Hogan's Heroes fan fiction was written for the Yuletide Treasure
fiction exchange project in 2010.
Playing the Part
Sergeant Schultz walked down the first line of prisoners,
counting off. "Eins, zwei, drei, vier . . . ."
Colonel Robert Hogan nodded his head to signal Newkirk, who
stood a few feet away. Newkirk jumped and pointed at Schultz' feet.
"Snake! Schultz, blimey, a poisonous bugger, watch out!" He
flailed his arms, but put them in the air and froze when another guard
pointed a gun directly at him.
Schultz groaned in his high-pitched way that was a cross
between a whine and clearing his throat, then spoke in a thick German
accent. "There is no snake!"
"Sorry there, Schultz, old chum," Newkirk said, bouncing on
his heels. "I thought it was a deadly anaconda. Or coral snake. Or
mamba. Or an otherwise nasty animal of the serpentine and fangish
variety. My mistake."
"I know what you're up to," Schultz said, exaggerating his
'r's and tapping the front of his helmet with his finger. "You're trrying
to distrract me!"
And it works every time, Hogan thought, as Schultz
retreated to the front of the line and started over with eins.
Hogan winked at Corporal Newkirk, who had provided the
distraction so that Dubois, one of the new French POWs, could rush away
from the back line and escape. Which was all a clever distraction to
get Colonel Klink's lederhosen in a twist and send many of the guards
on a wild goose chase so Hogan and his men could actually manage some
crafty and brilliant, if Hogan did say so himself, espionage from
within the camp. This was something they were practiced at, and could
pull off with the precision of a ballet troupe, each step perfectly in
sync and graceful. Well, he thought, most of the time.
This entire situation was one that all of them--Hogan and his
men, Schultz and Commandant Klink--had been through many, many times
". . . elf, zwölf, driezehn, vier . . . vier--"
"Colonel Hogan," Schultz said from behind him, "wo ist
vierzehn? The new French officer? Please, Hogan, you
know he has been sehr mürrisch this week, very, very grum-py."
"Vierzehn's been grumpy?"
"You know perfectly well that I mean Kommandant Klink!
Burkhalter has been breathing down his neck for days."
"Herr General says that--hmph! Now you are trying to trick me
into telling you something I should know nothing about.
Hogan, vierzehn? Dubois? Can you go and find him before--"
"Report! Report!" Commandant Klink rushed from his office and
across the compound, snapping his riding crop beneath his arm.
"Herr Kommandant! It would seem, sir, that one of the
prisoners . . . is missing."
Klink, who didn't appear the least bit bothered by this news,
smiled and directed it at Hogan. "Again, Colonel Hogan? When will you
and your men learn? No one--"
"Escapes from Stalag 13, we know, we know," Hogan said,
shaking his head. "It's the new guy, sir. I tried to warn him--told him
about your perfect record. I said the old Iron Eagle would have him
back in his talons in no time." Hogan sighed. "I hope you'll go easy on
him. It's his first time being a prisoner of war."
Klink grunted at Hogan and called over his shoulder for the
alarm. "Release the dogs. I want that prisoner back here at
once!" He turned back to Hogan. "As the senior officer among the
"Hold me personally responsible, sir, I know."
"Stop finishing my sentences!"
"It's that I know you so well by now and I've learned so much
about being a great Colonel from watching you, it just comes naturally.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, sir."
"Well . . . stop that at once. Rather, you may emulate me all
you wish," Klink said with a cockeyed smile, "but it's simply impolite
"All prisoners are confined to the barracks until further
notice!" Klink saluted. "Dis-missed. Schultz! How could you
let this happen?"
"But Herr Kommandant, I . . . ."
While Klink reprimanded the Sergeant, Hogan and the rest of
the men hurried to their barracks. Newkirk put on a guard's uniform and
snuck out to retrieve some things they needed from the supply shed.
Kinch climbed down into the bunker beneath their barracks where they
hid a switchboard that allowed them to intercept any phone call coming
into or going out of the camp, and a radio they used to contact Allied
forces in London, among other places.
They had to get the necessary information so they'd know which
bridge they were supposed to blow tonight. London had charged them with
stopping a convoy carrying missiles and ammunition the Germans were
hoping to use to halt the Allied push across France.
Hogan hadn't needed Schultz to tell him why Burkhalter was
yelling at Klink, or why every German soldier was in a bad mood. The
Allies had liberated Paris and crossed the Seine a few months ago.
Since they'd hit Northern France in June, they'd been steadily
advancing toward the German border and pushing the Nazis back.
