Stalag 13

November 1944

Day 5

 

Unaware of the true meaning behind Major Miller's request of musicians, the Propaganda Ministry considered it only for what it was. A request for more musicians. They decided they would let him have POW's, as they couldn't find any youths that could play the instruments he wanted anyway. At least, not any that weren't already serving in the Wehrmacht and to take them away from their duties in the Wehrmacht would have taken an act from the Fuehrer himself. Goebbels didn't feel that was necessary and seeing as they had plans for future propaganda stunts that would involve the Major and "demoralized" POW's, they may as well start now. Major Miller's assessment of the Germans flaunting his capture was correct, and the Propaganda Ministry couldn't wait to unveil to the world the coup they had pulled. They had captured Glenn Miller and they would use him however they could to show that the Allied cause was flawed and failing and that the Reich would be victorious.

 

Of course, they based all of that on the erroneous assumption that Miller would cooperate. Little did they know Glenn Miller.

 

And little did Colonel Hogan know Major Glenn Miller. After the aborted attempt to get the Major out of Düsseldorf the night before, Hogan had been trying to organize a way for him and the heroes to get to Düsseldorf. He had no idea Miller was about to provide an open invitation...and that invitation could have been jeopardized if the Ministry had heard about the attempted escape before allowing Miller to have POW's.

 

However, they had not and Hauptmann Reigels arrived at Stalag 13 before the morning roll call. He told the Kommandant of the Major's request and asked if he could speak to the assembled prisoners after the roll call.  Klink, being ever so helpful, pointed out that he was aware that Colonel Hogan played drums, and that there were other prisoners who could play instruments and sing. He then attempted to volunteer his services on the violin which was declined by Reigels.

 

As the prisoners lined up for roll call, Hogan and the heroes saw the Propaganda Ministry captain standing behind Klink. Having not listened in with the coffee pot, they were not aware of why Reigels was there but were sure something was up.

 

Shultz finished counting and turned to the Kommandant.

 

"Repoooooooort!"

 

Shultz saluted. "Jawohl! All prisoners present and accounted for!"

 

"Good." Klink looked at the prisoners. "Prisoners, I would like to introduce you to Hauptmann Horst Reigels of the Propaganda Ministry. Hauptmann Reigels is here today to ask a request of you. I would suggest that you consider the request carefully."

 

"Careful not to agree to it!" Newkirk shouted out. The assembled prisoners hollered their agreement.

 

"Quiet!" Klink shouted. "Any prisoner who obliges the request will receive special privileges."

 

"Like what?" Hogan asked.

 

"Those prisoners that oblige will, for their entire barracks, receive an extra ration of white bread, with butter and extra wood for their barrack's stove."

 

"How generous," Hogan said.

 

Klink ignored the Colonel's remark and turned to Hauptmann Reigels, giving a short nod. He then stepped back to let the Ministry official speak.

 

Reigels looked at the assembled POW's. "Prisoners. Four days ago the Propaganda Ministry, with help from the Gestapo, captured a very important Allied officer." Reigels paused. "Major Glenn Miller."

 

The prisoners were suddenly a buzz. Miller? Did he say Glenn Miller? The band leader?? No way... Hogan and his men all exchanged glances. Something was definitely up.

 

Reigels smiled like a cat that just ate a canary. "At this time Major Miller is taking part in the preparations for a very important broadcast and he needs some help. I'm here today with a request from the Major for a few musicians, specifically, a piano player, a drummer and a bass player."

 

The gathered prisoners all voiced their rejection of the request, Hogan and the heroes looked at each other again. "I think we just found a legitimate way to get to Düsseldorf," the Colonel said. He suddenly stepped forward. "I don't believe you've really captured Glenn Miller," he spoke up to Reigels.

 

"Hogan, you're out of line!" Klink warned.

 

Reigels raised a hand, indicating it was okay for the prisoner to speak. "You don't?" Reigels said to Hogan. "Colonel, he was held right here in this camp until yesterday. Don't tell me you weren't the least bit curious as to why you and the rest of the prisoners here were confined to barracks every time we moved him around."

 

"Sure I was curious. But that doesn't prove you have the real Glenn Miller. None of us saw him and I doubt you even know what he looks like it."

 

"Everybody in the world knows what Glenn Miller looks like," Reigels said. "He is tall, with dark hair, dark eyes, glasses and he speaks with a very rich baritone voice, perfect for radio." Reigels chuckled. "Colonel, Kommandant Klink tells me that you play drums. Perhaps you would like to see for yourself that we indeed have captured Major Miller and he has been very cooperative."

 

"Anybody can be cooperative if you threaten them enough," Hogan countered.

 

"The Propaganda Ministry does not need threats to achieve its objectives. Major Miller has merely seen that the Allied cause he has supported for so long is in vain. He knows, as will everyone else soon enough, that the Third Reich will be victorious."

 

"I still don't believe you. I don't believe you've got Miller and I surely don't believe he's being willingly cooperative." Hogan paused. "But I'll go..."

 

"Colonel, no! You can't--"

 

Hogan held a hand up. "I have to find out for sure if they really have Major Miller. But you can rest assured that if they do, they're going to be very sorry."

 

Reigels smirked. "I don't think so, Colonel. But on behalf of Major Miller I thank you for the volunteering of your services. Now..." Reigels looked at the rest of the prisoners. "We need a bass player..."

 

Hogan turned his head to look back at Kinch. The Sergeant nodded and stepped forward.

 

Reigels smiled. "Wonderful. Anybody play piano?"

 

Hogan turned his head slightly the other way, toward LeBeau. The Frenchman stepped forward, looking like he didn't like the idea but like Colonel Hogan wanted to see if it was really Glenn Miller the Propaganda Ministry had.

 

"Very good."

 

"Don't get too excited," Hogan said.  "You don't know if any of us can play yet. Maybe we all just want some more white bread...."

 

Reigels paused. "I would think that Major Miller would be extremely disappointed if his own comrades would volunteer to assist him and then turn out to be lying." Reigels started to turn and then stopped, and looked back at Hogan. "Not to mention the Propaganda Ministry would also be very disappointed..." Reigels kept his gaze on Hogan for a moment longer and turned around and nodded to Klink, indicating he was finished.

 

Klink nodded and turned to Shultz. "Shultz, after you dismiss the prisoners bring Colonel Hogan, Corporal LeBeau and Sergeant Kinchloe to my office."

 

"Jawohl, Herr Kommandant!" Shultz saluted and turned to the prisoners to dismiss them.

 

Hogan turned to Newkirk. "After we leave, get word to the Underground in Düsseldorf to let them know we're coming."

 

"Right, sir."

