No ownership of the Hogan's Heroes characters is implied or inferred. No ownership of the character of the Grinch or any other matter belonging to Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel) is implied or inferred. Copyright belongs to others and I'm simply answering a challenge... Challenge 245 on the list about how the Nazis Stole Christmas eg, Dr Seuss.
Thanks to the joyful formatting of ff-dot-net, this has not transferred as easily as I wrote it and so I have had to include a few "breaks" just to make the stanzas easier to separate. Enjoy, and merry Christmas (and happy Hannukah!).
Alone in his office, the Major, he stood,
Just thinking of Stalag 13, as he would.
There was something strange there, as always, he thought.
But nothing had come of the trouble he wrought.
His name was Hochstetter, Wolfgang to his mum.
But never to his house did he let her come.
He thanked her for bringing him into this world,
But he hated the way her old, thin smile curled.
It made him remember the times as a lad
His father would scold him and tell him he's bad.
"Untie your brother," or "Put down that cat!"
And his mother would smile at him, that was that.
His father would pick up the belt with an eye
Toward making young Wolfgang Hochstetter cry.
But he wouldn't, he would not shed tears any day;
He just stared at his father and vowed he would pay.
Hochstetter grew up, but his heart did not grow.
As a matter of fact, it was quite small, you know.
Where you and I have hearts the size of our fists,
His was small as a pebble, if you get my gist.
It wasn't that his parents were bad, truth be told.
It was just they did not like when he was so bold
To take out his anger on all those around,
And so when he grew, the Gestapo he found.
And now, he was focused on Stalag 13,
A place many more times than once he had been.
Bridges and ammo dumps reached for the skies
Around this one prison camp, always a surprise.
Its guards were incompetent, no smarter than apes,
No bullets in guns to stop prisoner escapes.
Asleep at their posts, or not at them at all.
More often than not, they'd be out playing ball—
With the prisoners, no less—men shot down from the air
And sent to a Stalag, in the Luftwaffe's care.
Fourteen to a hut, fifteen in Hut 2,
Men enlisted to fly, and oh, how they flew.
But now they were wingless, dependent on others
To bring them their food, and their letters from brothers
And fathers, and mothers and sisters and nans,
With knit socks and fruitcakes and after-war plans.
Over one thousand men, held inside that barbed wire,
And not one escape, though the men did desire
To leave their cold prison yard, so they would oft say,
But the guards and their Kommandant kept them at bay.
The head guard, named Schultz, didn't oft do his duty:
Hochstetter knew that he kept quite a booty
Of chocolate bars, plain and with nuts in them, too—
"Gifts" from the prisoners in Barracks Two.
The camp was a shambles, discipline a mess.
How no one escaped it was anyone's guess.
He hated the Kommandant, Klink was his name.
With his monocled eye and his bald-lion's mane.
Klink was weak, knew the Major, and over a barrel—
He was even letting the prisoners hold Christmas carols!
There'd be singing—and popcorn!—and eggnog and glee.
And that Hochstetter could not bear to see.
And the worst part of all was the man whom he hated.
A Colonel named Hogan whom he'd often baited
Was going to be there, and laughing and cheering,
Sounds of joy Hochstetter could not take hearing.
This prisoner of war was a thorn in his side,
His cockiness something Wolfgang couldn't abide.
A lopsided smile always on his face
Made Hochstetter want to put him in his place.
The Major'd long suspected that Hogan was head
Of a plot to make Germany's domination dead.
Too many strange things had happened there while
The American Colonel was among rank and file.
All of his plots to trap Hogan would fail,
He even had aides going through Hogan's mail.
But nothing Hogan did would let him be caught;
And unlike Sergeant Schultz, Hogan couldn't be bought.
Hochstetter'd been nasty, he'd tried being nice,
He'd tried asking questions and seeking advice.
He'd tried being friendly, and then being mean.
Why was it of friendly he wasn't so keen?
But Hochstetter grinned and showed his teeth
When he thought of encircling Hogan's neck like a wreath
With his bare hands. He knew exactly how it would feel
To surround Hogan's neck with a ring of steel.
