Stalag 13

November 1944

Day 4

 

The next day, LeBeau headed over to the kitchen to volunteer to help prepare the lunch time meals. In his pocket was the short note from Colonel Hogan to Major Miller and with the help of the other prisoners that worked the kitchen, LeBeau was able to determine which tray would be for the Major. This time it would not be just bread and water. LeBeau nodded to two prisoners who took positions on either side of him, hiding the Frenchman as he removed the paper from his pocket and placed it on the plate before scooping the day's lunch onto the plate. He then put the metal cover over the plate and the other two prisoners stepped away, looking natural in their movements.

 

A few moments later, a guard came to get the tray for the prisoner in the cooler. LeBeau handed the tray to the guard, who lifted the lid to check it first and then recovered it, walking out of the kitchen.

 

In the cooler, Major Miller was pacing, trying to keep warm. He heard the clanging of the cell block door opening. There was then the rustling of keys and the opening of his cell door. He stopped pacing long enough to see the blur of the guard leaving the tray, and then the cell door was locked shut again.

 

Although the Major wasn't very hungry he knew that if he ate, it would help keep him warm.  He sat down on the bunk and took the lid off the tray. He did not sense any heat therefore he knew whatever it was it was a cold dish. He picked up the fork and sampled the food, immediately recognizing and disliking the taste. Sauerkraut. Again. He wondered if there must have been an excess of cabbage in the Third Reich and they were feeding it all to him for the past three days. He also had a slice of bread, somewhat stale, and a coffee cup with water that completed the main course.

 

Miller ate, trying to ignore his dislike of the taste. His thoughts wandered, as they had for most of the time spent in the cooler. Hochstetter....pompous little son of a... More than likely the Gestapo Major had control over what would be served...and not served. Would they tease with a hot dish at dinner then feed him nothing the next day? Miller knew why the Gestapo Major had taken the uniform jacket and glasses. He saw the ploy. Hochstetter would try to break him yet...

 

Miller's thoughts were interrupted when his fork pulled something from underneath the sauerkraut. He pulled it out completely and then took a hold of it with his fingers. Paper?

 

He placed his fork down and put the tray aside. He unfolded the little paper and saw the blurred lines of handwriting. He stood up from the bunk, going to the other side of the cell where some of the light from the window above shone in.

 

Without his glasses, he had to hold the note a few inches from his nose to read it...

 

                        Major--

 

                                    I know you won't like this, but I want you to agree to the Propaganda Minis. proposition.

                        I have an idea but I need you out of the cooler to do it. If you wish, consider this an order.

 

                                                                                    --Hogan

 

Miller sighed. The thought of agreeing to the German’s demands did not appeal to him at all. Frankly, he would rather remain locked up in the cooler and damn near freeze to death, than to let the Germans use him and the music that he so cherished for their own manipulation purposes. But he had agreed to give Colonel Hogan the chance to get him out of Germany and as such Miller had no intention of being a pain in the backside. He would cooperate in any way he could. Though, he knew he didn’t have to like it.

 

He folded the note back up and returned to his bunk to finish his lunch. He then pondered, looking at the paper in his hand, do I have to eat the note too?

 

***

 

Later that afternoon, Hogan did more of his squeaky wheel routine with Klink to in regards to the 'top secret' prisoner. In true fashion, Hogan started directly after barging into the Kommandant's office.

 

"Ok, Kommandant what's going on? Everybody in camp knows that this secret prisoner of yours went into the cooler yesterday afternoon, after Axis Annie showed up. My guess is she’s trying to get whoever it is to do propaganda broadcasts and he nixed it. If he's in the cooler, then that puts him under your responsibility and if he's under your responsibility I should be allowed to see him."

 

Klink looked at Hogan, exasperated. "Hogan, how many times do I have to tell you? The man is not a prisoner of war! He is a prisoner of the Gestapo."

 

"He's an American officer captured by the enemy. He should be classified as a POW and given the rights of all POW's—“

 

“--Under the Geneva Convention,” Klink said blandly with Hogan.

 

“Well?” Hogan continued. “They're holding him in a POW camp! Doesn't the Gestapo have jails of it's own?"

 

"He's only here temporarily, Hogan, I told you that. It is out of my control, there is nothing I can do. It is a matter between the Gestapo and the Propaganda Ministry. Disssssmissssed." Klink gave a salute, indicating the conversation was over.

 

But it wasn't over for Hogan. "Yeah, the Propaganda Ministry," he said. “That’s what you meant by that crack the other day, about us regretting our generosity.  You knew all along that the Propaganda Ministry was going to try to use this fella in some scheme. Sounds to me like he was kidnapped. That’s why you keep telling me he’s not a POW. And if the Propaganda Ministry is going to all this trouble, it must be somebody pretty important.”

 

Klink slapped his hand down on his desk and glared up at Hogan. “Very well, Colonel Hogan, I’ll humor you.” Klink stood up from the desk and approached Hogan. “For your information, it is somebody important. Somebody very well known not just in your country but all over the world. And when the Propaganda Ministry decides it’s time, you will know just who, exactly, it is. But until that time, you will get no such information from me.” Klink saluted again. "Dissmissed, Hogan.”

 

The door to the office opened and Schultz came in. "Herr Kommandant...uh--" Schultz looked at Colonel Hogan and then at Klink.

 

"Yes, Schultz, what is it?"

 

Schultz chose his words carefully. "Herr Kommandant, the prisoner in the cooler has reconsidered."

 

"Very well, Schultz, I will let Hauptman Riegels know."

 

"Reconsidered?" Hogan said. "Reconsidered what?"

 

"Hogan you were dismissed! Schultz! Get Hogan out of here!"

 

"Jawohl, Herr Kommandant!" Schultz turned to Hogan, who turned to the door.

 

"I can't believe it, Kommandant," Hogan said. "You're letting them take over the camp..." he muttered as he left the office.

 

Klink was about to call him back to explain himself but then just waved a hand at the closing door. It was just Hogan being Hogan as usual.

 

***

 

Back in the barracks, the heroes gathered at the table when Hogan returned.

 

"You know, instead of calling Klink the Iron Eagle, he should be called the Iron Lip," Hogan said. "Even though he took a moment to gloat again, he didn’t name names. Of course, I'm not pushing him that hard either. I also heard from Schultz that Miller has 'reconsidered,' so we should be seeing our friendly local Gestapo man back along with Frick and Frack."

 

"Then what happens, Colonel?" LeBeau asked.

 

Hogan sighed. "As much as I hate to say this LeBeau, I don't know. We'll have to wait and see the first move the Propaganda Ministry makes, where they might take him and then figure out how we can tag along."

 

"Hey, maybe we can be Stalag 13's answer to the Crew Chiefs," Carter suggested in humor.

 

Hogan chuckled. "Yeah..." He stopped and a light came on in his dark eyes. "Yeaaah. If Miller can suggest that he needs vocalists for this broadcast, we could tag along that way."

 

"What if he doesn't?" Newkirk asked.