 

 

 

The New Players

Düsseldorf, Germany

November 1944

Day 5

 

At the same time Reigels was gathering more players from Stalag 13, Major Miller was preparing for another day of rehearsal with the young German musicians. Not that he had much to prepare with, other than to stand by himself in the studio with a cigarette waiting for them to arrive. He was beginning to find the "preferential treatment" of being locked up by himself to be a bore. When the kids did arrive, he watched them as they came into the studio.

 

"Guten Morgen, Herr Miller," they said as they came in and walked to the bandstand.  He nodded to them. "Morning..." Roderick, one of the trombone players, caught his eye. The boy was carrying his instrument in one hand and the instrument case in the other. Miller was pretty sure the boy didn't have a case the day before, and would have assumed he had just left it at the hotel the day before...but why was he carrying the instrument outside of the case now?

 

The studio door was closed and locked and Roderick placed his instrument on his chair, but continued to hold the case in his other hand. He looked at Ahren, who nodded and the two boys approached the Major.

 

"Herr Miller," Ahren said. "Roderick made a request on your behalf yesterday..." He looked at Roderick, who held the trombone case out to the Major.

 

Miller was surprised at this. He placed his cigarette in the ash tray on top of the piano and accepted the case. He then turned to a nearby chair, placing the case down to open it. What he found inside was a shiny, almost brand new looking trombone. He looked at the boys in question. "How did you boys get this?"

 

Ahren smiled. "Roderick told them that he was not sure if his instrument was going to suffice by the time of the broadcast. So he asked for a new one, in case his should fail. Truthfully, Roderick's trombone is fine, but he said seeing you stand here before us it seemed like something was missing."

 

Miller chuckled. He looked at Roderick. "Danke."

 

"Bitte." Roderick's grin was from ear to ear.

 

Miller removed the two separated parts of the instrument from the case and started to put it together. Roderick told them... Miller looked at Ahren. "You said Roderick told them. Told who?"

 

"Hauptmann Reigels from the Propaganda Ministry. He came and saw each of us after we left here yesterday."

 

Roderick tapped Ahren on the arm, wanting to know what was being said, since Miller had said his name. Ahren quickly explained. Roderick then looked at Miller and nodded. "Ja, wir wurden gefragt."

 

"We were all questioned," Ahren said. He turned and looked over at Hans and waved a finger for the trumpet player to approach.

 

"Questioned?" Miller said.

 

Ahren looked at Hans. "You were questioned by Reigels yesterday, ja?"

 

Hans nodded. "The Gestapo Major too."

 

"What did they want to know?" Miller asked.

 

"They wanted to know what we did, and what was said," Ahren explained.

 

Hans concurred. "They want to make sure we are staying on task...and that there has not been any discussion of anti-Nazi views."

 

Miller rolled his eyes. "Well, I'm surprised they don't just sit right in that control room and watch us all day," he griped.

 

Ahren and Hans both chuckled. "The Nazis do not like swing music, remember?" Ahren said.

 

"Oh yes, I forgot about that."

 

The boys smiled and Miller checked the slide on the trombone.

 

"Did they not question you?" Hans asked.

 

"Uh..." No, I was too busy trying to escape. "No, they didn't. Although more then likely they don't care what my answers to their questions would be. I think they're looking to see which of you boys is going to say one thing and which of you is going to say something different." Miller paused. "Especially you two. You're the only ones who can speak English and can communicate directly with me."

 

Hans and Ahren looked at each other and Hans nodded. "He is right you know."

 

"I did not say anything to Hochstetter or Reigels. None of us did."

 

"I know, but..." Hans looked at the Major, "it might be best we say as little as possible to one another. One of the others might say something that sounds innocent at the time, one of us might deny the wrong thing and we'll be under much scrutiny."

 

Miller nodded. "As far as the Gestapo and the Propaganda Ministry is concerned, all we discuss here is music."

 

Hans and Ahren nodded. "Ja.."

 

The studio door suddenly clicked unlocked and Anna entered with an attaché case. The three German boys and Miller looked over at her and then Hans and Ahren dispersed toward the band stand. Roderick reached for the trombone Miller held and gave it a gentle tug, getting the Major's attention. Roderick shook his head slightly and Miller got the impression that perhaps he himself wasn't supposed to be "caught" with the instrument. He let go of the trombone and nodded to Roderick, who stepped back to the band stand.

 

Miller then approached Anna. Fraulein Gebhart smiled at the Major. "Good morning, Herr Major," she said.

 

"Morning," Miller said plainly.

 

"We found the musicians you requested and arrangements for you." Anna presented Miller with the case. Miller hesitated taking it, but then did and opened it to inspect the song sheets. The case was full of titles and he looked at a handful of them, recognizing all of them. More than half the arrangements were tunes his band had done. A few were Benny Goodman songs, there were Duke Ellington and Count Basie songs, but one thing all the songs had in common was that they were all fast dance tunes. In the Mood, Running Wild, American Patrol, Bugle Call Rag, Sun Valley Jump, Boomshot, King Porter Stomp, Sing, Sing, Sing, Take the 'A' Train, Jumpin' at the Woodside, Swingtime in the Rockies, One o'clock Jump....

 

Miller wondered if this was a fluke, if the Propaganda Ministry deliberately picked these "hot" arrangements. He wasn't even sure why he found it peculiar, only that he did.

 

"We realize that not all of the arrangements can be used," Anna said, "however, are they satisfactory?"

 

Miller paused to look at another batch of songs....more of the same, fast numbers. Cherokee, Skyliner, The Anvil Chorus, I Found a New Baby. Miller nodded. "Yes, they're fine." Actually, half the songs he wouldn't have been able to use because the arrangements were more complicated than what he had for a band. And even if he did try to use the songs, it would take the young musicians weeks of rehearsal just to learn the tunes. But the Propaganda Ministry didn't need to know that.

 

"Good," Anna said with a smile. "Hauptmann Reigels will be arriving shortly with the new players." She turned and left the studio.

 

Miller watched her go and then turned back to the kids as Hans, Ahren and a couple of the other boys surrounded him, curious about the song sheets. Miller handed the song sheets to them and put the attaché case down on a chair. He turned to the piano, picked up his cigarette from the ash tray and tapped the ashes off before resuming smoking. He watched as the boys poured over the arrangements. Why was it the Ministry's selection of 'hot' arrangements bothered him? It could be just a coincidence, but he figured the Ministry would give him a stack of his own band's arrangements, everything from Moonlight Serenade to Jeep Jockey Jump, seeing as they seemed so proud of his capture. Although most of the songs in the stack were ones that his band, both civilian and military had either done originally or covered, the one song he noted that was missing was his signature theme: Moonlight Serenade. If the Propaganda Ministry really knew everything about the broadcasts and about him, they would know that he began and ended nearly every broadcast with that tune. Of course, not seeing the sheet music for the song didn't bother him necessarily, it was just as well the Germans didn't go waving that around to him, but they had to know the significance of that song...and had to have left it out for a reason. 

