TITLE: DIE GEDANKEN SIND FREI

SUMMARY: Literally translated, "The thoughts are free." The body may be in prison, but there is one thing that nobody can hold down, that nothing can keep hold of -- and that not even the strongest Tyrant can destroy.

DISCLAIMER: Hogan's Heroes and all related characters belong to a brilliant, witty, and wonderful person -- who, nevertheless, is not me. "Die Gedanken Sind Frei" is a traditional German song. Lyrics were taken from "A Time for Singing"(Geneva Press 1970); English translation copyright 1950 by Arthur Kevess and Appleseed Music, Inc. (Details would be appreciated if anyone knows anthing else about this song)

Try and sue me and you shall be set upon by my muse, Einstein ::holds up a stuffed green alien plushy with felt antennae and a dopey grin:: look! He's scary! . . . no, really! Be afraid!


*****************************************************************************************************************************

LUFTSTALAG 13
SOMEWHERE IN GERMANY
AUGUST, 1943

*************


It was hot.

You could search for better words, of course. You could say that the angry white eye of the sun stared down from a cloudless sky, that birds took shelter and refused to fly until the cool of evening; that the dirt courtyard of Stalag 13 had been baked harder than pavement by days of unyielding heat. But all of that would still boil down to one simple fact.

It was *hot*.

He tugged on his collar as he crossed the courtyard, wishing for the hundredth time that day that he had a change of clothes. A civilian suit, made for summer -- and a shirt with sleeves that could be rolled up. Anything would be better than his uniform, which had never been designed for such heat. No uniform had been.

Most of the prisoners had fled to the relative cool of the barracks, where they lay sprawled on their bunks or lounged at the tables, talking in slow, quiet tones. A few of the braver souls clustered outside, in the shade provided by the camp's slapped-together buildings. One of these groups -- the small knot of men in front of Barracks Two -- called out in greeting as he passed.

"C'mon, mate! Take a load off!" The Englishman beckoned.

He shook his head and waved off the scattering of protest. "Maybe later."

They fell silent and watched him pass.

"Well," the Englishman muttered, leaning towards the others, "What's got inta 'im?"


***

He ducked into one of the narrow alleyways between the barracks. Clotheslines strung between the buildings drooped beneath the weight of socks and undershirts, and he brushed the laundry aside absent-mindedly. Other thoughts occupied his mind. He threaded his way through the maze of rapidly-drying clothes until he reached his destination -- a shady corner where one could see most of the courtyard without being seen. A stout crate already waited there, and he sank down with a sigh, still tugging at his collar.

It was *hot* out there. Here, in the shade, the heat was at least bearable. *Though it would have been just as cool in front of Barracks Two, with my friends . . .*

Friends?

He stopped tugging at his collar, suddenly deep in thought. That rag-tag group of rowdy men, from countries he had only read about? The gabble of different accents, the secret mischief that always seemed to be going on . . . were those his friends?

Words were strange things. In peacetime "friend" was a simple word, a word with one meaning; but in War things grew twisted. Every word grew another meaning. Even a word like "friend" . . . could he call those men his "friends"?

That was a tough one. He whistled through his teeth as he thought about it -- tunelessly at first. But after a moment he fell into one of the old, familiar folk tunes his grandmother had taught him long ago. He abandoned his puzzling thought for the moment, chuckling as the memory came back.

*** ***

"Die Gedanken sind frei,
My thoughts freely flo-WER!
Die Ge-DAN-ken sind FREI,
My thoughts give me po-WER!"

His grandmother was an exuberant barrel-shaped woman who wore flowered aprons and smelled of apples and cinnamon. Her kitchen had always been warm, filled with steam from the kettle and the clatter of pans and dishes -- and the soaring sound of her voice as she belted out whatever song entered her head.

"No scholar can MAP them,
No hunter can TRAP them,
No man can de-NY
Die Gedanken sind FREI!"

Her wooden spoon darted into the kettle, and she sampled the contents as some people might judge a fine wine. After a long moment's consideration she added a scattering of some mysterious, wonderful herb to the pot. Then, stirring vigourously, she launched back into song.

"Noo-oo man can deny
Die Ge-dan-ken sind FREI!"

That song had been one of his grandmother's special favorites, and more than once she'd turned to him after finishing the chorus.

"Remember that, darling." She'd shake the wooden spoon vigorously. "Though all else is imprisoned," A plump forefinger tapped her temple, "The thoughts are free."

