Weeks had now passed since Hogan's men separated. The Allies were pushing further into the continent, liberating cities, towns and villages in their path. Words of atrocities against civilians in occupied countries began to spread and the German army was preparing for a last gasp in the Belgian forests.
Klink and Schultz had found themselves passed through several underground groups until being turned over to an American unit in France. Wisely, the two of them kept quiet and became resigned to their fate. It was at Klink's intensive interrogation back in England that he finally came to the conclusion that he had been had. His interrogators seemed to know a lot about his camp, its operation and Colonel Hogan. It was at one of these sessions that he asked his interrogator about tunnels.
"We don't know anything about tunnels, Colonel."
There had to be tunnels and radios, and outside contact, Klink thought, then shook his head. No, Impossible! But, there had to be! "Can you tell me about my prisoners?" He asked, "How many got out of Germany?" The interrogators had questioned him about the incident with the SS, but had divulged no information.
"I'm sorry, Colonel, but that information is classified."
"But what about Colonel Hogan? Did he make it back?"
The interrogator paused. "Yes, he made it back."
It was several days later that Klink was brought back into a room to meet with an officer. "Colonel Klink, I'm Captain Villeman from the Judge Advocate General's office."
"I don't understand."
"Our legal division. I'm here to speak with you about Colonel Hogan, Sir."
Various men had come to visit the Colonel during this period to offer their support. Hogan's friend, Group Captain Roberts, along with Colonel Wembley had stopped by, and General Barton had sent a letter of encouragement. Newkirk kept Carter and Hogan updated on the whereabouts of the missing POW's, while LeBeau stayed in touch as best as he could. Hogan tried not to get depressed at his situation. He was contemplating how he had more room and freedom in the POW camp, when his door opened and Carter walked in. "Sir, I have good news."
"I can use it!"
"The men on the last truck have reported in."
Kinch! Who else was on that truck? Baker, Wilson, the Chaplain, the rest of our barracks. "What happened, where are they?"
"Well, sir, Newkirk sent me the information. They got trapped by fighting, but somehow got picked up by a platoon, got handed over to a battalion and well, they're in Calais. They're heading back."
Thank God. "Anything else?"
"Yes. Captain Villeman tracked down Klink and Schultz. They're in a POW camp. And we've compiled a list of people who are either willing to testify at your sentencing hearing or send depositions. I'd thought you'd like to see it." He handed the list over to Hogan.
He began to read it over. Wembley, several Generals, Crittendon? Underground agents. Tiger. Prisoners from other camps that he and his men had gotten out of Germany, flyers they had rescued. "Klink?"
"Yes, sir. He apparently somehow got wind of what had happened and offered to testify."
Hogan and his men were forced to wait as the war dragged on. Kinch had finally made it to England and had joined up with Carter and Newkirk, staying to help with Hogan's defense. More POW's were making it through and were, as per agreement, debriefed and discharged. Several visited with Hogan before heading back home.
"Chaplain." Hogan stood up and shook Waverly's hand.
"It's good to see you, sir."
"It's good to see you. Heard you had a bit of a rough time."
Waverly smiled. "We got through it. How are you holding up, Sir?"
"I think I may have preferred the Stalag."
"You're joking, Sir. Oh, Carter wanted me to tell you we've finally heard from Olsen."
Olsen had gone out with the first group of escapees. Hogan was elated. "Where the hell is he?"
"Don't know how, but somehow he managed to get himself and close to a hundred of the guys over the Swiss border."
Hogan sat down. "The man is an enigma."
"Yes, Sir. Sir, if I may speak freely."
"You did the right thing."
Hogan looked at the young Chaplain. How many men had followed him blindly? He still didn't know how many would return. He had that on his conscience. "Some aren't coming back."
"Those 37 prisoners, Colonel? They wouldn't have come back. That's a certainty. I'm sure of it."
"I had to give them a fighting chance," Hogan said. "We couldn't just roll over and…" He couldn't continue.
"He who saves one life, saves the world entire."
"It's from the Talmud, Colonel. You may want to remember the quote."
Unfortunately for the Colonel, a few bureaucrats and several resentful prisoners had no interest in hearing about why the Colonel had risked the entire camp to save a few lives. The bureaucrats in Allied command were more concerned about the loss of Hogan's operation and his ignoring the chain of command, while several prisoners, once they had reached safety, became upset with the special treatment shown the few Jewish prisoners. These men were tapped to testify against Hogan during the sentencing hearing.