 

And the only reason he could think of was that the song was too slow, in comparison to the other tunes in the pile of arrangements. The arrangements that had been giving to him were a powerhouse collection and he just couldn't help but wonder if the Germans realized it was a powerhouse collection.

 

Miller looked at his cigarette and thought of this for a moment. Would they realize it? Just because the music was banned didn't mean somebody in the Third Reich wasn't paying attention, taking notes and making sure to come up with ways to keep the American influence at bay within the country, by making it all look bad.

 

There is somebody in the Third Reich, he answered his own thought. The Propaganda Ministry...

 

And now, after all this time of saying that Jazz and Swing music was 'bad' and was the 'art of the subhuman', the Propaganda Ministry was looking to use it to connect to the youth of Germany and show them that National Socialism wasn't all that bad and terrible? No...something didn't seem right about that. He looked at the kids again. These kids were arrested and placed in camps or in the Hitler Youth as punishment for listening to swing music. The Nazi's did not like swing music. Period. The Propaganda Ministry controlled what works of the creative arts were shown to the public and only those things that coincided with the Nazi view were allowed and nothing else.

 

And that meant no swing music. So why go back on a decade's worth of suppression and punishment and say Hey kids, National Socialism is great and wonderful and here's a great Glenn Miller hit to prove it!?

 

Major Miller coughed on that thought. Either the Propaganda Ministry was losing control of its control on the people or they had some other reason for all of this. Either way, Miller didn't really care because he had decided that come the day of the broadcast, the Propaganda Ministry wasn't going to get any swing music from him or the band.

 

"Herr Miller?"

 

Miller looked up at Ahren. The boy smiled and Miller realized they had been trying to talk to him and obviously he hadn't been paying attention. "Oh, sorry..."

 

The boys then told him that several of the songs in the stack of arrangements they had performed in their own band. "Oh yeah? Which ones...?"

 

 

Meanwhile, in the lobby of the radio station, Anna had greeted Reigels as he returned with the three prisoners from Stalag 13 along with their guard. They were all then joined by Major Hochstetter, who marched into the radio station as if he was about to conduct a raid.

 

"Fraulein Gebhart, Hauptmann Reigels, I thought you should know that Major Miller attempted to escape from the hotel last night..."

 

"Escape?!" Anna repeated.

 

"Ja, but my men caught him very quickly. He did not get far from the hotel." Hochstetter hesitated, not liking the idea of admitting that one of his men had been hoodwinked. "He assaulted one of my men and took his uniform."

 

Reigels and Anna looked at each other. "This will have to be addressed..." Reigels said.

 

"Perhaps I should introduce the Major to the consequences of attempting to escape from the Gestapo," Hochstetter suggested.

 

Hogan had to fight to keep his mouth shut.

 

"No," Anna said, looking at Hochstetter. "We will remind the Major that any further attempts to escape would not be in his best interest." She looked at Reigels, who nodded. He would pass along the message. Reigels then nodded to Shultz and the prisoners for them to follow him. A Gestapo guard accompanied them toward the studio.

 

Hochstetter watched them go and he came up beside Anna. "I warned you about the American. A night in the Gestapo prison would be most effective."

 

"Your suggestion is noted, Herr Major. The issue will be addressed. However...I hope the Gestapo is evaluating its guarding methods to ensure that this does not happen again."

 

Hochstetter puffed up, taking offense. "Are you suggesting that inadequate procedures were in place on behalf of the Gestapo in the guarding of this prisoner?"

 

"I'm suggesting that if Glenn Miller was able to fool one of your Gestapo guards, either you underestimate the American or your guard was a dumpkof. However, let me make it clear that the Propaganda Ministry frowns on any strong arm tactics in the guarding of Major Miller. You and your men are only to guard him. When the Propaganda Ministry decides at such time that the Major needs any further persuasion, persuasion of the kind that only the Gestapo can provide, we will let you know. Do I make myself clear, Major?"

 

Hochstetter conceded grudgingly. "Ja.."

 

"Very well. Good day, Major." Anna turned and disappeared down a hall way of the radio station. Hochstetter marched back out of the building.

 

Back in the studio the boys and Miller stopped and looked when the studio door opened and a Gestapo guard led the way, followed by Hauptmann Reigels and then three Allied POW's with a portly Luftwaffe guard in tow. Miller immediately recognized Colonel Hogan and Sergeant Shultz, but he looked at all of the prisoners, trying to appear like he had never seen any of them before. But he couldn't believe his luck! He stepped away from the boys and met Hauptmann Reigels in the middle of the studio.

 

Reigels smiled and turned to Colonel Hogan. "Colonel Hogan, I give you Major Glenn Miller." Reigels chuckled. "Do you believe me now?"

 

Hogan looked at Miller and seemed disappointed. "I don't want to, but it looks like I have no choice..."

 

Reigels turned back to Miller. "Major Miller, this is Colonel Robert Hogan, senior POW officer of Stalag 13 and Sergeant James Kinchloe and Corporal Louis LeBeau, also of Stalag 13. They will be your drummer, bass player and piano player, respectively."

 

"Fine."

 

Reigels looked back at Hogan, Kinch and LeBeau. "Well gentlemen, the Propaganda Ministry thanks you for the volunteering of your services." He gave a smug smile and then turned to Miller again. "And Major...I just heard about your little endeavor last night. I hope this will not become a habit.”

 

Hogan watched Major Miller's expression, knowing that Miller was accepting the responsibility for the escape, leaving no suggestion that there had been any outside help. "Can't blame me for trying, Captain," Miller said cordially, but Hogan saw the light of defiance in the Major's brown eyes.

 

Reigels gave a low chuckle. "Perhaps not. But unfortunately such action must be punished.”

 

Miller watched Reigels, waiting to see what the verdict would be. But when the Ministry Captain’s eyes looked towards the band, the Major’s blood ran cold.

 

Hogan, Kinch and LeBeau were exchanging concerned glances as well.

 

Reigels made eye contact with Erik. “Sie,” he said. “Step over here.”

 

Erik hesitated and the other band members looked at him. What had he done?  Erik took a trembling step and approached the Ministry Captain and Major Miller. Miller looked at Reigels as the Captain gestured to the Gestapo guard to step forward.

 

“Now wait just a minute,” Miller said. “You’re not going to punish Erik for something that I did?”

 

“The entire band, along with yourself, will have to be punished for your escape attempt.”

