In my heart,
I feel you are all my brothers
Five stories to make this a better place
3 Donīt ever judge a book by the cover... nor a man by his uniform:
Theater of War, a Hoganīs Heroes story by Eva M. Seifert
Germany, 1944. Stalag 13 is just another of the many prisoner of war camps in Nazi-Germany. Or is it? Ever since the American Colonel Hogan was taken prisoner there, it has become a rather outstanding prison-camp. Despite its foolish and inept Kommandant, no prisoner has ever successfully escaped from there. And acts of sabotage in the neighbourhood have been numerous since the cocky colonel arrived. What is going on there?
Colonel Hogan is actually the brains behind a small intelligence unit: Hoganīs Heroes. His team has set up an escape-service, helping bailed out flightcrews and escapees from other camps to get back to England. In their spare time, they blow up bridges, ammunition depots, factories in short, everything useful they can get their hands on. They come and go as they please, for the stupid Kommandant of the camp, Colonel Klink, never notices anything, and is nothing but a tool in Hoganīs hands to get what he wants without Klink even noticing it. And an inept, manipulative Kommandant is vital for Hoganīs missions. So what better way to keep him in his job than to let him have an escape-free record? And thus the prisoners at Stalag 13 have simply been ordered by London to stay put and never to escape.
This has been going on now for several years. Hogan despises the Kommandant, not only because he represents the enemy, but also because of his stupidity. Still, in order to use Klink as best as he can, he had to establish quite a close relationship with the fool. But it frightens Hogan when he discovers he has actually started to care about Klink. That wonīt do: Klink is nothing but a tool in his hands. Expendable. And Hogan sets out to prove that he is just that: expendable. But... is he really?
"I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano; A stage, where every man must play a part..."
However, it seems that Hogan is not the only one playing more than one part. The soft and good-hearted "I know nothing" Sergeant Schultz, Klinkīs brother-in-law Captain Müller, Allied commander Colonel Randall... Even Klink himself appears to have some qualities Hogan had never bothered to notice in the inept Kommandant. And in retrospective, things seem to add up to a most unbelievable outcome. For who would have thought that the mythical German underground leader The Stage was actually working right alongside them all those years?! Unfortunately, Major Hochstetter of the Gestapo has come to suspect the same...
Meanwhile the campīs population is booming and Klinkīs budgets and consequently all basic necessities are cut to the absolute minimum. The only way of keeping things bearable for the prisoners is for Hogan to cooperate with Klink as much as possible. Strangely enough, Kommandant Klink seems to grow now that the situation gets tougher and tougher. Heartbreaking scenes unfold when a load of starving, abused prisoners from another camp arrives, and Hogan and his men have to grant Klink one thing: no matter how incompetent he is, at least he always took care of his prisoners to the best of his abilities. Hogan even discovers he is starting to regard the Kommandant of their prison-camp as a friend much to the resentment of his fellow-prisoners. But then the SS shows up in camp...
As the Allies fight their way into western Germany, a peaceful surrender of Stalag 13 and the nearby town is arranged. An Allied administration unit takes over the camp until it will be liberated by Allied troops. Hogan isnīt too happy with some of their decisions, but hey, theyīre the Allies, the īgood guysī, arenīt they? Kommandant Klink is bound to find out the difference between the Allies and the Nazis. As is The Stage...
What happens when an art-lover and pacifist loves his country so much that heīll sacrifice not only his dreams, but also his life and even his personality to liberate Germany from one of the most horrid evils in history?
Based on the American TV-series Hoganīs Heroes, Theater of War should actually be classified as fanfiction. Yet it is one of the best stories I have ever read; global publication would probably turn it into an all-time classic. Its main objective is a "donīt judge a book by the cover"-attitude, for there are several people from the series whom we learn to see with completely different eyes. All this is told in a realistic and very well written world war II-thriller, with the Gestapo and the SS, with dangerous underground activities and the truth about concentration camps, with bombings and malnutrition, with courage and cowardice, with friendship, fear and hatred, with life and death. But the most important part is the human interaction, and people learning to see that a human being should always be treated as a human being. An intriguing read for anyone willing to examine his or her own attitude towards other people.
Best quote: "Dear God, I hate this war..."
The first four acts of the story Theater of War (two more acts are still to follow) can be downloaded from the internet (see link below). Unfortunately, the story is not yet completed, but the some 650 pages available are bound to turn you upside down anyway. It is recommended however to have at least some prior knowledge of the original TV-series. Videos of single episodes (approximately 25 minutes) can be watched at www.tvland.com, but the series is also available on dvd, both for region 1 (all six seasons), for region 2 (the first two seasons), and for region 4 (all seasons?).
Together weīll cry happy tears...
Download the story Theater of War from the internet
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The other four stories the whole world should read: