think he may try to escape."
"Thank you, Doctor," Klink replied as he and Kinch quietly entered the room.
Hogan lie in the bed, his skin pale as the nurse checked his vital signs. It's strange to see Hogan in such a vulnerable position, but he has a much better chance of recovering here than at Stalag 13, Kinch thought. "Thank you for calling for a doctor, Colonel Klink," he said.
"You're welcome. I'm not an inhuman monster, no matter what the prisoners may think. I'll call for help when someone needs it, no matter who they are or what side they're on. I would like to think that he would do the same for me."
"He would. I've no doubts about that."
When they left, Klink gave his phone number to the
attending physician, who saw to it that the information was put
on the patient's chart as well as in his file, then, they left
for Stalag 13. The trip was uneventful and quick. On his return,
Klink sent a guard to the hospital to ensure Hogan didn't escape.
The next day went by with no word from the hospital on Hogan's condition and the prisoners started to rebuild the roof of Barracks 2. Kinch took over Hogan's duties as the prisoners' liaison to the Kommandant. While he was in Klink's office the day after that, the phone rang.
"Hello? This is Colonel Klink speaking."
"This is the doctor from the hospital, Colonel. I have some good news for you. Colonel Hogan is awake and alert, though he was disoriented at first. Given what happened to him, that's understandable, though."
"Good! Will he be discharged soon?"
"Not for several days."
"Danke, Herr Doktor. Wiedersehen."
"Wiedersehen." They hung up.
Klink called Schultz into his office and said, "Bring my staff car out front at once."
"Sergeant, I have just received good news from the hospital. Colonel Hogan has regained consciousness and is on his way to a full recovery. He has you to thank for that. Otherwise, we would have never known he was injured at all, until it was too late. Will you accompany me to the hospital?"
"Yes, thank you, sir. I'd like that."
Shortly, they arrived at the hospital and went to the room where Hogan was recovering. He was awake when Klink and Kinch walked into the room. "What happened?" Hogan asked his radio man.
"When the roof was taken off during the storm two days ago, a piece of debris hit you in the head and it resulted in a concussion and head injury," he replied.
"The doctor said you will be kept here for a few more days to complete your recovery. You're a lucky man, Hogan," Klink said.
"I know," Hogan said calmly. "I know."
Several days later, Hogan was released to return to Stalag 13. On his return, he immediately met with Kinch and his crew to reevaluate their security measures. At the end of the meeting, Kinch asked, "What's up, Colonel?"
"While I was unconscious, I had the strangest dream. Now, I realize how important this operation truly is. Every now and then, when someone has died to protect us, I've had my doubts about whether the whole operation is worth it. However, if the dream I had is the other side of the coin of fate, I certainly don't want to see it happen. We will intensify our efforts against the Germans," Hogan said with an intense, knowing look in his brown eyes. He knew that their operation must continue to succeed and had seen the results if they didn't.
Text and original characters copyright by Diane Maher
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.