 

“The entire band?!” Miller pointed to himself. “I’m the one that tried to escape, not them. They have nothing to do with it.”

 

“Ah, but they do.” Reigels looked at Erik and nodded his head towards the Gestapo guard. The guard took one step forward to escort Erik out but before Erik could step forward, Miller put a hand on the boy’s shoulder and gently pushed the young trumpet player back and behind him. The Major’s brown eyes were especially dark as they looked at Reigels. Erik peered around the Major, looking back and forth between Miller and the Ministry Captain

 

I tried to escape,” Miller said, his baritone voice even but tinged with ire. “I’m the one that will take the punishment. You leave these kids out of it.”

 

Reigels seemed to be holding back a smile. “The thought of the band being punished for your misdeeds bothers you, Herr Major?”

 

Miller stared at Reigels for a long moment. There was a look of amusement in the Ministry Captain’s eyes and Miller realized he’d been both baited…and punished. Now, consequences of his future actions would not be felt by him alone. The band would be made to suffer too, as if they weren’t suffering enough. He dropped his gaze from Reigels and sighed. “I find it extremely unfair, Captain.”

 

Reigels nodded. “I figured you would.” He paused, as if to think over something. “Let us consider what happened last night to be a…misunderstanding. And we will have no further misunderstandings will we, Major?”

 

Miller shook his head. “No.”

 

Reigels smiled. “Very good.”  He stepped back, taking his leave. The Gestapo guard and Shultz followed out of the studio and the door clicked shut and was locked.

 

LeBeau turned to the door. “Dirty Boche,” he spat.

 

Miller turned to Erik and patted him on the shoulder to let him know everything was okay. The young boy’s eyes were full of question and he spoke in a hurried and startled German. “What did they want? What were they going to do to me…?”  Ahren stepped up from the band stand and began to explain what had happened to Erik, while walking the trumpet player back toward the band. Miller sighed and turned back to Hogan, Kinch and LeBeau.

 

“Before you say too much, be aware that two of the boys over there can speak English.”

 

Hogan nodded. “Are you all right?” he asked quietly.

 

Miller made a face but nodded. “I’m fine….I’d like to slap that Captain though…”

 

Hogan gave a small smile. “I could tell.” He then cleared his throat, glanced at the band and then back to his men and the Major. “Let’s make this look normal, eh?”

 

LeBeau stepped up and put a hand out to Miller. "We didn't believe the German's had captured you," he said, speaking normally and making things appear casual. "However, despite the circumstances, it is still an honor to meet you."

 

"And to see that you're okay," Kinch added.

 

Miller nodded. "Thank you,” he said, shaking hands with LeBeau and then with Kinch. “I just hope you understand that despite whatever the Propaganda Ministry may have told you, I'm not doing any of this willingly."

 

"We know," Hogan said. He then looked toward the kids, who were all sitting quietly now. "That the band, Major?"

Miller turned. "That's the band. At least...that's what they gave me. I asked to have POW's originally but they wouldn't do it."

 

"So they give you kids?"

 

"Well, these kids can play, Colonel."

 

Hogan studied the kids and each instrument they held. "Aren't you missing some players?"

 

Miller nodded. "Theoretically I'm missing about ten players. Obviously the Propaganda Ministry doesn't know what's needed for a decent swing orchestra and I'm not about to help them figure it out, but in order to make the band somewhat presentable I needed more of a rhythm section, so again I demanded POW's. For...a lot of reasons."

 

Hogan smiled. You're starting to think like an Underground operative, Major...  "Do you have any vocalists?"

 

Miller shook his head, not only answering the question but rejecting the suggestion. "No."

 

"Do you think they'll consider one more request?" Hogan asked. "There are a couple more fellas back at Stalag 13 who would make very good vocalists."

 

Miller looked at the Colonel for a moment, just about to repeat his statement of not wanting to help the Ministry to make the band too good when he realized what Hogan was really asking. "Oh...well I can certainly try, Colonel."

 

Hogan grinned. "Okay. In the meantime, shall we play some music? The Krauts might get suspicious if it's too quiet in here."

 

Miller smiled. "You play drums, Colonel?"

 

"Do I play drums? Watch..." Hogan walked to the drum kit and sat down at it. He picked up the sticks and began to beat out a kicking drum solo.

 

The kids all watched him and bobbed their heads to the beat, soon forgetting Reigels visit. LeBeau then went over to the piano and joined in. Hogan eased off the solo and kept a beat, letting LeBeau take front and center on the piano. Kinch, meanwhile, found the upright bass and stood it up, plunking out a bass line with LeBeau's piano. After a few riffs of ad-libbed playing, LeBeau and Kinch started playing "Boogie Woogie."

 

The kids recognized the tune. Hans stood up with his trumpet and began to play along with the song. He was then joined by Erik, all three trombone players and one of the sax players, Adler. The trombones played along with LeBeau, keeping the rhythm, while the sax player held the melody and the trumpets added their "pops" in time with the music. The remaining sax players and clarinet player watched and listened, enjoying what they were hearing.

 

Miller liked what he heard too and was tapping his foot. Roderick paused in playing and held the other trombone out to the Major. Miller took it and joined in the jam while continuing to offer a lead, and after the first piano solo, the remaining players got into the song. Keeping it fairly simple, the players repeated the first refrain up to the piano solo again.

 

The players went through the refrain once more but instead of the piano solo, Miller cued Ahren for the trombone solo, setting them up to bring the song to it's natural conclusion. At the end of the solo, the band played the last few notes and the song was brought to a finish.

 

Hogan smiled. "Well, Major?"

 

"Yes, Colonel," Miller said and chuckled. "You certainly play drums. I feel like we're in a 20th Century Fox musical."

 

The heroes laughed.

 

"You know," Hogan said, "for not having a complete band and only having two days you've got these kids sounding pretty good."

 

"Actually they all played together before," Miller explained.

 

"In the same band?"

 

"In the same band. And they were all arrested at the same time." Miller looked at the band members who were all watching the conversation between him and Colonel Hogan. That heavy feeling of unfairness and selfishness was weighing on his shoulders with the echo of Reigels threat. These kids... innocents...

 

Hogan saw the troubled look on the Major's face but kept the observation to himself. He stood up from the drum kit and approached the Major. "When were they arrested?"

 

"Couple of months ago."

 

Hogan paused in thought. "Sounds like they've been planning this for awhile..."

 

Miller nodded. He turned and placed the trombone he held down on a near by chair. Turning back to the band he said, "Colonel, I want you to meet Hans and Ahren. They've been my translators..."