Hogan made him a fool. He was right, he just knew it!
But all he could get people to think was he blew it.
He blew every chance to catch those who snuck
Around Stalag 13—what terrible luck!
Hochstetter was sure it was Hogan who spent
His time plotting against Germany and trying to invent
Ways to make life difficult for the Nazis and him
--And now, he was going to spend time singing hymns?
"Not a chance!" said Hochstetter, and his smiled a mean smile.
"There'll be no sweet singing for Hogan in awhile.
I'll ruin his Christmas, I will... let me think."
Then he smiled his mean smile again with a wink.
"I have it!" he laughed, as he snapped his fingers.
"I know how to stop Hogan and his singers.
I'll go to the camp and I'll strip it down bare.
There'll be no trace of Christmas left there."
He planned to go Christmas Eve and picked out the aide
Who'd be forced to help him pull off this charade.
"Max," he screamed, "come in to my office, be quick!
We're going to make Hogan and Company sick."
He told Max his plan and the young guard frowned sadly.
He liked Christmas Day and didn't want to act badly.
Hochstetter was his boss and he had to obey,
But he didn't want to ruin the prisoners' day.
Still he went with the Major to Stalag 13,
A visit the Kommandant hadn't forseen.
It was Christmas Eve, almost ten on the clock,
And Klink was in bed, sleeping like a rock.
He never heard Hochstetter sneaking around
As he came through the gates and moved 'cross the compound.
Wolfgang ordered silence from the guards standing watch
As he tried to raise the prisoner's misery a notch.
No one dared defy him, not even the dogs.
The first thing he did was head straight for the logs
Intended to keep them all warm by the fire,
The situation already was looking quite dire.
But Hochstetter smiled and nodded to Max.
"I'll make a good profit from my little attacks!
I'll sell all their candy, their candles and bows,
I'll sell all their blankets and jackets and clothes.
"I'll take every last thing I find in that Rec Hall.
I know that's where Klink always puts them all."
Max nodded quite glumly, an unhappy bad elf;
He wished Hochstetter'd do this grim deed by himself!
But the Major was moving, and quite quickly, too,
So Max could just follow and try not to look blue.
He opened the door and just cringed at the sight;
So much had the prisoners done for that night!
There were chains of old paper all across the walls,
And someone in the corner sang out "Deck the halls!"
An Englishman performing a magic trick or two
Had even made eggnog from what looked like glue.
A small man speaking French and in a beret
Was struggling hard with an oversized tray
Full of beautiful treats for the eyes and the tummy
Max wished once again he didn't have to be crummy.
He wanted to join this merry band of men.
One man, a full Colonel, even beckoned them in.
"Major Hochstetter!" called Hogan, a man with no fear.
The Major seethed, "What is this man doing here?"
Hogan laughed. "I was just about to ask you that, too!
You don't usually come out to join in our 'do's.
But we're having carols, Klink said that we could.
I promised him we'd all tomorrow be good."
"I didn't come about carols," old Hochstetter spat.
"I came to remind you you're prisoners, that's that.
So break up this party! Go back to your huts.
I demand it! The Gestapo don't listen to 'but's!"
"All right, Major," Hogan said, and heaved a great sigh.
"Come on, fellas, you know we'd better comply."
Max watched them leave solemnly, noting them gaze
At the great things they'd done here, that likely took days.
One of the last was a Sergeant named Carter,
Who stopped at the door and did his best to barter.
"Major, if you wanted to, you could sing, too.
I bet there's a song here that's just right for you."
"Baaaaaaah!" shouted Wolfgang, and at this Hogan turned.
"It's 'Bah-humbug,' Major." Hochstetter's eyes burned.
Hogan just shrugged and turned back to the boys.
"Lights out, Kinch," he said, "he's not bringing us toys."
Then Hochstetter nodded a satisfied nod,
And Hogan looked at him and began to applaud.
"Congratulations, Major, you broke up the night.
But things will be different, come the morning light."
Indeed it will, thought Hochstetter as Papa Bear left.
You have no idea. Then he started his theft.
"Different in the morning—indeed it will be!