Though no German would admit it to a prisoner, or probably
even to another German, everyone knew this was the advantage the Allies
needed to finally stop Hitler's spread and bring an end to the war, at
least in the West. With Stalin already advancing on the Nazis from the
East, forcing them back toward the Poland border, all of Germany was
feeling the squeeze. No one knew how long it would take, but the sense
was that Germany would fall, and it couldn't happen soon enough. What
would happen in the war with Japan was still anybody's guess. And not
Hogan's concern, at least not while he was here.
Now, his only concern was blowing that bridge and holding back
the ammo as long as possible to let the Allied forces gain an even
Klink was a bit surprised to get the call about the special
dinner being held in his honor, and told his secretary all about it
several times. Of course, he admitted it wasn't just in his honor, but
to honor several officers in similar positions as his. Finally, they
were going to get some of the recognition they deserved, and he
understood that some would be receiving special medals and awards of
valor. He puffed his chest out in front of the secretary, but sighed
when he sat in his chair, alone.
He would be happy to receive any type of recognition they
would give him, but in truth he cared far less than he pretended. And
he wished it could have been during the daytime when the sun was out,
instead of in the evening when the regular chill grew even heavier as
the dark fell. What he wanted more than anything was for the war to be
over so he could sink back into civilian life and not have to kiss the
boots of arrogant generals. Not have to walk around always in blind
obedience and admiration of Adolf Hitler's awesome war machine and his
He sighed again and took a drink of tea, then polished his
monocle with a white, cotton cloth. When his driver tapped lightly on
the door, he donned his cap and coat and put on a toothy grin as he
passed his clearly unimpressed secretary.
On the way to the dinner, Klink rode in a car at the end of
the procession. Four cars rode ahead, all full of officers headed for
the same banquet. He shared a car with Colonel Heinrich, a much younger
man than himself, and Colonel Bächer, a slightly older man.
Bächer was dour and had nothing to say, but Klink and Heinrich
discussed, to Klink's great delight, food, beer and entertainment
instead of the business of running a POW camp or details of conducting
war. They discovered they shared a mutual love of shortbread and
Lebkuchen, a spiced cookie that took weeks to cure for just the right
Lost in an unusually pleasant conversation with someone who
seemed to enjoy his company as well, Klink was caught completely off
guard by an explosion that sounded not too far away, followed by a
steady chain of them, each one seemingly more devastating than the
last. The driver paused, looked at his watch as if confused, but
continued on again. Klink questioned the driver, but the man said his
instructions had been to get them to the dinner on time, and perhaps it
was just some sort of ammunitions testing nearby? They hadn't gone much
farther when the procession stopped. The driver looked at his watch
again and then ran from the vehicle.
"Was ist los?" Klink shouted. But Bächer
turned to him and shrugged. "Weiß nicht! Where the hell
is he--" Before Klink had his door all the way open, someone near the
front of the line of cars opened fire.
Hogan, Kinch, and Carter crouched behind the tree line. They'd
planted the bombs according to the instructions from London and the
last location of the convoy. This had to be the bridge, if that
information had been correct. Blowing the bridge before the ammo got
across would be a great help to the Allies. But blowing it and
destroying the missiles as they were going across would be the best
"Great job, as usual," Hogan said. "I'll finish up here and
meet you back at camp."
And as usual, they protested the idea of leaving him alone,
especially Carter who liked nothing more than to be the one on the
trigger side of an exploding bomb. They'd all share in the victory if
the mission proved a success. But Hogan was a firm believer in owning
the mission. If something went wrong, it would be his responsibility,
and if someone were to get caught by the Germans he'd rather it be him
than his men.
The bridge was practically filled from end to end with the
trucks when he blew it, one explosion triggering another, flame plumes
spanning out in every direction. He wished he'd let Carter stay, just
so he could have seen it. He felt a brief moment of regret for the
lives lost, then he raced for the stump that would open to lead him
safely back into the camp. Before he reached it, he heard gunfire that
seemed to be coming from a different direction. He heard shouting
in German, and was that Russian?
The Germans sounded furious, demanding to know what was
happening. He couldn't understand much of the Russian but recognized
the cadences of the language--and then he heard a voice he didn't
recognize shouting Klink!
Klink? Why would . . . .? The banquet to honor a number of
officers. That was tonight, and Klink should have left the camp some
time ago to head toward Hammelburg, so it could actually be his
Hogan looked longingly toward the part of the woods that would
take him home. "Damn." He headed in the direction of the gunfire.
That it was starting to get dark and that he was in the last
car worked in Klink's favor. Bächer shouted at Klink, told them to
run, that someone had to be notified about this, and had started
shooting and advancing toward the front, giving Klink and Heinrich
enough time to get out of the car. He regretted ever thinking that
Bächer was dour and unfriendly, especially when he heard
Bächer go down, still cursing someone before a gun fired and his
angry words were cut off.