 

"Well, then we can suggest he needs vocalists for the broadcast."

 

The entrance to the tunnel suddenly clattered open and Kinch came up the ladder. He stepped out, slapped the top bunk and the entrance closed. He turned to the Colonel and held out a piece of paper. "Message from London. Keep in mind, sir, this is directly quoted."

 

Hogan unfolded the paper. "To Colonel Hogan from Headquarters, regarding Major Miller...what the hell is taking you so long?" Hogan rolled his eyes. "This is turning out to be an impatient war! What do they think, I can just spring him out like that?" Hogan snapped his fingers. "He's being held in solitary confinement and nobody's even supposed to know he's here. And you can bet if the Krauts knew that we know he's here, they'd move him faster than you can say Kalamazoo and then we might not know where they take him and if we don't know where he is, we can't necessarily free him can we?"

 

"You want me to tell London that?"

 

"Absolutely not. You tell London, quote, I'm working on it, end quote."

 

***

 

With the entire camp placed on lock down once again, the signal was given for Major Miller to be released from the cooler.

 

Miller's back was facing the cell door. He heard the guard unlock the door but he didn't turn around. Just because he was agreeing didn’t mean he had to be pleasant.

 

"Major Miller," Anna said. "We are glad you have reconsidered..."  She stood, holding the Major's jacket and glasses.

 

Hogan was right, Miller hated this. The Major let out a deep breath and turned around. He slowly stepped toward the door of the cell and the blur that was Anna. He saw the blur of black and red out of the corner of his eye and knew Hochstetter was there too. He looked at Anna, seeing the US Army brown material she was holding in her hands.

 

"My jacket and glasses please..."

 

He saw her hand move and he reached for his glasses. With eyesight returned, he then received his jacket. He put the jacket on, straightened it upon his shoulders and buttoned it up. He said nothing as he stepped out of the cell and brushed past Major Hochstetter.

 

 

Düsseldorf Radio Station

Düsseldorf, Germany

November 1944

Day 4

 

Having been involved with the organization of bands for so many years, Major Miller naturally fell into the routine of trying to take charge of the situation...within reason, considering where he was. He made it clear to the Propaganda Ministry that he wanted POW's for the band, more or less for communication purposes. Just because he spoke a few words of German on the ABSIE's broadcasts didn't make him fluent in the language by any means. He also was thinking that if he insisted on the players being POW’s, would the opportunity be one that Colonel Hogan could use, to aid the escape?  Plus, with POW's, they would know what was really going on, thus they could put on a good front of preparing and rehearsing for this broadcast. Even if all they could play was Mary Had a Little Lamb.

 

Although the Propaganda Ministry listened to the request, Miller got the impression that they already had their own idea in mind. And POW's would not have anything to do with it. Little did he realize just what, exactly, the Propaganda Ministry had in mind.

 

Having basically been told that he would be told what to do, and when to do it, Miller was then taken from Stalag 13 to Düsseldorf and to a radio station that was completely run by the Propaganda Ministry. The facilities had seen better days and the recording studio, Miller noted, was not what he was used to in London or back in the States, although the facilities in London had their own inadequacies. This studio was small, and fitting a band here was going to make for cramped quarters. Of course, that was assuming he was going to get something resembling a band.

 

The radio station was placed under moderate guard with a Gestapo man at each of the three entrances to the building and two were posted directly outside the recording studio's doors. Miller was pretty much locked into the recording studio alone until the band players arrived. He poked around at the few instruments that were in the room, an acoustic guitar with one string missing, the drum set which appeared to be complete but probably didn't sound very tight and he found the piano sounded about the same as the one back at Stalag 13. The rest of the few instruments, string instruments, seemed pretty much neglected. The room itself was in need of repairs; a few of the sound dampening tiles were missing from the walls and ceiling. It was actually quite depressing.

 

Miller looked through the glass in to the control room, which was unoccupied, and saw a mix of dated and modern components. The control room was just as depressing looking at the rest of the small studio.

 

Behind him, Miller heard the door to the studio be unlocked and opened. He turned to see a Gestapo guard step in and several German boys followed, some of them not looking much older than sixteen. They all carried an instrument, trumpets, clarinet, trombones, saxophones, some in cases, some not. Three of the boys wore Hitler Youth uniforms. The other six boys wore civilian clothes. All of them looked unsure of what they were doing there.

 

Major Miller suddenly wasn't so sure either. Was the Propaganda Ministry kidding? Kids? Okay, so they didn't want him to have POW's but....kids??

 

The Gestapo guard stepped back out of the studio and closed the door, locking it. The studio was silent as the German youths and Miller looked at each other for an awkward moment. Miller took a breath and was about to speak when one of the older boys at the back looked back at him and suddenly seemed to behold horror. "Sie bist ihn!" You are him! 


Miller blinked. All he knew of what the boy said was "sie" which was German for "you." He stepped back. For all he knew he'd been cursed. One of the other boys turned and shushed the boy that had spoken, but he kept going. "Der ist er! Das amerikanische bandleader, Glenn Miller!" That is him! The American bandleader, Glenn Miller!


The only piece of that Miller caught was his own name and American bandleader. Several of the boys looked at him differently, recognizing him and then began to talk fast amongst themselves.

Great, Miller thought. I'm going to be whacked upside the head with a clarinet by some little Nazi kid....


One of the Hitler Youth boys spoke up and shushed the others. He then stepped forward and looked at Major Miller, smiling. "You are Glenn Miller."

 

Miller wasn't sure he could trust the smile. "Um...yes, I am. You speak English?"

 

"Yes." The boy looked at one of the trombone players. "Ahren speaks English as well. You must pardon the others here...all of us enjoy your music but, we do not understand why you are here, instead of in England."

 

Miller relaxed only marginally. "I was captured by the Gestapo," he said and stepped forward cautiously to the group. "And brought here."

 

The boy translated to the others. Several of them muttered something with contempt and Miller's sense of alert started to fade.

 

"That is why the broadcasts stopped..." the boy said to Miller. The Major nodded and wondered if these kids were Swing Youths, the kind the Gestapo arrested for listening or playing swing music. They knew who he was by sight, they knew of the broadcasts...and judging from the instruments in hand, they knew how to play the music. They had to be, why else would the Propaganda Ministry bring them here, if these kids couldn't play swing music?

 

"My band was told that if they played," Miller explained to the blonde haired boy, "the Gestapo would kill me."

 

The boy translated. Miller saw the looks of anger on the young faces. There was more muttering, possibly cursing.

 

"All of us were arrested by the Gestapo for playing swing music too," the boy explained. "The Nazis....they do not like the American music."

 

"I know." Yes, they were Swing Youths. Miller gestured to the band chairs for the boys to sit down. They did and he too pulled up a chair and sat down. He leaned forward with his elbows on his knees and looked at the boy who was doing all of the translating. "What is your name?"

 

"Hans."

 

"Hans, were you or any of these boys told why you were being brought here today, with instrument in hand?"

