In the Watches of the Night – A Good Dream (Part 1)
A/N – I do not own the Hogan's Heroes characters (wish I did).
URGENT DO NOT IGNORE!
This is the start of a four part story arc called 'A Good Dream (Parts 1, 2, 3 & 4)'. Please read in order, because this Chapter will be separated from the rest of the story – this Chapter is rated T and can stand alone, but the rest may become M rated (or I may edit the work and post M-rated deleted scenes or not, as the mood strikes me). The future Chapters will contain slash, so you have been warned.
Also, please note that I am deliberately using the British/European dating convention for those episodes that occurred there: day, then month, then year.
28, December 1945
Somewhere in London, England
"WHAT IS THIS MAN DOING HERE?!"
Wolfgang Hochstetter was not having a good day.
Germany had lost the war; the Third Reich was no more. Everything that he had believed in, up in smoke and flame. The world was topsy-turvy, nothing was as it seemed. Even his Mama, his own Mother! A member of the Resistance! A Member in Good Standing! A member-in-good-standing-who-married-a-lowly-Russian-tailor-of-a-POW! A STALAG 13 POW!
He blamed Hogan.
He blamed Hogan for the bombing of Dresden, the storming of Normandy, the fall of Berlin, the Fuhrer's suicide, and going bald.
He blamed Hogan for EVERYTHING.
And now? This.
His show trial. Oh, they claimed it would be fair. They said they would consider everything in his favor. They even gave him an admittedly intelligent young American advocate, a Lt. Thomas Weber. And he was told from the beginning that he was not facing any charges that would carry a death sentence.
So what? He was still on trial, on trial for the fault of being a good, efficient, loyal German officer! Why should he be punished for that? True, his job did include interrogation, and if he had ever had proof against Hogan in his hands, he would have happily shot both Hogan and Klink after wringing every drop of information out of them. Maybe he would have shot Hogan first, to prove to Klink and the rest of Hogan's men that he was only mortal, not Till Eulenschpiegel or Loki come again. Or perhaps Klink would die first, after being made to confess his crush on the superior American officer. Ha! He'd hardly need a bullet then; knowing Klink, he'd likely die of embarrassment, and save the Luftwaffe the price of ammunition.
But no. No such luck. Instead, HE was on trial, Hogan was a General (a General! admittedly better than Burkhalter by a long shot), Klink was employed as an American Army interpreter and records clerk (spending less than a month ONE VERDAMNEN MONTH in an American POW camp) and his dear Mama was helping with his defense, wearing a ridiculous grin that he hadn't seen on her since before his Papa died.
And the final insult? Klink was his alibi! Oh, of course, Klink's reports did often show that he was not involved in many rumored 'atrocities' (and he refused to believe in any of it...it was just another way for the Allies to discredit the glorious Third Reich...the Fuhrer would have had to have been insane to waste the money, the time and effort, the manpower, the materials, only to murder a million children! No, no it was propaganda of the worst, lowest sort! He would not, would never believe that any of his countrymen would have stooped so low as to torture and murder six year-olds for the crime of being Jewish...BAH! They'd have to show him pictures first! And no one would be so stupid as to take pictures of such horrors...no, no one is THAT stupid, not even Klink)...so, well, he supposed he should be grateful to Klink, he mused.
Suddenly, a sharp jab in the ribs from his Mama brought him back to the present.
An unbelievable present.
Klink had just been called as a witness, moving with such quiet confidence that Hochstetter had to rub his eyes, thinking that he was mistaken... this couldn't be Klink and yet it was, there he was, in a...a...an American uniform? THAT IS TOO MUCH!
"WHAT IS THIS MAN DOING HERE?!"
The British Judge calmly gaveled for order: "Lt. Weber, control your client! Major, if you haven't realized it yet, I shall make it quite plain. This man is doing you a tremendous favor by coming here and testifying, allowing his personal journal into evidence. His reports and those of others in the Underground, as well as certain eyewitness testimony have already saved your life. These proceedings are to determine the extent of your harassment of the POWs and the civilian population, as well as the possible abuses by you and your underlings in your interrogation work, and therefore, the extent of punishment required."
"BUT HOGAN WAS THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN IN GERMANY! He was a spy and a saboteur and Klink was his fool! You are all prosecuting me for doing what was within my rights, and Hogan is still making a fool of me and getting away with it! I demand to examine this so called journal so that I can defend myself and prove that Hogan was not an ordinary PRISONER!"
