This effort was designed to be a direct prequel to our first story, End Game. In this story, we hope to explain how Hoganís small ĎTravelerís Aide Societyí seen early in the series became the extensive sabotage/espionage operation seen in our story End Game. We again do not make any claims on the original Hoganís Heroes characters. All other characters are ours. But again, those characters are free for anyone to use, if you so choose. (We still have the Tender Loving Care requirement for Toby. He again appears somewhere in Mind Games)
Bianca, we dedicate this last part to you. Thank you for your support. In regards to your comment that we can make a story about a rock seem interesting, the rock is contained here within. This rocks for you.
Be forewarned. This effort is very dark and contains Holocaust references and is very violent in places. Strong language is used as well. Our rating would be PG-13.
Fierce fighting continued in WWII Europe. With the first bombing raids by American forces on German soil at Wilhelmshaven and the German forces surrendering at Stalingrad, it appeared that maybe the tide would turn in favor of the Allied Forces. But word of heavy losses being taken at the Kasserine Pass in North Africa was a deep blow to the Allied offensive.
Stalag 13, Kommandantís Office, March 10, 1943, 1600 Hours
"The men have found no trace of Colonel Hogan," Shultz reported to Kommandant Klink.
"Major Vogel has reported the same results," Klink said by way of a response. He sighed. "List Colonel Hogan as deceased on your rolls."
"Jawhol," Shultz replied. He just couldnít imagine this place without the sharp-witted American.
"What of the other men in Barracks Two?" Klink asked.
"There have been no new cases of the disease," Shultz reported. "Sergeant Wilson reports that if that continues to be the case there is no need to quarantine those men past the 12th."
"Very good. You will lift the quarantine on that barracks for morning roll call on the 12th. That will be all, Shultz," Klink ordered.
"Jawhol, Herr Kommandant," Shultz saluted and left the office.
Klink sat for a while staring at a spot on his clean desk. I should request another allied officer to be sent here. Someone needs to be in charge of the prisoners. I cannot believe how I feel about this. Hogan has always been a nuisance. But it is strange to think of how much I will miss his presence. Klink sighed. I will give it just a few more days. I just canít request an officer to replace Colonel Hogan. I donít believe anyone ever could replace him in the eyes of his men. It was going to be so very different here without Hogan.
I remember how it was when I was first assigned to Stalag 13. I remember the rampant terror present in the prisonersí eyes. Shultz had been stationed here for a short time, before I arrived. He told me what the situation was like here prior to my arrival. There had been many escapes from Stalag 13 and the former Kommandant was transferred to the Russian Front because of his inability to control the prisoners here. He blamed the Senior POW officer for his fate and had had the man executed in front of the entire camp population.
There had been no senior officer here during the first six months of my command, though the terror was always there. The POWs fought amongst themselves, sometimes violently. The conditions here were not good, and the prisoners had split themselves into factions. No one had control within the population. There werenít even that many escape attempts during those first six months, most certainly because of all the in fighting. Although. We were able to thwart the few that did occur. The men needed leadership or this camp would have easily denigrated into anarchy. If that occurred I would have had no choice but to take some unpleasant steps to control the population. Until Colonel Hoganís arrival, the prisoners here could only be described as a group of frightened, angry and weary men.
After Hoganís arrival, things changed drastically. Hogan has indeed been a nuisance; but to not see the terror written on the faces of the prisoners has been worth the aggravation. Hogan is nothing but a con man, but he has managed to bring these men together as one. His loss will be devastating to the prisoners, and possibly to my command here, especially if things return to the way they had been.
Stalag 13, Barracks 3, March 10, 1943, 1700 Hours
Wilson just received word from Shultz that Kommandant Klink had called off the search for Colonel Hogan. Shultz was to list the Colonel as deceased on his rolls. He had just returned to barracks three after informing Kinch of Klinkís decision. He now joined Sergeants Matthews and Marlow who were seated around the central table in barracks three.
With Colonel Hogan gone and barracks two under quarantine, Sergeant Steve Marlow and Sergeant Chris Matthews were in command of the POWs within Stalag 13. Prior to Hogan being brought to Stalag 13, they led the two most powerful factions in Camp. It had been a horrific time. The death of their former Senior Officer had really divided the camp. Everyone was terrified. No one was able to gain the control needed to ease the tensions and fears of the POWs. It just was getting to be chaotic and dangerous. From the POWs point of view, it was only going to get worse. So much so, that death was being seen as a viable option to living in the conditions that existed at Stalag 13. Even Marlow and Matthews knew that their control was tentative at best; together they could only agree to disagree. They had no solution.
Then Colonel Hogan had come. Heíd taken the Camp by storm, he and his crazy schemes. He was so confident, so ballsy, so charismatic and truly passionate. The men just naturally gravitated toward him. He had gained complete control within five days. They had their first tunnel outside the wire within two weeks. It had been inspiring to watch. Both Matthews and Marlow gladly pledged their support to Hogan. Not to his silver eagles, but to the man who wore them. The camp has not been the same since.
"Whatís the news?" Sergeant Matthews asked of Sergeant Wilson.
"Klink hasnít found any trace of Colonel Hogan. He has listed him as deceased on the rolls," Wilson said nervously. Of course they all knew why. If everything was going according to plan, Hogan and Berger should be on their way back from Dachau. "Kinch has heard nothing from the Colonel, but he was told by London yesterday about another agent involved in this, that had gone missing. Do you think the Colonel can pull this mission off?" Wilson asked very worried.
"I sure hope so," Matthews replied. "Heís a pretty resourceful guy. I donít think we have to worry. However, if he doesnít come back, weíll have the chance to call it quits. I donít see any reason why we canít all escape ourselves. I have no desire to stay here any longer that I have too."
"Colonel Hogan asked us to continue with this operation," Marlow said glaring at Matthews. "You canít just back out. Weíve all committed ourselves to this operation. Itís vital."
"Thatís ridiculous," Matthews replied. "We canít continue. We agreed to stay with Colonel Hogan leading the way. Do you honestly think we can continue this nutty operation without him? I say we escape and leave this pig pen for the next bunch."
"The Colonel asked us to stay. Kinch can lead us. He thinks like Hogan," Marlow reminded the other Sergeant. "We can help so many others. Arenít you proud of what weíve done so far?"
"Yeah. I am. But have you forgotten what it was like here before Hogan came. If the man is dead, do you think that it will be any different now? Kinch is no Hogan and I only agreed to stay for Hogan. If he doesnít come back, I donít have to stay here. Not if it goes back to the way it was," Matthews said acidly. "And thereís a lot of other guys that Iím sure feel the same as me."
"You are a coward Matthews. I always knew you were the type to run out when the going got tough. We need to help Kinch lead these men. Not leave them and him, high and dry. We can do this. Weíve been doing it. We owe it to Colonel Hogan to continue," Marlow replied hotly.
"How dare you call me a coward? You self-righteous excuse for a human being. We will not be able to control these men. We tried, remember? And Iím still not sold on Kinchís ability to do so either. The men have a better chance of finding their way back to London on foot than trying to survive the anarchy that this camp will become," Matthews retorted angrily.
"Stop," Wilson said standing suddenly, drawing both menís attention. "Look itís already starting and we donít even know Colonel Hoganís status. You need to help Kinch set the tone and you both have already missed the boat. Think, for crying out loud. If you all work together you can stop this camp from degenerating into the near anarchy that it was before. Colonel Hogan has put his trust in the three of you. He thinks you can. And for Christís sake, he saved all our hides. The least we could do is to try to continue his work for him."
Matthews and Marlow exchange guilty glances. For as long as theyíd known Wilson, the man had never blown his top. It shook both of them out of their funk.
"Youíre right Wilson. Weíll do what we can to hold this place together for him," Matthews said into the silence.
"Yeah Wilson. We wonít let him down," Marlow said turning to Matthews. He extended his hand, "Are we together in this, Matthews?"
Matthews reached out and took hold of Marlowís proffered hand. "Together Marlow," he said.
"Good," said Wilson. "You guys will need to talk to Kinch. Iím sure he needs to know that youíre willing to support him. He probably has the same fears that you both do."
"You know, this is all well and fine, our agreeing to keep this camp functioning for Colonel Hogan. Iím all for it. We owe him. But I just thought of something," said Matthews. "Whatís going to happen when a new senior officer is brought here? What do we do then?"
"Iím not sure," answered Marlow. "Letís not panic before itís necessary. We can talk to Kinch tomorrow. This whole thing could be mute by then. Kinch is expecting word from Hogan sometime between now and midnight on the 12th. We have time before we need to make any decisions."
Approaching Hammelburg, Germany, March 11, 1943, 0330 Hours
Berger leaned over to rouse Colonel Hogan. They were approaching the Hammelburg area. Berger had been letting Hogan rest. Hogan had been taking the highest possible dose of the medication that Dr. Freiling gave him. And he was taking it on a completely empty stomach. Berger had not seen the man eat anything at all since they had left Hammelburg two days before. He had kept up with fluids, but that was all. Berger had had to pull the car over twice in the last hour, so the Colonel could throw-up. At this point, the man looked very queasy and was starting to sweat uncontrollably.
Hogan and Berger contacted Bergerís wife Olga, Dr Freiling, Hermann Schlick and Stalag 13 via walkie-talkie. They were all needed to in one-way or another to bring this mission to a successful conclusion. And now with Hoganís new plan for the underground and his operation, he needed to touch base with all of them. Berger seemed to be in full agreement that what Hogan had planned was something that he and the other members of the underground would agree to, especially when they heard of the atrocities being committed at Dachau. They had a lot of work ahead of them, but first they needed to get Colonel Hogan back into Stalag 13 without him being shot and killed by the Gestapo, not to mention not getting themselves executed for being spies.
Their original plan could go on as scheduled. The Gestapo had been searching in and around town and the guards from Stalag 13 had been searching most of the surrounding countryside. They had not found any sign of the ill American POW, and thankfully it seemed that that was indeed all they were looking for. There had been no evidence that either group suspected anything else. Actually Olga had overheard the Gestapo in town saying that they had called off the search, for if the American Colonel was as sick as he was reported to be, he would not have survived two nights out in the open. Kinch had sent along word to Olga that Kommandant Klink had called off the search for Hogan as well.
Hogan and Berger had ditched their vehicle on the outskirts of town. They had made sure they wiped it clean of prints and removed any incriminating evidence. They were hoping the SS would think someone only took it for a joyride. They then walked to an old abandoned mine, two miles from where they ditched the car. It was here that they would meet with Olga Berger and Hermann Schlick. Berger was worried that the Colonel wouldnít make the two miles, but again Hogan amazed him. Hogan had set the pace the whole way. Well almost the whole way. He did have to stop once to deal with another bout of nausea. As they approached the rendezvous point, Hogan whistled and waited quietly for the return signal. They heard the whistle and saw both people emerge from behind the mineshaft.
Hogan watched Olga and Berger share a passionate embrace, with a tender kiss. No wonder he wasnít interested in flirting. Lucky man, thought Hogan. He felt a pang of regret for having corralled Berger into this mission in the first place. But there had been no other way. He had needed Bergerís help. At least they get to have a happy reunion. He then acknowledged Schlickís presence with a handshake. "Sorry to break this up so quickly, but we need to get a move on. The sun will be coming up soon," Hogan said glancing at the couple.
"Sorry Colonel, youíre right of course," said Berger very embarrassed, although he noticed that Hogan was smiling and did not appear condescending. "Colonel, youíve never met my wife Olga. Have you?"
"No I havenít. A pleasure, Frau Berger," Hogan said, reaching out grasping her hand. She and Berger made a nice couple. She was a very attractive woman, seeming slightly older than her husband. Though that might have only been an illusion as her hair was streaked with silver.
"For me as well Colonel Hogan," responded Olga. "Please call me Olga."
"Of course, Olga." He nodded slightly at her. Then he turned to Hermann Schlick, all business. "Schlick, youíll need to get this to Stalag 13 this morning," Hogan said handing Schlick the envelope containing the German troop deployments. "Itís imperative that my men radio this out to London as soon as possible. This information could change the course of the war in North Africa." Hogan then handed Schlick another note. "And this note is for Sergeant Kinchloeís eyes only. It is very important and is self-explanatory. He will know what to do. But it is imperative that you get this to him." I donít want to start a panic among my men when they find out what has been happening at Dachau. I want to be there to tell them. Hopefully Kinch will be able to keep it from the men. Kinch can handle it and will be able get the information about the German troop movements to London as soon as possible. It should be okay, as I just gave my men so much to do while Iím gone that they wonít have any time to think about it.
"Yes, right away Colonel," replied Schlick, noticing that both men seemed somehow different.
"When we get tonightís extracurricular activity accomplished. We are going to have to talk. Berger and I have some information to tell you and the others members of the underground. It will change the face of this war for us. Expect a meeting," said Hogan evenly.
"Of course, Colonel. Iíll be on my way then," answered Schlick heading off on foot into the woods toward Stalag13. A meeting that will change the face of the war? What could that mean?
Hogan then turned to Olga, "Olga, Do you have our clothes with you?"
"Yes, this way Colonel," Olga said. "I have a change of clothes for both of you in the car. I have sullied and dampened your uniform Colonel, since you needed it to look as if youíve been outside in the snow for a few days." She headed to the area behind the mineshaft. Hogan and her husband followed. She and Schlick had come together in the same car, but it was now easier for Schlick to make his way on foot, he actually didnít live far from Stalag 13. Hogan and Berger needed to continue with their charade and did not have the time to spare to get him home any other way.
"Thank you, you did a great job," Hogan said to Olga, as she handed him his uniform. He started to change and noticed that she had turned quickly, flushed with embarrassment, to give her husband his change of clothes. He smirked, picked up his clothes and moved to the other side of the car. "Iím sorry, where are my manners? I guess after a few too many full-body strip searches in front of hundreds of other men, you lose any sense of public embarrassment." Ugh. Wet clothes, what fun.
"Thatís quite alright Colonel," Olga said not really looking at him. Oh, what this man has had to put up with in that awful POW camp. Very sad.
When Hogan and Berger had finished changing, they buried the SS uniforms deep in the woods. They all then piled into the car. Berger and his wife drove together in the front seat and Hogan again got stuffed into the trunk.
Not again, Hogan thought. My stomach is still queasy. Hopefully I can make it to the Bergerís house again. This just isnít the place to heave your guts up.
Olga Berger just had enough time to drop both men at their house. She needed to be at the store by 0600, in case there were any Ďmovingí Allied personnel coming into the store. As Hogan watched her drive away and Berger head into the house, he went over the plan in his head. Doc Freiling was due at the Berger house around 0700. He had an appointment to check on Bergerís nasty cold. Turns out Berger has a dust allergy, so it wasnít going to take long for Freiling to make Berger look Ďill.í Freiling was going to park his car in the back by the barn and by chance notice that the barn door was left open. He will go to shut the barn door and notice a prone figure lying face down on the floor of the barn. Lo and Behold the ill American POW that theyíve been looking for! Still alive, but just barely. He will rush into the Bergerís house and call Stalag13 for some help. He will offer to take the POW back to his clinic, but he will demand a security detail from Stalag 13. Then heíll wait for that security detail to transport the POW to his clinic where he will stay for a few days, until the POW is no longer contagious, or dies. Whichever came first, that was the plan anyway.
Stalag 13, Barracks Two, March 11, 1943, 0415 Hours
Kinch sprinted up the ladder into the barracks, relieved beyond words that Hogan had survived this mission. The men were asleep, or at least pretending to be asleep. He knew that they were all worried about Hogan. "Theyíre alive!" he said as soon as he was back in the barracks. "LeBeau, you and Newkirk go out and meet his messenger at the pre-arranged spot at 0445 and bring the message back."
LeBeau and Newkirk both jumped down from their bunks, dressing quickly. "Heís alive. You talked with him?" LeBeau demanded, pulling on his trousers.
"Yes. I talked with him," Kinch reassured. "Weíll know more when you bring back his message."
"Weíre on it," Newkirk replied. "Weíll be back as soon as possible." He and LeBeau left the barracks. They would take the tunnel entrance out of Camp and meet whoever is the messenger at the large horseshoe shaped rock where LeBeau has planted his wild mushrooms used for making cream of mushroom soup every Friday night. It was only about a mile from camp.
Stalag 13, Barracks Two, March 11, 1943, 0450 Hours
"Here Kinch," Newkirk said, pulling the packet of papers wrapped in oilskin from the pouch he had carried. "Schlick said there was one addressed directly to you, and the other packet was the information they gathered on the mission."
"A message for me?" Kinch questioned, pulling out the folded papers.
"Yeah. Schlick said that both Hogan and Berger were quiet and somehow different. Schlick said that Hogan told him that the mission was going to change the course of the war for us all," LeBeau said, adding, "What do you think that means?"
"I donít know. Let me see what this says," Kinch said, reading through the papers.
Code and send the enclosed packet of information garnered from the contact. It should aid the Allies tremendously with their efforts in North Africa. The meeting went off uneventfully, though with a few heart-stopping moments when we realized just who our contact was.
Keep this part of the note to yourself. I want to tell the men personally. Dachau Internment Camp is a place of mass murder, unspeakable horror and torture. Men, woman and children. The kindest possible thing to happen is for a bomb to take out the whole place; inmates, guards, everything.
The goal of our operation is now to work at ending this war one day earlier, whatever it takes, whatever the cost.
Weíre taking control of the underground locally and throughout this region of Germany.
Have the men begin to expand and enhance the tunnel system. I want entrances from every barracks in Camp, one into Klinkís quarters, and at least one entrance into the Cooler. I want to eventually be able to access everywhere in the Camp from underground. We will also need more than the one outside entrance we already have. Four additional exits will probably be sufficient. Spread them out at every point of the compass around the Camp. Begin a poll of the other prisoners, I want to know what each man knows, what each of their civilian trade or skills are, any hobbies they have, what their jobs were in the army. Then youíre to organize a Camp class on the German language, culture and customs. I want everyone in camp, at the very least, to understand German. You and I have just become language professors.
"Well what does it say?" LeBeau questioned, waiting impatiently for Kinch to get through the note.
"Olsen go through the tunnel and tell Sergeant Marlow from Barracks Three that heís to come and see me directly after roll call this morning," Kinch said, ignoring LeBeauís question for the moment.
Olsen exchanged a look with Carter and Newkirk but got out of his bunk and went to do Kinchís errand.
"What does it say?" LeBeau repeated.
"Heís given us some things to accomplish before he is returned to Camp," Kinch replied.
"What for Peteís sake!" Newkirk demanded.
"He wants the tunnel system expanded. Weíll need to draw up some plans for him to review. In the meantime, weíll have to get the men in Camp to digging," Kinch replied.
"Why do that?" Carter asked. "We got all the tunnels we need to move the travelers along."
"Let me tell the rest of this once. Iíll explain when Marlow arrives," Kinch said. Oh God! Nothing Iíve seen has ever rattled Hogan. Iíve known him since I arrived in London more than a year ago. I was assigned to his bomber crew and have seen him do the most incredible things in the face of impossible odds. I canít imagine what the Colonel must have seen to get this kind of reaction from him. But it had to have been a horrible sight.
Stalag 13, Barracks Two, March 11, 1943, 0545 Hours
"What is it Kinch?" Marlow asked coming into the barracks from the tunnel. He like every man in Camp made it a point to walk by Barracks two at least once a day. Seeing the door barred and locked from the outside has been hard on everyone. Everyone knew there were thirty men locked inside the barracks, providing a covering screen for their Colonel. "The Colonel, is he alright?"
"The Colonel should be at the barn he was to have taken refuge in by now. I talked with him early this morning and the mission went ok," Kinch replied. "He should be back in Camp within a week."
"Thank God," Marlow replied, quickly making the sign of the cross. "Iíve been praying for him. I didnít want to find out whether this Camp could recover from a second senior officerís death."
"Well we wonít have to find out now. Klink should bring Hogan back into Camp by the middle of next week," Kinch replied. "Which, unfortunately, doesnít give us a lot of time."
"Time for what?" Marlow asked, accepting a cup of coffee from LeBeau.
"The Colonel sent me a note," Kinch began.
"Which he bloody well Ďasnít shared with the rest of us!" Newkirk pointed out crossly.
"Iím getting to that," Kinch replied, glaring at the impatient Englishman. "Colonel Hogan has given this operation a new directive. We are now charged with ending the War one day earlier, whatever it takes and no matter the cost. To this end, he has given me three orders to carry out while he is gone. The first is that we have to expand the tunnel system."
"What in Godís name for?" Marlow asked.
"He wants," Kinch continued like he had not been interrupted, "a tunnel entrance in every barracks, at least one in the Cooler building, one in Klinkís quarters, in fact he wants to have access to every location within the Camp from the tunnels. He also wants at least an additional four outside tunnel exits. I want to have a plan drawn up for him when he comes back into Camp."