*** ***

He let his gaze rest on the barbed wire that surrounded the camp, glinting fiercely in the heat of the day. "Yes." He murmured. "The thoughts are free." He cleared his throat, trying to fight off the wave of nostalgia. Then, softly, he began to sing the next verse.

"I think as I please,
And this gives me pleasure
My conscience decrees,
This right I must treasure.
My thoughts will not . . ."

He stopped suddenly, realizing what the next words of the song were.

* My thoughts will not cater
To Duke or Dictator *

He wondered if his Grandmother had realized the magnitued of the words she'd sung. The idea behind them seemed so simple -- that no one could take from another man the right to think as he pleased. That "the thoughts were free", no matter who ruled the body. *My thoughts will not cater . . .*

And yet, he thought with a sigh, so many thousands of thoughts *were* catering, now -- to a Dictator far worse than any his Grandmother could have imagined. So many had let a doctrine of hate poison their hearts and their thoughts. So many had given up their right to think as they pleased.

So many, in fact, that they seemed to outnumber those who would not give up that right. So many now bowed down at the feet of the Dictator that those simple words -- "my thoughts will not cater" -- were a dangerous thing to sing in this place, at this time.

And a simple word like "friend" became a dangerous thing to say.

A burst of laughter from within one of the barracks broke into his thoughts, and he straightened his shoulders.

"No man can deny," He began again,"Die Gedanken sind frei.
No man can deny
Die Gedanken sind frei!"

His thoughts were his own, until he gave them up. That, at least, he had not yet done. His body had been pressed into service -- but his thoughts still roamed free.

*And should tyrants take me
And throw me in prison,
My thoughts will burst free
Like blossoms in season.*

More often than not, now, his thoughts roamed back to his family -- to his two strong boys (too young, thank God, to be sent to the fighting) and his fast-growing daughters with the blonde curls and the dimpled smiles; to the curly black mongrel his youngest girl had adopted, and the plump cat that spent its days on the kitchen windowsill. Most of all, to the sharp-witted woman he had fallen in love with so long ago.

He missed them so. His wife did her best to teach the children the right things, to keep their young thoughts free. He hoped it would be enough -- that the future would be better for them all.

*The future . . .* he brushed away a tear and took a deep breath.

"Foundations will crumble," He murmured,
"And structures will tumble,
And free men will cry,
Die Gedanken sind frei!"

Yes. Yes, someday . . . someday the barbed wire and the ill-fitted boards of Stalag Thirteen would fall, pulled down by the hands of men newly-freed. Someday the Dictator would crumble, and the thoughts of his people would cater no more. Someday -- he had to believe it -- he would be free to call anyone his friend.

And on that day he would take his friends home -- to meet his sharp-tongued wife and his laughing children. Carter would love the dog, and the dog would love Carter; Newkirk would entertain the youngest children with his magic tricks; and Kinchloe, perhaps, would teach the oldest boy the rules of American football. And LeBeau would trade words with Anna over the proper way to make strudel, and Colonel Hogan . . . ach! He and Colonel Hogan would sit together on the porch, as friends would, and talk together of the things friends talk of. And life would be good.

Yes. Life would be good.

He lifted his head, looking to the limp ugliness of the red-and-black flag, and with defiance in his voice he repeated the last verse.

"And should tyrants take me
And throw me in prison,
My thoughts will burst free,
Like blossoms in season.
Foundations will crumble
And structures will tumble,
And free men will cry,
Die Gedanken sind frei!
No man can deny
Die Gedanken sind frei!"

He stood slowly, tugging on the collar of his uniform. For now it was still hot, and he was in prison just as surely as the men he guarded were.

Just as surely as his *friends* were.

But, he reflected as he navigated back through the maze of laundry, his thoughts were still free.

And someday, life would be good.

And that was enough -- for now.

***

They called out to him again as he rounded the corner of Barracks Two, and this time he smiled and joined them. He tugged on his collar again.

"You okay, Shultzie?"

He nodded at Newkirk. "Ach, yes. But it is *hot* in this uniform!"

"Yeah, tell me about it!" Carter exclaimed. "All the chocolate bars I've been saving melted!"

"Oh, now that is too bad." He shook his head in mock sorrow, then looked at the face of his friend. "Carter . . . that American song you taugh me?"

Carter nodded vigorously. "'Goodbye, Old Paint'?"

He nodded. "Now I have a song . . . that I would like to teach to you."

******
THE END
******






No man can deny
Die Gedanken sind frei!