Before either the Judge or Hochstetter could further comment, Lt. Weber rose to address the Court: "Your Honor, may it please the Court, but the Defendant is correct. If the journal shows that Hogan was a spy and Klink knew of it, then the claims of unlawful harassment of the Stalag 13 POWs are rebutted."
A patrician voice (belonging to the prosecutor, a British Capt. Christopher Lee) chimed in: "Your Honor, it has already been established that the former Col. Hogan's supposed clandestine activities are of no moment to this discussion. He was a registered prisoner of war of Stalag 13. Unless and until a court of competent jurisdiction declared him 'unlawful combatant' and thus subject to the German laws regarding espionage and sabotage, his treatment at the hands of the Gestapo was per se in violation of the current Geneva Convention."
A quiet voice chimed a question: "I know I am only a witness, but in the interests of fairness, might I suggest something?" Col. Klink looked towards the Judge and at his nod of approval, turned and addressed the defendant:
"We are no longer compelled to do as you say. But as you know, Major, I am always happy to cooperate with the Gestapo. I have a photographic copy of my journal from last winter here. You may look at it as much as you wish for the weekend. Of course, if you cannot find any evidence by Monday, you will then withdraw your objections and allow us to proceed."
"I will need my cryptology book," huffed Hochstetter.
"Won't you need someone who can break code as well?" asked his advocate.
"Of course not, I am a cryptologist!"
"Your Honor, if I may suggest again?" Klink raised his hand for attention like a humble schoolboy. "Dr. Alan Turing is currently in London. So eminent a man in his field would be perfect to ask. I am sure he would be happy to examine the journal, and certainly, if HE cannot reveal any so-called code, then there is none."
"Who is this man, this Turing? And how do I know that he will not simply crack the code and lie?"
"Major Hochstetter, I'm surprised! Dr. Turing is the foremost expert on codes; he has a reputation at stake and is a very honorable academic. He would never lie about such a thing. More-so, are you not yourself a cryptologist? Certainly, the only way a code would defeat you is if it does not exist in the first place. And remember, I wrote this supposed code. Could I possibly be able to write an enigma?"
"You, Klink? No! But Hogan?"
"General Hogan did not write my journal."
"But wait, it is in English! This cannot be the real journal!"
"But it is, I like to write in English, I have done since I was a youth, it kept my little brother out of my business."
"Why would you want to keep secrets from your little brother?"
"Ahh, well the Major withdraws that question." Weber hastily interjected.
"No, I do not!"
"Yes, yes you do."
"Nein! It is..."
"It is a foolish question, and Wolfgang withdraws it, so as not to waste the Court's time, ja?" Madame Hochstetter-Minsk, elbowed her son fiercely, scowling the former Major into submission.
" Jawohl Mama."
"Besser." Madam gave the judge her 'See? He'll listen to me' look, and smiled.
Lt. Weber piped up before the conversation devolved even further into absurdity: "Your Honor, I ask that we adjourn until 0900 hours Monday, December 31st."
"Granted. Gentlemen (and Lady) we are adjourned."
As Hochstetter left the courtroom, he looked back in wonder at the former Kommandant, muttering: "Who are you, and what have you done with that jelly fish, Wilhelm Klink?"
Hochstetter proceeded to spend every waking minute on the journal, especially one particular entry that was so poetic (unlike what he thought of the boring Klink) that it must be code:
27th December, 1944
Call this a dream if you will.
I write this now to remember it always, for it is only a dream.
A good dream, when I have so few.
We were walking in the sunshine, in the height of summer, all things in flower and leaf.
We walked until we reached a clearing, and spread our blanket in the meadow, our picnic things out and a feast spread before us...
We laughed and sang, our conversation merry.
Then you, bold thing! made a proposal, and I accepted with a full heart.
I gave you the most chaste kiss, and you bestowed upon me your warm and gentle embrace.
We gathered our things and rambled away.
We returned to your home and I bid you a soldierly farewell...
Happily, I returned to my quarters, knowing that I would see you again, now that we had an understanding.
He read it forward, backward and upside down. He used every cipher, every code in his cryptology book. He even tried the "old Wellington cipher" that he thought he remembered when the Englander found those plans in Fraulein Hilda's desk.
He tried everything, the holding cell he was kept in awash with so much crumpled paper, it resembled a paper-mâché storage room.
31, December 1945
Somewhere in London, England
Monday arrived, with Hochstetter no wiser.
He was positively crushed when he had to admit to the Judge that he was no closer to understanding the code than before.