 

Hogan, LeBeau and Kinch were introduced to the kids and as the young Germans told a little of themselves, and asked questions of the Allied prisoners, Hogan began to see why Reigels threat had had an impact. This isn't the time to be getting sentimental, Major... Hogan thought. After the introductions, Miller decided to try the band with one of the arrangements the Ministry provided. Seeing as all the kids knew Cherokee he went with that one. Hogan walked over to Miller as the Major was removing the song sheets from the attaché case. Miller looked at Hogan but before the Colonel could say anything, the studio door opened and Reigels and Anna came in along with another man dressed in a Ministry uniform and carrying a camera.

 

“Terrific,” Hogan muttered, seeing the photographer.

 

Miller saw this too and shook his head at Anna. “You’re not taking my picture,” he said.

 

The photographer raised the camera figuring to get a shot of both Miller and Hogan, off guard. Both of the Americans saw this and reacted in time, Hogan turning around and Miller holding up the song sheet he had in hand, blocking his face from camera’s view. The photographer’s flash bulb popped and the picture was spoiled.

 

The photographer muttered something in German and proceeded to remove the spent flash bulb. Miller peeked over the song sheet at Anna.  “I said no.”

 

“Major, a photograph to the Allies in London would show you are well and are being treated well here,” Anna said.

 

“They’re just going to have to be left to wonder. You’re not taking my picture.”

 

A new flash bulb was placed in the camera and the photographer looked to be waiting for another opportunity. Hogan kept his back facing the photographer, while Miller kept the song sheet up concealing most of his face. The photographer decided to try to get a shot of the band and he stepped around the backside of Reigels and Anna. He raised the camera at the band and Miller took a step toward him, holding the song sheet out in front of the lens just as the flash bulb popped again.

 

The photographer lowered his camera and glared at the Major. Miller looked at Anna. “You can keep trying. But as long he keeps trying to snap pictures I’m not working with the band. We can play cat and mouse all day.”

 

Anna sighed and looked at Miller, not amused. However, having him work with the band was more important than getting pictures. For now. She looked at the photographer, tilting her head toward the door. Das macht nichts.” Never mind.

 

The photographer gave a curt nod and headed for the door. Once he was gone, Hogan turned back around and Miller let the song sheet down from his face.

 

“You understand Herr Major,” Anna said, “that we have an obligation to show to the Allies that you are not being mistreated here.”

 

Miller snorted.

 

“Nice try, Anna,” Hogan said. “You snap a photograph of him, or any of us here, it’ll be labeled traitor and every one of us knows that.”

 

Anna looked at Hogan with some amusement but offered no response to his declaration. She then looked at Major Miller.  "Do you mind if we stay and listen, Herr Major?"

 

Miller shrugged. He'd rather they not but he knew they'd stay anyway. He turned to Hogan, handing him sheet music. "Cherokee," he said.

 

Hogan nodded. He returned to the drum kit while Miller distributed the appropriate sheet music to all of the players. "This is Cherokee," he told them.  He handed the last sheets to Kinch and LeBeau and returned to the front of the band stand. He eyed the trombone on the chair and remembered Roderick not wanting him to be caught with it in hand. He made a face in disappointment and left the instrument where it was and turned to face the band.

 

"Okay...let's try it from the top." Miller raised his hands, counted off and the band began to play. The Major glanced over to the Ministry officials and saw that Reigels didn't seem to know what to make of the 'wah-wah' sound that the trumpets made. In fact the whole song seemed to bother Reigels. Miller took some pleasure in the sight.

 

When the song finished Miller looked at Reigels and Anna for reaction. Reigels was straight faced but seemed to find the performance satisfactory. Anna smiled and stepped towards Miller.


"Herr Major, I must commend you on how well you have this band sounding considering the short time you have had to prepare."

 

Normally Miller would praise his musicians, and in this case he had extraordinary musicians, but he wasn't in the frame of mind to show too much appreciation or agreement with the Propaganda Ministry. He merely gave a curt nod and said, "Thank you."

 

"We will have a very good broadcast," Anna said, turning to Reigels. "Don't you think so Herr Reigels?"

 

"Ja, the broadcast will be most effective...thanks to Herr Miller."

 

Miller glanced over at Reigels. Wait 'til he finds out what I'm really going to have this band play... He looked back at Anna.

 

"That is," she continued, "if you are still with us come the day of the broadcast."

 

"More than likely I'll be here," Miller replied. "Unless a better offer comes along."

 

Anna gave a spiteful laugh. "I'm afraid there is no better offer for you, Major. Unless, suffering consequences for attempting to escape appeal to you? Perhaps I should take the Gestapo off the short leash that we have them on...?"

 

As Anna spoke, Colonel Hogan stood up unobtrusively from the drum kit and walked over to the Major, to stand at his left shoulder and offer quiet moral support. “You know, I was already read the riot act by your buddy over there,” Miller said. “But no, it doesn't particularly appeal to me."

 

Anna nodded. "I figured it would not. So we have an understanding?"

 

"Perfectly."

 

"Good." Anna gestured with her hand toward the band. "Please, Herr Major, continue. Herr Reigels and I would like to watch you work with the band." Anna turned to Reigels and they walked to the control room. Miller turned to Hogan.

 

"I think I'm still going to hold out for that better offer," the Major said quietly.

 

Hogan snorted softly and nodded.

 

Reigels and Anna stayed in the control room for nearly an hour, watching Miller work with the band. Although Miller tried his best to ignore their presence, he cast the occasional furtive glance over his shoulder. Hogan noted that the Major seemed to chafe at the scrutinizing gaze of Reigels and Anna. What the Major couldn’t see, but Hogan could from the drum set, was as the band played through such songs as In the Mood and Sun Valley Jump Reigels appeared to chafe at the sound. Hogan found that to be satisfying.

 

Toward the end of that hour, Miller called for a break. The two members of the Propaganda Ministry came out of the control room and Miller was ready to explain that he wasn't about to run the band into the ground with unrelenting rehearsal. But neither Reigels nor Anna seemed bothered by the break. In fact they seemed to find it appropriate.

 

"It is close to Mittagessen," Anna said. "I'm sure you and the band are hungry?"

 

Miller glanced at the band. "They've worked very hard this morning. I think they deserve something."

 

Anna nodded. "Of course."

 

The door to the studio was unlocked and one of the Gestapo guards came in. He stopped before Reigels and saluted the Ministry Captain. “Herr Hauptmann, die Mittagessenmahlzeiten sind hier.” Herr Hauptmann, the lunch meals have arrived.

 

"Sehr gut," Reigels replied. "Danke."

 

The guard nodded and clicked his heels, saluting again. He turned and left the studio.

 

Reigels turned to Miller. "The Düsseldorf Hotel is providing the mittagessen."

 

Miller nodded. Reigels and Anna turned and walked to the studio's doors. When they were gone, Miller turned to face the bandstand.