Klink and Heinrich ran, not knowing where they were going,
only knowing that they had to let someone know of the ambush. They
didn't even know who was alive or dead. Some Germans had returned fire
and obviously killed at least a few of the Russians. How had they
gotten this close, and why kill off POW administrators and similar
officers? Except to infiltrate the camps and use the prisoners as
allies in the fight, he realized.
Heinrich took a deep breath. "Klink, for them to get this far
in, they have to have people on the ins--"
A gunshot made Klink flinch. A second one made him cry out as
he felt a searing pain tear through his thigh. Instinct told him to
keep running, keep trying to run, but at the same time he wanted to see
the face of the man who was now probably going to kill him. He pulled
his pistol as he turned, for all the good it would probably do him. A
man in a German uniform raised his, and Klink knew he was lost.
Then the Russian lurched forward, dropped his weapon and
collapsed. Klink saw beyond him another man in a German uniform, this
one clearly a German, who fell immediately after. Klink could feel his
heartbeat in his leg, the sizzling pain a throb in time with it. All
sounds seemed to stop then, except Heinrich's harsh gasps for air.
Heinrich groaned and tried to get up on his knees. Klink
lowered himself next to the young man. The growing dusk and the fact
that he'd lost his monocle somewhere made it a little hard to see where
Heinrich was wounded. He took off his glove and felt the man's upper
back, his hand coming away wet.
"Bitte," Heinrich said, though speaking was clearly
difficult. "Ich will nicht sterben. I don't . . . want
to die. Not like this."
Klink shook his head. "No, no, just try to stay calm. Let me .
. . ." He pressed his glove hard against the man's back in the hope of
slowing the bleeding, but the sound of ragged, wet breathing told him
there was little he could do.
"Hang on, Heinrich, just try to hang on!" he hissed too
loudly. Maybe in the hopes someone would hear him and come running to
rescue his new friend? Or just because there was nothing else he could
do. He took the man's hand and squeezed it hard, knowing it was
inadequate but the only thing left, until the labored breathing stopped
and the woods were quiet again.
"Nein," he whispered. "Nein, nein!" He
wanted to shout it, scream it at the sky, but knew attracting that much
attention would be foolish. "I'm so sorry I couldn't help you," he
whispered to Heinrich. "So sorry." He put his hand on the man's face,
the skin cold but the warmth beneath it still there, warmth that Klink
hated to think would be fading fast now. He brushed his fingers over
the man's eyelids to close them, and then shed a few tears for him, for
the unfairness of it all. He was wasting time, he knew, time he could
use to get away or get back and try to help someone else. But it wasn't
right than no one might know this man was gone until a day, a week,
even more, had passed. Someone should mourn for this loss right now.
in disbelief of what had happened, Klink did.
Eventually, the despair passed enough that Klink decided
action was all that was left. He used a tree to pull himself back up to
a standing position, and then felt his leg. It was bleeding, but he
felt sure he wasn't going to bleed to death. He needed to see if anyone
was left alive, anyone he could help, or if he could at least take a
Russian with him if this was going to be his end. He started hobbling
painfully toward the road, when a hand covered his mouth and he was
pulled tight against someone who whispered, "Quiet, they're everywhere."
Hogan had come upon the scene just as Klink seemed to be
comforting a wounded man—mortally wounded by the sound of his
breathing. By the time the shock of seeing Klink there on the ground
had passed and he was about to move forward to help, Hogan could only
stand and watch as Klink closed the dead man's eyes and expressed
despair in a way that Hogan had never witnessed. He watched, found
himself moved by what he saw, and snapped out of the moment only when
he saw Klink struggle to rise.
The Colonel then headed toward the road, where Hogan had just
seen a couple of soldiers looking around a row of cars. They wore
German uniforms, but they were speaking Russian. He knew that
soldiers, no matter what country they came from, were typically like
insects. If you see a few, dozens more are probably hiding where you
can't see them. To prevent Klink from walking into a hive of them and
getting himself killed, Hogan grabbed him from behind.
In saving Klink's life, he would end up discovered outside the
camp. Briefly, he wondered if there was some way he could do this
without giving away his identity. It only took a second to realize he
couldn't, and that it didn't really matter.
He walked backwards, taking Klink with him, trying to support
him as much as possible.
"Stay quiet, this is too slow," he whispered. He turned Klink
around and quickly ducked, pushing his shoulder into the man's waist to
lift him in a fireman's carry. He got them as far away from the Russian
soldiers as he could before fatigue forced him to put Klink down. Hogan
put him on his feet in front of a tree, then lowered him all the way
down, as he seemed too unsteady to stand alone. Then Hogan stood in
front of him, in black clothes and a black stocking cap, with grease on
his face. He knew Klink could probably see him well enough thanks to
the moon and the not quite faded daylight.