At that, a thin, tall, English academic took the stand: "Gentlemen, please understand that even though I was convinced of my theory from the first glance, I owed it to the fairness of these Nuremberg style trials to be as honest as possible. Thus, I examined the journal thoroughly, and I will stake my reputation on it, there is no code to be broken. There is only an educated man's journal, with factual observations and the occasional pleasant fancy written to amuse and pass the time. As Sigmund Freud once said: 'Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.' "
"The Defendant will refrain from making disagreeable noises!" the Judge exclaimed.
Dr. Turing continued smoothly: "In any event, I assure you all that I have tried every cipher, every method, including translation into languages living and dead that the writer can reasonably be expected to know, and there is nothing to be seen that is not apparent with the naked eye. 'Tis what 'tis."
Since it was the last day of his trial, they were going over the four days that Hogan had spent in interrogation at headquarters. Lucky for Hogan (and how did that man have such luck?) he himself had been in Berlin and did not know of his nemesis' capture until he'd returned and Hogan had been released back to Stalag 13. If only he had known! He would have used every device to break a man, would have wiped the famous smirk off Hogan's face, would have, would have...but now, the translated transcripts of the routine Gestapo reports, the recordings of each day's interrogation, the litany of what actually did happen broke through his reverie.
And for once, Major Wolfgang Hochstetter listened.
He really listened.
He heard blows raining down on a restrained man, bound so he could not defend himself.
He heard a whip crack, over and over, until even the wielder was tired of the sound.
He heard the hum of an electric current and the only yelp that a stubborn man would allow himself.
He heard a man steadfastly claim over and over that he was just another escaping prisoner.
He heard his men whisper among themselves, wondering if it was too much, if they had made a mistake.
He heard the lies that Hogan and his underlings told each other to stay alive.
The more he truly heard, the worse he felt.
But it wasn't until the very end that he heard the one thing that he didn't expect:
"You still want to know why I saved Klink? Fine! Because the last decent guy in Germany deserves better than being abandoned by his friend to die alone in the snow!"
He heard the truth.
And it hurt.
4, January 1946
Somewhere in London, England
They had made a deal.
He would plead guilty to the 'unlawful use of enhanced interrogation techniques' against Hogan and others and be sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, eligible for parole after 7 years.
He would be transferred to a German prison in the American Sector, as would Burkhalter (whose trial had been conducted and concluded with much less fuss).
Klink had stayed as an observer and as a so-called 'Friend of the Court'. Such a person or organization, explained the young defense attorney, would be allowed to comment and present testimony, even though they were not directly involved in the case, but otherwise had a special interest in the proceedings. Additionally, they often had special expertise in the issues at hand. So as a "Friend" he had stayed to see, as he put it: "Justice done for all concerned."
And Klink had played the part well; whether softening Captain Lee's stance on the parole issue, or sternly reminding the defendant how many times that Hogan had managed to save him from the normal consequences of failure in the Third Reich, Klink evenhandedly steered both sides to an equitable conclusion.
Even Hochstetter had to admit, if the shoe had been on the other foot, and he were the prosecution, the sentence passed would have been far more severe. As it was, he was career military; IF he HAD to go to prison for the Fatherland, seven years with others like himself wouldn't be all bad. And those soft Americans, while not so soft, were a vast improvement over the British or the French...and the Russians? The Russians didn't bear thinking of...if they were sending him there, he would have pleaded to be shot.
All in all, his sentence was a solution he could live with.
But one thing still drove him crazy.
Why were Klink and Hogan helping him?
4 January, 1946
Somewhere in London, England
It would be his last night in this holding cell. By tomorrow morning, he would be back in Germany.
But not his Germany.
It was finally sinking in; he was going to prison.
He was going to prison; and it was finally sinking in.
He was beginning to be grateful for small comforts: for example, his garb would be prison issue, but his Mama had been allowed to gift him with long-johns and hand-knitted socks. She told him that he'd have a small account for extras at the prison commissary. The facility was new, and built for the purpose, so no converted warehouses or wine cellars. The cells would at least be clean. Sanitary.
But the Americans had no castles in their land.
Did they know how to build the drains in a holding cell properly?
Or were they too modern for that?
His present accommodation had no drain, but it was a spare conference room turned sleeping quarters.
You still needed drains.
It was easier when the prisoners shamed themselves.
Not that it was really shameful; only the cowards pissed themselves immediately.
Depending on what was done, one really couldn't help it.
He hoped that he wasn't a coward.
Hogan's men weren't.
Not even Klink.
Why wasn't Klink a coward anymore?
Hogan was the answer.
The only answer.
He could blame Hogan now for this too.
It was Hogan's fault.
It was all Hogan's fault.