 

Hans translated the question. Miller understood the chorus of 'nien' that followed.

 

"None of us," the boy said.

 

"Well I'll tell you. You've all been brought here because the Propaganda Ministry wants to make broadcasts to German youths just like you, and tell them how great and wonderful the Third Reich is and that they should pledge themselves to the future of the Reich and the tremendous responsibility that lies ahead. And they want to use swing music to do it."

 

Hans translated to the group. Before he finished, there was the collective shaking of heads and Miller could pick up on the dislike that the youths vocalized. One of the sax players spoke up directly to Hans and the blonde haired Hitler Youth member nodded before turning back to Miller.

 

"Herr Miller, swing music is part of our curriculum to be against everything the Third Reich stands for. They know that and that is why they arrest us. They put us in camps, they try to send us to the Hitler Youth. They do everything they can to break the spell, and some times they succeed. But other times, we still carry the music..." the boy pointed to himself. "In here. You understand why we do not like the idea of using the music to help them."

 

"Oh believe me, I understand. Because I'm not too crazy about all of this myself...."

 

"But the Propaganda Ministry and the Gestapo leave us little choice," Hans finished.

 

Miller nodded grimly.

 

"Ich speile nicht für Nazin," I will not play for the Nazi's, the second of the three sax players spoke up. A few others spoke their agreement. The other boys just remained quiet.  Miller looked at Hans.

 

"He says he will not play for the Nazi's."

 

Miller sighed. "I don't blame him," he conceded. He stood up from the chair and paced a moment in front of the bandstand keeping his gaze downward and away from the young musicians. He felt a little selfish about all of this. The only reason he was really there was because Hogan had said to agree to do it, because the Colonel had a plan to get him out of Germany. Now he was asking these kids to go against one of their dearest principles, a principle he held himself, in order to facilitate his escape. And that wasn't fair.

 

At the same time, however, these kids had the greatest opportunity before them. For a little while at least, they could play the music that they loved so dearly and not be reprimanded for it. Miller had to admit he was curious as to how well these kids could play. Most of his AEF band members were in their early twenties...but the kids here didn't look much older than 16. If even that. Maybe they weren't really very good.

 

"Aber ich spiele für Sie," But I will play for you.

 

Miller turned around and looked at Hans. "He will play for you," the young boy said with a smile.

 

Miller looked at the young musicians and saw them as they nodded their heads. Although he appreciated this, he didn't like the fact that he had another motive for all of this. And he really couldn't tell them about it. Despite the boys' reactions to his capture and to the Ministry wanting to use them for this broadcast, the sight of the three boys in the Hitler Youth uniforms gave Miller pause. Maybe they were on his side...maybe they weren't. If he said anything it could be reported to the Gestapo, and then it would be all over.

 

On the other hand, he couldn't back out either, not without arousing even more suspicion. The die had been cast and it was too late to change his mind now. 

 

So, he resigned himself to the fate and he nodded to young musicians. "Well," he said. "Let's see what you boys can play..." He looked at Hans. "Would you ask if any of them would like to start first and if not would you start first?"

The boy nodded. He turned to the group and asked the question. From the back a hand went up and a dark haired boy stood up with his trumpet.

 

"Hallo," Miller said, deciding to try an use some of the German he had learned. "Dien name?"

 

The boy smiled. "Erik."

 

"All right, Erik, let's have a listen..."

 

The boy paused a moment to think of a tune. He looked at Hans. "Schnell oder langsam?"

 

Hans looked at Miller. "Fast or slow?"

 

"Both."

 

"Beide," Hans said to Erik. The trumpet player nodded and raised the instrument to play.

 

The small studio became quiet, except for the sound of one lone trumpet playing Stardust. The boy was a little nervous at the start but the sound grew strong and the notes were held perfectly. Miller almost couldn't believe what he was hearing. In fact, he was so struck by it, he slowly sat back down in the chair and just watched the boy as he played.

 

The boy played a shortened version of the song and when he finished he lowered the instrument in front of him and looked at Major Miller.

 

Miller was amazed. He smiled and looked at Hans. "That was incredible! How old is he?"

 

Hans translated the praise and the question. Erik nodded to Miller and said, "Danke. Ich bin vierzehn."

 

"He's fourteen."

 

"Fourteen..." Fourteen years old and he plays like that?!  He looked at Erik. "What else can you play?"

 

Hans translated and Erik grinned, raising the instrument again. He then blew out the opening note of Pennsylvania 6-5000 and Miller saw as a couple of the other boys raised their instruments to join him. This prompted all of the boys to ready their instruments and begin playing. They played through the first part coming to the first stop and all of the kids suddenly shouted out: "Pennsylvania six five thousand!"

 

Miller smiled and sat back, listening to the young players. He joined them on the second vocal refrain. "Pennsylvania six five thousand!"

 

Erik skipped ahead to the trumpet solo which then led to the sax solo. The sax player, one of the civilian dressed kids, hit a wrong note and the song fell apart by that point as the kids started giggling. But Miller had heard plenty to know that he was dealing with some kids who were extremely serious musicians.

 

"Est tut mir leid," the sax player said to Miller. I apologize.

 

Miller chuckled. "It's all right," he said. He looked at the various faces in the band. "I get the feeling however, based on what you just played, that you boys have all played together before..." He looked over at Hans for the answer.

 

The young boy nodded. "Yes. We were all in the same band, until the Gestapo arrested us a couple of months ago. We had other players too but they were older than us and sent to the Army."

 

Miller looked at the three uniformed boys. "And you three were sent to the Hitler Youth."

 

Hans nodded. "They will take us into the Army soon enough. They already train us like soldiers. They have us doing the tasks of soldiers."

 

"What about the others? Are they too young for Hitler Youth or did they resist?"

 

"They resisted. You see Herr Miller, the choice was to join Hitler Youth and be allowed to stay with our families, or not join and be sent to detention camps. The other boys here have no family left, so there was no reason to join the HJ."

 

Ahren quickly explained to the other boys what was being said. One of the Hitler Youth boys, the third sax player, spoke up.

 

"Einige von uns haben keinen Grund, im HJ zu bleiben..." Some of us have no reason to remain in the HJ... the 16-year-old said.

 

Miller looked at the brown haired sax player that had spoken and then to Hans for the translation. "Adler says he has no reason to stay in the HJ." Hans hesitated.

 

Miller knew why and he looked at Adler. "I'm sorry," he said.

 

Adler nodded, understanding the sympathy in the Major's voice, even if he didn't understand what was spoken. The boy dropped his gaze for a moment, holding his composure. It was hard to be strong, but he would stay strong. He had made a promise that he would.

 

In the awkward silence of the studio, Miller felt a heavy weight on his shoulders. Before it got to be too much, Adler looked at him.

 

"Major Miller..., da wir hier sind, warum nicht spielen wir etwas Musik?" Major Miller...since we are here, why don't we play some music?

 

The other boys nodded. "Ja..."

 

Hans translated. "He says why don't we play some music, seeing we are all here."