"Hogan!" Klink said, almost too loudly. "What are
you--why--you're--" He closed his mouth and simply stared. He put both
hands on his thigh and closed his eyes. Then, of all things, Klink
started to laugh.
"Oh, oh, it's all right, Hogan. I mean, I'm all right, thanks
to you. I assure you that, if we manage to make it back, I will not
forget about this. Taking time out of your busy demolition schedule to
save my life . . . very commendable." He laughed softly again and
leaned his head back against the tree.
Hogan didn't know what to say for a moment. He leaned down to
examine Klink's leg. "Demolition, sir? Whatever do you mean? I heard
the explosions, too. Sounded far away."
"Not that far," Klink said. When Hogan didn't
respond except to squint and stare, Klink said, "You're honestly
shocked, aren't you?" He grunted in pain as Hogan pressed on his leg,
testing the injury. "All this time, I truly had you fooled. How
gratifying." He rubbed his forehead. "Are we going to wait for them to
leave and hope that they forget a car? Our driver took the key when he
"I can start a car with wires." Explosions rang out from the
direction of the road, and Hogan shrugged. "There goes that bright
Klink sighed. "The Russians--nothing if not thorough."
"Colonel, if they think you're injured, they'll underestimate
how far and fast you can move, because they weren't counting on me
showing up. We'll get as far away as possible, farther than
they'd expect you to get, then we'll wait for a safe time to head back
"They might think me dead or hurt so badly that they'll be in
no hurry to look." Klink nodded, but after a moment he said, "Why,
"Considering I'm the enemy, and considering I'm the Kommandant
of the camp where you're a prisoner of war, and I've seen you on covert
operations outside said camp, shouldn't you leave me to die or, better
yet, finish the job yourself?"
"Yes," was all he said.
Hogan picked Klink up twice more and advanced them closer to
camp and further away from the Russians. "Let me try to walk," Klink
protested both times, but Hogan told him this was faster and quieter.
"You're heavier than you look, though," he said, the second time. "If I
need traction after this, I'll send you the bill."
When they stopped, they rested and listened, ever wary of the
danger of discovery. Hogan needed to sit and catch some air, and then
tend to Klink's leg.
"What will happen now, Colonel Klink? As I'm sure you
understand, I'm legitimately concerned about my future."
Klink nodded."Yes, yes, as well you should be. If I find you
outside camp, I think serious measures must be taken. A long stretch in
the cooler, just for starters. No entertainments or dessert for a
month, and perhaps I should even send you to bed without your supper."
Klink's soft laugh was truly starting to concern Hogan."Sir,
"Ja, I know. Perhaps I am, too." He groaned as he
rolled from a sitting position down onto his side, his cheek resting on
his fists. He sighed heavily. "I won't do anything that might
jeopardize your standing at Stalag 13. In fact, I doubt you'll even be
punished. Does that satisfy you?'
"Good to know, sir."
"Hogan, if I'd rattled off a long list of things you'd suffer
once we returned, would you change your mind about--no, I apologize for
even thinking it, let alone asking. You've proven yourself better than
that; forgive me."
"No need, sir. It's a legitimate question. We are
enemies, after all."
"Are we?" Klink asked, but Hogan knew no answer was expected.
Hogan was finally catching his breath. "Sir, you said . . . if
you found me outside of camp. Did you mean . . . ?
"That I probably won't tell anyone I found you out here. Or
rather, you found me."
Hogan got out of his sweater long enough to peel off
his undershirt. He started tearing the shirt into strips to cover
Klink's wound. "But wouldn't it be a coup for you to have survived the
attack, attempted to save the life of another officer and
singlehandedly stopped an escape attempt from your own camp? Surely
there's a medal in there somewhere."
"Surely. But you weren't trying to escape. You never try to
escape. You, my dear Hogan, always come back."
Hogan stared at the Commandant, his mouth open just a little.
"I have no idea—"
"Oh, spare me! I know all about your little forays
outside the barbed wire. I have for quite some time." The silence
stretched on until Klink spoke again. "I see it's not a medal I
deserve, but some kind of acting award! One of your country's new
Academy Awards, perhaps!" He put his finger in the air as he said that.
"World class performance, yes?" He sighed and put his hand on his cold
head, rubbed his eye. "But an actor needs his props, and here I am,
without all mine."
"You did have me fooled, sir. All those inspections . . . if
you knew, then why didn't you stop me?"