Because of Hogan, Klink was now a respected officer of the greatest army in the world.
It was Hogan's fault that his Mama was a member of the Underground, that she risked her life to help him and his kriegies, his fault that she married a poor Russian tailor.
His fault that she survived the war with honor from the Allies, was allowed to keep her estate intact, had her papers in order so that she could move to Bridgeport, USA with her new husband, who (thanks to one insufferably smug American General) was not so poor...in fact, he was the head tailor at the finest menswear store in New York City...the new American President was wearing one of Minsk's suits for the Japanese surrender...so not so poor...
It was completely Hogan's fault that she was now alive and happy.
But but but Hogan was dangerous, a thief of property of the Third Reich, a confidence man, the type who could sell Himmler his own eyeglasses.
A dangerous man. A liar.
He could lie his way out of a hungry lion's mouth... yes yes of course, Hogan could not be trusted!
As when the Russian scientist's rocket destroyed itself,...that Hogan made the suggestions that allowed them all to survive.
It was Hogan's fault.
Hogan's fault that he had survived half a dozen incidents of failure; Hogan's doing that he still lived when others like him were dead.
It. Was. All. Hogan.
So, you see, he really couldn't help it, the former Major thought to himself, it was all Hogan's fault that he was crying.
That was how Klink found him.
Curled up in a little ball in his stocking feet, arms locked around his knees, head bowed, rocking back and forth – crying.
For a few seconds, the former Kommandant found himself in familiar circumstances – confused and completely at a loss of what to do.
Then, as if Hogan was there whispering into his ear, Klink had an idea; a comic bit of payback that would at the least pull Hochstetter back from the edge.
"ACHTUNG! Ein höherer Offizier soll Sie hier Herr Major sehen,." ( "ATTENTION! A superior officer is here to see you, Herr Major." )
"Wo, Wo?" ( "Where, where?" ) Hochstetter jumped to attention, not realizing that he was still on the bed. Confused by the height and angle, he looked around and spotted Klink. Force of habit, the Major began to shout in English: "What is this man doing here?" but he'd been crying too long and his voice was a mere thread of itself.
"Please, Major, sit down. We have much to discuss, and my time with you is short." Since Hochstetter had switched languages, so did he. Klink sat at the table (in the only chair), the briefcase he had carried into the room laid atop it.
"Bah! You have all the time in the world, you have won and better men than you are dead and buried."
Hochstetter stopped himself, embarrassed for once. Yet he could not bring himself to apologize; he was the wronged party after all. Except that he was not, and he began to flush, as he sat down on the bed. Klink took that as a sign and nodded. He continued as if there had been no break in the train of conversation:
"Major, I will be blunt. You owe Colonel Hogan for the fact that you are alive today, and in one piece. You owe Brigadier General Hogan, in part, for the lightness of your current punishment," and Klink held up a hand to stop the beginning of the tirade that Hochstetter was reflexively gearing up for, "and you will owe the someday Major General Hogan for whatever future you may live to have from now on. For such a vast debt, I demand on his behalf simple, minimal cooperation regarding your future conduct."
"You demand? By what right do you demand?" Robbed of his normal volume of bluster, Hochstetter's inquiry came out as a quaver.
"Justice. Were-gilt for all those you have wronged. In exchange for the life you have and will have, I require only your silence, now and in perpetuity, regarding Stalag 13 and its people."
"Oh, really? That is all? Why should I be silent? You have just convicted me, sent me to prison, because Hogan is not Papa Bear. Just an ordinary prisoner of war. Why should I be silent about him? Why should I be silent about Stalag 13? Why should I be silent about you?" whispered the former Gestapo man as maliciously as he could manage.
"Are you really so lost to common sense as well as common decency? To simple gratitude?" The force of Klink's words, the look of disdain and pity, stopped the rest of Hochstetter's rant cold. So Klink continued: "Since you require an explanation – listen! And do not interrupt..."
"You are being sent to Bremen, in the American Sector, to a new facility there. It is minimum security housing, and while still a prison, it will likely be more comfortable than the Barracks where Hogan and his men endured.
"Because it is minimum security, the guards will be less hostile. They will know that the cells house only those with the least culpability, so they will be less likely to abuse unlucky enemy soldiers. Give them no trouble, and they will not trouble you! But the same cannot be said of your fellow inmates; they will be as bitter as you, some more-so, and they will need a scapegoat."
"Why should I be a target?" Hochstetter fumed, "I was zealous, I was loyal..."
"Yes and they will wonder why a zealous, loyal, ranking member of the Gestapo is still alive! How many bodies did you climb over, to win your position? How many bribes did you take, to keep you there? How many names did you give, to lessen your own punishment?"