 

Miller looked at Adler and saw the boy nod. He glanced at the others and then looked at Hans. "Yes, why don't we?"

 

The rest of the afternoon was spent being introduced to the young players, finding out what each of the players could play and then organizing the small band into something that sounded fairly decent. Major Miller had no sheet music to go by or to give to the musicians, so he basically had to go by trial and error, and use the various songs that the kids had all played regularly before they had been arrested. One of the songs was his own signature song, Moonlight Serenade. This song showcased the clarinet player, 16 year-old Avril, the one who had nearly had a conniption upon recognizing the band leader, and again Miller listened in amazement as the boy played the solo.

 

The others all demonstrated their abilities as well. The first sax player, 15 year old Johann, whose solo earlier during Pennsylvania 6-5000 fell apart, redeemed himself in quick fashion. The second sax player, 16 year-old Oskar, and the third, Adler, showed themselves to be quite competent. Adler seemed much more content now that he was playing music.

 

Sixteen-year old Hans played his trumpet just as good as Erik had.

 

The trombonists were also quite capable. Fifteen-year old Ahren, the other boy who spoke English seemed quite comfortable with solos. The third HJ boy, 15-year-old Josef seemed more comfortable playing rhythm, but demonstrated an ability to solo. The last trombonist was 14-year-old Roderick, who preferred not to solo, but could hold a rhythm section very well.

 

With soloists for clarinet, saxophone, trumpet and trombone, the kids then played the Benny Goodman song Flat Foot Floogee, a somewhat nonsense tune that had all four instruments featured for solos. Miller found this unique as he knew the song originally had Goodman's clarinet solo twice, but apparently the kids had decided to swap out one of the clarinet solos for a trombone solo. Hearing the kids try to make sense of the nonsense English lyrics was amusing as Miller knew on the record of the song it was difficult to distinguish if they were saying bright eyes or something totally different.

 

Although the young Germans played well, there were instruments missing from the group that would have made the band sound more complete. The total make up of this group consisted of one clarinet player, three saxophones, three trombone players, and two trumpet players. There was no drummer, no bass player and no piano player.

 

Miller considered this during a break. If the circumstances were different, he would have basically thought the hell with the Propaganda Ministry and left the band as it was, essentially providing beat less, incomplete swing on the day of the broadcast. But since his original request for POW’s was declined, he still figured he could try to provide Hogan the opportunity to be out of the camp if it was needed, by insisting on POW’s again.

 

Half way through the last song of the afternoon, Hauptmann Reigels and Anna came into the studio. Major Miller saw them but ignored them for the moment, leading the band through the rest of the song. When they finished, the young musicians set their instruments down on their laps and did not look at the Ministry officials who were in the studio. Major Miller turned to the two.

 

Anna smiled at the Major. "They sound very good Herr Major."

 

"They would sound better if I had a drummer, a piano player and a bass player," Miller replied.

 

"We tried to find those for you but were unable to," Hauptmann Reigels said.

 

The conversation was momentarily interrupted when a Gestapo guard came in to escort the boys out. The young musicians packed their instruments up and stood, filing out of the studio single file. Miller watched them go and each player nodded to him as they departed. When the last one was gone and the door closed, Miller looked back at Reigels and Anna.

 

"I also asked for POW's for this broadcast. I guess you were unable to find any of those too."

 

"Unfortunately, Major Miller, you are not to be seen by any Allied soldier, including POW's," Anna said. "Yet. Besides, this broadcast is aimed at German youth, therefore it is more appropriate that German youth be heard playing the music and voicing their support and loyalty to the Reich."

 

"Spare me the rhetoric. If that were true, then you wouldn't need me here. This broadcast may be directed toward Germans but I know you'll take my being here and doing this as a gloriously traitorous act and rub it right in the faces of the Allies."

 

Anna and Reigels exchanged glances. Reigels then looked at the Major. "It is true, Herr Major, that your capture presents us with many opportunities."

 

"Don't count on them. In the meantime, if you want swing music for this broadcast, I'm going to need sheet music and you better find me a drummer, a piano and a bass player. POW or otherwise."

 

The studio door opened again and two Gestapo guards entered to escort Major Miller out of the studio. Miller glanced at the guards then looked at Anna and Reigels, saying nothing more. He turned and walked to the door, leaving with the guards.

 

 

Stalag 13

November 1944

Day 4

 

Kinch came up from the tunnel and found Colonel Hogan sitting at the wooden table with the others.

 

"Just heard from the Underground in Düsseldorf. Miller's there. They're keeping an eye on him. The Krauts kept him holed up at a Ministry radio station pretty much all day and just took him to a hotel a little while ago. There's also what looks like other musicians involved, possibly juveniles..."

 

"Juveniles?" Carter said.

 

Newkirk snorted. "So much for them lettin' him have POW's for that band they wanted."

 

"I was counting on that too," Hogan said. "I think Miller was counting on that."

 

"You mean he was trying to offer a way for us to go to Düsseldorf with him?" Carter asked.

 

Hogan nodded. "He knows what we do here and I think he knows that sometimes we have to be out of this camp in order to do what we do."

 

"But the Underground could pick up from this point," Kinch said. "They can get Miller out of Düsseldorf."

 

"But Miller doesn't know about the Underground. If somebody he doesn't know, shows up to escort him somewhere he might panic. Besides, did the Underground say they had a plan of action for getting him out?"

 

"No, they didn't. They figure you have one."

 

Hogan sighed. "That's the problem. I don't." He stood up from the chair and fell into pacing behind the stove and around the table, behind where Newkirk and LeBeau sat.

 

"But Colonel, you told the Major that you did..." Carter said.

 

Hogan stopped pacing and looked at the Sergeant. The dark eyes, however, were not angry. "I know..." he said softly. "We couldn't do anything with him in the cooler anyway, we had to get him out, but...I also didn't want him to spend any more time than he had to in there."

 

"The cooler's the cooler," Newkirk said. "We've all spent some time in it."

 

"Yes, but Miller hadn't before now. See, Miller wasn't trained like a soldier or a pilot, like we all were. The psychological training, the physical training. Not to say he's soft, the conversation we heard with the Propaganda Ministry is proof of the contrary to that. He's got brass and he knows how to use it. And I've got a gut feeling that if he had to, he'd fight like hell. But when I watched him be marched to that cooler, and then to see Hochstetter come out with the jacket..." Hogan paused and looked at his coffee cup. "I dunno, maybe it's because he is Glenn Miller...and I just don't think the Krauts have to treat him like a dog to make their point."

 

There was a pause and then Kinch spoke, understanding what the Colonel was trying to say. "You're concerned what kind of effect this could all have on him..." he said.

 

Hogan looked at his radio man and nodded. "I don't want him to go through what some of us here have gone through. I don't think he would be subjected to any of that, but I wouldn't trust those Gestapo goons as far as I could throw them." The Colonel stepped back to the head of the table and placed his coffee cup down.

 

"Well now that he's out of the cooler, and we know where he is in Düsseldorf, what are we going to do?" Kinch asked.