"Do you have any idea just how boring my job is? No, of
course, you wouldn't. Nothing about your life is boring. You're
fighting a war, even from inside a POW camp. All I do is administrate.
you know, I shouldn't complain. I orchestrated my career this
way. I just had no idea how . . . unfulfilling it could truly be.
Better than some things, at least."
Klink moved to sit up again, smiling in his excitement. "But you,
made it much better. I follow your comings and goings as best I
can. It's like a game, Hogan, to see if I can figure out what you're
going to do before you do it! I suspect you'd be surprised to find just
how often I manage it."
Hogan didn't know what to say. Or what this really meant for
his future at the camp. Klink might just be toying with him to see what
he'd reveal. But, somehow he didn't believe that. He carefully pushed
Klink's pant leg up and out of his way.
"Hogan, you're uniquely speechless—how absolutely delightful!"
Klink's smiled faded. "Ah, but I see you think me treasonous. A traitor
to Germany, betrayer of the Vaterland," he said, his head
bobbing just a little.
"No, sir. Actually, I don't. Do you?" He wrapped strips of
shirt around Klink's leg.
"Bah," Klink said, waving his hand. "I love Deutchland,
is my home. That does not mean I love the direction it's heading
in. You and I have discussed our similar backgrounds many times, or at
least alluded to them, I suppose, if not discussed them. I am
Luftwaffe, Hogan. Wermacht. But I am not, nor will I ever be,
a Nazi, not in my heart." He bumped his fist against his chest. "Yet, I
know my place, and I think I know how to get out of this war without
being thrown into a prison camp myself. I have to play their little
game, as do Schultz and most Germans, because to do otherwise
would mean almost certain death. But most Germans, most true patriots,
are as alarmed as I am at what's happening."
"That actually restores some of my faith in human nature."
"Told you. I should have been an actor after the War!" He put
his hand on his leg and winced at the pain. "Easy . . . ."
"So you're not a Hitler fan, despite all the Heiling
you do in public?"
In the dim light, Hogan could just make out Klink's
expression, and it was startling. He'd seen Klink embarrassed, furious,
terrified and just verklemmt, but he'd never seen this
expression, this deadly serious look that actually gave him a chill
that had nothing to do with the cool night air.
"Mein Fuhrer," Klink said, contempt clear in his voice, "is
inhuman. A--a madman. A madman that my country made the mistake
of putting into power, and now we, and all of Europe, the West, the world
. . . we are paying the price for his Brutalität. You
already know about Stalin's progress, about the Allied forces spreading
across France. Hitler's days are, what is your expression . . .
numbered, and with them, all of Germany's, I fear. I only hope there's
something left to rebuild when it's over." He sighed. "I only wanted to
retire to the comforts of civilian life. I didn't think that was too
much to ask."
Hogan wondered at how bad things must really be for the
Germans. For Klink to tell him all this, he must surely think he
wouldn't be commanding Stalag 13 for much longer.
"If not for the fear of making noise and drawing the Russians,
I wish I had my violin. Something sad, sad and mournful, would be so
appropriate right now." Klink shivered.
"Sir, if you had your violin, I'd be praying for the Russians
to find us."
Klink's mouth dropped open. "What, you don't like my playing?"
But he only managed to maintain his shocked expression briefly, and
Hogan couldn't tell if he looked pleased or just resigned. Klink
Hogan paused in his wrapping and put his stocking cap on
Klink put his hand on the cap. "What about you?"
"Well, I do have hair," Hogan said, teasing, "and doing all
the work is keeping me warm. When I finish this, we need to move again."
Klink cried out softly as Hogan finished the tie on his
makeshift bandages. "Let's stay here just a few minutes more, to rest,
then I'll be ready. Hogan, managing to live long enough to go back to
civilian life, getting out of all of this madness alive. . . has never
seemed unlikely to me, before now."
"Colonel Klink," Hogan said softly, "I don't know about what
might happen later. But I'm going to get you back to camp--I'm an
expert at this stuff, remember? And I personally believe that death is
highly overrated," Hogan said, giving Klink his most charming half-grin
and hoping he could see it clearly.
Klink nodded. "Yes, yes it is."
"And who would deny us extra rations? Wouldn't be the same
coming from anyone else."
Klink laughed a little. "Nor would it be the same for me to
deny anyone else. But I knew you'd get what you wanted no matter what I
said. I could not be seen by my superiors as being soft on the
prisoners, you understand." He took a deep, shaky breath. "Did you
know, Hogan—no, of course you wouldn't know this—that I was never
supposed to be here, at Stalag 13? Had I taken the first offers I had
several years ago, I wouldn't be administrating a POW camp at all?"