"But I never!" Hochstetter tried to shriek in self-defense, unable to not interrupt again.
"I know, Major, I know! I have not only your doting mother's word, but the certain recollections of those of our operatives who have dealt with you for years. But you have had enemies within the Reich before now; those that have not fled will hate you still. If your enemies have a mind to do you harm?"
Klink let the question dangle. Hochstetter's eyes were already narrowing, examining his mental enemies list. To drive home the point, Klink continued:
"Not only have you to fear from fellow Gestapo. There are many in the Wehrmacht who will hate you on principal. Some will be filled with shame; some with regret. Others will simply want vengeance on whomever they can blame for the collapse of their world.
"YOU are already a target; why give your enemies more ammunition?"
Hochstetter's paranoia took off flying; more ammunition?
"Klink, what do you mean? I have done nothing wrong!" Hochstetter squeaked.
"Have you not? Really? Leaving that aside, if you continue to insist that Hogan was the illusive Papa Bear, then half the prison will want you dead for incompetence and half will believe you Nimrod and complicit and therefore will also want you dead.
"So why not kill me now and be finished? Americans!" Hochstetter growled, "too soft, yet cruel in their kindness."
Klink said nothing more. He waited.
Hochstetter sat. He stared at the older man; this was not what he was used to – not the spineless jellyfish he had been accustomed to browbeating into compliance.
THIS was a soldier.
THIS was a man.
Just like Hogan; it was as if he could see Hogan's piercing intellect behind the shield of Klink's blue eyes...
Not just blue, Hochstetter, Prussian Blue.
Now where in the world had THAT thought come from? And since when did he refer to himself in the third person?
The former Gestapo officer shook his head to clear it. To free himself from the thought of Hogan...say! AHA! If he went and served his time quietly, he could forget all about Hogan! If he served his time in a reasonable, exemplary manner, he'd no longer be in Hogan's debt. Seven years, maybe less, and he'd be free of the man, of his past, able to start over. They'd need experienced men like him back in the police department; why, he'd been an up-and-coming detective long before he'd even heard of National Socialism! He would outwit his detractors and live in spite of them, to spite them!
"Very well, Klink. You have made your point. I will go where I am sent, and will cause no trouble while I am sequestered SO LONG AS the conditions are as you said. Keep your word, and I will keep mine."
"Sehr gut. Then this is good-bye; you will not see me or the others again, but if you pass your first 6 months without incident, you will be pleasantly rewarded."
"You'll see. Auf Wiedersehen, Herr Hochstetter." Klink, briefcase still in his hand, did the former Major the courtesy of saluting in the old Prussian style, heel click and all, before calling the guard to end the meeting.
As the door locked behind his visitor, Hochstetter found his way to the bed. He'd barely reached it when the guard called light's out, and the room plunged into complete darkness. He lay there, mind spinning with questions and theories, with one thing strangely annoying him: what was in Klink's briefcase?
A/N: Here's hoping that I don't forget any shout-outs or attributions:
Hochstetter's trial could have taken place as stated, as least as to venue -
"However, the Control Council Law No. 10, which the Allied Control Council had issued on December 20, 1945, empowered any of the occupying authorities to try suspected war criminals in their respective occupation zones. " Wikipedia entry on Subsequent Nuremberg Trials.
The concepts and treaties of the "Geneva Convention" were first created in 1864 and updated several times before World War II. It was the so-called 'third' version that Capt. Lee would have been quoting; said Convention concerned itself in large part with enumerating the rights and duties of prisoners of war, including who actually was a "lawful combatant" and who wasn't. And yes, it was the Christopher Lee, a member of the British "Dept. of Un-Gentlemanly Warfare". RIP true BAMF. Alan Turing was the scientist responsible for cracking the German Enigma Code, so another real person (and if you haven't heard his tragic tale, look it up – all the world owes this man their undying gratitude and his name should be as familiar as George Washington's), but Lt. Weber was my own OC, as is Clara Hochstetter-Minsk.
As now usual, huge thanks to Snooky for her invaluable beta-ing (and to her kindness for allowing me to pick her brains); to Zevkia for allowing me to also reference her HH headcanon (her stories are must reads for all slash fans); to ChristianGateFan and WingedWolf121 for beta-ing and challenging me to do better (they don't write for HH yet but never say never – meanwhile, they are both dynamite writers so give them a try); and to 80sarcade for his kindness (don't worry, the stuff from 'Darkness' will show up, sooner or later).