"But why Kinch?" Marlow asked again. "Why change the orders now? We donít need that kind of access."
"He said he would explain when he returned. In the meantime we will carry out his orders," Kinch replied adamantly. "The second order is for us to create a profile of every man in Camp. He wants to know what each manís civilian occupation was, what the Army has trained him to do and what his hobbies are. Basically he wants to know what each man in camp is capable of."
"Iím afraid to ask what the third order was," Marlow asked into the stunned silence of the barracks.
"The third order was for me to organize classes on German language, customs and culture. The Colonel and I have just become language professors," Kinch replied. "I understand that he wants everyone in Camp to at least be able to understand German."
"But why! Whatís different now?" Marlow asked, echoed by many other men in the barracks.
"Like I said, Colonel Hogan asked that he be the one to explain that," Kinch replied softly.
"But you know," LeBeau said. "All of this must have something to do with the mission he was just on."
"Yes I know. I wish to Hell I didnít," Kinch replied with a shudder. "And yes, it has everything to do with the mission he just completed."
The Barracks was quiet. Finally Marlow sighed. "OK Kinch. Youíre his ExO. Therefore youíre in charge."
"Good. Thanks Steve. That will make this easier. Now, since this barracks is still under Ďquarantineí because of the Colonelís Ďillnessí, youíll have to take his orders to the rest of the Camp. Get Sergeant Matthews to help you," Kinch ordered.
"Ok. Iíll get men working on this right away. Iíll come back tonight with an update. Iíll try to find out when the quarantine will be lifted as well," Marlow agreed, standing. He and the other men now had a lot of work to do over the next few days. He had no justification to give them, but hoped Hoganís promised explanation would be enough to get everyoneís cooperation.
"Thanks," Kinch replied. "It will be quite a relief to leave this Barracks."
The rest of the men in the Barracks echoed that sentiment as Marlow left. The men assembled around the central table for yet another day playing cards. Schnitzer had not brought anyone into Camp this morning and the tunnels were empty for once. The Ohms family had left yesterday for their long trek to Heidelburg. Once they got as far as Hofstetten they would be able to travel by rail in relative safety. Hopefully they would be able to live in peace in Heidelberg. Once there they should be able to take on the role of a mother and her two children having to relocate because of the bombing raids on their old village of Tutzing. The cover story should work well, and they should be safe.
Outskirts Hammelburg, Germany, Berger Barn, March 11, 1943, 0700 Hours
Hogan had been in Bergerís barn for over an hour. He, as the ill American POW, supposedly had gotten into the barn during the night and since it was still dark when Olga dropped them off, he went immediately to the barn. This way, no one would see him, even accidentally, walk in after the sun came up. Sitting in the barn would also help bring his body temperature down, as he should have been outside all night. God itís cold, what made me think this was a good idea? Iíve thrown up twice since coming out here, my head hurts, Iím all sweaty, and I feel just plain lousy. With all that and the fact that my uniform is soaked and smells pretty ripe, Iím going to end up with pneumonia, for real.
It was a short time later that Hogan heard what he hoped was Freilingís car. He took his proper position, face down on he floor of the barn. He was supposed to be unconscious. Letís hope it really is Doc Freiling. Hogan heard the barn door swing open wider. He waited quietly until Dr Freiling approached.
"Itís me Colonel Hogan, the cost is clear, as they say," Freiling said, bending down to examine his patient. "Roll over Colonel, I want to examine you. "How are you feeling by the way?"
Hogan rolled over and leaned up on his elbows, saying, "Actually Doc, Iím not feeling all that well. Those pills hit me harder on the way back than before I left," Hogan said.
"You didnít eat did you?" Freiling accused. "I told you one or two meals. Those pills are murder on an empty stomach. I will give you the same thing that I did before to counteract the effects. It just wonít be as quick this time. Iím also going to have to give you a sedative, you need to appear unconscious for anyone to believe you are as sick as being reported."
"I donít want a sedative Doc, I can handle being unconscious. There is no way, Iíll submit to being in a drug-induced sleep. I want to know when the Gestapo come to shoot me," Hogan said. I donít have time to be unconscious, thereís too much to do. And if the Gestapo do come, I need to be able to come up with a way to escape. Iíll even run our Ďnewí operation from underground if I have too. I just canít lie around and wait to die.
"Colonel Hogan. Donít be stubborn. I can convince the Gestapo and the Stalag 13 guards that you are really ill. You just canít react when they do come. And they will come. You already know that. Theyíll be trying to prove that you are not ill. Iím not sure you could maintain the correct façade if they come in and manhandle you. I will of course try not to let that happen, but you never know with the Gestapo. A sedative will provide the correct impression. Letís not argue. We donít have lot of time here," Freiling said determinedly. Come on Colonel. Donít be stubborn.
Hogan sighed. Maybe heís right. "Okay Doc, good point. Iíll go with your sedative." If I wake up and find out Iíve been shot and killed, I wonít be a happy man. - Youíre not making sense again. -- Shut up.
"Okay Colonel, lay back down. Iíll give you the stuff to counteract those pills, and then I will administer the sedative. It should keep you out for 6 to 8 hours. That should be enough time for the Gestapo interviews. Not to mention the Stalag 13 ones," Freiling said.
"Okay Doc, Iím ready," Hogan said. God I hope this works. "Wait Doc, do you remember what I told you about convincing Kommandant Klink? You need to make sure he thinks transferring me to your clinic was his idea."
"Yes Colonel, it will be okay. Donít worry," Freiling answered appearing confident. I hope. Iíve never done anything like this before. He administered the drug to counteract the pills he had given the American Colonel. Then he gave him the sedative. It took only a few moments before Hogan was asleep.
Good. Iíll go inside now and call Stalag 13. I also need to give Berger the stuff to get him started on hisí illnessí. Then Iíll return with some blankets to keep the Colonel warn. Hopefully he doesnít really come down with pneumonia. I will give him a few rounds of antibiotics to just make sure, after I get him back to my clinic.
Freiling entered the Berger house through the back door, which led into the kitchen. Berger was seated at the kitchen table. "Good morning Heinrich, are you alright? Did everything go as planned?" asked Freiling as he approached the kitchen table and place his bag down. He hadnít asked the American Colonel anything about the mission. He assumed Hogan wouldnít have given him an answer, but he knew Berger would tell him. Heíd known Heinrich since heíd been born.
"We accomplished everything we needed to," Berger said quickly and evenly. "Donít you have something for me?" He didnít want to discuss what they had seen at Dachau. He was hoping to leave that to Colonel Hogan.
Sorry, Colonel Hogan. Once again Iím placing the onus on you.
Freiling had been rummaging through his bag; pulling out the pills he was looking for. He was surprised at the tone of Heinrichís response. He looked up into the face of his friend and knew something was wrong immediately.
If he knew anything about Berger, it was that the man wore his emotions on his sleeve. Looking at him now, it appeared that Heinrich had clamped down hard trying to avoid any emotional response. "What happened?" Freiling asked worried.
"Nothing that we have time to deal with at this moment Oskar. Colonel Hogan will explain everything, but we need to get him back where he belongs first. So are those for me?" Berger asked determined, pointing at the pills in Freilingís hand.
"Yes of course," Freiling replied not understanding. "Here take two every 6 hours. They should induce an allergic reaction. It should look like you have a nasty cold." Freiling stared at Berger after handing him the pills. Berger had turned and walked toward the kitchen sink without a response. I guess I will not get any additional information from Heinrich. I wonder what happened? "Okay Heinrich, I will call Stalag 13 now. Can you get me some blankets for Colonel Hogan?"
Doc Freiling saw Berger nod, and say nothing more. Heinrich took the pills with water and left the room to find some blankets. Freiling just shook his head. I donít understand, but I guess I will have to wait. He went to the phone to make his Ďmissing POWí report.
"Stalag 13, Kommandant Klink speaking. Heil Hitler," Colonel Klink answered his phone.
"Heil Hitler, this is Doctor Oskar Freiling. I run a small medical practice in Hammelburg. I want to report that I found your missing POW. I was making my rounds, when I saw him lying inside the door of a patientís barn. Heís very ill. You need to come get him quickly or he will certainly be dead soon."
"Doctor Freiling, that you found him is welcome news. We can certainly come get him, but we canít bring him back here. There was an outbreak of pneumonia here last month that almost killed 200 of my prisoners. We will need to take him to Wurzburg to the hospital to be quarantined away from the other prisoners. Is he well enough to travel there?" asked Klink.
"I sincerely doubt it. He needs medical attention immediately. You will need to come get him, quickly," answered Freiling as unemotionally as possible.
Klink wasnít sure what to do. He couldnít bring Hogan back to camp and according to the doctor Hogan would not survive the trip to Wurzburg. He had noticed that the doctor had not offered to care for the POW himself. How can I persuade him? I know, Iíll appeal to everyoneís basic need in time of war. He hoped that money would sway the doctor. He couldnít come up with a better plan. He didnít want to think of Hogan being left to freeze to death when help was that close. "Doctor," asked Klink conspiratorially. "Would there be anyway for you to treat him at your clinic? We would, of course, reimburse you for any cost incurred. I would be grateful. It would mean that I donít have to explain to the protecting powers that one of my prisoners died because of my negligence."
"You expect me to treat an enemy prisoner!?" Freiling said defiantly. "Iím a loyal German, I will not aid the enemy!" Freiling got quiet then cleared his throat. "So Kommandant. What kind of reimbursement are we discussing?"
"Reimbursement is certainly up for discussion Doctor. But can we get my POW treated and I will be very open to discussing the situation," Klink said. I may be shooting myself in the foot, but at least Hogan will be treated.
"Okay Colonel, I will need help to move your POW to my clinic. I expect a security detail to be stationed at my clinic. I need to worry about my other patients, you understand, donít you?" Freiling asked. Oh my God, this is actually working.
"Yes of course, I will send a detail out immediately. I will accompany them to confirm the status of my POW. Where are you now, Doctor?" asked Klink. Freiling gave him his location. Klink hung up the phone and immediately called Sergeant Shultz, Corporal Langenscheidt, Corporal Mueller and Corporal Kleinschmidt into his office. The four guards and Kommandant Klink left Stalag 13 quickly, taking one of the trucks. Klink had decided not to tell the other POWs until he could be certain of Hoganís status. He also hoped that the Ďgoodí doctor had not already contacted the Gestapo. It will complicate things. If the Gestapo gets there first, Hogan will probably not survive. And you can be sure that the cause of death will not be pneumonia. It will be better if we get there first, we will have jurisdiction over the prisoner.
Freiling hung up the phone, and almost fainted. Berger was at his side immediately. "Are you alright, Oskar?" asked Berger, worried. "What did he say? Are they coming?"
"Yes, yes. The Kommandant and a security detail are on their way," Freiling sighed heavily. "You need to explain to me though, how Colonel Hogan does this sort of thing everyday? Incredible."
Berger patted Freiling on the shoulder. "I know what you mean. The Colonel has surprised me many times in the past few days. He has given himself a hard row to hoe, as they say," replied Berger. And itís just gotten a Hell of a lot harder. "But the man is a genius. We are lucky to have him on our side."
"Ja, ja. I agree. Okay now, give me those blankets. I need to go treat my patient," Freiling said, grabbing the blankets and his medical bag. "You have your part of the story straight, yes?" he asked before he exited.
"All set, letís hope we donít have to convince too many people," Berger said as he watched the Doctor leave the house.
It took only 20 minutes for the truck from Stalag 13 to reach the Berger home. Doctor Freiling met the Kommandant and his men at the barn door. "Kommandant your man is in here. He is unconscious. There shouldnít be any danger. Your men will have to transfer him to the truck. You can then follow me to my clinic."
"Thank you doctor, I do need to confirm his identity and check his condition before we move him," Klink said heading for the barn. "Schultz, Langenscheidt follow me. You two stay by the truck," Klink said addressing the other two men.
"Of course Kommandant," Freiling said hoping that he could keep the Kommandant and his men from roughhousing his patient. Colonel Hogan had not seemed worried about the men from Stalag 13. Freiling hoped Hogan was right as he watched Colonel Klink bend down beside the American Colonel.
Kommandant Klink shook the Colonel and called his name. When nothing happened he said, "Okay Shultz, Langenscheidt, pick up Colonel Hogan carefully and transfer him to the truck. Langenscheidt, you drive. I will ride in front with you." As they made their way to the truck, Klink ordered, "Kleinschmidt. Mueller. Youíre in the back with Shultz. I donít want a repeat performance," Klink said eyeing Schultz warily.
"Jawohl Herr Kommandant," they all said in unison. They didnít have any problems moving the POW to the truck. Freiling had them cover him with blankets to keep him warm. Then he got in his car and drove towards his clinic, which was located in his home.
Freilingís home was very close to town, within walking distance of many of the stores and office buildings. He pulled his car into the driveway. The Corporal followed close behind with the truck. As Freiling got out of his car, his wife Ursula came out of the house and hurried to his side. Very worriedly she said, "Whatís wrong Oskar? You are late returning from your rounds."
"We have an unexpected guest. I found that missing POW in Heinrich Bergerís barn. He is very ill and will be staying with us for a time," Freiling said, putting an arm around her to comfort her. "Do not worry, we will have a security detail here always from Stalag 13." He felt his wife shiver beneath his arm. Good job dear, make it appear that you are afraid of the American and not the German soldiers.
Kommandant Klink had over heard the conversation as he exited the truck. First, he got Shultz and Langenscheidt to again move Colonel Hogan. He assigned the other two guards to positions outside the house. As he approached the older couple, he noticed that Frau Freiling looked very worried and that Doctor Freiling did not look very happy either. "Doctor, Frau Freiling. My men will be here always. Your patient, Colonel Hogan, will be under constant supervision. I donít believe he will cause you any trouble even if he wakes. Please accept my thanks for allowing him to stay."
Freiling and his wife just nodded. Then Freiling said, "He will stay in our back bedroom, this way." He showed the Kommandant and two of his men into the house. Very soon the American was lying comfortably in the bed. The doctor had removed his wet clothing and folded it by the bed and covered the POW with blankets. He would have Ursula bring something for the Colonel to wear as soon as everyone left, then Hogan could recover in peace.
Kommandant Klink had watched until Hogan appeared settled. "Doctor Freiling. I am going to station one man in the room, another outside the room and an additional guard outside the house. The fourth man will accompany me back to Stalag 13 and return in six hours to give one of the other men their break. They will be here round-the-clock, alternating positions every six hours until Colonel Hogan can be returned to Stalag 13."
"Kommandant I would not recommend someone be in the room 24-hours a day, Iím still not sure whether your POW is still contagious," Freiling answered. Good God weíll get nothing accomplished if someone is in the room with Hogan.
"Alright Doctor. As you wish," Klink agreed. "I will station two outside and one at the door, until you can ensure me that the Colonel is no longer contagious. Now if you donít mind, may I use your phone? I need to contact Gestapo Headquarters and inform them that we have indeed found my missing prisoner."
"Of course, Colonel Klink. It is now time for everyone to leave this room anyway. I need to give the American a full examination. Ursula, please show the Kommandant to the phone," Freiling said. He got no arguments and everyone left, shutting the door behind them. He sat down beside Colonel Hogan, patted him on the chest and whispered, "Well Colonel that was easier than expected. Now we just need to get past the Gestapo. And hide the fact that you are not sick from the three guards. And get some real food to you, while you are Ďunconsciousí. And keep you from catching pneumonia for real." Everything will be fine. I hope.
Freiling finished his examination and upon leaving the bedroom he found two guards outside the bedroom door, the Sergeant and one of the Corporals. That must mean that the other two soldiers were still guarding outside the house. He returned to the kitchen area, where Kommandant Klink was still on the phone. He over heard the Kommandantís last part of the conversation. "Of course, Colonel Vogel. Come ahead. I will wait until you arrive. I understand that you too need to complete your investigation. Heil Hitler."
Klink hung up the phone and turned toward the Freilings. "Colonel Vogel of the Gestapo will be here directly. He has to confirm Colonel Hoganís condition for his report, because as you know, the Gestapo have been searching the town for Colonel Hogan as well. Hopefully, he will not be here long and then we both can leave you in peace. Again I thank you for agreeing to take care of Colonel Hogan. And as promised, we will discuss the proper reimbursement. Please keep me informed of anything you need." Kommandant Klink bowed his head slightly as a thank you, then asked, "Doctor, has the Colonelís condition changed at all?"
"No. I have put him on antibiotics. He is still unconscious. He is in the unenviable position of having had a fever as well as having spent two nights out in this weather. We will just have to wait to see if the antibiotics take effect. I will know more tomorrow," Doctor Freiling reported. "Colonel, pardon our manners. Please sit. Would you like something to drink or eat, while you wait on Colonel Vogel?" Interesting, I can see why Colonel Hogan was not too worried about Kommandant Klink and his men. These three men, here in the house, do not come across as what I would have expected. Their personalities seem to show an underlying integrity, which is almost non-existent in the present German military. Colonel Hogan seems to have been able to use that to his advantage quite remarkably.
"No doctor, Iím fine. I will sit and wait. Please go about your business," Klink replied. I do not trust Vogel. I wish he had just taken my word for it. I do have jurisdiction over Colonel Hogan, but I just do not know what to expect from Vogel.
Klink did not have to wait long, within ten minutes Colonel Vogel and two other Gestapo were knocking at the Freilingís door. Doctor Freiling went to greet them and Klink followed. Freiling said, "Heil Hitler. Come in gentlemen, come in."
"Heil Hitler. Good day Doctor Freiling. Kommandant Klink. Where is Colonel Hogan?" Vogel asked, not willing to continue with any small talk.
"This way Colonel," said Kommandant Klink. "Hogan is in a back bedroom. He is unconscious. Dr Freiling said that he would not know until possibly tomorrow the extent of the Colonelís illness." Klink and Freiling showed the Gestapo Colonel and his men to the back bedroom. Shultz, with Langenscheidt standing by, opened the door for all five men.
As Vogel made his way into the room and approached the bed, he said, "You realize gentlemen that I need to make my own assessment of this prisonerís condition." Before either man could answer Vogel took out his revolver and fired two rounds into the pillow beside the POWís head. Klink and Freiling were stunned silent. Vogel turned from the bed and continued, "That should have woken the dead. I now can complete my report. Your POW is very ill Kommandant Klink." Vogel return his revolver to his waist belt. Then he and his men left the Freiling home without another word. Sergeant Shultz and Langenscheidt had come running through the door. Ursula Freiling followed soon after, being trailed immediately by the two other guards that had accompanied the Kommandant of Stalag 13.
"What happened?" asked a panicked Shultz, having heard the gunfire and now seeing the powder burns on the pillow next to Colonel Hoganís head. Oh no, Colonel Hogan?
"Is everything okay Kommandant?" asked Langenscheidt very confused. He did not know what to make of the situation. He too had seen the powder burns on the pillow. Oh no, Colonel Hogan?
"Oh my, Oskar what happened?" asked Ursula, seeing the stunned look on her husbandís face, as he bent down to examine the American Colonel. Oh no, Colonel Hogan?
"Herr Kommandant?" asked Mueller and Kleinschmidt as they entered the room. They had no idea what happened. All they heard were the muffled gunshots. They had started into the house only to be bowled over by the Gestapo leaving. Upon entering the room, they also saw the powder burns on the pillow next to the American Colonelís head. They were looking for direction from their commanding officer.
"Mueller. Kleinschmidt. Return to your post. Everything is under control here," ordered Klink. He then turned his attention back to the bed where Colonel Hogan still lay not moving.
Freiling had immediately gone to his patientís side. Oh my God Colonel, Iím so sorry. He was worried that the Colonel might have caught some flack from the weaponís discharge. But he hadnít. Only superficial powder burns. "Your prisoner was not injured," Freiling said as he turned to Kommandant Klink, who still looked rather stunned. "Please Colonel, I have had enough excitement for one day. First you ask me to care for an enemy prisoner. Now because of that enemy prisoner, the Gestapo have come into my home shooting. I am a loyal German citizen. I hope you will make that clear to Colonel Vogel and his men. I will continue to care for this patient, because it is what I do. But I ask that you leave now." Freiling turned away from the Kommandant, his attention once again on Colonel Hogan. He knelt down to examine his patient closer.
"I do not know what to say Doctor. I had not expected that from Colonel Vogel. I will speak to him on your behalf. Again I thank you for continuing to care for Colonel Hogan. I will be going now. Langenscheidt you will drive me back to camp," Klink ordered, trying to keep any reaction to what just happened under control. I cannot show any weakness in front of these people. But I knew I was right not to trust Vogel. The man was evil. I knew that the first time we met.
"Jawohl Herr Kommandant," Langenscheidt agreed nervously. He and Klink left without another word.