"Let me guess," Hogan said, actually enjoying the bizarre
conversation as he carefully slid Klink's pant leg back down. "You
turned down some high ranking position in the hopes that a better one
would come along. Or that you'd get the job of managing a POW camp
instead? In the hopes of meeting someone like me?"
Klink shook his head. "They offered me two other camps, both
of which I politely declined."
Hogan knew exactly what Klink meant by the spite with which
he'd said camps. "Which ones?"
"Belzec and then Chemno. My family name, my uncle . . . there
are connections, and someone decided that it would be best for me to
take part in this. I begged off, using the excuse that they were in
Poland. Germany is my home, and I simply wanted to stay here. They
believed that. Then there was talk of me going to Dachau because the
current leadership was in upheaval. Dachau, in Germany—I'd have had no
excuse! But Stalag 13 had a need first and I jumped at the chance."
Hogan didn't say anything for a long time. "What if they'd
told you they were sending you to Dachau anyway?"
"I'd be locked in a camp myself or dead, if there was no way I
could have gotten out of it. Because there are many things I will do to
survive this war, Hogan. Many things. What goes on in those camps . . .
is not one of them." Klink's voice quavered at the end.
"I'm pleased to hear you say that, sir," Hogan said softly.
"For the record, I'd never think you capable of such a thing."
Klink looked pointedly at Hogan. "Thank you. I wonder, though,
do you think me a coward for using the location of the camps as an
excuse and not plainly stating my objections? Because at its heart, it
is a cowardly act, isn't it?"
Hogan shook his head and then rubbed his forehead as he sat
down next to the Colonel. "I'm not sure it is. One objection would have
been like a drop of water in a frying pan, gone before anyone knows
it's there. You're not a coward. You're . . . working with what
you have, gaming the system." Hogan realized that not only was Klink
not a coward, he was, in his way, actually on his side by knowing about
his missions, even in vague terms, and not stopping him. "We all have
our parts to play, sir. All of us. You dying then would have been a
terrible waste, for many reasons."
"Perhaps," Klink mumbled. "I do think that once the war is
over, if I can, I'll dedicate myself to the rebuilding, whether it's
military installations or civilian areas. Pay my penance, so to speak.
Perhaps that will make me feel less cowardly than I do
"If you feel that way, it's only because you're playing that
part. And as you've pointed out, you're a good actor. So good, maybe
you fool yourself." Hogan put his hand on Klink's shoulder. "Commandant
Klink reached up and took the hand, squeezing it tightly.
"Please, Colonel Hogan, you've just saved my life, and I've made a
confession to you that would easily put me before a firing squad.
Please, call me Wilhelm, just for now . . . Robert, if I may, is that
what people called you, before the war?"
"Not Robert. Only people yelling at me or ordering me around
usually call me that." He smiled. "My friends used to call me Bobby."
"Bobby . . . that sounds like a little boy's name. You know,
it rather suits you."
"Always a kid at heart, that's me." He squeezed Klink's hand.
"Wilhelm, I saw you trying to help that man you were with, and I saw
you heading back to the road instead of running the other direction.
And you've just told me that you refused to take part in the outright
murder of thousands, hundreds of thousands, of innocent people. You are
an honorable man--not a cowardly one."
Klink's head nodded once, twice, then he patted Hogan's hand,
held it briefly between both of his. "The man, the one who died, he was
going to send me cookies . . . made by his mother." Klink closed his
eyes. "Do you think LeBeau would make some if I get him the ingredients
and a proper recipe? They have to be done just right, you see, left to
cure for at least a few weeks—more is better. You and your men may
share them, of course."
Hogan nodded. "I'm sure he can be persuaded. Not calling him
Cockroach might be a nice start?" Hogan heard something moving through
the brush and cocked his head. The movement was too heavy, too
lumbering, to be a small animal. Would the Russians have come looking
this far? Most likely it was a civilian or a German soldier. Damn
it all, he didn't have time to hide. He let go of Klink's hand. "Sir, Wilhelm,
your pistol and point it at me."
Klink only hesitated for a moment and then seemed to realize
what was going on. He pulled his pistol and did as Hogan said. Hogan
sat down a few feet away from Klink, in front of him, and held his
hands up as if he were Klink's prisoner.
"Was ist los?" the soldier said as he came into their
clearing, shining a flashlight first at Klink, then Hogan. He lowered
"Colonel Klink from Stalag 13," Klink said. "This man is my
prisoner. Gott sei Dank--do you have a car nearby? I'm
wounded and fear I can't walk far."
"You are wounded?" the soldier asked in what Hogan thought was
a detached way, and then held up his own hand, dark with blood. "So am
I." He looked at Hogan. "Who is this? Where did he come from?"