Captain Villeman had been called to London to meet with members of Hogan's original control group. Pleasantries were exchanged and then the men got down to business.
"How is Hogan holding up, Captain?" General Frampton had been instrumental in handling the clandestine activities and had come to admire the officer during their infrequent meetings in London during his time at Stalag 13.
"He's slightly depressed. Impatient. Angry. He's used to action. Sitting around is frustrating. But, he has a lot of support. Constant visitors, letters, help with the case. That's something."
"I hear you have quite a lot of people willing to testify on his behalf, Captain." Colonel Wembley was also at the meeting.
"Including you Sir, yes. It's important we get the judge to show clemency. The ramifications if they don't…"
"Captain," the General interrupted. "We've brought you in to show you some information. I think this might have an impact on the case, Captain." He pushed several files over to the advocate. "This information was recently acquired from the Soviets. It shows what they found in Poland, at a place called Auschwitz."
Villeman returned to the base with a new sense of purpose. He was hopeful the new information he had been given would serve to lighten Hogan's sentence. His main problem right now was showing the information to the Colonel. He could barely handle it. He had no idea how Hogan would react.
Hogan reacted as expected. He sat there in utter shock staring at the classified files. Finally he managed to speak. "They think there's more?"
"I'm afraid so. Mass graves. Sightings of other camps. Eyewitness accounts. It's bad."
"This is what they meant by relocation," Hogan whispered.
"Have you shown this to Carter, Kinch?"
"No, not yet. But I will. I have to. They need to know."
"It's a waste of an officer and a pilot, that's what it is." Newkirk had taken a trip down to the base to receive an update from Carter and Kinch.
"Captain Roberts thinks the ones doing this to the Colonel should be court-martialed for keeping him out of the air. He could have been teaching or flying…" Carter got lost in his thought.
"Remember that scientist we smuggled out?" Kinch asked. "I heard Louis found him in France and got a statement."
"That's great. We've got a stack of statements a mile high, but what's it mean? The Guv'nor pled guilty."
"Maybe they'll reduce his sentence to time served."
"Carter, the way this is going, by the time we get to the sentencing hearing, the war will be over and we'll be old men." Kinch looked up. "Here comes Villeman."
Captain Villeman approached the three men. This was not going to be easy. "I have some information to show you. Can we meet in my office?"
"Sure, Captain." The men walked over to the advocate's office and then looked at the same files he had shown the Colonel.
Newkirk's hands began to shake, while Carter turned completely white. Kinch spoke first. "Did you show this to the Colonel?"
"Yes," Villeman replied. "I'm hoping with this evidence we can get the sentence down to time served."
"It still leaves a dishonorable discharge, stripped of rank…It's a disgrace," Kinch pointed out.
"I know. But at this point, it's the best we can do. I'm trying to get this hearing expedited. I'll keep you posted." Villeman showed the men out. The best we can do. He shouldn't have been charged in the first place.
The prosecutors agreed to finally hold the sentencing hearing at the end of April, one month away. Hogan had now been incarcerated for over six months.
Several weeks before the hearing, Captain Villeman and Carter, now reeling from FDR's sudden death, sped towards London to attend an urgent meeting called by General Barton. It was April 14th.
Barton escorted the two men into a room. It was his habit to come right to the point, and today was no exception. "Captain, Sergeant. Two days ago, General Eisenhower, General Bradley and General Patton visited a forced labor camp in Ohrduf. We also now have films taken by liberators of camps in Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen and Dachau."
Word had already been spreading around the base about what was being found. But Carter wasn't sure why they had been called to London to hear about it. "Sir, what does this have to do with Colonel Hogan?"
Barton addressed Villeman. "Captain, in light of these new facts, I want you to prepare a letter requesting amnesty for Colonel Hogan. I'll see that it gets to General Eisenhower. If you send it directly to President Truman, at this point, he may never get to it. If Eisenhower sees it, he may intervene. At least that's what I hope."
"I'll get to it immediately, General, and thank you." Villeman turned to Carter. "We don't have time to discuss this with Colonel Hogan. Let's get to work."
Carter had been boning up on military law since he offered to help with the case. "But Captain, shouldn't we discuss it with him first? He may not agree. This won't absolve him of guilt, will it?"