Shultz resumed his position outside the bedroom door, closing it behind him. Oh my God, that was awful. Poor Colonel Hogan. You can never trust the Gestapo. Letís hope that was the end of it. Hopefully now the Colonel can recover and things can return to normal.
Ursula had gone over to where her husband was kneeling by the Colonelís side. She reached down and hugged him. His body began to shake, "He trusted me Ursula. He could be dead now," Freiling whispered. He placed his hand on Hoganís chest, "Iím so sorry Colonel Hogan. So very sorry." His life could have been over before I could have even reacted. He was right not to trust the Gestapo. -- Animals. -- Looking at him now, I realize how young he is. He canít be much more than 30 years old. How could one so young have taken on this much responsibility? - Amazing -- Heinrich was right. The man is a genius and I almost allowed that genius to be eliminated. He has only been a part of our Ďlivesí for a short time, but I can no longer see how we could continue our Ďactivitiesí without his help. And now what of this Ďthingí that Heinrich would not speak of? It seems that Colonel Hogan has a plan for that as well.
"Donít blame yourself Oskar. If you had not convinced him to take the sedative, he would be dead now. He never would have been able to stay still for that. And you know, that if he even flinched, Colonel Vogel would have killed him for sure. You saved his life Oskar. You have nothing to feel guilty about," Ursula said just as quietly. "Come let him sleep. He still has some time before the sedative wears off."
Hammelburg, Germany, Doctor Freilingís Home, March 11, 1943 1430 Hours
Dr Freiling was in the room with Colonel Hogan. The man should start to come around soon. The house had been peaceful since the horrible events of that morning. Even the three soldiers stationed at the house had been more than accommodating, offering to help in anyway they can. Itís interesting to note, that the Sergeant really seem to care about Colonel Hogan. How has Hogan managed that?
As Hogan began to stir, Freiling began talking softly, "Easy Colonel. Go slowly." He had his hand ready to stifle any noise Hogan might make. He didnít want the guards to hear. In the Colonelís Ďconditioní, he would never be awake at this point. Hoganís eyes slowly opened. "Quiet Colonel. No noise," Freiling whispered softly, putting his index finger to his mouth as a sign for quiet. Freiling saw the Colonelís eyes become fully aware.
The Colonel held up his hand and nodded his head to indicate that he understood. "Whatís the situation Doctor?" asked Hogan in a whisper, his gaze intent on the Doctor. He thought he saw a pang of guilt on Freilingís face, but it disappeared quickly.
"Everything is going according to plan Colonel," said Freiling guiltily. How can I tell him? "We have indeed passed the acid test. Both Kommandant Klink and Colonel Vogel from the Gestapo believe you are really ill. Kommandant Klink has stationed three guards here, with a fourth rotating in every 6 hours. There is a Sergeant Shultz and a Corporal Mueller and a Corporal Kleinschmidt here now. A Corporal Langenscheidt should be returning in 30 minutes or so to relieve one of the others," replied Freiling. He noticed that Hogan relaxed his intense gaze when he heard the Sergeantís name. Maybe he bribes him? "I know that Hermann Schlick has made his delivery to your men. Iím sure they have that under control. Your Sergeant Kinchloe wanted you to know that the movement of allied servicemen has been continuing while you were away. And all of your men have been released from the sick wards. And that the Ohms family is on their way to Heidelberg."
Hogan sighed and let his head sink back in the pillow. "Good. We have some time then." He definitely wasnít feeling 100 percent, but the overwhelming nausea was gone. Although. My head feels weird. He ran his hand along his left temple. Ouch, whatís that?
"How are you feeling Colonel? Most of your earlier symptoms should have subsided by now," Freiling said, noticing the American reach up to touch the side of his head where the powder burns were. He sighed. "Colonel, I have something to tell you."
"What?" Hogan asked worriedly, trying not to be louder than a whisper. The guilt was now very apparent in Freilingís face. "What happened? Is everyone all right? Nobodyís been hurt have they? Nobodyís died have they?"
"No Colonel, everyone is alright." Amazing heís worried about everyone else. "But something did happen." Freiling paused, not knowing how to start.
"What happened?" Hogan demanded in a commanding whisper.
Freiling was startled by the intended command. "Sorry Colonel, but when Colonel Vogel was here. He fired two rounds from his revolver into the pillow by your head. What you just felt were the residual powder burns. Vogel wanted to make sure you were sick. He figured no one would be able to stay quiet through that unless they were very ill," Freiling finished quickly.
"Oh," Hogan said quietly. He was silent for a moment contemplating how close he came to being dead. He knew he wouldnít have been able to stay still through the gunshots had he not been medicated. Vogel would have taken the third bullet and put it in his forehead. He had no doubt about that. The doctor was right. Hogan looked up into Freilingís face and said, "You were right Doc. Iíd be dead now, if you hadnít convinced a stubborn Colonel to take your advice. Thanks for saving my life." Hogan watched as Freiling looked away, he got the distinct impression that the doctor was feeling guilty about what happened. "Whatís the matter Doc?"
"Iím sorry Colonel. I promised you I would do my best to stop any violence before it could harm you. I had put you in that vulnerable position. That animal walked in and before I could think, had discharged his weapon twice," Freiling said downhearted. "Iím so sorry."
"Hey Doc, donít be sorry. Iím still here right. Your plan worked, maybe not the way you wanted it too. But it worked and believe me, Iím grateful, more grateful than you know. Thanks," Hogan said smiling. He reached his hand up to shake Freilingís.
After a moment, Freiling grasped the Colonelís hand. "You are welcome, Colonel." He sighed. "Iíve been in here too long. They will be suspicious. There is some food for you in the drawer of the nightstand. I had to hide it to bring it in here, as you are not Ďconsciousí yet. Please eat Colonel; youíve not eaten right for almost 4 days. Itís not good. Iíll be back in a while to check on you." Freiling stood and left the room. Hogan heard Shultz ask about his condition.
Hogan reached for the nightstand. He was hungry. He ate quietly. The next thing I need to do is get a consensus from the underground. I need to know whether or not they are willing to follow my lead in expanding our operation. This is going to take some time to pull together. Iím not even sure that my men will go along with me. But Iím definitely going to need the undergroundís help or nothing will fly. My men and I need to stay close to Stalag 13. We have no other option. Iím going to need people willing to spread the word. But we canít rush into this. We will need to take one step at a time.
Hammelburg, Germany, Doctor Freilingís Home, March 12, 1943 0830 Hours
Hogan was lying in bed quietly. This is getting hard to do, but Doc tells me that I canít regain consciousness until tomorrow. I have finally met Ursula, Doc Freilingís wife, last night around dinnertime. Sheís been sneaking in food every chance she gets. Letís see. Sheís had to get the ironing board from the room. Sheís had to get some clothes from the closet. Sheís had to clean the small bathroom attached to this bedroom. She has brought in enough food to feed an army, and the amazing part is that Iíve eaten it all myself.
Iíve already told Doctor Freiling about our experience at Dachau. Needless to say, he was horrified. I quickly explained to him what I wanted to do. But I made him understand that he and his fellow citizens would need to help my men and me follow through with this plan. He told me that he would help Berger set up a meeting, so they all could discuss their involvement. That was late last night, and I havenít heard anything more. Hopefully, I can get their cooperation.
Hogan had been staring at the ceiling for so long, he had a crick in his neck. He dared not get up unless the Freilingís were in the room. Ursula had been popping in and out, so he never knew when the door might open. The last thing he needed was for the guard on duty, at the door, to see him up and around. Heíd even had to time his bathroom breaks to the Freilingís appearances. It should get easier by tomorrow, then I can at least be Ďconsciousí.
The door to the room opened. Doc Freiling came into the room as he called for Ursula. "Ursula, I need help changing the sheets this morning. Can you come dear?"
ĎIíll be right there Oskar," Ursula responded.
"Can I help you with anything Doctor?" asked Corporal Mueller.
"No Corporal, my wife and I have done this for many a patient over the years." The doctor held the door open for his wife, who had a pile of sheets in her hand. She also had clean underwear as well. Freiling closed the door behind them.
What service, I could get used to this. More food, thought Hogan as Ursula unfolded the sheets on to the bed, uncovering more sandwiches. Iíll be fat. "Good morning," Hogan whispered.
"Good morning Colonel. Would you please get up and change, we will make the bed," Freiling asked.
"Sure, will do," Hogan said grabbing the underwear and heading for the bathroom. He returned a short time later.
The Freilingís werenít quite done. He took the chance to look at some of the pictures on the dresser. "Who is this?" Hogan asked pointing to one of the pictures. There seemed to be the same man in most of the pictures. He would assume it was their son, but he didnít want to assume.
"That was our son, Hans. He died, a year ago this month. He would have been 46. He was part of our small group. Hans, Heinrich and Hermann were all boyhood friends. They grew up together. Iíve known Heinrich and Hermann since they were babies. Actually I brought both men into this world," Freiling explained, "Hans had always been more radical that anyone of us. He was killed when the dynamite, he was preparing to use, exploded. There was no evidence of Hansí involvement to be found with the resulting fire, though his intended target was destroyed. For months we pretended that Hans had moved to Berlin to find work. Finally we created a car accident that took his life."
"Iím sorry Doc, Ursula. I didnít mean to pry," Hogan said getting back into bed. God, now I understand the look exchanged between Berger and Freiling that morning in the Bergerís barn. And I wanted him to be the one to burn the dead bodies. How callous are you Hogan?
"Thatís quite alright Colonel. I get to consider Heinrich and Hermann my sons as well. It at least fills some of the void," Doc Freiling said. "Okay, we are all done Ursula. Thank you. Iíll be out after I examine him."
"Okay dear," Ursula replied picking up the soiled bed sheets and opening the door to leave the room.
"Ursula, could you please take this manís uniform with you. I would like to see it cleaned," Doc Freiling said.
"You want me to clean an enemyís uniform, Oskar? A patientís bed sheets and underwear I will do as part of patient care. I will not stoop to cleaning the manís uniform," Ursula said indignantly, making sure that the guard at the door heard their conversation. All part of the smoke screen Colonel Hogan wanted, she thought.
"Ursula, before any patient of mine, enemy or ally, is allowed to put on filthy, germ ridden clothes, it will be a cold day in hell. Please take them and clean them, you do not have to do anything else," Freiling said angrily.
Ursula came back into the room, picked up the uniform, left the room, and slammed the door behind her. Oh my! I hope I did that right? Iíve never been that way with Oskar before.
Colonel Hogan watched Ursula storm out of the room and smiled at Doc Freiling, saying re-assuringly, "You guys are both doing a great job. Donít worry. Everything will be fine."
"Thank you Colonel. This is very hard for Ursula and me. Secrecy we understand well, and we are not blind to the ways of subterfuge. But in anything weíve ever done, nothing has ever been as close as our back door, until now," Freiling said shaking his head.
"Everything will be fine," Hogan said again trying to convince himself as well as the doctor.
"Yes, well. Um. Before I go Colonel, I wanted you to know that the underground has a meeting set for this evening. Myself, Oskar, Hermann and Heinrich will meet and discuss our options," Freiling said. "I hope to have good news for you Colonel."
"Thanks, let me know," Hogan whispered as he watched the Doctor leave.
Hammelburg, Germany, Heinrich Bergerís barn, March 12, 1943 2000 Hours
Hermann Schlick, Oskar Freiling, Oscar Schnitzer and Heinrich Berger came together in Heinrichís barn to discuss the future of their underground operation. Berger had explained as much as he could about the horrors at Dachau and the American Colonelís ideas to expand his operation. He repeated to them what Colonel Hogan has told him of his operationís new objective.
"We need to expand our work at Stalag13. We need to work towards making this war end one day earlier. We need to work at undermining the German War Effort at any turn, no matter what it might take, no matter the cost. No holds barred. No Fear. Not anymore."
It was now up to the other three to agree, Berger had already thrown his support behind Colonel Hogan. It would be a lot of very dangerous work. But they were already doing work that has put them on the Ďwrongí side of this war. If they are caught now, it means death. If they do more and are caught, it means nothing less than death.
"I agree to support Colonel Hogan in his endeavor. You did not see the horrors we did. It is important for us to do more to stop the madness that this war is. Colonel Hogan is willing to lead this effort. I believe we can make a difference. I believe in him," Berger said confidently.
"Colonel Hogan has yet to steer us wrong. He and his men have the most to lose here. They are confined to that prison camp, yet they are willing to do what they can to put an end to Hitlerís Third Reich. I intend to also support Colonel Hogan," said Oskar Freiling.
"I have dealt with the men in that camp more than any of you. What they have created there is amazing. If Colonel Hogan believes he can expand his operation to end this war one day earlier, then I am also on his side," informed Oskar Schnitzer.
There was only one more vote outstanding. Hermann Schlick had been the quietest during the meeting. They all agreed to do this only if it was a unanimous decision. It had to be all-for-one, or the plan would never work. Trust would never be complete.
All three men were looking at Hermann Schlick. Schlick sat with his head down for a long moment. When he looked up he said, "You all understand what this means? Up until this point we were helping people, human beings, find their way safely home. Maybe I was fooling myself, but I didnít feel myself as a traitor. We never killed our own. We only helped others. If we take up Colonel Hoganís agenda, our lives will change. We will be risking everything, as Hans did. We can no longer be meek. We will need to be strong and willing to kill our own. We will not be able to look back. Once this begins, there will be no other way for us. Are you ready?" Schlick asked of the three of them.
All three men were quiet. Then one by one, each stood and said, "I am ready." They looked again to Schlick. He stood and said, "I am ready." The men embraced and went there separate ways. It would take time to build the network the Colonel was looking for, but now they were committed.
Hammelburg, Germany, Doctor Freilingís Home, March 12, 1943 1100 Hours
Iím to regain consciousness today. Hooray. Iíve been bored silly. Iím not used to sitting around. I even think I gained the weight back that I lost while throwing up for three days.
Dr. Freiling told me the Ďgoodí news earlier today. The underground had agreed to support my plan. Now Hogan all you have to do is get the plan to work -- No holds barred, you said. -- No fear, you said. - Whatever it takes, you said. - No matter the cost, you said. -- I know what I said. -- I wonít, I canít let these people down.
I went over the plan for my recovery this morning with the Doctor. I reminded him that no one at Stalag 13 knows I speak German. I told Doc Freiling that he would need Sergeant Shultz to translate for him. I also wanted to make sure that the Doc and his wife become fearful of when I regain consciousness. I am after all, an enemy soldier. I told them that they should request further security measures be taken. I told them to be careful not to Ďsuggestí what kind of additional security measures. I told them not to balk at any action taken. The Doc was concerned what Ďactioní I might have been talking about. I told him it could as innocent as posting a guard or as extreme as being handcuffed and shackled to the bed with a guard posted. I just wanted to make sure he knew what to expect.
Doc Freiling also had concerns about my recovery. He told me I needed to keep up the pretense of flu like symptoms for at least another week. He started to list the ways to do just that. I assured him that I had spent the last month watching the results of pneumonia and that I could handle it. I guess I must have sounded irritable, as he quickly turned away from me. I apologized, saying that Ďpneumoniaí was still a sensitive subject with me. He then apologized to me for not being able to help during the outbreak. I assured him that his offer to help was sufficient. I had turned down his help, knowing that he would never have had enough antibiotics to begin with and also the amount that he had was earmarked for the civilian population of Hammelburg. All I needed on my conscious was the additional deaths of civilians.
Doc Freiling left to report to Kommandant Klink that my fever broke late last night and that I was no longer contagious. He also told him that he wouldnít be surprised if I regained consciousness today. Maybe Klink will even show up. Weíll see. Hopefully the Freilingís are ready to play the part of the frightened German couple.
Hogan spent some time resting, waiting on his inevitable recovery. He finally heard some commotion outside the bedroom. Sounds like Klink is here. I imagine he needs to take charge of this situation. Maybe heís worried the Gestapo will be back. Thanks Kommandant, be worried. Here they come. Relax stupid. Youíre still unconscious. I need to wait a respectable time before I come to. I will play it by ear. See what Klink is here for, first.
Hogan closed his eyes as he heard the door open. "As you see Colonel, he is still unconscious. Heís been restless since last night. I do expect him to wake soon. I called you, because my wife and I are very nervous about having an enemy prisoner in our house. It was not bad when he was unconscious. But as he has gotten better, the thought has begun to unnerve my wife. He really shouldnít be moved for a couple of days. Is there something that you can suggest to alleviate my wifeís fears?" asked Freiling.
Good going Doc! Hogan thought.
"Of course, Doctor. The Gestapo share your concerns as well. To make sure that Colonel Hogan will not have the chance to escape again, the Gestapo have graciously posted a squad outside your home. They will remain there until the Colonelís transfer back to Stalag13 is accomplished," Klink told the doctor.
"In addition, I have some security measures of my own to put in place. As long as the Colonel is no longer contagious, one of my guards will be in the room always. Another will be posted outside the door. And a third will remain outside. Colonel Hogan will be handcuffed and shackled. You can be assured that he will pose no threat to you," Klink said. This is definitely overkill. But if Hogan escapes again, he will be dead. There will be no other option for the Gestapo or me.
What happened to just post a guard? -- Pose a threat? - Me? Ha.
"Shultz, go get the handcuffs and shackles and restrain Colonel Hogan. Have Kleinschmidt help you. Make sure the restraints are tight. I want no repeat performances from Colonel Hogan," Klink continued.
Come on Klink. Whatís with you? Have I pushed you too far this time? Probably.
"Shultz, you will then stay in the room with Colonel Hogan. And when Langenscheidt returns to duty have him guard the door to the bedroom. It will be necessary for both you and Langenscheidt to pull 24-hour duty inside, as you both understand and speak English, where as Mueller and Kleinschmidt do not. You will need to help translate for the doctor, as Colonel Hogan does not speak German. You will need to alternate your breaks, but I do want both of you available to Doctor Freiling at all times. If at any point the shackles are to be removed, both of you will need to be present," Klink ordered. "Do not let Colonel Hogan out of your sight, Shultz. I have a feeling the Gestapo would not hesitate to shoot him."
I can imagine that the Gestapo want me for target practice! - So Klink. -- Under that Kraut exterior, are you trying to save my hide? - Iíve noticed that you havenít ordered Shultz or any of the others to shoot me. - Just watch me - Should I hate you or thank you? - Weíll see.
"Jawohl, Herr Kommandant," said Shultz. Poor Colonel Hogan. Heís not going to like this. Shultz exited the room, and went to the truck from Stalag 13. He gathered the handcuffs and shackles and Kleinschmidt on the way back into the house. As Shultz began to remove the bed covers from Colonel Hogan, he was concerned. Shultz noted that the Colonel was not fully clothed, only wearing undergarments. "Kommandant, should the Colonel be clothed before we restrain him. The restraints will be rough on bare skin."
I knew I could count on Shultz to be compassionate. Thanks buddy.
"No Shultz, restrain him as is. It will be one more security measure against him escaping outside in this weather," Klink replied.
All right, Klink. I hate you. - But. -- You are definitely not taking any chances! It sure seems like you donít want me dead. - So, maybe it is thank you after all.
Shultz sighed, "Jawohl Herr Kommandant."
Remain limp Hogan. Donít react.
It took a little effort on Shultz and Kleinschmidtís part to restrain the Colonel. The handcuffs and shackles were not made for Ďunconsciousí prisoners. Usually the prisoners were more cooperative. Shultz double-checked that the restraints were tight. Hoganís hands were restrained crossed together in front, at his groin, with an additional chain securing those handcuffs around his waist. His feet were then shackled tightly together and the handcuffs were secured to those shackles with another chain. Shultz replaced the bedcovers and reported, "All done, Herr Kommandant."
Damn - Handcuffed and shackled - Practically naked too - Good God, these things are tight. - Iím going to be hurting soon.
"Thank you Shultz. I hope this is enough to satisfy you, Doctor. I assure you Colonel Hogan can be no trouble now," Klink said. I can just hear the grief I will get when Hogan returns to Stalag 13. But at least he will be returning. The man can be burdensome, but he is a burden Iím willing to take on for the sake of the camp population. The camp cannot go back to the way it was before.
Deal with it Hogan - You are almost home - Home? Ha. Not bloody likely.
"Yes Kommandant, thank you. I feel much safer now," answered Doctor Freiling. Actually I feel like throwing up. My God, is this what his life has been like behind that barbwire fence? And yet heís still willing to lead us in this new effort. I canít believe what Colonel Hogan has to put up with. They are treating him like a common criminal. How degrading. How very sad.
"Then I will bid you a good day doctor," Klink said as he left the bedroom. Hogan heard his staff car drive away and Dr Freiling and Corporal Kleinschmidt leave the room as well.
That leaves Shultz with me, I guess Iíll give it another hour before coming around.