 

"Mittagessen is lunch," Ahren offered.

 

Miller smiled. "I figured as much. Thank you."

 

A worthwhile lunch was served consisting of Maultaschen (Swabian-style ravioli filled with meat, vegetables and seasoning) Schlachplatte (platter of various sausages and cold meats) and Schillerlocke (pastry cornet with vanilla cream filling). However, it would not be enjoyed quietly. After the kids, the heroes and Miller settled themselves on the steps on the bandstand risers, Reigels took the opportunity to address everyone, basically going on about the great and glorious Third Reich and how the future of the Reich was in the hands of the young people.

 

Although his audience was quiet, nobody was really listening to the Ministry Captain. And he knew it by the time he got to the end of his speech. Embarrassed, and annoyed, Reigels was hardly acknowledged when he and Anna turned to leave. Everyone just continued on eating. 

 

After a moment, Hogan looked at Kinch, LeBeau and Miller. "Were any of you paying attention to what Reigels was saying?"

 

The three shook their heads. "I think he was saying something about the youth and the future of the Reich,” Kinch said. “And...something."

 

"In other words, nothing important," Hogan said.

 

"Right."

 

All four chuckled and grinned. Hans and Ahren had heard what the American Colonel had said and glanced at one another, sharing a smile too.

 

With Reigels and Anna gone, the kids began to talk amongst themselves. The heroes and Miller did the same.

 

“I don’t know what it is about Germans,” LeBeau said. “They certainly like to do a lot of talking.”

 

“There’s an old saying,” Miller said, “it’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear the fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.”

 

“Obviously that’s not a German proverb,” Hogan said.

 

“Obviously not,” LeBeau said, “especially since Reigels opens his mouth all the time.”

 

Miller placed his empty plate down beside him. "Well, they may talk a lot but at least this time I got a decent meal," he said.

 

LeBeau looked at him. "Don't tell me you enjoyed this?" He held his still half full plate up.

 

"As a matter of fact, I did."

 

"Ugh," the Frenchman rolled his eyes. "If we were all back at Stalag 13, I would prepare for you a meal ten times better than this!"

 

"Hey," Kinch said, "after the bland stuff he got at Stalag 13, anything's going to taste better to him."

 

"All German food is bland. French cuisine, however, that is un plaisir pour la palette." LeBeau smiled. A pleasure for the pallet.

 

"Well when the war's over," Hogan said, "we'll have a party in Paris, we'll invite the Major and LeBeau can prepare a feast."

 

"Pour la victoire!"  For the victory!

 

"I'm all for that," Miller said.

 

"We all will be," Kinch said.

 

"Oui," LeBeau added.

 

Hogan's plate was now empty and he looked at the Major. "Grab your plate, Major..." he said quietly and stood up. Miller followed Hogan to the cart the lunches had been brought in on. They placed their empty plates in the dish wash tub.

 

"I'm sorry about last night," Hogan said quietly, out of ear shot of the band.

 

"Wasn't your fault, Colonel. Just wasn't meant to work."

 

"It should have worked...if it hadn't been ten minutes from the changing of the guard." Hogan paused. "Crazy as this may sound though...I'd like to try to spring you again, tonight."

 

Miller hesitated. Reigels’ threat of the band suffering the consequences tugged at him. He looked at Hogan, taking in a deep breath. "I don't know, Colonel..."

 

Hogan paused. "What did Hochstetter do about last night?"

 

"Gave me hell. Took my kit. What he'd really like to do is show me his Gestapo jail."

 

Hogan nodded. "That's what I'm afraid of."

 

"That's not what bothers me though. You try this escape attempt tonight, and it works, those kids may end up paying a high price. Heck, you try this escape attempt tonight, and it doesn't work, they won't be firing the rifle in the air. They'll be firing it at me....and anybody who looks to be trying to help me."

 

"You seemed to accept that risk a couple of days ago."

 

"And I still do." Miller looked directly at Hogan. "But what happens if this thing goes awry again, and they find you this time? I doubt the Propaganda Ministry will be keeping you here in town, Colonel. They'll truck you back and forth from Stalag 13. So how do you explain what the senior POW officer is doing in Düsseldorf at odd hours of the night?"

 

"That's the risk I have to take. That's the risk I take every day."

 

"You may take the risk, Colonel, but can you afford the gamble?"

 

"Don't you want to get back to England?"

 

"Of course I want to get back to England. But I don't want to see the entire Allied underground network smashed to pieces on my account, not at this point of the war. I'm just a bandleader, I'm not Eisenhower."

 

"No, but Eisenhower would probably send an entire battalion in to get you back. And I'm no different." Hogan paused a moment to look around the studio, making sure he and the Major hadn't attracted an audience. He saw LeBeau and Kinch were talking to the kids, keeping them distracted. He looked at Miller again. "You took your own risk by taking all the responsibility for the escape attempt last night. The Underground is going to be looking to return the favor, by getting you out of here successfully. You let me worry about how much risk I and the Underground should take. You just worry what about you're going to do once you get back to England." Hogan paused. “As for those kids…” Hogan let it hang there.

 

“Isn’t there anything you can do?”

 

Hogan sighed. “I…I don’t know. My plans and contingencies are only for getting you out of here.”

 

Miller gave a critical look to Hogan. “You haven’t even thought of them have you?”

 

“Major, I can’t save everybody.”

 

“I’m not saying you have to, but don’t you think you owe them something?”

 

Hogan’s look was pointed. “You’re concerned about the risk the Underground and myself are taking to get you back to England yet somehow you expect us to pull a miracle and get you and nine kids out of here too?”

 

Miller raised a hand, indicating he was backing off. “All right, all right…” he said. He knew the idea of the kids making the escape with him would be asking too much. He only hoped the risk the Underground was taking wasn’t asking too much either.

 

Hogan paused. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I have my orders.”

 

Miller nodded and let out a heavy sigh before changing the subject. "Am I going to have to switch uniforms again tonight?"

 

"No," Hogan said. "But I am."

 

Miller stared at the Colonel. Hogan gave a small smile and patted Miller on the shoulder before walking with the Major back to where LeBeau and Kinch were keeping the kids pretty well entertained in conversation.

 

"...besides, we sound better than Charlie and his Orchestra," Avril was saying.

 

"Howling dogs sound better than Charlie and his Orchestra," Adler said.

 

"Are you saying we sound like howling dogs?"

 

The kids chuckled and Adler smiled. "Nein. But Charlie and his Orchestra are a sham. Ja, they're pretty good musicians but Goebbels put that band together. They are not a true swing band. Besides that, Charlie hardly ever speaks German..."

 

"That's true, and the things he says in English are ridiculous," Hans added.

