No ownership of the Hogan's Heroes characters is implied or inferred. Copyright belongs to others and no infringement is intended.
In keeping with the TV series, Sergeant Andrew Carter is not present, as in the show he appeared after the operation was already up and running.
The background information on Hogan's interment at the Dulag Luft has been supplied with permission of Marty Miller from her story, "Weaving a Web to Freedom: Undoing the Past". It was this information that spawned this story. German translations from Netrat. Many many thanks to you both for your encouragement!
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"What's all the fuss about over there?" asked Peter Newkirk, RAF Corporal, gesturing towards the office of the Stalag Luft 13 camp kommandant. The camp's ranking officer, Colonel Wilhelm Klink, came blustering down the steps to meet the car that was pulling up to the building. Saluting the German General who emerged from the vehicle, he peered inside the car to its other occupant, who had yet to alight.
"Looks like a big deal," commented Newkirk's French companion, Corporal Louis Le Beau. "But then, it does not take a lot to get Klink's all worked up." Still, Le Beau strained to see inside the car, and to perhaps overhear a bit of the conversation.
The General handed Klink a large folder, then gestured for the men to go into Klink's office. The staffer who had opened the General's door worked his way over to the other side of the car, opened the rear door, and pulled out the person still inside. The dark haired man looked worse for wear, his United States Army Air Corps uniform and jacket sloppily draped over his slightly swaying body. His brown crush cap was propped on his head in a way that made an observer think it would fly away in the slightest breeze, but as the man was handcuffed — at least two links too tightly — he seemed in no hurry to adjust it. The German prodded the American towards the office, and, head down, the prisoner obeyed wordlessly, without looking around him.
Le Beau and Newkirk exchanged looks. "A new prisoner," Le Beau said.
"Yeah, and no senior officer to look after 'im," Newkirk cursed. "Not that Hayes was ever any good at that. Wonder who 'e is."
"Shall we clean the Kommandant's office?" asked Le Beau.
"Not yet," Newkirk answered. "It'd be too obvious. We'd better tell Kinch. With a Kraut General making the delivery, I have a feeling this is a show we don't want to miss."
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"Klink, this man is being assigned to Stalag 13 under your command. To be quite frank his interrogation at Durchgangslager der Luftwaffe was less than successful. But as they feel they have gathered all the information they are going to at present, they are passing him on to you. You have his file. I suggest you read it so you understand what type of man you are dealing with."
"Ja, General Burkhalter," Klink said, eyeing the thick folder he was holding. "It's quite a big record."
"He was at Durchgangslager der Luftwaffe for forty-five days, Klink. His powers of resistance are quite strong. Fortunately we already knew a bit about him; he was among our most-wanted, and General Biedenbender received great accolades from the Fuhrer for this capture."
"Don't you mean Colonel Biedenbender, the flying ace with nearly one hundred victories under his belt?" Klink asked.
"Yes, that is exactly who I mean."
"Ah." Klink looked at the subdued man being pushed before him with a different eye. How important was this one flyer, that an officer's career could soar with his capture?
"You are to continue interrogating the prisoner, Klink. You will find notes in the file about what we are looking for. I will be calling regularly to check on any information you may receive." General Albert Burkhalter motioned for the guard with him to remove the prisoner's handcuffs, but even with more freedom of movement the man now stood unmoving. Burkhalter raised his right hand in salute. "Heil Hitler."
Klink responded in kind, then sat at his desk as Burkhalter left, to study the file before him. "Robert E Hogan, Colonel, United States Army Air Corps. Serial number 0876707…." Klink paused and looked at the man who had remained silent before him. "A Colonel, eh?" He nodded, then continued scanning the paperwork. "Interrogation… sleep deprivation…" Klink once again looked at the man. Yes, that he could believe. The man looked dead on his feet. Klink wanted to gauge the prisoner's attitude, but could not get him to meet his eye. So much data—how could the interrogation not have been successful?