It was a long hour. -- Waiting. -- Finally Colonel Hogan started to stir. He made some noise and was trying to stretch, and couldnít. Shultz did notice though and went immediately to get the doctor.
The doctor and Shultz returned to the room together, the doctor was saying, "Sergeant, talk to him, in English. It will help him to come out of it."
"Ja. Ja. Doctor," said Shultz. He turned to Colonel Hogan and said, "Colonel Hogan, wake up. Colonel Hogan, you have been very sick. Wake up. Colonel Hogan." Shultz saw the Colonel open his eyes.
"Shultz, is that you?" asked Hogan in a raspy voice. "What are you doing in my quarters?"
"Colonel Hogan, youíve been very sick. You are in Hammelburg at the local doctorís clinic. Are you listening Colonel?" asked Shultz. He saw Colonel Hogan look at him, but the Colonel really wasnít Ďseeingí him. "You are in Hammelburg. Youíve been very sick."
"Okay Shultz, if you say so. Where am I?" Hogan asked coughing. Play it to the hilt.
"Colonel Hogan, youíve been very sick. You are in Hammelburg at the local doctorís clinic," Shultz repeated and noticed that Colonel Hogan was beginning to really take in his surroundings.
"How did I get here?" Hogan asked confused. He continued coughing. And then as if he had just realized he was restrained, he asked angry and hoarse, "What are the handcuffs and shackles for Shultz? Whatís going on here? Come on Shultz take these off. This isnít funny." More coughing. He tried to rise, and couldnít move. He panicked and started fighting the restraints. He was getting himself tangled in the bed covers. "Ouch! Come on Shultz! These hurt like hell! Theyíre too damn tight!" Hoganís voice had risen with anger and fear. He continued to fight. "Come on, take them off!" Hogan looked around and saw that the Doctor appeared panicked. He had backed up against the door. Hopefully thatís an act. Iím okay, Hogan tried to telegraph.
Shultz grabbed the Colonel by the shoulders. He tried desperately to stop the officer from fighting his restraints. He said, "Colonel Hogan, relax. You will hurt yourself. I will explain everything. Itís for you own protection. Please Colonel Hogan calm down. We donít want to alert the Gestapo! Please be quiet Colonel."
"The Gestapo!" Hogan yelled, trying to get up again and continuing to fight his restraints. "What does the Gestapo have to do with this? Ouch! Damn it Shultz. Whatís going on?" Hogan fell back on the bed, in pain, and exhausted. Ouch. He started coughing uncontrollably.
"Please Colonel Hogan. Relax. It will be all right," Shultz said, trying to calm the American officer down.
Hogan was able to stop coughing, but he continued to breathe heavily. His body was all tense. Any movement at this point hurt like hell. The restraints were cutting into his flesh. Damn. So, tell me again why I wanted this to look real? Ouch. His breathing finally settled into a normal rhythm. The American Colonel looked up questioning the German Sergeant, with fear in his eyes.
"Colonel, everything is going to be okay. Really, Relax. Weíll have you back at Stalag 13 in a couple days. Youíve had your men worried sick about you. You contracted pneumonia. You were delirious. You attacked Wilson and me, while we were transporting you to the hospital. Kommandant Klink authorized that you be moved out, as to not re-infect the camp. You accidentally escaped and were missing for three days," Shultz told the Colonel calmly.
Shultz finally saw the Colonel relax slightly. He tried to lie back, but the restraints didnít give him much leeway. Hogan winced in pain and closed his eyes. Shultz tried to straighten out the bed covers and saw blood on the Colonelís wrists and ankles. "Colonel, let me get the doctor to look at your wrists and ankles. He does not speak English. So I will need to translate for you." Hogan only gave a quick nod to acknowledge Shultz. Actually that sounds good, Shultz. These things hurt like Hell.
Shultz turned to the doctor, who was still plastered up against the bedroom door. In German, he said, "Doctor the Colonel needs your help. Can you please look at where the restraints have cut him?" Shultz noticed the doctor was almost paralyzed with fear. "Doctor, please. Colonel Hogan wonít and canít hurt you. He needs your help."
The doctor pealed himself from the door. He slowly approached his patient. "Tell him I will medicate and bandage the areas below the restraints. He should not fight further or it will just get worse." The doctor left the room to find the medication and bandages he would need. He heard Shultz translate for him. Oh my God Colonel Hogan. I never expected that outburst from you. You really frightened me. But maybe that was the plan all along. Although. Now, you have to deal with injuries on top of everything else. Crazy American.
The doctor re-entered the room and noticed that the two men were having a conversation. He, of course, did not understand it. But both men looked more relaxed. Although Hogan still appeared in pain, the pretense of panic was gone. He was actually looking very interested in what the Sergeant was saying. Even through the Colonelís outburst, he never saw hatred from the Colonel directed at the Sergeant. Nor hatred from the Sergeant directed at the Colonel. Not quite the way of enemies. Now they almost appeared like Ďfriendsí, but that isnít quite the right word for it, is it? He approached his patient and set about bandaging the wounds.
Shultz said, "Doctor, Colonel Hogan wants to apologize for frightening you. He said he had gotten quite the scare himself when he woke up. He has promised to behave himself from now on and he said thank you for all that youíve done." Then Shultz added, "Doctor, I would also like to thank you on behalf of his men at Stalag 13. I do not know how they would have dealt with the Colonelís death. Now we donít have to find out." We could never go back to the way it was before.
The doctor nodded at his patient in response to his ĎThank youí. "Sergeant, let the Colonel rest. I will have lunch brought in a short while." He heard Shultz translate, as he left the room.
Hogan had been surprised by Shultzís added commentary to the doctor. I had almost forgotten that Shultz was in camp when the former Senior POW Officer was executed. I know that that had been brutal on the men already being held at Stalag 13, but I had never given much thought to how Shultz would have reacted. What would have happened if I hadnít returned from this Ďmissioní? Shultz certainly seems worried about it. Perhaps given my current situation, Klink is worried as well. Do I know what would have happened? I think Kinch could have handled it; the men have a purpose now. But what if that just wasnít enough? Could it have returned to the way it was when I was brought to Stalag 13, the men fighting amongst themselves, the guards edgy. How far could Klink have been pushed? How close was Stalag 13 to becoming a ĎDachauí then? And what about now? Both Klink and Shultz seem intent on my returning to Camp alive. -- That is a good thing to know. -- With both menís inherent humanity becoming more apparent to me now, I realize that I will have to work harder at maintaining an amicable relationship with both men. Shultz is a decent human being, even in the midst of this madness. However Klink is still teetering. I will have to sympathize more with his position as Kommandant, to the point of Ďhelpingí out. Become less of an enemy to him, more of an ally in the day-to-day operations of Stalag 13. -- I will be more understanding and cooperative. -- That should keep Klink leaning in the direction he already is, away from becoming an Ulrich Meshner. That means I will also have to ensure that neither man is transferred away from Stalag 13. The future of my new organization will depend upon their Ďcooperationí as much as anything else.
Hogan had tried to doze after he had considered the new reality of his operation, but instead had to face a more urgent aspect of his present predicament. "Shultz," Hogan croaked, breaking the silence in the room.
"Yes Colonel Hogan?" Shultz replied, surprised as he had thought the Colonel was asleep.
Hogan turned his head as far to the right as possible in order to see Shultz where he sat by the door. "Nature calls."
Shultz had remained sitting and pointed to the door across the room from him. "Okay, Colonel, itís just through that door," Shultz replied having forgotten that the Colonel was restrained.
"Shultz," Hogan sighed, giving the guard a look of long suffering. "Youíll need to release me. I canít get there from here."
"Oh. I am sorry Colonel Hogan," Shultz replied embarrassed. "I will need to get Langenscheidt, then I can release you."
"Oh, come on Shultz," Hogan protested. "Iím not going anywhere."
"No. Colonel. I am sorry," Shultz replied, turning to the door to ask Langenscheidt to come into the room. Once Langenscheidt entered, they both approached the bed. Shultz unlocked Hoganís hand restraints and the Colonel attempted to sit up. He immediately acted faint and Shultz had to catch him as he almost fell out of bed.
"Are you alright, Colonel?" Shultz asked nervous, trying to support Hogan.
"Yeah. Yeah. Iím ok. Wow, just a little dizzy, I guess," Hogan replied, beginning to cough. "Youíre not kidding when you said Iíve been sick." Shultz helped him sit back on the bed.
"Ja. Take it easy, Colonel," Langenscheidt said, bending over to remove the rest of the prisonerís restraints. "Youíre still pale."
Hogan sat on the bed trying to catch his breath after his coughing fit. He also had to wait for Langenscheidt to finish. "Ok letís try this again." Hogan stood up, acting shaky. Well maybe I donít have to act, my legs are awfully stiff. He slowly headed for the bathroom
"You will have to leave the door open Colonel," Shultz said with an embarrassed shrug.
Hogan sighed, but would do as he had been asked. As he walked, he began rubbing his wrists and tried to stretch. He knew when he was done, that theyíd restrain him again. Two more days of this was going to be hard, maybe I can convince them to at least loosen them up. I wonít push too hard yet. But maybe I can get a few moments of freedom during these bathroom breaks. Hogan glanced in the mirror before heading back into the bedroom and glimpsed the burn on his temple. Oh Damn, Iím not supposed to know about this! Iíll have to ask Shultz what happened.
"Hey, Shultz?" Hogan called out looking into the mirror, running his fingers over his temple. "Did I fall or something?"
"What, Colonel?" Shultz asked coming to the doorway. Oh no! Iím going to have to tell him what happened.
"This Shultz," Hogan repeated indicating the burns. "What happened?"
Shultz sighed. "Its part of the reason for your restraints, Colonel. When you were found and brought here, Colonel Vogel of the Gestapo wanted to make sure you were really sick. He shot two rounds from his revolver into the pillow by your head. He was sure you would wake up. When you didnít he seemed convinced that you were indeed sick. I donít believe he trusts you though, and that is why there is a squad of Gestapo outside this house prepared to shoot you if you escape again."
"He shot my pillow?" Hogan asked astonished. "While I was using it?!"
"Yes," Shultz replied. "So Colonel, please, no monkey business!"
"I promise Shultz. No monkey business. Iím not crazy enough to run outside in my underwear to face a Gestapo goon squad," Hogan replied, as he came back into the room from the bathroom. He saw Langenscheidt standing by the bed, still holding the shackles. "Come on Shultz, let me have a few more minutes here. Iím not going anywhere," Hogan asked, beseechingly.
Shultz sighed, "Colonel I canít. Kommandant Klink will court-martial both Langenscheidt and me, if we donít follow his orders. Theyíre really for your protection as well, Colonel."
"Come on Shultz," Hogan pleaded, walking around the room to stretch. He knew he wasnít going to win this one. "Just a few minutes, I wonít tell anyone. Itís just you, Langenscheidt and me. Who is going to know?"
"Colonel Hogan, you are impossible," Shultz replied, moving toward the bed. "Please, we need to put these back on you, before we all get in trouble."
Hogan sighed, surrendering, "Oh alright." But before he could take a stride in Shultzís direction the door behind him opened. He whirled around hoping that it wasnít the Gestapo. He put his arm out to stop the door from hitting him as it swung open. He was surprised to see that it was Ursula.
"Oh!" Ursula cried in surprise, dropping the tray she carried. Oskar had told her what had been done to Colonel Hogan and she had not expected to see him standing in front of her when she opened the door.
"Let me help," Hogan said in English, and bent over to pick up the spilled tray. Frau Freiling jumped back a step.
"Frau Freiling, are you alright?" Shultz asked, moving between the woman and Hogan. Hogan, played along with Ursulaís fears, and backed off, going to stand beside Langenscheidt.
"Yes, yes, Sergeant. I am ok. He startled me," Ursula replied her heart beating wildly. Remember, you need to act frightened of him. "I thought that he would be restrained. Your Kommandant promised that he would be." Oh no! He was free, and now I am going to cause him to be restrained again.
"He was, Frau Freiling. We had released him for him to use the bathroom. If there is no one stationed outside the room, Colonel Hogan will not be restrained. You should not enter," Shultz explained.
"Shultz," Hogan called out. "Please tell her Iím sorry. I did not mean to frighten her."
"Oh alright, Sergeant. I understand. But I wish you had told me that before. I hate to think that an enemy soldier is loose in my house! Itís very unnerving!" Ursula replied, looking towards Hogan unsure.
Shultz, having seen Frau Freiling glance nervously at Colonel Hogan when he spoke, translated for Hogan. "Itís alright Frau Freiling, he just apologized for scaring you."
"Well he should," Ursula replied, eyeing the prisoner warily, and then she turned, pointing to the mess on the floor. "I had brought this tray in for a late lunch. I will clean this up, and come back with another tray. He will be restrained then, yes?"
"Of course, Frau Freiling. We will restrain Colonel Hogan now. You donít need to worry. Please let Corporal Langenscheidt clean that for you. Do not bother yourself with that mess," Shultz said.
Ursula nodded and left the room, closing the door behind her, she leaned against it briefly closing her eyes. I want to cry! What indignities Colonel Hogan must live with as a prisoner. -- I saw the bandages. -- Oskar told me that he had injured himself when they had restrained him. He will now probably be locked up for longer periods of time, possibly injuring himself further because of me. I hope, for his sake, that they can return him back to Stalag 13 quickly. But I wonder now, how can that be any less of an indignity?
As the door closed behind Ursula, Hogan said with a sigh, offering his wrists crossed towards the guard. "Iím sorry, Shultz. You were right. I donít want to have her frightened of me. Do what you have to."
"I am sorry as well, Colonel," Shultz replied. "But it is only for a couple of days. The doctor still has not released you from his care. You will be held here until then."
"Ok," Hogan replied, watching resigned as Langenscheidt fastened the shackles to his ankles. Soon he was lying back in bed, but there was a small reprieve, Shultz had not refastened his hands as tightly to his waist. He had a little bit of chain so he could move them. Hooray for small favors.
Hammelburg, Germany, Doctor Freilingís Home, March 13, 1943 1100 Hours
God, one more day of this. I guess I shouldnít complain too much. After all, I did bring this on all by myself. What I find interesting though, is that both Shultz and Langenscheidt have actually been giving me more freedom since yesterday. Bathroom and meal breaks have been getting longer and each time I have been restrained the restraints were made looser. So now, I can at least lay flat and have some leeway to stretch if I have too. The funny thing is that I havenít pushed either man since Ďscaringí Ursula yesterday. Theyíve been doing this on their own.
Shultz also spent time yesterday going over all that had happened at camp, during my Ďillnessí. He wanted to make sure that I knew my men had all been released from the sick wards. He told me how the men of Barracks Two had been quarantined, but were to be released yesterday morning. He told me how Kommandant Klink had had multiple search parties looking for me. He explained how I ended up here at Doc Freilingís. He talked for a good solid hour. He was being nice and wanted to make sure I knew what was going on. So I played my part as concerned Senior POW Officer. I shouldnít look a gift horse in the mouth though, because at very least he was trying.
I had told Shultz late last night that I wanted to thank the Freilings for all that theyíve done, in their own language, before I returned to camp. I told him that I wanted to say ĎThank you for saving my lifeí in German. Shultz and Langenscheidt spent a good hour this morning Ďtryingí to teach me the phrase in German. I guess Iím not a very good pupil. I still havenít mastered it. ĎDanke schon seit sparend mein lebení I keep repeating any chance I get, with the most atrocious accent. Both men are starting to humor my repeated attempts to get it right.
So from what I understand, Doc Freiling will be releasing me tomorrow, about noon he said. -- Good. -- I hope things are going well in camp. I hated to have to lay all that on Kinch. But the men did need something to do, to avoid worrying about their commanding officer. Hopefully Kinch was able to keep the truth about Dachau quiet. I really want to explain the situation myself. I want to be able to assure the men that I have a plan to avoid the same thing happening at Stalag13. I feel more confident today that I keep that promise. It still will depend on my keeping Klink and Shultz on the Ďrightí side. -- For the rest of this war. -- Ugh. - Did I say I was more confident?
I also need to convince the men that my new plan of action is the correct plan of action. I will have to again offer them the chance to pull out of this operation. If some donít want to continue, I will find a way to transfer them out. Iím hoping that they will see the need to continue this fight. To end the war one day earlier. To stop Hitlerís Third Reich, dead in its tracks.
I will contact Allied High Command personally and inform them of the situation at Dachau and other Internment Camps. I hate now that I had to leave that place standing when I left. But if what is happening at Dachau is happening in other places, it will take more than just a group of POWs to stop it. There has to be something the Allied High Command can do to end that madness.
I also have to convince Allied High Command that my plan to expand our operation at Stalag13 is feasible. I want them to know, that I will continue on with my plan regardless of their help. We will continue to move Allied servicemen, but we need to leave no stone unturned in our efforts to defeat Hitlerís Third Reich. Whether its through sabotage or espionage. We will work toward this goal, as hard as we can, and as far as we can reach. It will depend heavily on making Stalag 13 the underground command center for this area of Germany. We need to work hard at getting the underground network organized. The first step, if we can get London to agree, will be getting radios and weapons to everyone in the chain. Iíll also need to demand that our code name no longer changes. It will make us more accessible to, and easier for, the underground to contact us. What are we now? Papa Bear. Good, Iíve always liked that one.
Hammelburg, Germany, Doctor Freilingís Kitchen, March 14, 1943 0800 Hours
Doctor Freiling just entered his kitchen, where Ursula had his breakfast ready. He had come from his examination of Colonel Hogan. He had returned the officerís uniform to him as well. Colonel Hogan was to be transferred back to Stalag 13 at noon today. Freiling planned to examine his patient one more time before he left.
"How is Colonel Hogan?" Ursula whispered. She needed to know. She hadnít dared to enter the Colonelís room again, since the incident with the tray. This was the first time in days that she felt she could actually speak of it, since there was now no guard present in their kitchen. "Iíve been so worried. Those guards have spent a lot of time in the room with him, since this began. Have they been mistreating him, Oskar? Has he further injured himself?"
"I think I can safely say Ďnoí to both your questions Ursula," Oskar said as he sat at the breakfast table. "Being unrestrained when both men are in the room, seems to be the only thing happening. During the past day when Iíve entered the room, Iíve noticed that the guards have had to handcuff Colonel Hogan before my examination." Freiling shook his head. "They are allowing him more freedom than I had ever imagined. I donít understand it, from the way Kommandant Klink talked; I had assumed Colonel Hogan would never have been given any freedom. The way the man was originally handcuffed and shackled almost brought tears to my eyes. But now heís been unrestrained or loosely restrained for the better part of the last day. And it appears that he almost expected it to be that way." Again Freiling shook his head. "I just donít understand it."
"Didnít you say, that the relationship you saw between those two guards and Colonel Hogan was not what you expected?" asked Ursula. "Maybe they have come to an understanding. Colonel Hogan has continually surprised us with his ingenuity, he may have won them over somehow."
"Yes, their relationship is not one that I would have expected of enemies. But it is funny. I donít see any collusion on the guardís part. They seem to truly care that the Colonel had injured himself and the restraints were causing further pain," Freiling answered. "However Hogan has managed it, he seems to have the upper hand. Yet he continues to play the part of a prisoner well."
Hammelburg, Germany, Doctor Freilingís Back Bedroom, March 14, 1943 0800 Hours
"Come on Shultz, its only four hours from now. Iíve been stuck wearing only underwear for days now. I understood the reasoning, but this is getting to be too much. Let me get dressed. Iím not going to run out on you, I promise," Hogan said pleading. "And if what you told me was true, that Klink and Colonel Vogel are going to make an appearance before I leave, I canít be dressed like this. In front of you and Langenscheidt, and even Klink, I can handle. In front of another officer, who if you remember correctly, tried to blow my head off, I canít. I need to at least look the part of an officer. So what do you say Shultz? Huh?"
"Okay Colonel Hogan, okay. But you need to promise me not to breathe a word to the Kommandant, that you were not restrained the way you were supposed to be. Kommandant Klink will have me sent to the Russian Front, if he ever finds out!" Shultz agreed nervously.
"You can count on me Shultz. I wonít say a word. I canít tell you how much I appreciated what you guys did," Hogan said. "It would be as much my head in a vice as yours. If I said anything." Hogan grabbed his uniform and started to dress.
"You realize Colonel, that today before we leave, you will need to be handcuffed and shackled in the manner we first used. Kommandant Klink canít see you unrestrained. And more importantly, the Gestapo canít see you, unless you are tightly restrained. It could be very dangerous," Shultz said sadly.