"He's an American Colonel, attempting escape from my camp. But
now he'll be going back, straight into the cooler!" he said, and Hogan
almost smiled at how fierce he sounded.
"No, he won't be going back. Because he most likely had a hand
in blowing up the convoy I was traveling with this evening, an attack
that few survived. And if he didn't, who will know the difference? You
and I, Klink, we will be heroes for killing one of the men responsible
for that destruction, ja? We will share the glory." He raised
his pistol again and pointed it at Hogan.
"Nein! He is my responsibility, and the highest
ranking offer among the prisoners. I need him alive so I can use him as
example to keep the rest in line. Surely you understand that? Lower
your weapon, now."
The officer shook his head, then cocked his pistol. Hogan
wondered if squeezing his eyes shut would help with the pain, or if
he'd die instantly. He flinched as a shot rang out, then watched as the
officer shook for a moment and dropped to the ground. Hogan looked at
Klink, who held his pistol still in the air where he'd shot the man,
almost as if frozen in place. Finally, he let his hand drop and made a
soft sound of pain as it hit his leg.
"Thank you. I won't forget this, either."
"No, Bobby," Klink said softly. Hogan could have
sworn Klink had a sad smile on his face. "Neither will I."
Getting back to camp hadn't been easy, but it wasn't as
difficult as Hogan had anticipated. They'd started immediately, aware
that the sound of the shot might draw more soldiers. Klink seemed to
have found his second wind and managed to limp, arm around Hogan's
neck, for long periods of time without needing to rest. When they got
just outside camp, Hogan left him to head back for the tunnel.
Klink was soon inside the camp and getting the medical
attention he needed, with generals and investigators racing for the Bad
Kissingen woods and the camp to find out just what had happened. No one
had any knowledge of this supposed banquet, the whole thing a ruse to
draw the officers out together. Klink put on a new monocle and his
smile, and managed to look crestfallen that the entire honor had been
The cars had been discovered before they'd made it back, as
well as the burned bodies and the body of Heinrich in the woods.
Another day passed before the German soldier Klink shot was found, and
he was presumed another victim of the Russians, who obviously had blown
the bridge, as well.
A few days after all the excitement, Hogan finally spotted
Klink outside his office. Until now, he'd been cloistered and
surrounded by superiors and Gestapo demanding every detail of what had
happened. As much as Hogan would have liked to raise Hochstetter's
blood pressure by showing up at the man's elbow a few times, he thought
it might be best to stay clear for a while.
Now, Hogan approached casually, his collar up against the wind
and his hands in his pockets. He fell into step next to the Colonel,
whose limp was much less pronounced.
"Good to see you, sir."
"I do not share your sentiment, Hogan. Don't you have some
sort of work you should be doing? Doesn't something need washing or
tidying? The last barracks inspection was disgraceful and I won't stand
for that again." Klink made a sharp turn and pushed aside the guard who
walked next to him, as if annoyed at the world.
"Sir, I wanted to ask permission—"
"But sir, you don't even know—"
"I don't have to know. Anything you could possibly ask
Hogan watched Klink walk away in a huff, and he tried not to
smile too much in front of Schultz and the other guards.
"What's the good word there, sir?" Newkirk asked. He stood in
the doorway of the barracks and nodded his head in Klink's direction.
"Twisted up as tight as ever, is he? You'd think getting' shot in the
gam might soften the ol' Colonel a bit."
"Everything denied, as usual. The old Iron Eagle's not going
to give us an inch, which is why we'll just keeping taking them," he
said with a smile, clapping Newkirk on the shoulder as they went
inside. He hadn't told Newkirk about what happened, only that he
was delayed because the woods were crawling with Germans and
Russians. He'd almost told Kinch, because if he had something he knew
he wanted to keep to himself, he could tell Kinch without worry. But
after thinking hard about it and then sleeping on it, he'd decided that
no one else needed to know.
Klink sat, his forgotten cup of tea gone cold. He sat sideways
in his desk chair, his leg propped up to alleviate the swelling that
tended to appear now around his ankle. The doctor said that was normal,
and should go away once his leg's healing had progressed. He'd stared
at his boot and thought about those damn Lebkuchen, and got positively
The tears were for Heinrich, and himself, and all of them
caught in this war. It wasn't the cookies exactly, and he'd only known
the man briefly. But it was the humanity of it. They'd sat next to each
other in a car, wearing weapons, going to be honored for housing enemy
prisoners and making war, and had talked lovingly of cookies and
treats. Like they might have, had they met in a tavern after a day in
any office. It had been a taste of normal life for a change, stolen
away by a Russian bullet. And that the taste of normalcy that was so
rich and delightful and had been snatched away as quickly as it had
come made him even more weary of the charade. And it made him angry,
which felt far better than weariness.