"Colonel Hogan, I can see that you have had quite an eventful stay with our interrogators," Klink began. Hogan remained silent. Klink waited, then tried a different approach. "I am Colonel Wilhelm Klink, Kommandant of Stalag 13. It is my responsibility to look after you for the remainder of the war. It is also my responsibility to question you regarding your exploits in the air." More silence. Could this man even hear him?
"Colonel Hogan—" A knock on the door interrupted his attempts to draw out the prisoner. "Yes, what is it?"
The door opened and a large man in German uniform entered the room. "Yes, what do you want, Schultz; can't you see I am busy with a new prisoner?"
"Jawohl, Herr Kommandant. The men are requesting to be present, in light of the lack of a senior officer to oversee his interment interview." The Sergeant of the Guards stepped aside to reveal a tall black man in fatigues. "Sergeant James Kinchloe, Herr Kommandant."
"I see no reason for this intrusion," Klink said, waving him away.
"Begging your pardon, Colonel, but as we have no senior officer at present, we felt someone should be here with the new prisoner," Kinchloe said, trying to study the new arrival. Hm, a bit shaky, won't look at me….
"That is very noble of you, Sergeant, but I am sure I have things well under control without your help."
"With all due respect, sir, it is the right of every prisoner to have someone by his side when he is questioned."
"I am not questioning this man, Sergeant, and you are hindering the procedure more than necessary. As you can no doubt see, this man is in need of rest, and you are delaying that by your presence. Information will be passed on to the men in due course. Please leave me to my work."
Defeated, and now being ignored, Kinchloe stepped out of the room. Schultz remained. "Herr Kommandant," he said, "would you like me to take the prisoner to the barracks?"
Klink studied his new charge. Hogan remained motionless, unseeing and unhearing. Where is your mind, Colonel Hogan? Klink suspected he would be awake for most of the night reading the file on this man whose single loss brought joy to the highest ranking officers of the Third Reich. "Colonel Hogan," Klink said, "you will find that I am a determined task master, but I am also a fair one. You will be treated here according to the Geneva Convention. We have much to talk about, but obviously now is not the time. We do not have officers' quarters here, as this is an enlisted man's camp. But we do have a separate room that will be put aside for you inside Barracks Two. Congratulations, Colonel. You are now the senior Prisoner of War officer in this camp. Your duties as such will be explained to you tomorrow. Right now, you are in need of some necessities. Sergeant Schultz here will provide you with a blanket and a footlocker. You will be, by policy, strip-searched and taken to the delousing station for treatment before being taken to your quarters. The routine of prison life will bring you some comfort in your defeat, Colonel Hogan. Roll call has already been completed for the day; you will be called at first light tomorrow."
"I don't have lice," mumbled Hogan almost inaudibly.
"What did you say, Colonel?" asked Klink.
"I said I don't have lice!" Hogan shouted. His dark eyes flashed with an anger that Klink had rarely seen in any man. Hogan's breathing was heavy and belied his earlier demeanor that seemed to indicate that he had taken in nothing being said around him. His eyes, his face, dared Klink to humiliate him further, warned Klink that this man was no ordinary POW. While he was quite obviously still recovering from injuries sustained either when being shot down or in the interrogation that followed his capture, Hogan's strength was clearly being preserved for the moments he deemed necessary.
What kind of man can do this? Klink wondered. "I am sorry, Colonel Hogan, all prisoners must visit the delousing station. We will talk tomorrow. Dismissed."
Schultz opened the door to Klink's office, and Hogan, now walking with a more determined gait, walked out.
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"Well?" asked Newkirk.
"Klink threw me out," Kinchloe said, frustrated.
"He threw you out?" echoed Le Beau in disgust.
"Yep. But I managed to get a good look at him. We've got an officer. A Colonel. And he's been treated pretty bad from the look of him. Unsteady on his feet, has that glazed look in his eyes. I think there's an infected cut on his forehead. Might be other things I couldn't see. Don't know what they're planning to do with him."
"Well whatever it is, they're in no hurry to tell us," Newkirk said. "Poor blighter. The last couple of weeks have probably been a blur to 'im."
"We'll probably get a proper introduction at morning roll call," Kinchloe said. "In the meantime, all we can do is try and find out more about him."