"Yes, I know Shultz. Iíll submit as soon as I finish dressing. We donít want to be surprised by an early visit from Vogel," Hogan said giving in to Shultz. "But can you do me a favor Shultz? When you hear him coming, help me to my feet. I donít want to give him the opportunity to take out another one of the Freilingís pillows. Besides, Iím afraid he isnít going to aim for the pillow, this time. So, if heís going to shoot me, I want it to be face to face. Okay?" Hoganís demeanor had gone from submissive to angry. I canít show any weakness to Vogel, but Iíve got to be careful too, the man is dangerous. Control your temper Hogan. Donít let the guy get to you. But donít back down. Remember you are a prisoner, act like one.
Shultz had noticed the look of barely controlled anger that had crossed the Colonelís face when he was discussing Vogel. Shultz had never seen that look before; it made Colonel Hogan appear very dangerous. It made Shultz very nervous. "Colonel Hogan, please donít make trouble. I will help you to stand, but do not provoke Colonel Vogel. Your men need you to return to Stalag 13. If I have too, I will ask Doctor Freiling to give you a sedative," Shultz said commandingly.
"You caught me Shultz," Hogan replied. "I donít take kindly to people who try to blow my head off. Itís a character fault. I will restrain myself. I need to get back to my men. Theyíve had it tough recently. And since I was partially the cause, I need to be there to make sure things run smoothly. So Shultz, you can trust that I wonít start anything. But neither one of us can be sure of what Vogel will do." Hogan looked directly at Shultz. "And you need to know, that I will not take his abuse lying down. Literally or figuratively."
"Colonel Hogan. Kommandant Klink will be here for your transfer. Everything will be fine," Shultz replied, trying to convince himself. "Colonel Vogel has no jurisdiction over you as a prisoner. Please, please do nothing to provoke Colonel Vogel." Colonel Hogan certainly has a lot of fight, willing to stand up to Vogel even though he will be heavily restrained.
"Yeah, yeah Shultz. Everything will be fine. But tell me. Why is it necessary to have Kommandant Klink, four guards, and me handcuffed and shackled so tightly I canít even move, to create a buffer between Vogel and me? It doesnít fill me with confidence, the guy managed to take out a pillow inches from my head 2 days ago, under the same circumstances," Hogan said.
Shultz just shook his head, but said nothing. He didnít know what to say. He and Langenscheidt just restrained Colonel Hogan. They both had to help him back to the bed. His restraints were again as tight as before, giving him no leeway. I hope we will all make it back to Stalag 13 alive and in one piece.
Hammelburg, Germany, Stalag 13, Barracks Two, March 14, 1943, 0900 Hours
Kommandant Klink had informed the prisoners earlier this morning, at Roll call, that Colonel Hogan had recovered sufficiently enough to be returned to Stalag 13. Klink told us that he would be leaving at eleven oíclock to supervise the transfer and that they should return before one oíclock. There was some raucous applause and whistling from the assembled men. It would be good to have the Colonel back in camp, thought Kinch.
Kinch had just completed a meeting of the barracks commanders. He wanted to make sure that he had a report ready for the Colonel when he returned. Colonel Hoganís unexplained orders had met with little resistance over the past few days. Once Matthews, Marlow and I worked through our own fears and came together as a team, the other prisoners followed suit. They all still wanted a justification for the abundance of work they were going to be expected to do, but were willing to wait for Colonel Hoganís explanation.
Kinch sat at the center table, with Carter watching the door, looking at the plans for the new tunnel system. The plans werenít as yet complete, but there was a well thought out diagram available for the Colonel to look at. Once the prisoners found out what Hogan was planning, and also being egged on by Sergeant Matthewsís survey of prisoners, we had five of the newer prisoners come forward saying they had architectural and/or engineering backgrounds. This was in addition to the few prisoners that had helped to design the present tunnel system. We could have something going very quickly. The biggest problem will be how to move the dirt. We actually already have men finishing the tunnels that were already in progress. One to the cooler, and the other to the water tower.
Kinch, himself had been pulling together all the information he could about German culture and language. He had been able get a lot of stuff from Berger, Schlick and Schnitzer. I can have a class ready to go very soon. Something tells me though that classes in German culture and language will not be the only class being given. If Colonel Hogan wants to expand into sabotage and espionage, most of the camp is going to need to be educated in the ways of counter intelligence. Boy, when the Colonel makes up his mind. Ugh.
Sergeant Matthews was the one responsible for compiling the list of prisoner characteristics for Colonel Hogan. He was still very early into his survey, but had found that the prisoners had some very interesting Ďhobbies'. Kinch glanced at the list sitting in front of him. Actors, weatherman, woodworkers, hand crafters, machinists, pickpockets, forgers, artists, mechanics, and some who had lived on the seedier side of the tracks. They were finding that the complement of the camp was very diverse. But, the most amazing thing, was that they were all clearly united under Colonel Hoganís banner.
Looking up from the papers and plans on the table, he remembered that Colonel Hogan would still have one major obstacle to tackle with the men. As of now, they are committed. But the Colonel was going to have to explain Dachau to them. I just hope that the Colonel can explain Dachau, in a way that does not cause a panic. Iíve been panicked enough as it is. How awful was that place? It had to be horrible, but I still donít have a clear picture. Getting a written note doesnít do the situation justice. I will understand better when I see the Colonelís face. Iím worried if camps like Dachau exists, where it appears that no rules apply, can Stalag 13 turn into something similar? Iím certain that Colonel Hogan would not start this Ďnewí operation if he thought that was the case. At least, I hope not anyway.
He gathered up all the paper work, stowed it safely away in the Colonelís office. He then took a walk around camp. Colonel Klink will be leaving shortly to transfer Colonel Hogan. The feeling in camp is one of relief. Everyone seems very happy that the Colonel will be back soon. Me too, I never expected to be in charge of this many men. It was not something that a Negro would ever be allowed to do in the real military. I really donít feel prepared. But, I guess, we are not in the real military now. We are in Colonel Hoganís army. And thatís proving to be a horse of a different color. Or you could say, an army of a different order.
Hammelburg, Germany, Doctor Freilingís Home, March 14, 1943 1130 Hours
Doc Freiling had just finished his final examination of Colonel Hogan. He had been shocked when he entered the room to find Colonel Hogan restrained tightly again. He realized that whatever the reason for the guards behavior for the last two days. It had been something between only Hogan and them. He returned to the kitchen. That was when he heard the sound of a car pulling up in back of the house. He went to the door and noticed that it was Kommandant Klink and Corporal Kleinschmidt. He knew to expect Kommandant Klink. He had wanted to see to the transfer of Colonel Hogan himself. Oh no, I need to come up with fair compensation for services rendered. The four guards almost ate me out of house and home. And Ursula had been feeding Colonel Hogan so much that he had put on weight. I guess I should charge per day what the hospital would. Then I wonít feel as guilty; the money will be coming from the prisonerís fund. They need the money more than I. $250 marks per day, so $1000 marks.
He had barely come to that decision before Klink entered into his kitchen. "Good morning Doctor Freiling. I hope all is well. As we discussed, Iím here to transfer Colonel Hogan back to Stalag 13. But we have some business to attend to. Have you decided what you would consider fair compensation?" Klink asked, wondering again if heís going to regret letting the doctor set the price.
"Yes Colonel, I have. Even though these past few days have been rather stressful. I will only ask for what the hospital would charge. That would be $250 marks per day, for a total of $1000 marks. That will at least cover the cost of food eaten by your men and the cost of the medication," Freiling said evenly, hoping the Colonel would not argue the point. He didnít have it in him to fight.
"Why doctor, that is most generous of you. $1000 marks it is. I will also have my men deliver some rations to you to cover what they had eaten," Klink said happily and handed the doctor $1000 marks. He had expected to be blackmailed. He should have known better, the doctor hadnít seemed the type for blackmail even upon their first meeting. "Is there anything that I need to know about Colonel Hoganís condition doctor?"
"I have supplied him with enough antibiotics for another week. My only concern would be that he not over tax himself. He should rest when he feels he needs it. Other than that Colonel, I believe your POW is well on his way to complete recovery. He was very lucky I found him when I did," Freiling said shaking his head.
"Yes, Yes. He was indeed. Thank you doctor. I will just go and see to Colonel Hogan and my men. Weíll leave very shortly," Klink said as headed for the back bedroom.
Hammelburg, Germany, Doctor Freilingís Back Bedroom, March 14, 1943 1130 Hours
Everyone in the room had heard the sound of a car pulling up in back of the house. Sergeant Shultz looked out the window, and glanced at Colonel Hogan, "Itís only Kommandant Klink." Hogan returned a look of daggers. Shultz looked sheepish and indicated to Langenscheidt that he needed his help. Together they helped Colonel Hogan to his feet.
"Whatís taking him so long?" Hogan asked annoyed. The longer we stay here, the better chance I might end up with a killer headache.
"Donít worry Colonel, Kommandant Klink had business to attend to with Doc Freiling. He had offered the doctor compensation for allowing you to be brought here. Iím sure thatís the only thing holding him up," Shultz said evenly.
Oh my God, I never did ask Doc Freiling how he managed to convince Klink to bring me here! Way to go Doc! I hope you let him make it worth your while. "Okay Shultz, Iíve just grown attached to my head. And I would still like it to be attached when we get to Stalag 13," Hogan said sarcastically.
Just then the door opened to admit Kommandant Klink. "Well Colonel Hogan, I see that youíve made significant improvements from when I saw you last," Klink said.
"Yes sir, you could say that," Hogan said evenly. He needed to give Klink some grief about the restraints. "Sorry Colonel, I would salute. But thatís rather difficult under the circumstances," Hogan said giving a small tug on his chains.
"Yes Colonel, I realize that. I do hope you realize that those restraints are meant for your protection. The Gestapo are no so forgiving as I. Iím certain they would not hesitate to shoot you, if you attempted anything foolish. The restraints made sure that would not happen," Klink said evenly, meeting Hoganís eye directly.
Hoganís demeanor softened. "Iím sorry Kommandant. The last few days have not been pleasant. I do understand the need for these restraints. I appreciate that you have gone through all this trouble for me. I realize that you did not need to even search for me as an Ďillí POW. I appreciate the effort you made. More than you know. Thank you Kommandant."
"Youíre welcome, Colonel." He paused not knowing quite what else to say. "Well letís get a move on," Klink ordered, he was hoping to be gone before Colonel Vogel showed up. He led the way out of the bedroom, followed by Langenscheidt, Colonel Hogan and Shultz. The shackles that the Colonel was wearing were loosened so that he could at least shuffle out of the house.
Doctor Freiling and Ursula where standing in the kitchen. The Doc had his arms around Ursula in a comforting way. You guys have done great! Hogan thought. "Colonel Klink, if you donít mind. Iíve been practicing my German to thank the Freilings. Would you mind? Just quickly before I leave."
"Of course, Colonel. By all means." Kommandant Klink turned to the Freilings and told them that Colonel Hogan wanted to say something to them. The Freilings together turned, expectantly to the American POW.
Hogan bowed his head slightly, "Herr Doctor, Frau Freiling. Danke schon seit sparend mein leben." He tried to say it in a passable accent, but not a fluent one.
Both of them stood quietly. They both nodded in response to the Colonelís thank you. Kommandant Klink then indicated that they should leave. Corporals Mueller and Kleinschmidt joined their small group as they exited the house. Hogan had to be helped down the stairs to the outside. Once off the stairs, he was able to shuffle to the truck. Getting in was going to be interesting. The SS were each watching quietly from their vantage points, as Hogan and his Ďescortí slowly passed by.
As the group reached the rear of the truck, a staff car came screaming into the Freilingís back yard. The car stopped mere inches from where the group was standing. Everyone flinched, except for Colonel Hogan. It was clear that Vogelís intention was to intimidate. Colonel Vogel exited the vehicle and came to stand directly in front of Hogan. Hogan just stood staring straight ahead, not even blinking.
"So this is the Colonel Hogan that has caused so much trouble," Colonel Vogel said, assessing the American Colonel as he walked slowly in a circle around Hogan. You arenít quite what I expected, Colonel. Your dossier doesnít do you justice. I can read the hatred in your eyes Colonel. You are controlling it well. How are you still a prisoner of Klinkís? Only by your choice I think. So in that respect your dossier does not lie. I will be watching you Colonel.
"Colonel Vogel, I do not appreciate you almost running my men and I over. I demand an apology," Klink said commandingly.
"I do apologize Colonel. Forgive my overzealous driver. I wanted to be present for this transfer. I am assigning a squad to escort you back to Stalag 13. I need to think of the civilians in the area. I donít want any further accidents," Vogel said with mock politeness. He again turned his attention toward Colonel Hogan. Colonel Hogan had yet to flinch. Vogel so wanted to pull his revolver and test the resolve of the conscious Hogan. But he had no jurisdiction here at this point. He could assign a detail, but that was all. He had only come to meet the eyes of the American Colonel. He was now sure that the American was more of an adversary than he anticipated. He was looking forward to future encounters with this man.
"Then weíll just be on our way then," Klink said. "Shultz, Langenscheidt, Kleinschmidt help Colonel Hogan into the truck. Mueller you drive the truck, I will drive my staff car. Your escort can follow Major, but they will not be allowed to enter Stalag 13. That is where you jurisdiction ends in this matter."
"Of course, Kommandant Klink. As you wish," Vogel said sweetly.
Soon everyone was on their way and the Freilingís had their house back. The Freilingís watched as everyone left. They wanted to heave a sigh of relief, but they realized that with Colonel Hogan returning to Stalag 13. Their lives just got more complicated. We will do what we must, Colonel. We will follow your lead. Letís hope and pray that we can make a difference or, as Hans did, to die trying.
Hammelburg, Germany, Stalag 13, Compound, March 14, 1943, 1245 Hours
For the last 15 or 20 minutes the compound had been filling with POWs. Everyone wanted to be there when Colonel Hogan returned. All the prisoners were milling around in no particular formation. Everyone was pretty quiet; doing nothing that would upset the guards. The guards, for their part, looked a little concerned, but were not giving any of the prisoners any grief.
It was pretty obvious what was happening, thought Kinch.
Very soon, three vehicles approached the front gate. The Kommandantís staff car led the way, followed by one of the campís trucks. Bringing up the rear was another staff car, this one belonging to the Gestapo. As soon as both of Stalag 13ís vehicles cleared the gate, the Gestapoís vehicle turned and left the way it had come.
Both vehicles made their way to in front of the Kommandantís office. Klink was the first one out of his car. He went immediately to the rear of the truck. He signaled to his men. Shultz was the first one out of the truck. Langenscheidt and Kleinschmidt then helped Colonel Hogan out of the truck. He was tightly handcuffed and shackled and had to be lowered to the ground.
There was a collective gasp from some of the prisoners upon seeing the Colonel restrained as tightly as he was. For a lot of these men, it brought back the memory of the last time they saw their former Senior Officer alive -- then dead.
But it wasnít going to be the same this time. There was raucous clapping and yelling from the assembled POWs as they watched Shultz motioned for Langenscheidt to release Colonel Hogan. But, Colonel Hogan made no attempt to leave his position after he was released. Everyone got quiet once again. Hogan was worried that there would be further punishment for his Ďescapeí attempt when he returned to camp. Klink had every right to confine him either in the cooler or to his barracks. He was waiting for Klink to make the next move.
Kommandant Klink approached Colonel Hogan. "Dismissed Colonel Hogan, there will be no further action taken in regards to this incident."
Hogan heaved a sigh of relief. He saluted the Kommandant saying, "Thank you, sir. I appreciate you leniency in this matter."
Hogan waited for the Kommandant to return the salute, then he turned and walked toward his men. There was another round of raucous clapping and yelling from the assembled POWs as the Colonel approached. He had quite the gauntlet of back slaps and hand shakes to go through before he made it to barracks two.
Kinch had actually retreated into barracks two long before the Colonel made it across the compound. Matthews and Marlow joined him. The three men waited quietly for their commanding officer to enter the barracks. The door finally opened to admit the smiling faces of Newkirk, Carter and LeBeau, immediately followed by Colonel Hogan.
Hogan stopped short upon seeing Kinch, Matthews and Marlow come to attention and salute. He returned their salute and said, "At ease gentlemen. If you have carried out my orders as well as youíve kept up morale, I couldnít be more proud of you." He then reached out to shake their hands. The three men heaved the same sigh of relief, but were taken aback by the bandages on the Colonelís wrist. Colonel Hogan noticed, and quickly said, holding up his wrist. "Everythingís fine, gentlemen. Just my version of a smoke screen. Donít worry."
Slowly, each man then took his hand.
They need the explanation. Hogan could read it in their faces. He was silent for a moment. His demeanor had become somewhat dark. "Well, I guess I have a lot of explaining to do. Kinch please have the barracks commanders report here as soon as possible," Hogan ordered.
"Yes sir. Right away," Kinch replied. "Matthews, Marlow can you help me round everyone up?"
"No problem," said Marlow.
"Letís go," said Matthews.
The three men left the barracks together. Hogan had sat down at the table in the center of the room. He got very quiet. The other prisoners in the barracks with him tried to go about their own business and leave the Colonel to his thoughts. Hogan reached into his inside jacket pocket and pulled the note that Kinch had read re-affirming the menís commitment to him and his operation. He unfolded it and laid it on the table in front of him. It had meant so much to him at the time, now it may be obsolete. He needed to get the men to commit to something even more sinister and dangerous. He hoped he could convince them, that it was an important and necessary evil. Weíll see. For those who wonít commit, I will keep to my promise and find them a way out. This operation is only for volunteers. I will not force anyoneís hand. I can only hope that some will follow my lead. I donít know what to do if they all say no.
It took about ten minutes, but soon everyone was present. Colonel Hogan finally stood from the table. He took a deep breath, and then picked up the note from the table. "Gentleman, first of all. I owe you all an explanation. The orders I gave to expand our operation stem from the horrific situation that Heinrich Berger and I found ourselves in, at the Dachau camp. Dachau is unlike anything I have ever witnessed. And it seems that Dachau is not alone its horror. Many other camps have followed its lead. I know that all of you men were here during the time following the execution of the former Senior Officer. And I know that was hard on the men of this camp. But Iím here to tell you today, that your experiences pale by comparison to what is an everyday occurrence at Dachau and itís sister camps. Believe it or not, if we have to be in a prison camp, Stalag 13 is the one to be in."
There was much noise from the assembled men. Angry rumblings were being heard. Everyone was getting louder and louder, expressing outrage at Hoganís dismissive attitude.
Hogan began again. This time his voice was rising in anger as well. "Iím not belittling what happened here by any means. But, you need to hear me!" He yelled, waiting for the menís attention. "Listen to me!" He demanded and the men only quieted because they had never heard the Colonel use that tone before. When Hogan was sure he had their attention he continued, his anger still very apparent. "To see the bullet-ridden dead bodies of men, woman and children stacked 10 high and 20 deep massacred only because they donít fit the Aryan type, is to see genocide. To see 12000 men, women, and children so emaciated that you can almost see through them, is to see death walking. To see those same men, woman, and children forced into horrific medical research, where death is a daily by-product, is to come face-to-face with the mad scientist that only exists in your nightmares. All of this, and more. Is real! And I hate that I have to admit, that I can do nothing to stop that insanity!" He pounded hard on the table with his fist. "But I will do what I can to end this madness called a war in any way I can. I will do anything in my power to undermine the German War effort, not matter what it takes, not matter what the cost. I am asking you to again Ďagreeí to continue this operation with me, but this time instead of just moving prisoners, I want to work at ending this war one day earlier through whatever means necessary! Are you with me?" He asked passionately, his eyes bright. He threw the note back onto the table.
The men in barracks two stood in silence, not knowing what to do. Colonel Hogan had never exploded like that before. Hogan realized that heíd lost what composure he should have had in asking these me to do what he was asking them to do.
Hogan took a deep breath, "Iím sorry, gentlemen. I lost my composure. I certainly did not want to belittle your experience here. But I did not lie to you. Dachau and its sister camps are places of mass murder and torture. The stench of death is thick in the air. Suicides happen regularly. Beatings and hangings happen because the guards have nothing better to do," Hogan said quietly. "We are in a unique position to take advantage of a situation that has been handed to us here at Stalag 13. I cannot guarantee anyone anything, other than I will do my best to lead you toward a victory over Hitlerís Third Reich. To avenge those that have had no recourse, but to die in the horrors of those camps. I donít have the ability to do anything about those camps. I will have to leave that to Allied High Command, but I know we can make a difference from here. -- Can I count on you? -- Take your time, go talk to the men in your barracks. I will make every effort to find a way out for those who donít want to follow me in this new endeavor. Dismissed Gentleman."
Hogan went immediately to his quarters. He removed his jacket and cap and went to hop up on the top bunk. He noticed an envelope on the desk, addressed to him, from his parents. Oh God. Itís been so long. Six months. Iím almost afraid to open it. He stood staring at it for a long moment. I donít think I can handle bad news right now. He picked up the envelope and turned it over and over, just staring at it. Open the damn letter Hogan. - Shut up. - You just dedicated yourself to bringing an end to this war, yet you wonít open a letter from your parents? - Itís not the same thing. - Open it. He removed the already censored letter from the envelope.