 

Hogan paused in thought and placed his foot up on the chair, resting his arm across his knee. "After roll call tonight, I'll go to Düsseldorf and see what the situation is, maybe I can get to him and tell him about the Underground. It may be possible the Underground can spring him within the next 12 hours."

 

"How are you going to get to Düsseldorf? It's an awfully long walk, Colonel..." Newkirk said.

 

"Hopefully somebody in Hammelburg will be nice enough to give me a ride," Hogan replied and looked at Kinch.

 

The radio man grinned. "I'll see if there's a taxi available..." Kinch turned and headed for the tunnel.

 

"Colonel," Carter spoke up, "I've been thinkin'....couldn't we have tried to get the Major out during the night when he was still in the guest quarters, bring him here and then get him out through the emergency tunnel?"

 

"I thought of that. And had we done that, Major Miller would have been the first successful escape from Stalag 13….”

 

“…and Hochstetter would have torn this camp apart,” Newkirk finished.

 

“Exactly. Miller is a Gestapo prisoner...not a POW. And assuming Hochstetter didn't discover our operation, he would have forced the blame on Klink anyway and had him sent to the Russian Front. Either way, we would have been out of business.”

 

Carter nodded, understanding.

 

“So not only did we have to get him out of the cooler, we had to get him out of Stalag 13 all together,” Newkirk said.

 

LeBeau snorted. “Yeah, by telling him to agree to commit treason!”

 

“He won’t be in Düsseldorf long enough to commit treason,” Hogan said confidently. But in the back of his mind, there was a seed of doubt. He was under pressure from London, he had no idea what kind of situation there was in Düsseldorf, he didn’t know how quick the Propaganda Ministry would throw together a broadcast and above all that…he had no immediate plan. As he stared into his coffee cup, he wondered if he was losing his touch…

 

 

Düsseldorf Hotel

Düsseldorf, Germany

November 1944

Day 4

 

 

For the first time that day, Miller was introduced to his temporary quarters, a room on the sixth floor of the Düsseldorf Hotel.  Allowed to retain the kit the men at Stalag 13 had put together for him, he carried it and his crush cap in hand as he was escorted into the hotel by the two Gestapo guards. The few guests of the hotel that loitered in the lobby gawked at him as he passed by, recognizing more the uniform he wore, not so much who he was. Although some did know who he was.  The hotel staff watched too, more or less put out because the Gestapo had come in and just taken over. The hotel manager was perturbed because he had to give up six rooms to accommodate them. Six rooms the Gestapo wasn't paying for.

 

Major Miller wasn't aware that the kids were being held at the same hotel, on a different floor. And none of the kids knew that the Major was being held at the same hotel either. The arrangement had been the idea of Hochstetter's, not having wanted to assign more men than necessary for the guard duty and the securing of more than one building. So he assigned three men to the floor the kids were on and one guard to the floor Miller was on. Two additional men were posted in the hotel's lobby, and there were four more men that did alternating, routine patrols around the building. To leave the hotel, the kids, or Miller would have had to go out the windows, and with Miller six floors up, and the kids eight, that was quite a drop.

 

Of course, Hochstetter lamented the fact that there were perfectly good holding cells at Gestapo Headquarters that would have served the same purpose. But the Propaganda Ministry nixed the idea, explaining that if Miller and the kids are held in comfortable surroundings, Miller especially, then they may be more cooperative, especially if the Gestapo jail was used as punishment for resistance. Hochstetter pointed out that being nice to Americans didn't work and warned the Ministry officials to be watchful of Major Miller, especially after his demonstration of defiance at the Luft Stalag the day before. The Ministry officials assured Hochstetter they were well aware.

 

As such, the Ministry officials gave Hochstetter a task he would enjoy. At the same time Miller was being escorted to his hotel room, Hochstetter was in the process of interrogating each of the band members individually, asking them what took place, what was discussed and what songs they practiced earlier that afternoon. The Gestapo Major took notes and after each questioning session he compared them to what the other boys said. Most of the boys all said the same thing, that most of the talking took place between Major Miller and Hans, the HJ boy who could also speak English, but that Hans had translated back for all. The kids all knew Miller had been captured, and they all knew that they had been selected to be part of a broadcast to show their allegiance to the Reich and to use swing music to convince those who had refused, to also vow their allegiance to the Reich. The boys all seemed to accept this obligation.

 

Hochstetter found that amusing. If only they really knew why they have been selected for the broadcast... Despite having to be the babysitters for the prize catch, Hochstetter was deviously amused at the idea of Major Miller being used a bait for a series of Gestapo raids against the Swing Youths. The little brats wouldn't have a clue.

 

And Major Miller had no idea either, but there was no ignoring the gnawing feeling that was tugging at him for other reasons. Alone in his hotel room, he was surrounded by the quiet and his thoughts. There was no way he could allow that band to play swing music on the day of the broadcast. Not for Nazi's, not for the purpose he had been told, that being as a way to promote all that was good about the Third Reich. There wasn't anything good about the Third Reich. What was good about living in fear? What was good about being thrown in jail for playing a certain type of music, or having a certain opinion? What was good about intimidation, persecution and terrorization?

 

Nothing. Just trying to comprehend all of it boggled the Major's mind. But one thing was clear....there was no way in hell he was going to let that band play swing music for that broadcast. He would not be part of the Nazi's attempt to use swing music to manipulate, coerce and lie to the Germans who would be listening and he wouldn't let those kids be part of it either. Come the day of the broadcast, if things got that far, he was going to find some way to tell the Propaganda Ministry to take a long walk off a short pier.

 

There was just one problem...if Colonel Hogan didn't have this plan for getting him back to England, Miller, truthfully, would have spent the rest of the war in the cooler at Stalag 13 instead of agreeing to the Propaganda Ministry's idea. But he had agreed, in order to help facilitate the Colonel's plan, and now these kids were involved...and they shouldn't have been to begin with. And it was this thought that intensified that gnawing feeling the Major was experiencing.

 

Now there were nine other lives added into the equation. Although maybe....just maybe, this all could be over with before the broadcast. Miller figured if he escaped soon, then the kids would just be sent back....

 

...to camps.

 

Prison camps.

 

And the three HJ kids would go back to their Hitler Youth groups and have more of the "glorious Fatherland and Heil Hitler" crap pounded into their heads. And then they'd be sent off to the Army, like Hans said, 16 and 17 year old kids, with guns in hand, not knowing what the heck they were doing and dying on a battlefield somewhere...

 

Stop it. Miller sighed and stepped over to the window, looking out on the town of Düsseldorf, shrouded in a deep blue dusk. He thought of those kids, nine innocent lives…

 

Or were they all innocent?