There'll be nothing left—it will all be with me!"
He turned to the Christmas tree, lovingly adorned
With homemade ornaments, which Wolfgang scorned.
How sweet, he thought sourly, twisting his face,
Then in his anger he began his disgrace.
He pulled off the candy canes, popcorn and stars.
He ripped off the snowmen and little toy cars.
He took off the tinsel, and then at the top
He yanked off the angel, which fell with a plop.
He stripped the tree bare and he still wasn't happy.
He turned to his aide: "Take it out—make it snappy!
I don't want any trace of Christmas left here.
Let the prisoners say Christmas was stolen this year."
There now was no tree, and no angel, no bell.
But he found in its spot what they'd brought for Noel.
He took Red Cross packages, every last one,
So that no prisoner could say that his Christmas was fun.
He took all the chocolate and powdered whole milk,
He took all the coffee and patching cloth silk.
He took all the buttons, the cheese and their Spam.
He took their tobacco, their salt and their ham!
Then he looked 'round the room and continued his quest.
There'd be nothing left when he'd finished, he guessed.
He took all the light bulbs, he took goodies from mums,
Then his eyes lit up when he spotted the drums.
A favorite of Hogan's was what would hurt most.
"I'll take the sticks, too," he said as a boast.
"I'll take all the records, the instruments, too.
There'll be no music for their Christmas, boo hoo!"
He continued right round and found candles and chairs
And paper for snowflakes to hang in the air.
He found holly and mistletoe—who would they kiss?
There was only Klink's secretary, who surely would miss
Such a gathering of prisoners, useless men one and all.
Hochstetter shook his head and smiled; he was having a ball.
Not a scrap he would leave, not a speck, not a crumb.
Never would the prisoners think Christmas had come.
He scoured the corners, making sure he had missed
Not one single thing on his un-Christmas list.
Way back in a corner, a small table stood.
There were piles of parcels on top of the wood.
Wrapped up with newspaper ribbons and bows
Were presents from each to the other heroes.
Mere trinkets, thought Hochstetter, scorning the men
Who had nothing to give, nowhere they had been.
No shops could they go to, no presents they'd buy,
Just small bits and pieces, Wolfgang would decry.
Should I leave them? he thought, for just a brief second,
But he tossed that idea, as his evilness beckoned.
Now Max had returned from removing the tree,
So Hochstetter used him to continue his spree.
"Get me that bag," he said, pointing toward the door.
"There'll be not even crumbs left for a mouse on this floor."
He picked up long boxes and short ones and thin,
He threw in the square ones and round ones and tin.
He shook one that rattled and laughed when it clinked.
Something sounds broken, he thought with a wink.
One last measure he took as he looked round the room,
Just something to add to the impending gloom.
He took out some paint and he started to draw
Some swastikas that surely would be the last straw.
The prisoners would come in the morning and see
That the Germans would win; they would never be free.
"That will do," said Hochstetter, and then with a smirk,
He headed out of camp to his office, the jerk.
"Just wait till the morning, their faces will fall
When they see their big Christmas is nothing at all!"
Then he called up his parents and wished them good night;
He was angry with no one on this night of nights.
He set his alarm for quite early that morn
So he could go back the day Jesus was born.
He squeezed his eyes tight, too excited to sleep.
His joy at their misery just wouldn't keep.
First thing the next morning, he thought with delight
Of the havoc he'd wrought at the camp in the night.
He dressed rather quickly and called for his aide;
'Twas time to find out what a mess he had made.
Max followed quite glumly; he was loathe to be
A solider who'd smile at men's misery.
He sat in the back seat, alone with his gloom
As the Major drove back to 13 and that room.
"What a beautiful Christmas I'm going to have,
Watching the prisoners with eyes big as calves.
They'll look all 'round the room but it will be oh-so-bare.
They'll think it's not Christmas, they'll think it's not fair!"
So he marched into camp with triumph in his step,
And he opened the door feeling full of pep.
The smirk on his face as he entered the hut
Quickly faded as he felt an odd twist in his gut.
The room was as he'd left it, all bare, it was true,
But the men inside it were anything but blue.