February 20, 1943
Rob, we hope this letter finds you well. Although, I donít really know what Ďwellí means in that Prison Camp. We just got word yesterday from the Red Cross of your location. Itís been a horrible five months. We got word of your plane being shot down the day before Sueís wedding. Your mother has been so worried, with you in Germany and John in the Pacific. She doesnít even look at the mail anymore, until Iíve sorted through it. At least Joe is close by. Heís been re-assigned to Washington D.C. It makes it easier on your mother. Please write as soon as you can. As much as I want to trust the Red Cross, some word from you would ease our minds.
I guess instead of me going on and on about how much we are worried about you, I will give you some good news. Sue and Edís wedding did go off on that next day. We all assumed that the last thing you would want her to do was cancel it. The best news I can give is that you will be an uncle soon. Sue is expecting in July. Ed is beside himself with worry. I keep telling them they have access to the best pediatrician in town. Actually Sue has picked her own doctor. I pretend to give her grief, but she really is better off. Not that I couldnít handle the job. But Iíd rather be a grampa first.
Oh, I know they sensor these letters, but I did try and enclose a picture of Sueís wedding day. Had we told you, she was getting married at the house? It was a beautiful fall day. Well if the picture didnít make it; it was of the entire wedding party and family members. Oh yeah, Toby was there too. Sue wanted to make sure we didnít leave him out. I hope you get to see it.
Joe is very happy in Washington. Heís been assigned to one of the embassies, but he still has his dream of that posting to the Pentagon. Heís so passionate about wanting to work in intelligence. Heís still dating Pamela. But I donít think theyíll ever get married. Joeís too independent.
John is still on the USS Enterprise CV6 in the pacific somewhere. We get to hear from him fairly regularly. He loves those fighter planes. His passion, you know how that is, right?
Well I guess that is enough for now. Your mother has been reading this over my shoulder as Iíve been writing. Please write as soon as you can. We love you and miss you. We are praying for a speedy end to this war. Please stay out of trouble, Rob. You see I do understand my oldest son best. Be careful and stay safe.
Mom & Dad
Stay out of trouble, huh dad? Be careful and stay safe? Iím sorry Mom, Dad. But with what I have planned, it looks as if we may never see each other again. If all these men agree to follow me, weíll be playing an even more dangerous game than the one weíve been playing. Now we will be playing Ďchickení with the entire German Military Machine. The odds are not really in our favor. But Iíll be damned, if Iím going down without a fight.
March 14, 1943
Dear Mom & Dad,
It was so good to hear from you. It took close to a month for your first letter to arrive. This is my third to you. Hopefully, you have already received the other two. Iím sorry for causing you all that worry. Like I said in the other letters, Iíve been in this camp since I was shot down. Itís survivable.
Iím so excited for Sue and Ed. Wow, married and having a baby. And I get to be an uncle huh? Sounds like fun, heh Grandpa! I bet mom is deliriously happy about the first grandchild. So Grandma, whose room did you already change into a nursery? Iím so sorry I put a damper on the wedding, but you were right, I wouldnít have wanted to be responsible for canceling my baby sisterís wedding. I never did get that picture. Itís not surprising though. So did Sue have Toby dress up? Top hat and tails? I wouldnít have put it past her.
Iím so glad that both John and Joe are well. I know you wonít like this, but Iím glad they still have the chance to fight this war. Iím not the type to sit on my butt, but I donít have any other choice. Had I told you that I was the Senior Officer here in this camp? The rest of the men here are ranked Sergeantís or under. They are all good men. I do what I can to keep up morale.
So donít worry about me. Not much can happen when you have nothing better to do than sit on your butt. Sorry, didnít mean to sound petty. You just keep your eyes on the other two Hogan boys; they need your prayers more than me. Please tell them that Iím fine and I will try and write.
Liar. - No not lying, manipulating.
There was a knock at the door. "Come," said Hogan. This is it, all or nothing?
Kinch entered quietly and approached the Colonel. He placed the note that Hogan had tossed onto the center table, on top of the Colonelís desk. He said, "The men thought that you might want this back."
Hogan stared at the note. It had been turned over. More words were written. He picked it up and glanced at Kinch. "Whatís this?"
"Read it," Kinch said rather perfunctory. Then he added "sir."
"We, all the POWs at Stalag 13 are again reaffirming our decisions to stay here at Stalag 13, under your command, to keep the Travelerís Aide Society in operation. If that now means, in addition, that we get to kick some Nazi butt along the way, then so be it. We will continue this new operation with you. We are committed to your goal. To end this war one day earlier, not matter what it takes, not matter the cost.
Hogan finished and looked back up from the paper at Kinch.
Kinch smiling came to attention and saluted. "Orders sir!"
Hogan again neatly folded the piece of paper and put it in his jacket pocket. "Well, I guess itís time to get this new show on the road then. What do you have for me?"
Hammelburg, Germany, Stalag 13, Kommandantís Office, March 14, 1943, 1530 Hours
"Excuse me Kommandant," Hogan said as he burst through the Kommandantís door. "I need to talk to you. Itís very important." Hogan came to the front of the desk and saluted. God, I hope this works, the more access I have to the Kommandant the better. I can start being more understanding and cooperative.
Klink looked up in total surprise. "Colonel Hogan you are not supposed to barge into my office un-announced. I really canít stand still for this."
"Oh sorry, Colonel. I was just so excited about the news, that I couldnít help myself," He said with a charming smile. "Well, let me go get Shultz and we can start all over." Hogan turned and started to leave the office. Slowly. Let him make the decision.
"Hogan! You are already here. What is it that you want?" Klink said frustrated. And I wanted him back. Tell me why?
It worked, thought Hogan. Iíll have to bust in a few more times. So it will become the norm. "Oh. Of course, Kommandant. Sorry. How silly of me. I just wanted to tell you about the new escape committee I just formed. After my experience, I realized how dangerous it was to Ďescapeí. So I thought about it. I formed this committee, you see, of which Iím the chairperson. That means that every escape attempt idea has to go by me, first. I know that you have the right to shoot escaping prisoners. I really donít want my men hurt. So Iíll try and squash as many of the attempts as possible. I canít promise that I can control all of the men, but I wanted you to know that I will try and help keep order here as much as possible."
"Why Colonel Hogan, that is very cooperative of you. Thank you," said Klink. So escaping wasnít up your alley Colonel. You are still a con man, so I shouldnít trust you completely. Weíll just see how it goes.
"No, itís thank you sir. I wouldnít be alive today, if it wasnít for the well-known compassion of the Iron Eagle. The way you stood up to Colonel Vogel, sir. It made me proud to be your prisoner," Hogan said. Okay enough, youíre laying it on kind of thick. Hogan saluted and started to leave. He actually made it out the door. Klink didnít even notice that he hadnít dismissed me. That wasnít as hard as I expected. Donít get too cocky Hogan. It could easily backfire.
Hammelburg, Germany, Stalag 13, Kommandantís Office, March 14, 1943, 1630 Hours
"Excuse me Kommandant," Hogan said as he burst through the Kommandantís door. "I need to talk to you. I have a proposal." Hogan came to the front of the desk and saluted.
Klink looked up stunned. "Colonel Hogan, this is the second time today. You are not supposed to barge into my office un-announced. -- A proposal, what kind of proposal?"
"It makes me very proud sir. But the men want to show their appreciation to you. They were very worried about me. They want to thank you for saving my life," Hogan said excitedly. Thick as mud, Hogan.
"Whatís your proposal, Colonel?" Klink asked. Is he really on the level here? Heís certainly changing his tune.
"Well sir, weíve noticed that youíve had a lot of trouble with your staff car. Some of my men are mechanics. They would love to help service your car and even the rest of the vehicles in camp. It would free up your guards for other things. It would be great for their morale sir. They really want to help out," Hogan said imploringly.
"Well, well. This is a surprise. You are correct, Iíve had trouble keeping my car serviced," Klink said the hair on the back of his neck rising. "Oh, I get it now Hogan. What are you up too?"
"Up to Kommandant? I take that as an insult. Here I am, trying my best to keep my men busy, so they wonít be thinking about escape attempts. And you think that Iím up to something. My men and I were just trying to show our appreciation. If you donít want their help sir... Thatís fine," Hogan said as he saluted and turned to leave.
"Wait Hogan. I will give your men a chance, but they will be under constant supervision while in the motor pool. I will not stand for any funny business," Klink said. What am I getting myself into?
"Thank you sir. You wonít regret it. Weíll keep those vehicles in tip-top shape," Hogan said. Unless of course, we need one for our own purposes. Hogan saluted and again went to leave.
"Hogan wait," Klink ordered.
"Yes, sir?" Hogan replied. Slow down, youíre pushing too hard.
"I had almost forgot to tell you. There will be an inspection of this camp on the 17th. I will expect you to be available for the tour," Klink ordered. Maybe I shouldnít push. Doc Freiling said he was still ill. "Actually Colonel, if youíre not feeling up to it, I can always find someone else to cover. The doctor did tell me you needed rest to recover completely."
"Actually, just being back with my men has been a boost to my health. Iím sure I can handle the tour," replied Hogan. Who knows this might be our first chance at ferreting out information. Weíll have to play it by ear.
"Very good. Dismissed." Klink ordered.
Hogan again saluted and left the office. Weíll that wasnít so bad either. Letís see. Whatís the next step?
Hammelburg, Germany, Stalag 13, Kommandantís Quarters, March 14, 1943, 1730 Hours
Letís see, a new and different technique. Will he let me barge into his quarters? "Excuse me Kommandant," Hogan said as he burst through the door of the Kommandantís quarters. "I need to talk to you. I have a great idea." Hogan came to the dinner table where Klink was dining and saluted.
"What are you doing in my quarters, Colonel Hogan? Get out!" Klink ordered.
"But sir," Hogan said as he sat in one of the other chairs at the table. He grabbed a breadstick and took a bite, then continued talking. "I have a great way to impress that inspection committee, and it will keep my men busy too." He took another bite. And poured himself a glass of wine. Hogan noticed that Klink was so flummoxed, the Kommandant was just staring him. "I want to start a "Beautify Stalag 13" campaign. Clean up the place, maybe plant shrubs and flowers." Another breadstick. "We can start right away. The place will look great for that inspection. Actually, a lot of it wonít be finished, but at least you can show the inspection committee how much the prisoners here respect you sir." By the time he finished Hogan had eaten 3 breadsticks and had managed to inhale a glass of wine. Please agree. Weíll be able to move a lot of dirt from the tunnels this way. I canít believe he just let me practically eat his dinner. New and different techniques, huh?
Klink was still flummoxed. "Fine, Colonel Hogan. Do whatever you like. But my men will be watching you. You will not to allowed to dig too deep. I really donít want to give you free reign to try tunneling."
"You still donít trust me. Iím trying my best here," Hogan said dejected. Hogan grabbed for another breadstick. Klink smacked his hand. He dropped the breadstick. Oops, careful.
Klink never missed a beat. "Fine. Start your campaign Colonel Hogan. But like I said. I will be watching you."
"Thank you sir," Hogan said. Another idea just came to mind. "Excuse me, Colonel. Were you going to serve the inspectors lunch, while they are here?" LeBeau is not going to be happy.
"Yes Colonel. What has that got to do with anything?" Klink asked.
"I was just thinking that I might be able to get you the services of a real chef. Are you interested? My man LeBeau was the head chef in a fancy restaurant in France. I may be able to convince him to cook," Hogan proposed. LeBeau is going to blow his top, but this may be a way into some interesting meetings.
"Why would you want to do that Colonel?" Kink asked suspicious.
"Well Colonel, for LeBeauís services. I do have an ulterior motive. I would like to enjoy a good home cooked meal when visitors come. What do you say Colonel? I get you the services of a great chef. And I get to come away with, at the very least, a doggie bag. So what do you say?" Hogan asked conspiratorially.
"So you think you can convince Corporal LeBeau?" Klink asked.
"If you agree to the doggie bag, he doesnít get much choice sir," Hogan replied.
"Alright Hogan, let me know. Iíll agree to your terms here," Klink replied.
"Great sir. Iíll go Ďaskí him now. I will let you now," Hogan again saluted and left Klinkís quarters. How deep is the mud now Hogan? You could end up being court marshaled for aiding the enemy.
Hammelburg, Germany, Stalag 13, Kommandantís Quarters, March 14, 1943, 1830 Hours
LeBeau was irate, but I convinced him to cook for his country. Here I go again. If I can pull off another un-announced entrance, we may be free and clear for bigger and better entrances. Weíll see.
Excuse me Kommandant," Hogan said as he burst through the door of the Kommandantís quarters. "We got a deal." Hogan didnít even bother to salute this time. He came in and plopped himself down on the couch next to the Kommandant. He poured himself and the Kommandant some wine. "LeBeau has agreed. You can use his services anytime. As long as I can count on my doggie bag, so do we have a deal?"
This time Klink hadnít even flinched when Hogan came in and had accepted the glass of wine quite readily. "A deal. Colonel. I will need to confirm his status as a chef. Maybe for lunch tomorrow? You, of course, can help taste test. Say noonish," Klink said, conspiratorially.
"Colonel, I believe we have a lunch date. Iíll leave the menu to LeBeau," Hogan said. "Good Evening Colonel." Hogan saluted and headed back to his barracks. Whew. This new operation is going to be a lot of work. Keeping the balance will be tough.
Ismaning, Germany, Just North of Munich, Germany, Gerklstrasse, March 15, 1943, 1700 Hours
Last Tuesday, Major Eckold and his men had found the car the Ohms woman and her children had fled in. The car had been made to appear totally engulfed in flames, as it careened into the ravine. After sifting through the wreckage they had come away from the site, disappointed. Another dead end. On their way back to Munich from Dachau, they stopped in Ismaning. They followed up on a scrap of paper found, after an additional search of Rubin Topeís Munich apartment. There had been no one at home at the Ismaning address, so they searched the premises anyway. That search had turned up a surprising lead. They had spent the past week searching Ismaning for an additional accomplice in the Albatross situation. They had no evidence that this accomplice had left town. They found their accomplice.
Now Major Eckold looked, with malevolence, at the man Private Tieg held restrained. Finally, a break! Dirk Klein was a cousin to Rubin Tope, and they had both apparently been working together. If our evidence is correct that is. And since our evidence is always correctÖ
"Filthy traitor," Eckold said to Klein. "Who else is involved in this plot against the Fatherland?"
"I donít know anything about any plot. I have done nothing wrong!" Klein protested terrified. He had heard that Rubin had been killed and he had not returned to his home in a week. I should have left Ismaning when I had the chance.
"Of course you havenít," Eckold purred staring the prisoner directly in the eye. "Private, restrain him and transport him back to headquarters. We will find out what he knows or he will die." He will die either way.
"Jawohl Herr Major," Tieg replied, doing as his commander ordered.
As Klein was restrained, he babbled absolutely terrified, "No. No please. I have done nothing wrong! I know of no plot!" Klein knew that heíd just been given a death sentence. He began to fight the restraints. Private Tieg struck Klein hard in the stomach. As Klein doubled-over in pain, he was shoved into the back of a staff car. Klein was lying face down on the floor, contemplating his certain death at the hands of the SS, while he was being driven the short distance from Ismaning to Munich. Oh God, I donít want to die. -- I know of no one that has survived interrogation by the SS. I should have kept the poison on me always, as I was told. It will do me no good now, hidden in my apartment. A quick death by poison would be preferable to what the SS have in store for me. I had been told what to expect if I was ever caught. I chose to ignore the warning. -- Now Iím going to die. -- Slowly. -- Painfully. -- After hours of torture. -- Iíve heard tell that some survive for days in agony before death comes. -- Oh God, I donít want to die.
Munich, Germany, SS Headquarters, March 15, 1943, 1900 Hours
Major Karl Bruer sighed tiredly, leaning back from his desk. He and General Geist had just returned from the southern swing of their inspection tour. All this paperwork, and for what? He asked himself jadedly. And now there is still the northern swing to complete. Another month on the road, giving license to maniacs to continue to mistreat and abuse their charges. To keep up this pretense has been hard. I followed General Geist willingly onto this dangerous path. And I will continue to follow him, but to watch so much deathÖ Itís vile and stomach wrenching. -- Why did I come into the office? After I dropped the General off at his apartment, I should have just gone home. Bruer looked up startled, when there was a knock on his door. Who would still be here at this hour? "Come in," he said.
"Major Bruer, is General Geist back?" Major Eckold asked, coming into the office.
"Yes, but he is at home resting. We will be back on the road shortly. Iím here to catch up on the paperwork before we leave again," Bruer replied. "Is there something that I can do for you?"
"I have captured a man who I believe is key to the Albatross situation," Eckold began excitedly. "We have just begun to interrogate him. I was lucky enough to locate Lieutenant Hoztein to interrogate the traitor. As you know Major, Hoztein is extremely efficient. We expect to find everything we need to know from him. We will be able to finally close the book on this plot against the Fatherland."
"Excellent work," Bruer congratulated his pulse starting to race. "Who is this man, and where did you find him?" Poor bastard. Hoztein and his cronies are evil and sadistic. They are an elite group of killers. A group so tightly honed, most of the powers that be will never cross them. They almost have free reign within the Third Reich. Heaven help their victims. These men, theyíve studied the art of torture. They can make a victim suffer endlessly, sometimes for days, even after a confession was made. They take pleasure in seeing the human agony. They could care less about the confession. For that matter, Heaven help anyone who crosses one of their rank. Itís never tolerated. Iíve seen the results of such stupidity. For those who dare to cross, death would come, but death would never come soon enough. Oh what butchery. What carnage, these men are capable of. I have always envisioned these men sitting together each night, drinking the blood of their victims. Bruer was brought out of his recollections by Eckoldís voice in his ear.
"His name is Dirk Klein. He is a cousin to Rubin Tope. He was living in Ismaning," Eckold replied.
"What led you to the cousin?" Bruer asked, his heart beating wildly in his chest. Oh no! Dirk Klein is my contact. He could finger me, and that in turn would implicate the General. There must be some way to silence Klein before he talked. And he would talk. Eventually everyone did.
"Several scraps of paper found in an empty apartment in Ismaning," Eckold replied. "We had been led there by information gathered at Rubin Topeís apartment here in Munich. I have been working hard to unravel this conspiracy. We are closing in on the truth."
"Yes, Major I can see that you are," Bruer replied, as he began fiddling with a ring on his right hand. "May I see this traitor, so that I can report his status to the General when I see him next?" Klein mustnít have been able to take the poison we gave him. I will need to do something or we are all dead. Bruer continued to fiddle with the ring on his right hand.
"Certainly this way," Eckold replied, eager to see what Hoztein has been able to find out. He should have something by now. Heíd been at Klein for almost an hour.
Before Bruer entered the room, he heard an un-Godly noise. Bruer knew that it was the sound of human agony. He had heard that sound before. Too many times. Bruer knew what he would see when he entered the room. Klein would be strapped to a straight back chair, his arms and legs lashed tightly. Tight enough to quell the blood supply to those limbs, but not to cut it off completely.
Bruer readied himself before entering the room; after all he was an SS Major. This was part of the job. He entered the room. Kleinís face was heavily bruised, cut and bloody. Both the manís hands were mangled, with every bone broken. Bruer was certain that Kleinís clothes were covering even more injuries. -- Phase one. -- But, as Bruer had expected, phase two of the interrogation had already started. Two of Kleinís fingers had been severed from his body. Blood was trickling slowly from the stumps that remained and the discarded appendages were still on the floor. Hoztein was ready to continue with a third finger.
Kleinís eyes widened a little in recognition through his agony. Bruer easily read the plea there. End this, please.
Donít worry. The end is near. Bruer tried to telegraph to Klein as he asked of the man conducting the interrogation, "Have you learned anything, Lieutenant Hoztein?" Hoztein had never failed to gain a confession from his victims. The question in Bruerís mind had always been whether the victim knew what he was confessing to, or was he just mimicking what had been asked of him, saying anything to make the pain stop. Which never did stop.
"Not yet, Herr Major. He is being stubborn. But we will learn something. Never fear," Hoztein replied with an evil grin. "I have only begun my work. As you can see, Iíd just begun Phase Two. Not many get beyond this phase before they babble like babies. I would really like, just once, to get someone who will allow me to get to Phase Three. That one is by far my favorite."
"Hoztein, would you mind if I examine your work closer? Iíve always been impressed with your abilities," Bruer asked. Bruer again started fingering the ring on his right hand. In the ring was a small needle containing a deadly poison. General Geist had insisted that they both wear them everywhere. The needle would administer a deadly dose of poison injected when contact was made with the victim.
"Of course, Herr Major. My pleasure," Hoztein said standing, giving Bruer access to the victim.