Hogan had been there, though, and Klink still found himself in
disbelief at all he'd revealed to the man. Had he encountered Hogan
outside the camp under other circumstances, he was sure he would not
have. Though he realized, equally shocked, that he might have wanted
to. But surely, had he not lost a potential new friend just moments
before, no, he wouldn't have revealed his distaste for Hitler and his
thoughts about the war in general. Would he?
Hogan seemed to take the place of Heinrich, whom he felt he
mourned far more than their short relationship warranted. Still, he'd
sent a note of condolence to the man's mother, and had only remembered,
while he wrote it, that his first name had been Karl. Klink wrote and
told her how charming he'd found her son, and told her how he'd bragged
on her cooking, and her Lebkuchen. How he'd been talking so fondly of
her, just before the end. He felt it was the least he could do.
He hadn't asked Cockr—LeBeau about the cookies, and hoped that
Hogan would arrange it for him instead. He felt self-conscious
discussing the matter with anyone but Hogan. He would actually let the
prisoners have some—as much as LeBeau was willing to make—as long as he
could have his own personal stock. But he did want to share some
privately with Hogan, over coffee or tea. Perhaps they'd enjoy some Glühwein
together, as well. He wondered if Hogan had ever drunk mulled
wine, another taste that reminded him of home this time of year, and
Now that the generals and Gestapo had gone and all the proper
reports had been filed—one even recommended Klink for a medal,
ironically, the War Merit Cross with Swords—he felt incredibly alone.
When someone knocked, he sat up a bit straighter and couldn't help
feeling disappointed that it wasn't Hogan.
"Herr Kommandant, I just wanted to check and see if
there was anything I could do for you before I retire for the night?"
"No, Schultz. Thank you."
Schultz stood there, his mouth working almost as if he were
chewing his tongue.
"Yes? Spit it out."
"Sir, I cannot help but wonder . . . your leg was bandaged.
When I helped you inside, the bandages you had me remove before the
doctor arrived . . . ."
"Schultz, just ask what's on your mind," Klink said,
with only minor impatience. "You want to know where those bandages came
from, don't you?"
"All right, I'll tell you. But I must warn you, the knowledge
could very well end up leading me in front of a firing squad. And if
you know the truth, then—"
"No, sir. No," Schultz said, waving his hands and backing
away. "I don't want to know that badly."
"You know nothing, is that right?"
"Nothing! Yes, sir."
"All right then. If you're still curious after the
war, you'll call me. Oh, and Schultz? There is one thing you can do for
me, after all. Send Colonel Hogan to see me at once."
"Ja wohl, mein Kommandant!"
He closed his eyes and got lost in thought after Schultz
practically raced from the room. He knew he could actually trust
Schultz with what happened, and the man would, in the end, know
nothing. But he didn't want to. He wanted what had happened to belong
just to him.
Klink didn't smile at Hogan when he was shown in, but waved
impatiently for him to sit. A few moments after the door was closed and
he was sure no one was going to pop back through, Klink asked, "Wine,
"Wine would be wonderful. Thank you, sir.
Jägermeister makes me feel like my stomach and my brain are
jostling for position somewhere in my throat."
Klink's stern expression softened just a little. "Typically American,"
said with mock disgust as he poured a glass of fine German wine for
Hogan, then poured one for himself. He opened his desk drawer and
pulled out a black stocking cap, one he'd looked at many times over the
past few days. His hat was lost somewhere in the woods, perhaps when he
and Heinrich had been shot, he didn't even remember. And Hogan had
taken this cap off and put it on his head to help him stay warm. It was
a small thing, but the more he thought about it, the less small it had
seemed. When Hogan hurried away after they'd almost reached the gates,
Klink realized he'd forgotten it and had put in his coat pocket before
entering the camp.
He offered it to Hogan. "Here, tomorrow is supposed to be the
coldest day yet." Klink held onto the cap for just a little longer than
necessary after Hogan reached to take it.
Hogan looked at him, and Klink was grateful that he didn't say
anything or try to put any of it into words, this understanding that
clearly passed between them. Instead, Hogan nodded before he put it
into his pocket. And he smiled, a rare smile from him, one that held no
mockery or tease. It was almost solemn, Klink thought.
Klink sighed. "Have a cigar, Hogan, help yourself. You always
do anyway." He held his glass up in salute.
Hogan clicked their glasses together and took a long drink
before he leaned back in his chair, rolling a cigar between thumb and
forefinger. He gestured toward the humidor on the Commandant's desk. "I
can get you some better cigars, if you'd like, sir." He
grinned, the boyish smile Klink was used to back now. "Yours are a bit
Klink laughed. "Indeed."