 

Miller was usually optimistic about people, but had a healthy amount of doubt and cynicism. And the three boys in the Hitler Youth uniforms were weighing on that doubt at the moment. Miller knew better than to judge based on appearances but seeing those red and black swastika arm bands on the shirt sleeves of three jazz musicians was...weird to say the least. But the kids seemed to act like that reminder of the Third Reich wasn't even there. He recalled what they had told him, how they had been arrested and then given the option to join the HJ or go to concentration camps, and they had joined the HJ because otherwise they would have been separated from their families. And then there was Adler, who no longer had any reason to stay in the HJ.

 

For some reason, the HJ uniforms were messing up his faith. Miller was fairly sure the kids were honest but...he also wondered if there was the possibility they were lying to him. Maybe they had been picked by the Gestapo to be moles, making sure everything was being kept on the Nazified up and up and they only told him their various stories in order to gain his sympathy and trust.

 

He sighed and turned away from the window. He would have to be cautious. Even if it turned out that they hadn't been picked by the Gestapo to be moles, the Gestapo could pressure them to report any thing suspicious. And what could be more suspicious than to hear him talk about the possibility of escaping? Even more suspicious would be the suggestion of the kids making the escape with him....

 

Don't get your hopes up... Fate had tipped the scale when he was abducted from Broadcasting House and he knew, deep down, that there was very little he had control over now. Whatever was meant to be was going to be. Some how, though, that wasn't good enough. Those kids deserved more than to just be brought in, without choice, and then be left behind once Miller escaped and left to face God knew what. No...he had to do something for them. Just what exactly, he wasn't sure.

 

Meanwhile, two of the band members were doing something for him.  After Hochstetter left, Hauptmann Reigels went to each room to visit the boys and basically ask the same kind of questions Hochstetter asked. The boys had been paired off by twos, with Hans being the odd man out and having a room of his own. Ahren and Roderick shared a room and it was Roderick that made a request from Reigels about possibly having another trombone, explaining that his was several years old and was showing it's age and wear and tear. Roderick expressed his concern that the instrument would not be sufficient come the day of the broadcast. Reigels considered this a fair request and promised the youngster that a new instrument would be delivered in the morning. After Reigels left, Ahren looked at Roderick, puzzled.

 

"Your trombone is only two years old," he said.

 

"I know. I didn't ask for another one for myself. I asked it for Herr Miller." Roderick smiled. "When he stands in front of the band, it seems like something is missing."

 

***

 

Town of Düsseldorf, Germany

November 1944

Day 4

 

 

Brandeis Fritz was a dark haired, stout individual, who looked more like a German baker than the leader of the local Underground. But in fact, he was both, and his baker’s trade had provided a most convenient and useful cover. He had run the Underground unit in Düsseldorf for almost two years and was always keenly aware of what went on in the area, if not by information coming in the usual channels, then by the orders for pastries for parties for high ranking German officials. When Colonel Hogan had sent word that the Gestapo would be bringing in a very special US Army officer to town, Fritz had ordered the usual sentries to take positions to keep an eye out for the arrival. Hogan, as always, did not take the chance by revealing names through the communiqué and Fritz treated the information and the impending arrival as he treated any other such event, with the utmost importance. He never would have guessed in a million years who the special Army officer was and had never expected one of his sentry's to report back to him in absolute shock.

 

"You will not believe who it is!" the young man had said, his eyes wild with surprise.

 

Fritz could feel the clamp around his heart, thinking that a very high ranking American officer had been captured. Was it Patton? Arnold? God, don't tell me they somehow grabbed Eisenhower?!

 

"Who??" he prompted.

 

"Glenn Miller!"

 

Fritz blinked. "Glenn Miller?" He stared at the sentry for a moment. "What the hell is this war coming too??"

 

"I don't know, but I know it was him. I have no doubt."

 

Fritz had immediately sent the sentry back out to help keep an eye on the bandleader and to report his whereabouts whenever they changed. Once Miller had been taken to the Düsseldorf Hotel, Fritz sent a communiqué back to Colonel Hogan. Hogan had then replied that he would be coming to Düsseldorf.

 

So Fritz stood in an alley way, just outside the door of his bakery where his organization sometimes met, smoking a cigarette and casually waiting for Colonel Hogan's arrival. As Fritz waited, he wondered what kind of plan was going to be involved for getting the Major back to England. Surely it was going to have to be a doozy....

 

A car pulling into the alley distracted Fritz from his thoughts. The car approached slowly and then flashed it's headlights twice. Fritz tossed his cigarette aside and moved toward the car. The passenger door opened and Colonel Hogan stepped out, dressed in civilian clothes.

 

Fritz nodded at the Colonel as he approached. "Guten Abend," Fritz said.

 

"Good to see you again, Fritz," Hogan replied. Fritz led the Colonel into the building as the car backed out of the alley.

 

"One of my sentry's recognized your special officer," Fritz said, after the door closed. "Tell me he's wrong."

 

"If he saw Glenn Miller he's not wrong."

 

"It's really him??"

 

Hogan nodded. "Propaganda Ministry's prize catch."

 

Fritz shook his head. "I can't believe it," he sighed. "London wants him back fast I'm sure."

 

"They do. And we're going to do everything we can to get him back to London. Your sentry's have been watching him?"

 

"Ja. The Major is being held at the hotel just down the street. My men have been keeping an eye on him since they brought him into town this morning."

 

"Do we know what floor he's on?" Hogan asked.

 

Fritz nodded. "Sixth."

 

"What's Hochstetter got for security?"

 

"Extremely lax, considering. He has two guards in the lobby, four guards doing alternating routine patrols around the hotel and one guard on the sixth floor."

 

"One guard??"

 

Fritz nodded. "Apparently Hochstetter doesn't think Major Miller is likely to try to escape, let alone put up much of a fight."

 

"Hmmm..." Hogan thought a moment. "Is the guard directly outside Miller's door?"

 

"No. The guard just patrols the hall."

 

Hogan nodded, his thoughts continuing. "How often do they rotate the guard on the sixth floor?"

 

"We don't know. Miller's only been there for a few hours. We don't know what kind of shifts Hochstetter's going to run."

 

Hogan nodded again. He paced for a moment. "Could we get in?"

 

"Sure, we can pose as hotel staff." Fritz looked at Hogan. "What are you thinking, Colonel?"

 

Hogan stopped pacing and looked at Fritz, a gleam in his brown eyes. "I'll tell you exactly what I'm thinking...."

 

***

 

Fritz and Hogan gained access to the hotel through a back door, where a member of Fritz's group let them in and then provided them with hotel wait staff uniforms. Bypassing the lobby and main stairs, they took the service stairs. Knowing Miller was on the sixth floor, Fritz and Hogan left the service stairs at the fifth floor and resumed the ascent using the main stairs up to the sixth.

 

Hogan and Fritz each carried a server's tray and as expected they were stopped by the guard. Fritz explained they were delivering a late dinner to one of the guests. The guard asked to see what was hidden beneath the trays. They showed him and the guard nodded in approval. Hogan and Fritz then turned in one direction while the guard turned in the other. They paused as the guard took a few steps away from them and Fritz put his server tray down on a nearby hall table. He then turned back to the guard and with pistol in hand, he brought the butt of the gun down on the back of the neck of the guard.