Bruer approached Klein and grabbed the man hard by the throat with his right hand. He pressed Kleinís head back against the chair, moving it from side to side. "You do incredible work Hoztein," he said appearing to admire the Lieutenantís handy work, but making sure that the needle penetrated Kleinís throat. "I have no doubt that you will learn all that you need to know, before long." Bruer held fast to Kleinís throat, causing Klein to swallow hard a couple of times to get air. There was no doubt that the needle made contact. Bruer had seen Kleinís shock as the needle penetrated, but the look passed quickly, replaced by acceptance. He should be dead within the hour. Hopefully he can hold out until then.
"Thank you Hoztein, for letting me see your work," said Bruer turning toward Major Eckold. "If you learn anything of importance Eckold, do not hesitate to call the General. Otherwise we shall expect to have an in-depth report when we return. I will leave the Generalís itinerary on your desk on my way out of the building tonight," Bruer replied.
"Thank you. I am certain to call. I imagine that we will learn all that we need to from this man. He is the key, I feel it," Eckold replied.
"Carry on, then," Bruer replied, clicking his heals and bowing his head slightly towards the other men. He left the room and immediately fixed the ring on his right hand so it would be of no danger to him. Before he got too far down the hall, he again heard the same un-Godly sound of human agony. Poor bastard. Letís hope heís comforted by knowing the end is near. He then headed back to his office, collected a copy of the Generalís itinerary and placed it on Eckoldís desk as he left the building. He drove directly back to Geistís apartment.
Munich, Germany, General Geistís Apartment, March 15, 1943, 2015 Hours
Bruer had woken the General out of a sound sleep. He told him of the eveningís events and his fears that Major Eckold was on the verge of discovering their involvement with Albatross.
"At this point, Iím sure given enough time, Eckold is certain to draw the correct conclusions. Even without Kleinís confession," Geist told Bruer solemnly. You knew this would end sooner rather than later. Face it, Geist thought.
"I did poison Klein. He should be close to death by now. Klein knew I had poisoned him. I saw it in his eyes. Hopefully he will be able to hold out until the end," Bruer pointed out.
"Even if Klein tells Eckold nothing, Eckold has all of the pieces of the puzzle now. Eckold will just have to look at that puzzle differently to deduce the entire picture of our involvement. Besides when Klein dies, Eckold could easily suspect you of aiding him. Eckold could be soon on his way here. But I guess it will depend on how strong Klein is. We can always hope that Hoztein gets frustrated and kills Klein before the poison takes effect. But, of course, we both know how proficient Hoztein is, getting frustrated is not likely to happen. He enjoys the torture too much," Geist replied with a tired sigh, rubbing his face.
"Unfortunately, Bruer I donít think that anything can save us now. Weíve crossed the line and there is no going back. I believe our only chance is to carry on with the inspection tour. It will at least allow us to travel freely. Maybe we will find the underground again. Unfortunately until we do, we donít have a secure way out of Germany. We must find a way or we are both dead men," Geist told Bruer without emotion.
"There are at least two other men involved with Albatross," Bruer pointed out. "The two men who appeared at Dachau. What are our chances of finding them?"
"Slim and none. We donít know where they came from, or even how to contact them," Geist replied. "Iím afraid Bruer we are not in the most enviable position at this time. We will need to be prepared to take the final step. I for one will not be taken into custody."
"I agree Herr General. It is a pact weíve already made," Bruer nodded. "Are you ready to leave tonight?"
"I think we better," Geist replied nodding.
Munich, Germany, SS Headquarters, March 15, 1943, 2015 Hours
Hoztein was getting frustrated. He had never been frustrated before. For the last twenty minutes, he wasnít getting much of a reaction from Klein. The man no longer seemed affected by the torture being inflicted. Hoztein had almost made it to phase three. But, there was no enjoyment if you got no reaction from your victim. Hoztein knew Klein was still alive and coherent. He could tell.
"Animal," hollered Klein as he used his remaining strength to spit at his tormentor, in ultimately what would be, his final defiance. Oh God. -- I feel so strange. My body has become more and more numb. I can no longer feel any sensations at all. I can see and hear everything thatís being said and done, but the pain is gone. -- It must be the poison -- Thank you Bruer -- I told them nothing -- Please make them pay. -- I wonder what death will be like? - I wonder how much time I have left? - It no longer matters. -- I am ready now. -- Death is welcome. -- Oh God. Klein took a last gasping breath of air. He lost consciousness, as his body began convulsing uncontrollably. Before long, his heart stopped and his body fell limp against his restraints.
"What happened!?!?" Eckold hollered at Hoztein. Klein appeared dead. He canít be dead. Itís too soon.
Hoztein ignored Eckoldís outburst. He turned from the Major and bent down to examine his victim. "Iím sorry Herr Major. Klein is dead. He seizured and it appeared that his heart just stopped," Hoztein said nonchalantly. He was very disappointed. He had never had a victim die unless it was by his own hand, at a time of his own choosing. There would be no Ďgloriousí stories shared about this victim. How unfortunate. Maybe something can be salvaged. I cannot leave here with out some victory. What can I do to save face? Hoztein continued to examine the body of his victim, looking for some way to at least make the evening worthwhile.
Eckold was furious and Hoztein didnít even seem to care. Klein was a key informant in a crucial investigation. Now heís dead and they had garnered no useful information. "Idiot! This is all your fault. All my efforts to breakup this underground ring ruined because of you!" Eckold hollered at Hozteinís back. He removed his revolver, walked over to where Hoztein was still examining Kleinís body. Eckold placed his revolver to the back of Hoztein head and fired. Hoztein was dead instantly, never having a chance to react. His body fell, face down on the floor, into the blood and onto the severed fingers of his former victim.
Eckold stood silently transfixed, as he watched Hozteinís blood mix slowly with that of Kleinís. Then in a sudden frenzy of rage. "Idiot!" Eckold cried, as he emptied his revolver into the dead body of the Lieutenant. What am I to do now? Iíve spent nine months tracking down leads to break up this underground network of spies. I was so close. Now the final piece of the puzzle is gone, because of a stupid over zealous idiot. He deserved to die.
Eckold was interrupted by the sudden appearance of Private Tieg. Tieg had heard the multiple gunshots and was concerned that something was wrong. Hozteinís interrogations never ended with gunshots, agonizing screams yes, gunshots no. "Is there something I can," asked Tieg silenced by the sight of Hozteinís dead body, "do Major?" What has Eckold done? Did he kill Hoztein? Does he know he has signed his own death warrant?
"Remove the bodies. The prisoner Kleinís body is to given an autopsy. He died suspiciously. Hozteinís body can rot in hell for all I care. He was executed as a traitor to the fatherland," said Eckold.
"Right away Major," replied Tieg, worried that his commanding officer might exact some type of revenge against him. He was sure that Eckold had lost his mind. But he was now more worried about what would happen when Hozteinís Truppe von Gebruder finds out what happened. I donít want to be around to see that.
Eckold stayed and watched as the bodies were removed. What if Klein did not die because of Hozteinís negligence? Could there have been another cause? Ah yes, I do remember now. Iíve seen others die in a similar fashion. -- What was the cause? -- Poison! -- We searched Klein thoroughly, he had no poison. -- Well, well. -- If that is the case, the autopsy should shed some light. I will wait for the results before drawing any conclusions. But I will instruct the doctor to look for any suspicious marks on Kleinís throat. - I need to be sure about this before I accuse anyone or it could be my head on the chopping block.
Eckold had been so pre-occupied; that he hadnít completely absorbed what had occurred in this room tonight. As he thought about his head on the chopping block, things started to become abundantly clear. His very stupid mistake became abundantly clear. A vision of his death became abundantly clear. I will need to watch closely over my shoulder. I canít let them stop me from bringing an end to this plot. And if what I suspect is true, the Fuher will congratulate me personally for bringing two men, so highly placed in the Third Reich, to justice. Then, I will have nothing to fear from Hozteinís Truppe von Gebruder.
Munich, Germany, Major Manfred Eckoldís Apartment, March 15, 1943, 2315 Hours
Major Eckold had finally made it home after securing an autopsy for Kleinís body. He would not have any information until midday tomorrow. He was certain though, that he would have all the evidence he needed to put an end to this underground spy ring. He would do away with two treacherous double agents working against the Third Reich. General Stefan Geist and Major Karl Bruer. The more he went back over the evidence of his investigation in his head, the more evident their involvement became. How had I missed them before? Do they suspect that I now have all the pieces to the puzzle? We will have to track them down, but I canít make a move until Iím sure. I will check on their status in the morning. They are expecting a call. I will not tip my hand. Hopefully that will keep them unsure and they will continue their inspection tour. I will then easily be able to track them down. I will be a hero to the Fatherland.
Eckold entered his bedroom. He still needed to be careful. Hozteinís compatriots may come for him. He undressed and went to bed. He took his revolver with him. He kept his hand on it, but had placed it under his pillow. Just in case he needed it, heíd be ready. He fell asleep.
He never even heard the five men, who emerged from hiding places in his apartment. They converged silently on his bedroom.
Eckold never had a chance. Each of the five men grabbed on and held him down. One had immediately taken his hand and covered Eckoldís mouth to stifle any noise. He was disarmed quickly and lashed securely to the bed. Eckold panicked but had no recourse. He couldnít move. He saw the flash of a blade. He felt the blade at his throat. He waited for death, but it didnít come. The man covering his mouth removed his hand. Eckold tried to yell, but nothing happened. Blood welled in his throat, and he gagged. Whatís happening? His tormentors had severed his vocal cords and punctured his airway. He would very soon choke to death. He could now only gasp for air.
For the short time he had left, all Eckold knew was excruciating pain.
Eckoldís captors were methodical. They said nothing to their victim. Their first order of business after securing the man, and knowing he could no longer yell was full castration. The quickest way to cause the most agony to a man with no time left. They werenít trying to gain a confession this time. Mutilation was their only goal. They set to work, organ after organ removed and discarded. The death of their victim had gone unacknowledged. They continued their revengeful mutilation, for their fallen Ďbruderí. All would know now, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what to expect if anything similar ever happened again to a Ďbruderí.
What was left of Eckold was barely recognizable as human. His tormentors though, never touched his face or head. They did want people to know their victim, as proof of their future intentions. The five men left the apartment just as quietly as they had come. Their need for revenge satisfied. They had no fear of reprisal, as they knew they were above the law.
Private Tieg discovered Eckoldís body, what was left of it, the next morning. Eckold have never shown up for work. And after repeated telephone calls, Tieg had come to Eckoldís apartment. He found the mutilated corpse of his commanding officer. He couldnít stomach what he saw and ran from the apartment. He called in the murder. But he knew no investigation would occur, even though, it was obvious what did happen. Eckoldís death would be labeled Ďunsolvedí and nothing more would ever be said or done.
Tieg knew that Eckold had been close to solving the case they were working on. Eckold had told him last night that the autopsy on Klein could prove most enlightening, but he wasnít very specific. That investigation was most likely over. There was no one else available to take over the case, quite possibly until General Geist and Major Bruer return after their inspection tour. A shame, it could have given Eckold a heroís send off. Now he will be known only as one of many fallen soldiers.
Hammelburg, Germany, Stalag 13, Hoganís Quarters, March 16, 1943, 0830 Hours
Wow, itís been the longest two days. And it looks like things are not going to slow down for some time. I just got word off to London about Dachau. I really hate not being able to do anything about that, but itís just not possible. I can only do what I can. -- Move on Hogan. - Yeah, yeah easier said than done.
I had also wanted to wait to tell London about our new operation, until I could be sure of itís status.
From within the camp, things are moving along. My men have access to almost every place in the camp. The ĎBeatify Stalag 13í campaign has been a complete success. Weíve been digging places to plant shrubs and flowers. But we havenít been digging, just moving dirt. Weíve got tons of dirt scattered all over the compound now.
Kommandant Klink was suitably impressed with LeBeau as chef. I even convinced Klink that if it was a big dinner party, I could get more of my men to help be the wait staff. He agreed. Now, we can have free reign in and around his quarters. It could bode well for information gathering.
We also have complete access to the motor pool. Klink is letting my men work on all the vehicles. Weíve yet to have to Ďborrowí one. But Iím sure it will come in handy, I certainly could have used a staff car on my last trip out of camp.
Iíve also been out of camp twice, going over plans with the underground. I told them that I would be asking for radios and small weapons for them, from London. They have said theyíve talked to a number of their contacts. Most have been agreeable. Leadership and communication seem to be the things that have been sorely lacking in the resistance movement.
Hogan steps up to the plate. -- I am now going to be responsible for more lives. -- What have you gotten yourself into? - Stop commiserating. - Your already committed, there is no turning back now. - Confidence man, confidence. - Yeah, no fear. Right? - Right. Iíve already been starting to have the underground use ĎPapa Bearí exclusively as a code name for Stalag 13.
Now I have some clout to use with London. Either way, we are not backing done. I will find anything I need without Londonís help if I have too. But it would sure make things easier to have their support.
London, England, Allied Head Quarters, March 16, 1943, 1000 Hours
Lieutenant Patterson just got a message from Papa Bear. It was the strangest message. He needed to touch base with Major Kimmel. This was beyond his ability to deal with. And possibly even Major Kimmelís. He found the Major in his office.
"Sir. Papa Bear just sent another message. This one is something youíll need to decipher sir," Patterson said handing the Major the message.
"Thank you Lieutenant. That will be all," Kimmel said distracted.
Colonel Hogan and his men had been very busy of late. They had been ordered to take on a very dangerous mission, when all the other contacts involved had disappeared. I had to send that order, and it wasnít pleasant. Everyone here knew that Colonel Hogan and his men had no training in espionage. We were also aware that they were being asked to do something that would very possibly end the operation they already had going. Or at the very least, kill the man responsible for creating that operation. But the decision had been made and the order was given. Well the man surprised everyone. He got the information, which has turned out to be very useful. But he also had found out an evil secret about the German run concentration camps. He then was able to get back into his own camp alive and well, and continue with his own operation.
But what now? Oh my God. What is he doing? He wants to expand his operation? How? He canít do that. He says heís going to whether we agree or not. Oh God.
Major Kimmel headed directly out of his office to see General Simpson.
"What?" Simpson hollered. "He canít do that!" Iíve known since this began that Hogan was nuts. But he has managed to save hundreds of soldiers, so weíve not actually called him on anything. But this is getting ridiculous!
"Sir, he says heís going through with it, no matter what we say," Kimmel said. "In a way sir, he has us over a barrel. He could be very helpful. Plus the only way to stop him would be to take apart that prison camp, and we know thatís not possible," Kimmel said. "He has just proven himself quite capable sir. You have to admit that."
"You are on his side, Kimmel?" Simpson groaned. How am I going to explain this? The brass here has been itching to get this man home. Colonel Hogan was promoted to General three months ago. His promotion was in the works before the Colonel had been shot down. That last bombing mission would have been his last as a squadron commander. He would have been grounded and given his Generalís star. Iíve been working hard at putting the kybosh on his return, as his operation was just too important. But, the pressure to get him home has gotten worse in the past week. He had impressed everyone here, and they want him back. I almost caved in. Now though it looks like he wouldnít come home, even if we ordered him too.
"Alright Kimmel, set up a meeting of the brass here. We need to get a consensus before we do anything. Tell Hogan, that we are working on it. But we can make no promises." Kimmel is right, though. Hogan has managed to pull off something that no one here ever expected him to be capable of. We were all waiting on the message that said he had disappeared or died. Instead he came back with some very enlightening information. And now he wants to do more. Dachau had to be horrible for him to push this hard. I hope for your sake Colonel Hogan, sorry Papa Bear, that you truly know what you are doing. God speed.
Wurzburg, Germany, Schweizer Stuben Hotel, March 16, 1943, 2130 Hours
Karl Bruer entered Stefan Geistís room with a newspaper under his arm. "Herr General," he said, "I have the newspaper you asked for."
"Come in," Geist said for the benefit of any listening ears. "Did you have any luck?" he asked as soon as he closed the door behind Karl. Geist had already searched the room for listening devices. He was getting more and more paranoid. But he did know how the Gestapo operated. There could have been a listening device, just planted randomly. They were always on the look out for Ďenemies of the stateí. How many 'enemies' had I ferreted out in the early days before realizing the truth of what was being done? Too damned many. His conscience nagged him.
"Nein," Bruer replied with a sigh. "I wandered around for some time, finally buying the paper just before returning to the hotel. I dropped some careful hints, as always. But no nibbles."
Geist sighed in disappointment, "We must find the way soon, or it will be too late. Eckold must be close, by now." He realized that they were not likely to find the Underground again, certainly not before their time ran out.
"Ja," Bruer acknowledged. "If he orders an autopsy done on Klein he will know Klein was poisoned. That will point directly to me."
"Ja, and then to me. We must be ready at all times Karl. I do not intend to be taken alive," Geist said, staring intently at his aide and co-conspirator. And yes, perhaps even, his friend.
"Nor do I General," Bruer replied. "I do not regret my actions. I would do what we have done for the past nine months again. But if I am to die, I would like it to be from my own hand. I do not want to face Hoztein from that chair of his."
Yes, definitely a friend. One who willingly followed me into this conspiracy and what now looks to be certain death. Thank you Karl, your loyalty humbles me. "We are agreed then, on this, as we have been for the past nine months. It has been a difficult road we have traveled, and the path is rocky still with the cliff edge looming closer. I guess we can take some scant comfort that we have done what is right," Geist replied. His eyes fell on the papers spread on the small table in the corner. He sighed. They had not been a comfortable read.
Bruer followed the Generalís gaze. "Reading about where we will go tomorrow?" He asked with a shudder.
"Ja. Another prison. This one a POW Camp. A Luft Stalag 13. Even the number is ominous. Though I donít know very much about the Camp Kommandant, the records say that he has never had a successful escape. The place is liable to be worse than any of the other POW Camps we have visited. Probably not quite as horrific as Dachau and its sister camps, but horrible nonetheless," Geist warned.
"Ja. I know, Iíve read the reports. Even Dachau has had escapes," Bruer replied. "However, if we must continue with our inspection tour we only have another ten installations to visit through the end of the month."
"I donít believe either of us will be alive to see the end of the month Karl," Geist replied. "We donít have that much time left."
Bruer nodded. "Ja. Ja. I know."
Hammelburg, Germany, Stalag 13, Compound, March 17, 1943, 0900 Hours
"Heil Hitler. Good morning Private," Bruer said rolling down his window to give his papers and orders to the guard at the shack outside of the POW camp.
"Heil Hitler. Good morning Major, General," the private replied looking over the paperwork. "You are expected." He gave the Major back his papers.
Bruer drove the car through the barbwire gates. He parked the car outside the building labeled Kommandantur. "The Kommandantís office," Bruer said getting out to open the Generalís door.
Geist sighed when Bruer opened his car door. Another day of playing lip service to a job I no longer believe in.
A Colonel hustled up to the car, his coat swinging behind him. "Heil Hitler. Welcome to Stalag 13, General Geist. I am Kommandant Wilhelm Klink. At your service sir," Klink said to him, with a click of his heels, a smile, and a salute.
Geist couldnít believe his eyes. The Colonel wore a monocle and carried a riding crop tucked under one arm. Everything about him screamed incompetent. The way the man walked, how he appeared subservient as he rushed up to the car, even how he smiled. Idiot. He labeled the man immediately. He waved his hand in negligent acknowledgement. "Heil Hitler. Colonel my aide, Major Bruer," Geist replied introducing Bruer quickly. This man was an imbecile! What was he doing here of all places?
"Ah Major Bruer. Such a pleasure to meet you," Klink continued taking no notice of the Generalís less than enthusiastic response.
"Colonel Klink," Bruer replied, with a nod of his head.
"Perhaps a little light refreshment before we begin our tour? Please, come this way," Klink offered.
Geist nodded, and watched amused as the Camp Kommandant bustled self-importantly into his office. "Are you sure, Bruer, that there has never been a successful escape from this Camp?"
"That is indeed what the records say Herr General," Bruer replied. "However, after meeting the Kommandant, I donít see how that could be possible."
"This is going to be interesting anyway," Geist replied following the Kommandant into his office.
"Here you are General, Major. Some coffee," Klink offered gesturing the two men to seat themselves at the small table in the corner of his office. A heavyset sergeant poured coffee for the two men. "Shultz, bring Colonel Hogan over here, so we can begin to tour the Camp."
"Jawhol," Shultz replied as he finished pouring the coffee for the three officers. He saluted and left the office.
"Who is this Colonel Hogan?" Geist asked.
"Oh. Colonel Hogan is the Senior POW Officer here," Klink replied taking a sip from his coffee. "Heíll be joining us on our tour of the camp. Regulations."