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"And this is your new home." Schultz opened the door to Barracks Two a couple of hours later, unannounced. The men in the common room as one turned their attention to the person accompanying him. Dressed in German work clothes and carrying a blanket, was the man they had seen arrive in the camp earlier in the day. He looked around the room mutely, only briefly letting his eyes stop to rest on anything or anyone. On closer inspection, the man looked pale and strained, tired beyond measure, struggling just to stay standing. The men saw a pain set deep in his half-closed, anxious eyes and could not decide what had put it there: physical pain, or mental distress, or both.
"This is Colonel Robert Hogan," Schultz announced. "He will be moving into this barracks."
The men remained quiet, unsure what to say. What had they wanted someone to say when they had arrived? None of it seemed appropriate now.
Thankfully Schultz kept up his banter about the camp, the men, and the new routine Hogan would be part of. He went further into the building and opened the door to a little room that held a double bunk and a desk. "This will be your room, Colonel Hogan," he said, putting the prisoner's Air Corps clothes and jacket that he had been carrying on the bottom bunk. "Here is your uniform. You will need to wash it. But… at the moment there is no extra soap. We are out of Red Cross packages. You are free until tomorrow. The Kommandant says if you are hungry you can get something from the mess hall if they have anything left, since you missed dinner."
Hogan went into the room and stared at the bunk as the other residents of Barracks Two crowded into the doorway. He put his blanket down and turned to the Sergeant of the Guard. "Thank you," Hogan said, his voice weak.
"The boys here will take care of you," Schultz said, with a gentleness that always stirred the prisoners when they heard it. "You just ask them if you need anything."
Hogan nodded, letting out a sigh that seemed to speak the burdens of the world, and Schultz left him alone. "He needs to be seen by the medic," Schultz said confidentially to the others when he got to the main door of the barracks.
"Why has he not already gone, Schultz?" asked Le Beau.
"I think he is too tired. I did not want to push him any more." He indicated his wrists. "His handcuffs were too tight. I think they cut his wrists."
"We'll see that he gets there, Schultz."
"The Kommandant will explain everything tomorrow," Schultz said.
"About what?" asked Newkirk.
"I do not know," the guard answered. "He just looked at Colonel Hogan's file and shook his head. I do not know what that means."
The men thanked Schultz and he left for the evening. Newkirk was the first to notice that Hogan had not come out of his new quarters, and poked his head inside. Hogan was standing, apparently at a loss, in the middle of the room. "You look done in, mate. Why don't you lie down?"
Hogan looked at him uncomfortably. "We're not allowed to lie down until it's dark."
Newkirk remembered that rule from his own interment in the Dulag Luft, and shook his head. "Doesn't apply here, gov'nor. You can lie down whenever you want. And you look like you need to before you fall down."
Hogan appeared to consider the change, then asked, "Are you sure the guard won't get angry?"
Newkirk was filled with what he could only describe as pity. A man so cowed that he wouldn't lie down despite obvious exhaustion was either a man who had been mentally weak to start with, or a man who had been put through hell. Newkirk instinctively doubted it was the former. "No, gov'nor; 'e won't mind." He came inside and faced the new arrival. "Peter Newkirk, RAF," he introduced himself. "Ruddy Awful Fortune, that is, or I wouldn't be here." He smiled hopefully. Hogan nodded but said nothing, prompting the Corporal to continue. He patted the mattress. "Not much to write home about," he said lightly. "Two inches thick, full of wood chips…goes down to about a half an inch when you're lying down. Still, it's better than lying on the bunk without it." Hogan nodded again. Newkirk smiled encouragingly when he thought he saw some life come back into the Colonel's eyes. "And it's always good for when we need fuel for the stove!"
Hogan smiled briefly. "Thanks," he said again.
"Come on out when you're ready," Newkirk invited. "We're a rowdy bunch but you'll find we don't bite…that is, unless we're really hungry."
Hogan nodded and tested out the mattress as Newkirk departed, and despite his anxiety fell into a deep sleep, punctuated with vivid nightmares, which he shared with no one.