 

The guard fell to the floor in a heap, his rifle hitting the floor with a thundering thump.

 

Down the hall, a restless American bandleader was still awake. He heard the thump and subsequent commotion and he went to the door to see what was going on. When he looked out into the hall, he saw two of the hotel staffers dragging the Gestapo guard down the hall toward him. One of the staffers looked up at him and Miller recognized, with surprise, Colonel Hogan.

 

"We're coming in," Hogan said. Miller stepped back into the room and held the door open as Hogan and Fritz carried the Gestapo guard into the room.  He then shut the door and the Gestapo guard was dumped on the floor.

 

Hogan turned to Miller's questioning look. "We're getting you out of here. Right now." He glanced at Fritz who was starting to remove the uniform from the Gestapo guard. "We're going to have you wear this uniform..."

 

"What?!"

 

"Just do it, we don't have time to argue." Fritz handed the Gestapo uniform jacket to Hogan who passed it to Miller. The guard's boots and trousers were unceremoniously taken from him and passed to Hogan, who passed them to Miller. "Go on..."

 

Miller disappeared into the wash room and did a quick change from US Army brown to Gestapo black. He came back out and Hogan looked at him. Miller was not amused.

 

"If I'm caught dead in this uniform I'm going to come back and find you..."

 

Hogan said nothing and took the Major's US Army uniform jacket, trousers and shoes and put them on the bed, next to the pack that was the Major's kit. He quickly folded the trousers and jacket and put them in the pack. The Major's crush cap was then tucked into the pack and the pack was closed. Fritz, meanwhile, was handing the guard's helmet and rifle to the Major. He then tugged on the uniform coat, straightening it upon the Major's shoulders. The jacket was much too big on the Major.

 

Hogan took another look at the Major. "It'll have to do," he said. He handed the pack to Miller. "C'mon..." He walked to the door and Miller and Fritz followed.

 

Hogan opened the door and looked out on the hall, which was empty. He glanced at his watch and turned to Miller and Fritz. "That car should be here in about five minutes. Go."

 

Fritz stepped out into the hallway and Miller followed, hefting the rifle on his right shoulder, his pack slung over his left. The two went to the door of the service stairs and disappeared behind it. 

 

Hogan left the unconscious Gestapo guard in the room and shut the door. He then walked, normally, toward the main stairs picking up both serving trays on the way and tried to appear unhurried as he approached a janitor’s closet. He quickly placed the trays on a shelf in the closet and shut the door. He then walked back to the stairs and descended them casually. When he got to the third floor landing, he passed another Gestapo guard who was on his way up. Hogan slowed and looked back at the guard as he disappeared around the turn to the next flight of stairs.

 

"Oh Lord..." Hogan quickly turned and went back up the stairs to follow the guard.

 

Fritz and Major Miller, meanwhile, were descending the last few flights of stairs. When they reached the first floor landing, Miller paused to relieve his right shoulder of the weight from the weapon, while Fritz cautiously approached the heavy wooden door that led to the street outside. There was no window in it, meaning Fritz would have to open it just enough to peek out and hope he wasn't caught just by opening the door.

 

Miller watched as Fritz put his left hand on the door handle and took a deep breath before pulling the door open just a crack. The sidewalk and street looked empty for the moment. He pulled the door open a little wider, keeping a look out for Gestapo and for somebody to be standing outside of a car, smoking a cigarette. There was neither. Fritz glanced at his watch and figured he had another minute before the car was to pull up.

 

At the same time, Hogan had followed the other Gestapo guard back to the sixth floor. He watched from the stairs as the guard, when he didn't find his compatriot who he was to relieve for the night, rushed down the hall to what had been Miller's hotel room and found his comrade in there. With Miller missing, and his buddy's uniform missing, the guard immediately concluded that the American Major had escaped and he broke into a run back to the stairs. He rushed past Hogan, never giving him a second glance and thundered down the stairs.

 

Hogan bolted into a run down the sixth floor hall to the where the service stairs were located. If possible, he was thinking to get Miller back up to the sixth floor before the Gestapo mobilized.

 

Just before the guard went flying down the main stairs to alert his comrades, Fritz spotted two guards as they passed by the service door. He allowed the door to close just enough to leave a sliver of an opening and he paused, waiting for the two guards to pass by. After a few moments, he opened the door a little wider again and saw a car pull up to the curb. He watched this car, saw the lone person step out and stand by the vehicle and then saw the orange glow of flame from a lighter be placed to the end of a cigarette. Fritz looked at the Major and nodded. He opened the door wide, letting the Major step out first and then followed, neither of them hearing the hurried echoing steps coming down the service stairs behind them.  The heavy wooden door closed.

 

The guard who had discovered Miller missing was alerting his comrades in the lobby. They immediately jumped to action, one man going outside to alert the men on patrol, while the other went with the first guard to check other exits of the hotel. The first being the service stairs.

 

Outside, two of the patrol guards, the same two Fritz had seen just a few moments earlier, were met by the lobby guard, who quickly explained the situation. The two men turned around and headed back in the direction they had come from. The lobby guard went the other way to find the other two patrol guards.

 

Fritz instructed the Major to walk to the car where the man stood smoking a cigarette and to get in. Miller nodded and took a few steps. Fritz veered off and started to go across the street.

 

Hogan made it to the first floor landing of the service stairs and found it empty. He had little time for reaction when the door leading to the rest of the hotel suddenly clicked open, forcing Hogan back up the stairs and out of sight of the two Gestapo guards who came through. The wooden door was yanked open and the Gestapo guards spilled out onto the sidewalk. 

 

Miller swung around at the commotion behind him and saw the two guards coming toward him. In a panic he threw the rifle off his right shoulder and lobbed it at the guard that was coming closest to him. The guard went down upon contact with the rifle and Miller broke into a run, heading toward the back of the hotel.

 

"Halt!" the other guard shouted. He took off after Miller.

 

Across the street, Fritz turned at the sound and saw the American Major running. The man by the car was waving at Fritz frantically. We have to get out of here! Fritz hurried over to the car, demanding to know what happened.

 

"The guards came out of the service door. The Major panicked. We must get out of here or they will find us."

 

"Where's Colonel Hogan?"

 

"I don't know. But we must get away from here!"  the man pulled the back door of his car open for Fritz. The underground leader had no choice but to get in. The man closed the door and jumped behind the wheel, the engine turning with a terrible shriek and the car jumped away from the curb.

 

The two guards from the front of the hotel saw the car as it took off into the dark of the street. Hurrying down the sidewalk they found their comrade, who had taken the brunt of the rifle Miller had thrown at him, picking himself up off the sidewalk. They then heard the commotion down the sidewalk, where the Major's escape route was cut short.

 

The sudden sound of gunfire in the air brought everything along the street to an abrupt stop. Seeing two more Gestapo guards in front of him, one with rifle pointed in the air, the other with rifle pointed directly at him, forced Miller to stop running and immediately place his hands up. Although they didn't shoot directly at him, they could have.  The guard behind Miller came up directly, preventing any chance for Miller to turn back the other way.