"Excellent," Geist replied absolutely amazed. While it was true that the regulations for a POW Camp stipulated that the senior officer be involved in all activities of the Camp, never have I seen that in actual practice. This Camp was one of surprises.
Klink babbled throughout the coffee and light refreshments being served. He didnít say anything of importance, but he talked almost non-stop. Geist finally put down his empty cup and stood up. Enough of this. I canít take much more.
"Are you ready for your tour Herr General?" Klink asked, hastily putting down his own mostly full cup. He helped the General on with his coat and then followed him out of his office.
Geist left Klinkís office and came up short in surprise. The man, waiting in the outer office, dressed in an American Colonelís uniform, was ĎColonel Haefnerí from Dachau.
"General Geist this is Colonel Hogan," Klink introduced. "The senior POW here."
"General," Hogan said standing. What the Hell is he doing here? Is he really on the level, or should I get my track shoes on?
"Colonel. It is not often that I get to meet the enemy," Geist replied, wondering just what was going on. How the Hell did a POW get 200 miles away from his prison for a meeting, and why did he return? Does this mean that this idiot Klink is a member of the underground? And if so that could explain the lenient conditions here. But what did it say for the condition of the local underground?
"Donít worry General. You will," Hogan replied.
"Colonel Hogan," Klink warned shooting the man a quelling glare. He was satisfied when Hogan seemed to back down. "If you will follow me General, I will show you the Camp."
Klink escorted the two inspectors around, and coincidently Hogan found himself walking next to Bruer, Geistís aide. Not much of a coincidence. Hogan thought wryly to himself when Bruer began to speak.
"How have you done this?" Bruer asked quietly while the inspection party walked between buildings.
"Done what?" Hogan asked. Though why Iím even bothering to try to convince them that they didnít just meet me 200 miles away as ĎSS Colonel Haefnerí is beyond me.
"You know," Bruer said confidently. "You must get us out of Germany," he said, before catching up to where the General walked with Klink.
Get them out of Germany. Just like that. Hell, I didnít like them when I met them last week, and now they show up here. How did they know to come here for that?
"Well, everything seems to be in order here Herr Kommandant," Geist said after Klink had shown off his entire Camp. The Camp was in surprisingly good shape. The Geneva Convention was almost being observed here. If more of the prisons run by Nazi Germany were run this way, I may not have made the choice I made almost nine months ago, to start giving information to the enemy. It was after my first inspection of Dachau that I pulled out all the stops. The information I gave this Hogan must get to the rest of the world. The horror that is Dachau cannot remain a secret. I wonder, is the secret out? Has this Colonel Hogan been able to make contact and spread the word as he had promised he would? I must talk with him alone.
"Excellent. I trust that your report will show Stalag 13 in a good light, then?" Klink said with a smile showing all of his teeth. "Perhaps you would even put in a good word for me in Berlin?"
"My report will be glowing Herr Kommandant," Geist replied. And it would be, if he planned on filing it. Which he didnít plan on doing.
"Excellent, I have a delicious lunch arranged for us. Colonel Hogan has offered the services of one of our POWs. He is an excellent chef," Klink replied, glancing at his watch. "Weíll be dining in my quarters, it should be ready shortly."
"That sounds delightful. Perhaps in the meantime I may speak with your senior POW officer? Just a few questions for him to finish off my report," Geist replied surprised. Why was a POW preparing a meal for his German captors?
"Certainly, certainly. You may use my office," Klink offered ushering both men into his office. He went to sit in his chair.
"Alone. Herr Kommandant," Geist said sternly. "Major, perhaps the Colonel can show you to his quarters. I will join you shortly."
"Of course. Herr General," Klink replied. "Colonel Hogan knows the way, he will be joining us for lunch." He rapidly closed the door to his office behind him and Major Bruer.
Geist waited a few moments while the two men sized each other up. "Well. Colonel Hogan or should I say Haefner?" Geist purred. He couldnít help toying with the man a little.
"If youíre going to be making out my death certificate, you should get the name right. Itís Hogan," Hogan replied sarcastically.
"No I think not," Geist replied. "That would be a very poor thing to do to someone who I hope can help me a great deal."
"Help you General?" Hogan asked. "Iíve already been to one place where you needed my Ďhelpí."
"We, Bruer and I, must get out of Germany Colonel. All of the contacts we have worked with for the past nine months are dead. They are close to finding us. We do not intend to be taken alive," Geist replied honestly. "Finding you here was quite a surprise. I would never have guessed you were an American. I assumed you were German."
"Life is full of surprises General. What makes you think I can get you out of Germany?" Hogan asked.
"A man, who is also a prisoner, attends a meeting 200 miles from his prison, and then returns to that prison. That man must be a very ingenious and capable one to still be alive after such a feat. Therefore as that man, you must have some contact with the underground," Geist replied candidly. "How did you do it? Is your Colonel Klink in league with you?"
"Klink? Not hardly General," Hogan replied with a smirk of amusement. "Would you trust a man who wears a monocle to bed?"
"Well then how?" Geist asked intrigued.
"That doesnít really matter now, does it?" Hogan replied. "If I did have such contact, why should I get you out?"
"Because we are dead men, if you do not," Geist replied. "We have been passing information to the Allies for nine months. Surely, for that, we are owed something?"
"Perhaps. But I can do nothing for you from within Stalag 13," Hogan replied.
"But you must!" Geist replied angrily, his voice rising.
"Easy General," Hogan said, holding up a hand. He went to the door and listened for a moment. "As I said, I can do nothing from within Stalag 13. You cannot disappear from here. It is important that Stalag 13 is not associated with your escape."
"Then how Colonel?" Geist replied, understanding the situation. It could be very awkward to explain.
"When you leave Stalag 13, stop for dinner in Hammelburg at the Haus Brau. Sit at the bar. Say to the bartender ĎWe are looking for directions to Mockingbird Lane. Would you know the way?í The response should be ĎYes I do, itís two miles to the east as the crow flies.í Then have Bruer reply ĎI thought crows only flew to the west in winter?í That will get you in contact with the people you seek," Hogan told him.
"That is it?" Geist asked surprised.
"It is simple," Hogan replied with a grin. "But the secret is to say it to the right person. Shall we go to lunch, then?"
"Lunch, shouldnít we leave right away?" Geist said surprised.
"You wouldnít want to miss LeBeauís cooking, besides I donít get to eat like this every day. My invitation is only as a courtesy for your visit," Hogan replied with a grin leading the way from Klinkís office.
"Does your Colonel Klink really do this on a routine basis for Camp visitors?" Geist asked following Hogan from the room and walking around the building.
"He does, but this is the first time with a real chef. Most of the meals have come from the officers club, and Iíve never enjoyed German cuisine. I would have much rather been shot down over Italy. So Iím looking forward to a real meal for a change," Hogan replied, opening the door to Klinkís quarters.
Geist was amazed that throughout the meal Hogan presented himself as a model prisoner. He had remained subservient and supportive of Kommandant Klink for the entire time, carrying the conversation when Klinkís lack of social graces became apparent. He had a very sharp and quick wit, he infused humor into the conversation whenever possible. Amazing. This man is very different than the person who just told me how to get out of Germany. And he is more different still than the person who spent six hours as a SS Colonel at Dachau. If this man has so many faces, which one should we trust? I guess, though we have no choice. To do nothing is to eventually die. To be caught while attempting to escape will only accomplish the same thing. We have absolutely nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
"That was an excellent meal Colonel. My compliments to your chef," Geist said in frank admiration. Hogan had been right. LeBeau was an excellent chef.
"I am glad that you enjoyed it General. I am sure that Colonel Hogan will express your compliments to Corporal LeBeau," replied Kommandant Klink.
"Yes, sir. LeBeau will be gratified that you enjoyed the meal General," Hogan replied.
"Well then, we should be on our way," Geist said, standing.
"Ja. It is getting late Herr General," Bruer replied. "We have a long drive ahead of us, if we are to make Poppenhausen tonight."
"Ja. Good day Kommandant," Geist said to Klink. Geist walked out of Klinkís quarters followed by Bruer. He wished he dared say something to Hogan. The odds of them meeting again were not high. But the risk was too great. The two of them got in the car, and Bruer drove them from the Camp.
"What did he say?" Bruer asked eagerly when they were safely on the road.
"Go to the Haus Brau in Hammelburg. We have our way out of the country. We can only hope that it works," Geist replied. "Hereís what we have to doÖ"
Hammelburg, Germany, Stalag 13, Compound, March 17, 1943, 1430 Hours
Colonel Hogan had left the Kommandantís Quarters shortly after General Geist and Major Bruer. He stood in the compound and watched their car leave the camp. As he started back to his quarters, Shultz came rushing up to him, all excited.
"Colonel Hogan, wait!" Shultz said out of breath. "Iím so sorry, Colonel."
"Whoa calm done, big fella. What do you have to be sorry for? Whatís the matter?" Hogan said patting the corpulent guard on the chest. God, he might have a stroke.
Shultz pulled a picture from his pocket. "Colonel Hogan, I just found this in the mail bag. It must have fallen out of your letter." He handed the Colonel the picture. It was his.
"Thank you Shultz. You donít know what this means to me," Hogan said smiling. He just stared quietly at the picture.
"Whose wedding Colonel?" asked Shultz, curious. Colonel Hogan was so quiet about his personal life. He really didnít expect to get an answer.
"Huh?" replied the Colonel. "Oh sorry. My sister Sueís wedding, just last October. I was shot done a week before, so I never got to congratulate them. Theyíre having a baby, though, due in July." Hogan got lost in the picture. "This is my brother, Joe." He pointed out. "My mom -- my dad. Oh no! -- Sue did dress up the dog! -- Poor Toby!" He continued until he ran out of people to introduce. And then as if he just remembered where he was and whom he was talking to, he said. "Sorry Shultz. Itís probably nothing you really even care about. Excuse me." The Colonel walked away.
Shultz didnít know what to say to that, so he said Ďnothingí. Someday, maybe I will be able to say more than Ďnothingí. He returned to his duty station, quietly.
Hammelburg, Germany, Stalag 13, Tunnel, March 17, 1943, 1600 Hours
Hogan leaned against one of the support beams below the emergency tunnel entrance, waiting patiently for the return of his newest guests. He had Kinch contact Schlick to ensure that the man did accept the two SS officers into the chain. The two officers had no idea where they were going to be sent from the Haus Brau, and Hogan was looking forward to seeing their faces. As I had told Geist, they couldnít make their escape from within Stalag 13, but I hadnít said that they couldnít escape from underneath Stalag 13. He raised his head as the tunnel entrance was opened, sending a draft of frigid air down into the tunnel.
"Welcome to Stalag 13," Hogan said as Geist and Bruer stepped off the ladder.
"What the Hell are we doing back here?" Geist demanded.
"As I said earlier, you couldnít escape from Stalag 13. Because there has never been an successful escape from Stalag 13," Hogan explained with a smirk of amusement. "But that doesnít mean that you canít escape from under Stalag 13. The plan is for your car to be taken and have two dead bodies placd in it. It will be found at the bottom of the Hammelburg Ravine. Itís a very steep area. Many cars have gone over the side. It will not look suspicious. Your charred remains will be identified and your papers will be inside the car. You and Major Bruer will not be searched for."
"You do this all the time then?" Bruer asked amazed, looking around him with interest. The tunnel stretched before them for quite a distance, well lit with electric lights. It looked to have been well constructed, and the wooden supports didnít look new.
"So far weíve moved hundreds of people through here," Hogan replied. "Follow me, weíll outfit you with civilian clothing, papers and money. Youíll be on your way to London by tomorrow."
"If there has been no escapes from this Camp, how did you get out without being missed?" Geist asked following Hogan down the tunnel.
"The key word here is successful General," Hogan replied. "There has never been a successful escape from Stalag 13. Weíve had 200 unsuccessful attempts here. Klink has been very proud that heís always been able to re-capture us. But those escapes have all been smoke screens to conceal what is really happening here. As I said, weíve moved hundreds of men back to London."
"But Colonel you must have been gone a number of days," Bruer pointed out. "How did you get back into Camp?"
"Well my Ďescapeí was a little more elaborate. Iím lucky the Kommandant is a compassionate human being. It seems I was very sick, and in a fit of feverish delirium while being transported to the hospital, I escaped from the truck and was missing for three days. I was found, treated for pneumonia and returned here. None of the Germans were ever aware that I was not really sick," Hogan explained, rounding the bend to where his men waited to process the two men. "Kinch will take your photographs, for your new IDs. Then heíll process you down the line. I will see you both again before you leave."
"Colonel Hogan," Geist said stopping the American before he left.
"Yes?" Hogan said, turning back.
"Were you able to pass along the information that was given to you?" Geist asked.
"Yes. I have passed along all of the information you gave me. Whatís done with it, is up to Allied High Command," Hogan replied.
"Thank you," Geist said relieved.
Hogan turned to leave again, stopping again at the Generalís voice. "One more thing, Colonel."
"Yes?" Hogan asked.
"There was a woman, with two children who was part of the resistance effort. She escaped Major Eckold. Do you know what has happened to her?" Geist asked, curious.
"Why? Why do you even care?" Hogan asked surprised at the Generalís compassion.
"Answer my question. Then I will answer yours," Geist replied.
"The woman arrived here with her two children. We arranged to get them to a place of safety," Hogan replied. "It is how I landed meeting you in Dachau."
"Thank you. I was worried that even they had not managed to escape," Geist replied. "Now I guess I owe you your answer -- I am not a saint, Colonel. I am sure that you realize that just from the uniform that I wear. However, I am a man. I once had a friend. He was a very good friend. We did everything together. If I were to call anyone brother, it would have been him. Soon though, childhood ended as it must, and we went our separate ways into the world. My friend was Jewish. I saw him, along with hundreds of other men, women and children -- who had done nothing wrong besides being born into a religion that was not Adolph Hitlerís -- gassed to death in a Camp very similar to Dachau. He died knowing I was there and that I did nothing to stop it. It is a guilt that will live with me forever. It was then that I could no longer support what Hitler had done in the name of his Ďmaster race.í I began to pass information along. Nothing since has been as important as stopping the advance of the Third Reich. If I could stay, and continue to pass along information, I would. But my time is up. It is either get out or die."
"Weíll get you out General. Allied High Command can use a man with your knowledge," Hogan replied.
"Thank you," Geist replied watching the American walk away. There was a man who understood. He must understand, to stay here and do what he does. The fight against Hitler has many ingenious men in it. Perhaps there was still hope.
Munich, Germany, SS Headquarters, March 18, 1943, 1100 Hours
"Nein Herr Colonel," the desk clerk said into the phone. "According to the Generalís itinerary he should have arrived at your installation this morning by 0900. No sir, General Geist has not called in to check with this office. Jawhol Herr Colonel. I will begin a search for him immediately. Heil Hitler."
Captain Mirko Schunck listened to the clerkís explanation. He now found himself in command of the Headquarters here in Munich, with Major Eckold dead, and General Geist and Major Bruer on an inspection tour he was the highest-ranking officer left. And now both General Geist and Major Bruer were missing. Why did this have to happen to me? I was quite content with so many above me, Schunck sighed. "I will call Stalag 13. That would have been the Generals last destination. Perhaps they will know what has happened to him."
"Youíre positive?" Schunck said into the phone. Geist and Bruer had completed their inspection and had left on schedule to go on to their next destination. "Nothing out of the ordinary happened, either during his visit or afterward? Danke. Heil Hitler."
Schunck sighed again. He picked up his phone again. There was one more avenue of investigation open to him, short of going to the Hammelburg area himself. "Get me the Hammelburg Gestapo Headquarters. Danke."
"Yes, Colonel Vogel. I am Captain Schunck in temporary command of the SS Headquarters in Munich. We have received notice that General Geist and his aide, Major Bruer are missing. Have you any information on this matter?" Schunck asked when he was connected to the man in command.
"Ja. They were last at Luft Stalag 13 in your area. The Kommandant reports that the Generalís party arrived yesterday completed their inspection tour and left for Poppenhausen. The hotel they were to stay at denies that the General arrived in Poppenhausen," Schunck reported. "Could you conduct a search in your area for the two men?" Schunck listened for a moment. "Danke. Please report any findings you have directly to me. Heil Hitler."
There. Heíd done all he could. Vogel sounded like the efficient type, he was certain he would have news shortly.
Munich, Germany, SS Headquarters, March 18, 1943, 1900 Hours
"Ja. Ja," Schunck replied. "You are positive that it was them? Oh I see, a partially burned identity card with General Geistís name. Ja, Ja. A bombing raid you said last evening? So you believe that Major Bruer lost control of the car and it went into the ravine. Ja, Ja. Thank you Herr Colonel. Ja. A terrible loss. Ja, I will contact Berlin and the rest of the installations left on the General's itinerary, so that they will not expect him. Thank you for your thorough investigation." Schunck hung up his phone.
They were dead. Everyone was dead. He was left with fourteen men. What a disaster. He would complete the paperwork detailing the late Generalís fate along with Major Bruer. Berlin was sure to send replacement personnel. He looked at the file that the three men had been working hard on unraveling. It will not be solved now. All of the suspects were dead, and whatever Eckold had uncovered was not noted in the file. He took that to the grave with him.
Schunck gave the file to Tieg to file in the unsolved, circular file.
Stalag 13, Colonel Hoganís Quarters, April 10, 1943, 2000 Hours
Hogan leaned against the wall, seated on his bunk. He was going over the profiles already compiled of the men in Camp. Matthews had been doing an incredible job detailing them. There was still about an eighth of the population to be interviewed. But already he was gaining a clearer view of what the men in his command would be capable of.
Sergeant Andrew Carter was a demolition expert. Amazing. Hogan thought to himself, shaking his head ruefully. I have a hard time picturing the clumsy, innocent young American from Bullfrog, ND as a dangerous man. But he will become an indispensable member of the Team. We canít sabotage the enemy if we canít handle explosives!
Corporal Peter Newkirk. Not only was the man a talented magician, but also he was capable of a great deal of subterfuge as well as being a talented forger. I must get Newkirk to hold classes for some of the more useful aspects of his shady character. Lock picking and pick pocketing come immediately to mind.
Corporal Louis LeBeau was a very talented Chef. He also, working alongside his father and uncle, had been a railroad engineer. He had also admitted to having a passion for clothing design. LeBeauís talents in the kitchen have already proven to be a very handy thing. It should enable us to have access to information being brought in and out of camp by any important guest.
Sergeant Ivan Kinchloe. I know Kinch to be a talented radioman and navigator, but I hadnít realized that he was a golden glove boxer before being drafted. Nor did I know that he worked for the telephone company. Kinchís talents will be very useful for planting bugs and training other men in camp in German radio signals, but aside from his myriad talents, I will want to count on him to be my second. He and I will work closely to ensure that all of the pieces of this new organization run smoothly.
Sergeant Steve Marlow and Sergeant Chris Matthews. The two men fought horribly before I came here. But when working on a project together, they mesh seamlessly as a team. I will have to get the two men to realize that. Together they can be very useful to Kinch in keeping all of the men going in the same direction. Individually they had some interesting skills. Marlow was a top-notch mechanic. And Matthews had been a production manager for a well-known theater company on Broadway in New York City. I donít quite know how I will utilize that particular skill, but Iím sure it will come up eventually.
Corporal Tom Sullivan. A talented artist. He will be useful as a forger. I must assign him to Newkirk as soon as possible.
The list went on and on. I have a very diverse bunch of men. Together I believe we will be capable of anything the War will throw at us. We will have to be. I intend to tackle everything that comes near me. Sabotage every installation thatís within range, no matter how insignificant. Steal any and all information possible. I envision a network of underground agents spanning all of Southern Germany, and beyond if possible. I intend on leaving no stone unturned. We have no choice, we will do this, because it needs to be done and we are in the unique position to be able to accomplish this.
He had just received a report from London that the information garnered through General Geist had made the difference for the allied offensive in North Africa. The British and American Forces had managed to link up, and had routed the German forces from the field. Victory seemed imminent in North Africa. Now it would only be a matter of defeating the Third Reich in the European Theatre.
The only thing that London had not mentioned was the report he had made about Dachau. I guess I will have to leave that situation in their court. There is nothing that I can do from here. It is too widespread for me to make any difference. That situation would have to be dealt with by the politicians and a greater military force than I could ever raise. God Help Us All.
London had also agreed to his proposal for expanding his operation. They have pledged their complete support. Tonight, Newkirk and Carter would go out of Camp for an airdrop of needed supplies. There would be radios, and small arms to distribute to underground members. There will also be the first shipment of explosives for Carter.
Weíll be in business for real after tonight.
There would be no turning back now.
Tonight we will begin to take Hitlerís Third Reich on by ourselves.
In effect we are going to become another Allied Force.
One that operates deep behind enemy lines.
Tonight I become Papa Bear.
Gameís Over, or has it just begun?
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