 

Ahren looked at the Major. "Herr Miller, have you ever heard of Charlie and his Orchestra?"

 

"Isn't that the band Goebbels put together?"

 

"Ja."

 

"I've heard of it but have never heard the band."

 

"You don't want to," Hans said.

 

Miller chuckled, but as the boys continued to chatter he suddenly wondered...if Goebbels already had a swing band, what was this outfit for?

 

Düsseldorf Hotel

Düsseldorf, Germany

November 1944

Day 5

 

 

Hogan returned to Düsseldorf later that night, this time bringing Newkirk with him, and they met with Fritz and his men in the backroom of the bakery. Hogan and Newkirk had brought Gestapo uniforms with them for this plan and they made a quick change upon arrival. They were to go into the hotel, acting as if they were there for other business, get Miller and get him out of the hotel either through the service stairs or the kitchen area. There was just one problem. Fritz's sentries were reporting that Hochstetter had added a few more guards, one on the service stairs doorway and one in the kitchen area. This posed a slight dilemma for the Colonel.

 

"Blimey," Newkirk said. "That means no matter what door we bring 'em out of, we're going to be questioned."

 

"The service stairs exit is still the best bet," Hogan said. "If there's only one guard there, we can just knock the goon out, hustle Miller out into the car and get the hell out of Dodge. Simple."

 

"Oh." Newkirk nodded. "As long as it's simple...."

 

Hogan snorted. "C'mon, let's go."

 

Fritz dropped Hogan and Newkirk off a block away from the hotel and proceeded to drive the car to the hotel and park by the service stairs exit. He checked his watch. It was almost nine-thirty.

 

Hogan and Newkirk walked briskly, but not too quickly, to the hotel. They passed by Fritz's car and continued on to the front of the hotel. They weren't even to the front door yet when a Gestapo guard passed by them and pulled up to the curb just ahead of them. Hogan and Newkirk stopped and stepped back and turned slightly to avoid having whoever was stepping out of the car see them.

 

There was no mistaking Major Hochstetter as he exited the car. Oblivious to the two additional Gestapo men loitering on the sidewalk, he gestured to the two guards that had accompanied him and they marched into the lobby of the hotel.

 

Newkirk looked at Hogan and cringed. "What's he doin' 'ere?"

 

Hogan didn't know, but he knew he didn't like it. "Let's just stay cool...remember we're here on other business..." He walked to the door, Newkirk following.

 

Hochstetter was well beyond the lobby when they came in. The guards in the lobby acknowledged them with salutes and nothing more. Hogan walked around non-chalantly, appearing to be examining the lobby and everything in it, with disdain.

 

Meanwhile, Hochstetter and his two guards had reached the sixth floor. Hochstetter lead the way down the hall way and the guard posted outside Miller's door came to attention. Hochstetter considered no courtesy and he immediately opened the door, barging into the room.

 

Major Miller was sitting at the writing desk doodling on the hotel's paper and looked up with a start. Hochstetter said not a word, allowing the pointing of the two guards rifles do the talking. Miller got the message and pushed the note paper aside and placed the pen down. He picked up his crush cap and stood up. Hochstetter stood aside and one of the guards turned to lead Miller out. Miller followed.

 

With a guard flanking either side of him, Miller was escorted down to the lobby. Newkirk saw the spectacle before Hogan and gently nudged the Colonel's arm. Hogan turned to look.

 

"Damn..."

 

"What do we do?" Newkirk asked. "Hochstetter will recognize us for sure if we approach now."

 

"I know... and we can't tail them either. He's more than likely taking Miller directly to Gestapo Headquarters--" Hogan stopped when someone coming into the hotel caught his eye. Newkirk turned to look too.

 

Hauptmann Reigels took a few steps into the lobby of the hotel and was met by Major Miller, the two guards and Major Hochstetter. The Ministry Captain and Gestapo Major looked at each other for a moment, both surprised to see the other, although Hogan noted that Hochstetter looked more startled than anything.

 

"Major Hochstetter..What is the matter here??" Reigels asked.

 

"Uh...the Major, we are taking him outside for air..."


Reigels looked at Major Miller. "You wish to step out for some air?"

 

"No. I believe Major Hochstetter wishes to show me the sights of his Gestapo jail."

 

Reigels bristled and turned to Hochstetter, switching back to German. "Major....I believe Fraulein Gebhart made it very clear that the Propaganda Ministry does not want to use strong arm tactics until it desired to do so."

 

"This man tried to escape! He must be punished! He must be shown that the Gestapo does not ignore something like this!"

 

"The Gestapo will ignore it until such time the Ministry decides it should not be ignored.  Major Miller has been warned that if he attempts to escape again there will be more serious consequences."

 

"Bah! Your words are weak, Kapitan. You must back it up with force. Where we have let his first attempt at escape go unpunished, he will only think he can try again. And then what will you allow for punishment when he tries again? As long as he has the will to resist, he will try to escape. You must crush the will to resist!"

 

"Major Hochstetter, I am fully aware of the methods and tactics of reducing a man's will to become submissive. However, if you were to be allowed to implore your methods of punishment on the American, it would not be in the best interest of Dr. Goebbel's plans for propaganda. A plan that, I remind you, you seemed very interested in just a few short months ago..."

 

Hochstetter paused, clenching his teeth. "That is true..." he conceded, "but I did not know I would have to be nice for this plan to work."

 

Reigels chuckled. "It was never said that you had to be nice. But the Ministry does expect you to show some restraint. Now....you are holding the Major's pack, yes?"

 

"Ja."

 

Reigels nodded. "Good. I want you to return the pack to him, but you will remove any cigarettes from it first...."

 

Hochstetter turned to one of the guards and gave the order. The guard saluted and left.

 

Reigels turned to Miller. "Major Miller, my apologies for Major Hochstetter." He turned and gestured with his hand to the stairs. "Please..."

 

Major Miller showed no acceptance of the apology or any appreciation for it. He merely gave Hochstetter a look that could have killed and a look to Reigels that could have seriously wounded. He then turned toward the stairs with Reigels walking with him.

 

Hochstetter scowled and marched out of the hotel, his guards following. Hogan and Newkirk remained where they were, watching as Reigels and Miller headed for the stairs.

 

Newkirk looked at Hogan. "Did you pick up any of what they were saying?"

 

Hogan nodded. "Enough not to like it."

 

"Same here."

 

Across the lobby, Reigels studied Major Miller for a moment as they walked to the stairs. "If you'll pardon the observation, Major," he said, "you're quite a brusque and indifferent individual."

 

Miller stopped two steps upon the stairs and turned to Reigels. "When you kidnap someone, hold them against their will, threaten their life and force them to do something they don't want to, you're not exactly going to get sunshine and lollipops."