 

Hogan heard the hurried departure of a car....and then the shooting and he froze. "Oh damn..." Assuming the worst, Hogan leapt over the railing of the bottom stairs and carefully opened the door looking out on the sidewalk and street. He saw Miller was surrounded by Gestapo, who were escorting him back down the sidewalk. But the Major was standing, which although was a relief to the Colonel, the failure of the attempt weighed more heavily. Hogan closed the door and in defeat went through the doorway to the rest of the hotel, heading back to the kitchen area.

 

***

 

In the few minutes it took Major Hochstetter to get from Gestapo Headquarters to the hotel, Major Miller had dressed back into his US Army uniform and returned the Gestapo uniform to the guard it had been taken from. Miller then sat in his room under the watchful eyes of four Gestapo guards, as they waited for Hochstetter to arrive.

 

Hochstetter was livid and he came storming into the hotel lobby and charged up the stairs to the sixth floor. Which was probably a good thing, for Miller, as the climb up all those stairs took some of the edge off the Gestapo Major. But he was quite upset when he arrived at Miller's room. A quick explanation was provided by one of the four Gestapo guards who pointed to the one who had been duped and also held up the pack that was Miller's kit. Hochstetter grabbed the pack angrily and then turned to Miller, scowling.

 

Miller looked back at him, neutral. Boy I'm in trouble now...

 

"Well Major..." Hochstetter said as he stepped toward Major Miller, "did you enjoy your walk?"

 

Miller drew in a deep breath. "I had to try it once," he replied.

 

"Once is all you get!" Hochstetter snarled through clenched teeth. He stepped up next to Miller and leaned forward so that he was directly face to face with the band leader. "Who helped you?"

 

"Nobody."

 

"Nobody?" Hochstetter found this a little hard to believe.

 

Miller feigned offense. "Nobody...I knocked your guard out myself."

 

Hochstetter puffed up but managed to maintain restraint. "You wish to test my authority, ja?"

 

"No," Miller said. "Frankly, I wish to get the hell out of here."

 

"I warned you when you first got here that if you tried to escape you would not be treated as lightly as other prisoners of war."

 

"Yes, I know. But I think your threats are a little empty, Major. There's one thing holding you back."

 

"Nothing holds me back!"

 

Miller flinched a little but kept going, raising an eyebrow to Hochstetter. "Not even the Propaganda Ministry?"

 

Hochstetter growled and turned away from Miller in frustration. "The Gestapo are not babysitters!"

 

Miller found this amusing. "Are you implying I'm a waste of your time, Major?"

 

Hochstetter turned back to Miller. "With the exception of the one purpose you will be serving us...yes you are complete waste of my time!"

 

Miller looked at Hochstetter, still amused. "That's good to know," he said.

 

Hochstetter's smile was sinister. "Don't get too brave, Herr Major. You assaulted one of my men, took his uniform and attempted to escape under my authority. This will not be forgotten. If it were up to me, you would be severely punished right now." Hochstetter stepped toward Miller. "However, do not believe that the Propaganda Ministry will let what you have tried to do this evening go unpunished. Hauptmann Reigels, I'm sure, will suggest appropriate course of action."

 

"Another night in the cooler?"

 

Hochstetter chuckled. "A Gestapo prison cell and the cooler of a Luftstalag are two very different things, Herr Major, and I would be more than happy to introduce you to a Gestapo prison cell..." Hochstetter paused and looked at the pack he held in his hand. "In the meantime, your pack is being confiscated and you will now have a guard posted directly outside your door. Although your continued health is dependent upon the Propaganda Ministry, remember that they will only take so much of your audacity."

 

Before they cut the dogs loose. Miller sat quietly, figuring he'd grated on the Gestapo Major's nerves enough. Although Hochstetter would have liked to have made more of a point to the American Major, he settled for Miller's silence. He looked to one of the guards and nodded before turning to leave the room. The guards were all then dismissed and the hotel room was emptied of Gestapo.

 

Miller let go a sigh. He took little comfort in the thought that the Propaganda Ministry was what was sparing him from Hochstetter's full Gestapo backed wrath.

 

 

Stalag 13

November 1944

Day 4

 

Hogan remained in Düsseldorf long enough for one of Fritz's sentinels to gather some information on what the Gestapo reaction was to Miller's escape attempt. To Hogan's surprise, and concern, what the sentry overheard from two Gestapo guards at the hotel was that Miller had acted alone in the attempt. There was no suggestion of any outside help and no mention of the two hotel staffers. The guard who had been knocked out, apparently truly believed that it was Miller who had struck him from behind. Miller, himself, even said he did.

 

Hogan made plans to return to Düsseldorf the following night. Fritz made a promise to the Colonel that if there was another chance to rescue the Major before then, he and his group would take it and would let Hogan know what was going on. Colonel Hogan expected no less.

 

When he returned to Stalag 13 and the emergency tunnel, he found Kinch was waiting for him. There was no hiding the haggard look of defeat on the Colonel's face. "What happened?" Kinch asked.

 

"Nothing," Hogan replied. "Except I damn near got him killed."

 

Kinch looked at the Colonel, waiting for further explanation. Hogan looked at his radio man and let a rare moment of self-disappointment show. "We tried to sneak him out of the hotel but they caught him. Gestapo doesn't know Miller had help though, they think he acted alone." Hogan sighed. "Hochstetter more than likely went up one side of him and down the other...and I had to leave him there to take it. Every time I think I'm keeping him away from the Gestapo wrath, I do something that just brings it closer."

 

"Thing is..." Kinch said, "if he's taking the heat for the escape attempt, that protects the underground and preserves a future chance to get him out." Kinch paused a moment, considering how to broach the next subject. "Colonel, he knows the game. Don't you think you ought to stop treating him like a celebrity and treat him like a fellow soldier?"

 

Hogan looked at the sergeant defensively. "I'm not treating him like a--" The Colonel cut himself short, suddenly realizing Kinch was right. Hogan gave a soft snort and looked down. "I guess I have been putting him on a pedestal of sorts." He paced away from Kinch a moment. "I just don't want anything to happen to him. I want to get him back to England and back on that radio where he belongs and I want him back there in one piece and unscathed." Hogan looked at Kinch. "That's not too much to ask is it?"

 

"Of course not. But we both know that the escape route isn't the most comfortable trip to take. And I know he's not expecting a first class train ride here. He knows it's going to be a little rough.  You keep trying to smooth this thing out for him, we'll never get him out of here."

 

Hogan paused, considering what Kinch said. He softly chuckled. "You're right. He's shown that he knows what's going on and he's willing to do whatever I need him to do to help facilitate this thing." Hogan paused, recalling something Miller had said the first day he had been brought to Stalag 13. "You know he said he didn't think of himself as much of a soldier..." the Colonel looked at Kinch, "but he's wrong. And I guess I've been a little wrong myself."

 

Day Five...