They were telling some jokes, they were smiling, and worse—
They were laughing and singing and speaking in verse!
Everything that the Major had set up for that day
Had gone by the wayside, it had all gone that way.
He didn't understand it; even here, even now;
These men were all happy, in prison, somehow!
There was Hogan, the swine, clapping one on the back,
And a Corporal was smiling; his mood was not black!
That one threw his head back from laughing out loud
At a joke that someone had thrown in from the crowd.
"What's the name of a man with a spade on his head?"
"Doug!" came a chorus of giggles instead
Of the mourning and grief the Major'd wanted to see.
These men were unstoppable in their Christmas glee!
"But they had no tree, and they'd not one single present!
There was nothing to make Christmas the very least bit pleasant!
They lost all their tinsel, they lost all their Spam,
They lost paper snowflakes and angels and ham!
"They lost all their music; I sure saw to that.
Now I'd like to take that smile from under Hogan's hat!"
But just as he turned to go and see Klink,
Hochstetter turned and saw something so strange that he blinked.
He couldn't believe it, he rubbed at his eyes.
Colonel Hogan was playing the spoons on his thighs!
And another, named Carter, must have learned at home
How to play the harmonica with tissue and comb!
They were all singing "Jingle Bells." Hochstetter cringed.
He wanted to rip the hut door off its hinge.
"I ruined your Christmas, you dumkoffs!" he cried.
"You could not be happy today if you tried!"
At this Hogan walked up to the Major and smiled
A soft smile that made Hochstetter feel like a child.
"You don't understand," Hogan laughed through his nose.
"Christmas is about more than presents and bows.
"These men are together; they're safe and they're warm.
They huddle together like birds in a storm.
What's most important to us is each other.
Some men here are closer to us than their brother.
"Christmas is for peace, for all of mankind.
We're in prison but we've not lost our sense of divine
Intervention in our luck to be under Klink's care.
It matters not one whit that our walls are bare.
"We don't need the candy canes, snowflakes or bells.
We don't need the trees or the Spam or the elves.
We just need each other; you can't understand
How we have to come together in this unfriendly land."
"Need each other, bah," said Wolfgang, and all in a huff
He straightened his jacket and pulled at his cuff.
"You're prisoners, Hogan, and don't you forget:
I know what you're up to—sabotage, I'll bet!"
Hogan shook his head and he said with a grin,
"Major, you'd better head back to Berlin.
Maybe they'll listen to your fairytale.
I've got better stories to regale—
"Ones of good will and good hope and good cheer;
Just what we need at this time of the year.
You can't stop us from being cheerful, you know.
For no matter what else, you cannot take the snow.
"Forbid us to build snowmen and we'll make a star;
Try to stop that and you won't get too far.
'Merry Christmas' is what we'll be saying today.
We don't need bows and ribbons to show us the way."
Hogan turned to his men. "Peace on earth!" he declared,
Then with eyes strangely wet, he said what he'd prepared:
"Men, I know you are anywhere but where you long to be.
But as long as we're here, we might as well let all see
"That nothing can beat us if we act as one.
If we don't, we'll just show the Nazis they've won.
We're tough, and we're strong, and we've got right on our side.
And we can do anything that we decide.
"So, hard as it is that we're here, this is it.
Santa's not coming; we've no gifts, I'll admit.
But we have something the Germans can't take:
We have pride, we have honor, and make no mistake,
"We'll need all of that to get through this war.
And this is part of what Christmas is for:
To remind us of promises, giving and love,
And we can't get through this without help from above.
"So merry Christmas to all, and to all may I say,
I'm proud to be your CO, that's my gift, every day."
As Hogan's men gathered 'round him, old Hochstetter sneered.
This wasn't how Christmas here should have appeared!
He wanted the men to be saddened and blue,
But here they were cheering, and singing anew!
"Bah!" cried the Major, and left with a bang,
Never noticing that Hogan laughed as he sang.
For a Grinch could not dampen their spirits today;
Hogan's men knew that Christmas did not work that way.
*The soldier's name, Max, is a tribute to the Grinch's dog of the same name.