"There's a difference between a pardon and amnesty, Carter." Villeman tried to think of the best way to distinguish between the two. "A pardon is an act of forgiveness. It won't necessarily mean that the person isn't guilty, which is why some people refuse it. But the conviction is still wiped out, with no penalties. Amnesty, in this case, would be better. The government would overlook the offense. Sometimes, amnesty is given because conditions that have made the act criminal may have changed or no longer exist." (1)
Carter mulled that over. "It's confusing."
"I know, but trust me. This is worth a shot, and I think the Colonel would want us to go for it." Villeman waited for Carter to offer an opinion. The Sergeant knew the Colonel better than he did.
"If we had known all along what was happening, the act couldn't have been criminal, could it?"
"That's what we're going for, Carter."
At this point, Carter was willing to grasp at any straw. "I think we should go for it, Captain."
Hogan had not seen this side of Carter in months. He was talking non-stop, showing an enthusiasm that had vanished with the last truck that had rolled out of the Stalag. Was he trying to just raise his hopes, or did this last minute effort to get him released and absolve him of guilt actually have a possibility of working? Hogan was trying to be optimistic, but the wait was killing him. He knew Eisenhower had prior knowledge of the operation, but why would the General care one iota about one measly Colonel? He had a new president to deal with, and with the war finally drawing to a close; the aftermath and the occupation.
Captain Villeman was able to get a delay in the sentencing hearing pending the outcome of his request. After months of working on Hogan's case, he too was now playing the waiting game.
Newkirk and Kinch were still in London tracking the returning POW's. Although a large majority had managed to get to safety shortly after the evacuation, men were still checking in. The numbers had grown steadily and they were optimistic that most would return. Many of those who were debriefed in England discovered their Colonel's fate and were justifiably outraged. Threats of letters to Senators and Congressman were quickly squelched, however, as the operation was still classified. LeBeau, upon hearing about the latest turn of events, showed up back in England towards the end of April to show his support. "I had to be here for the hearing anyway," he told the Colonel.
It was near the end of the first week in May that Captain Villeman was called in to meet with his superior officer. The General who had initially charged Hogan was also in attendance.
Captain Villeman tracked down Carter and LeBeau and headed over to Hogan's cell. An MP unlocked the door and left it open.
Carter was in tears. Hogan stood, barely breathing. "Carter?"
"You're free to go, Sir. It's over."
"Colonel, you're free. President Truman has granted full amnesty." Villeman wondered if the Colonel understood. "You will keep your rank."
"And back pay," Carter added.
"And back pay?" Hogan asked.
One of the overly polite MPs broke in. "Sir, you can leave now."
LeBeau began to move into the cell. "Do you want me to get your things, Colonel?"
"What? Yeah, thanks." Hogan's brain began to function. "We need to let Kinch and Newkirk know."
"Right away, Sir." Carter had moved into the cell with LeBeau and was quickly packing up the Colonel's personal items.
"Captain? Thanks." Hogan held out his hand.
"You're welcome, Colonel." Villeman saluted. "As soon as we get through some paperwork, Colonel, we start the process of getting you back to the states."
Hogan, Kinch and Carter were waiting for berths on a troop ship leaving in a week. With some time to kill, Hogan made a trip into the British countryside to see an old acquaintance.
Colonel Klink could not believe his eyes. "Colonel Hogan, you're free?"
"The charges were dropped, Colonel. I'm heading home at the end of the week."
"Are they treating you all right?" Hogan asked.
"No worse than I treated you."
Hogan smiled. "I wanted to thank you."
"For what, Colonel?"
"Your offer to testify, your help back at the camp. I'm sorry about the chloroform, by the way."
"You fooled me, Colonel." Klink had to keep stopping himself from calling him Hogan. The old habit was hard to break. He was now the subordinate.
"Did I really? For two and a half years?" Hogan laughed. "Come on, Colonel."
"No, Colonel." Klink smiled. "You are correct. You couldn't have fooled me for all that time."
Hogan got up to leave.
Klink stopped him. "Colonel Hogan, wait. There's something I have to say…I'm ashamed."
"Ashamed?" Hogan asked.
"Of my country, of my people. I don't know how or if we will ever be forgiven for what we did."
Hogan had no answer. He could not honestly tell Klink that it wasn't his fault. After all, it was people like him that allowed Hitler to gain power, people who turned their backs and let the cancer spread, but Klink, in the end, had tried to do the right thing.
"Look Colonel, in the end you acted like a human being. That counts. You could have done more to help the SS and you didn't. You helped save innocent lives." Hogan turned towards the door.
Klink was touched. "Thank you, Sir." He offered a salute.