 

Reigels tilted his head, conceding that that was true. "Ja..."

 

"And apologizing for Hochstetter doesn't win you any brownie points--"

 

"Brownie points?"

 

"Favor. With me. Especially since you've threatened me yourself."

 

"I will be completely honest with you, Major, the Propaganda Ministry is not interested in the use of strong arm tactics by the Gestapo in order to achieve our means. However, that does not mean we won't consider them if it becomes apparent that such methods would be effective."

 

"In other words, if I make you mad enough you'll take Hochstetter off the leash."

 

"Exactly."

 

Miller looked at Reigels for a moment, wondering if this conversation was really taking place. "Why are you here? I'm sure you didn't come here knowing you'd be sparing my hide from the Gestapo and then graciously reminding me that if I push things too far, I won't be so spared."

 

"No. Actually I came to speak with you about the broadcast."

 

Miller looked at his watch. It was nearly quarter to ten. "Now?"

 

"Well, Major, most of your day is spent rehearsing with the band and that is time I do not want to interrupt. I figured now would be satisfactory, as I have read that keeping late hours is not unusual for you."

 

The guard Hochstetter had sent off returned with the Major's pack. He walked up to the Reigels and presented it. Reigels took it and thanked the guard, sending him on his way. Reigels then offered the pack to Miller.

 

"Your pack, Herr Major."

 

Miller looked at the pack for moment and then took it but offered no appreciation. He then turned and headed up the stairs with Reigels following.

 

Hogan and Newkirk looked at each other. "No telling how long that Kraut will hang around," Newkirk said.

 

"Mmm.." Hogan growled. His brown eyes looked around the lobby of the hotel but his head didn't turn. "It's getting to the point where the only option left to get him out of here is going to be blowing the whole place apart." Hogan paused. "My luck can not be running this bad..."

 

"What about when you, Kinch and Louie are at the radio station? Any chance there?"

 

Hogan shook his head. "We'd all be shot before we got out the door," he said. He slapped the riding crop he held against his hand and paused, thinking of the uniform he was wearing. Newkirk suddenly saw the Colonel's eyes spark to life. "Unless...the Gestapo came and escorted us out...."

 

Newkirk grinned and Hogan tucked the riding crop under his arm. “Everything seems to be under control here,” Hogan said loudly. “Come Putzie!” They marched to the door of the hotel, saluting the guards as they left.

 

 

Fritz's Bakery

Düsseldorf, Germany

November 1944

Day 5

 

Having struck out twice with trying to spring Major Miller from the hotel, Hogan nixed any further attempts at such a feat and instead decided to focus on the possibility of getting Miller out of the radio station before the broadcast. Back at Fritz's bakery, Hogan, Newkirk, Fritz and a few of Fritz's men were gathered around a table, a floor plan of the radio station spread out before them. In the span of an hour, a plan was laid out, logistics and time table was tentatively set and they would have forty-eight hours to pull it off.

 

"The broadcast is the day after tomorrow," Hogan was saying. "That's all the time you'll have for you and your men to get a car, Gestapo uniforms and to alert the safe houses along the escape route."

 

Fritz nodded. "It can be done, Colonel."

 

"All right. You'll also need something to disguise Miller in. Make you sure you get him out of that Army uniform or he'll be a sitting duck."

 

"Ja."

 

"In the meantime, once I get Newkirk and Carter in there, we'll make sure that the broadcast doesn't happen. I'll find out from the Major tomorrow what time the broadcast is supposed to start and the itinerary for it, if he knows it, and pass that back to you for the final preparation." Hogan looked at Newkirk. "Once we get you and Carter in there, under no circumstances are we to allow Miller to be heard on that broadcast in any way, shape or form, if for some reason Fritz and his men can't get in there before this thing goes on the air."

 

Newkirk nodded. "Right." He looked at Fritz and his men. "Based on what we heard at the hotel, the Gestapo has some interest in this broadcast and all we can think is that Miller is being used as bait of some kind. "

 

"Exactly," Hogan concurred. "We want to make sure the line gets cut before it's cast." Hogan looked at Fritz. "When the broadcast goes bust, and Miller's out of there, the rest of us will be trucked back to Stalag 13. We'll contact London from there and let them know Miller is on the way."

 

"And within twenty-four hours he will be back in England," Fritz said. "God willing."

 

Hogan nodded. "God willing..."

 

 

***

 

Stalag 13

November 1944

Day 5

 

"Message came in from London while you were out," Kinch said after Hogan and Newkirk returned to barracks two. The radio man handed the paper to the Colonel. "They want to know what's going on, German news media has been rather quiet about capturing Miller."

 

Hogan read the message." There's been no report of anything..."

 

Kinch shook his head. "Not a thing. And Allied headquarters hasn't announced that Miller is even missing, let alone kidnapped, given the possible implications to troop morale."

 

"Makes sense," Hogan said. "But how are they managing that?"

 

"SHAEF has the band running all over England doing live shows. The broadcasts have been suspended due to 'technical' reasons and Miller's absence from the performances is being explained that he's 'under the weather.'"

 

"Well, Miller will be happy to hear the band's still playing for troops, even if it's not on the radio at the moment." Hogan's eyes narrowed in thought. "But why are the Germans being so quiet about it? I'd figure they'd have him splashed across the newsreels by now and on the front page of every German paper."

 

"Maybe they're waiting until our side announces he's missing?" LeBeau suggested.

 

"Maybe Goebbels forgot in all the excitement," Carter said with a snicker.

 

Newkirk rolled his eyes at Carter. "Blimey..."

 

"No wait," Hogan said, snapping his fingers. "Carter's right. Goebbels' Propaganda Ministry controls the press. Miller's capture is part of some plan of Goebbels. If nothing is being reported in the press it's because Goebbels doesn't want it reported in the press."

 

"But why?" Newkirk asked. "They've got the most popular band leader in the world. It's a propaganda dream. What are they waiting for, approval from Hitler?"

 

Hogan shook his head. "I don't know. But I can't help but think that once the press does start reporting on it, it's going to be big. And bad. All the more reason we have to get Miller out of that radio station before that broadcast, or mess it up as best we can."

 

"Don't worry, sir," Newkirk said with a smile. "Once me and Andrew are in there, we'll mess things up real nicely."

 

Carter grinned too and then looked at the Colonel. "How do you plan to get me and Newkirk in there?"

 

"I suggested to Major Miller that he request vocalists. Hopefully tomorrow, somebody from the Propaganda Ministry will be here to pick you guys up. Make sure though that you and Newkirk are the only two that volunteer. I don't want all of Stalag 13 to look too eager to commit treason."

 

Day Six...