"You're welcome, Colonel."
Hogan, Carter and Kinch left later that week for home. The story of the rescue, sacrifice and bravery of the prisoners of Stalag 13 came out years later. Although most of the key participants were then gone, enough prisoners were still alive to verify the incident, as were the children and grandchildren of other prisoners, Hogan and his staff. The prisoners and Underground units that assisted them were later honored as Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem in Israel. (2)
(2) Yad Vashem is located in Jerusalem and is Israel's official Holocaust memorial. The Righteous among Nations honors non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. To see the criteria, check their website, but I would have classified what occurred during this story as fitting the criteria.
.A/N I'd like to thank Bits and Pieces for her Beta!
UPDATED INFORMATION: March 2010:
I discovered this information while conducting more research several months after posting this story. According to Mitchell Bard, PHD, the author of Forgotten Victims: The Abandonment of Americans in Hitler's Camps, "a group of American Jewish soldiers… were segregated at a POW camp and transported to a concentration camp that had the highest fatality rate of any camp where Americans were held. The story is shocking because few people know that Americans were in concentration camps, because the U.S. government treated the survivors badly and failed to adequately punish their tormentors, and because the image of those captured is completely different from the heroic portrayal of POWs today."
The POW camp was Stalag-IX B, one of the worst camps in the system, and the soldiers were deported to the concentration camp, Berga and used as slave labourers. When notice came of a needed work detail, the Kommandant ordered all Jewish prisoners to step forward. Word was given not to move. Some non-Jewish prisoners informed the Jewish prisoners that they would stand with them. A threat was given that any Jewish prisoners remaining in the barracks would be shot, as well as anyone protecting them. Some Jewish prisoners still had their tags. A few had disposed of the tags when captured. Some disposed of them after the segregation order. Eventually the quota of 350 was removed from the camp. This group of men included, all Jews, all the men that the Germans thought were Jewish, random prisoners, "troublemakers," some officers and NCO's. Fewer than 300 men survived. PBS aired a documentary on this incident, titled: "Berga: Soldiers of Another War"
Needless to say, I was floored when I discovered this AFTER I wrote this story. It caused chills. In the months since, I have found more research and memoirs on the internet. Some Jewish POW's were fine. Most from the Western Allies were; but there was always the underlying terror during their captivity that they would be singled out. As more and more veterans and witnesses pass away, It is important to continue to teach, so that we will remember …
My original notes:
Jewish Prisoners of War: There is a lack of information on the internet regarding this subject, particularly in regards to prisoners from America and the British Empire. Those captured from Russia and other countries not party to the Geneva convention had almost no chance of survival. Recollections available on the internet back up the enforcement of segregration policies as well as some removal to labor camps. I eventually gave up on that angle of research and wrote the story, otherwise, it would have taken me months. If anyone has any information, please post it to the forum. Any questions, send me a pm and I'll be happy to answer them for you.
Pardon vs. Amnesty
"A pardon is defined in criminal law as an official act of forgiving a crime. A pardon may be granted under the executive powers of a governor or the President. By granting a convicted person a pardon, the conviction is eradicated from the records, the person is freed from further punishments and penalties, and may not be retried for the same offense.
A pardon may be granted to persons for such reasons as advanced age, acts proving rehabilitation, unfairness of trial proceedings, doubts about guilt of the convicted person, or terminal illness. It is usually based upon a notion of undeserved punishment. A pardon does not indicate that the person pardoned is not guilty, but that they are forgiven and no longer deserving of punishment."
"Amnesty refers to a blanket overlooking of an offense by the government, with the legal result that those charged or convicted have the charge or conviction wiped out. Amnesty is usually granted because the war or other conditions that made the acts criminal no longer exist or have faded in importance…. Amnesty differs from a pardon because amnesty is the abolition and forgetfulness of the offence, whereas a pardon is forgiveness. A pardon is always given to an individual who has been convicted, amnesty may be granted to a group or class of people who may or may not have been convicted of an offense." source: see footnote (1)
Articles of War
The American Articles of War predate the constitution and the Declaration of Independence. It was based off of 1774 The British Articles of War. There were over 2 million court martials conducted during War World Two. Protections normally seen in the civilian court system, did not apply. Many organizations were outraged at the abuse of the military court system and efforts were made to rewrite the code. Congressional hearings were held and in 1950, Congress enacted the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Changes and improvements to the code have been made since then.
Only one American soldier, Private Eddie Slovik, was executed for desertion in WW2.