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The Kommandant Dies At Dawn
Series: Hogan's Heroes
Episode: The Kommandant Dies at Dawn
Original Airdate: October 31, 1969
Production Number: 5784-127
Written by: Arthur Julian
Directed by: Richard Kinon
Produced by: William A. Calihan & Jerry London

Regular Edit

Prisoners Edit

Camp Personnel Edit

Semi-Regulars Edit

None

Guest Stars Edit

Synopsis Edit

Klink is to be executed when the Gestapo finds him with information Hogan planted on him to deliver to the underground.

Plot Details Edit

It is a cold day at Stalag 13, with the hint of snow to come in the air. The prisoners are busy cleaning the camp grounds, while Hogan supervises and Schultz serves guard duty at the main gate. A local farmer approaches with fresh food on his cart, wanting to sell it to the prisoners. When Schultz objects to letting him in, Hogan and his men give him a long talk on how this will support the German war effort. Schultz relents and lets the farmer in, and is soon helping himself to as much fresh food as are the prisoners surrounding him. In the confusion, the farmer slips Hogan a piece of paper hidden inside a small cucumber (which Carter almost eats by accident). On it are the most recent production figures for the Luftwaffe. Hogan is about to have LeBeau pass on the intel to the underground when Klink storms out of his office towards the gate. The angry German colonel orders Schultz to throw out the farmer and his cart (having civilians feed POWs is against regulations), then orders extra guards. When Hogan asks what the fuss is all, Klink tells him that Stalag 13 is about to receive a most distinguished visitor. Luftwaffe Field Marshall Albert Kesselring will be dropping by to pay a courtesy visit before heading to Berchtesgaden to see the Fuhrer. Their conversation is interrupted, though by the arrival of another guest, this one unexpected: SS Major Feldkamp, of the local Gestapo office. Once Hogan reveals that he too knows about the field marshall's impending visit, Feldkamp tells Klink to confine the prisoners to barracks and to double the guard. Feldkamp heads away to Klink's office, with the worried camp commandant scurrying after him. As they are escorted to barracks, LeBeau looks at Hogan. "How are we going to get this information to the underground now?" he asks. Hogan glances back at Feldkamp. "I suggest you consult with the camp chaplain," he responds.

Later, inside Barracks 2, the Unsung Heroes are thinking hard - trying to come up with some way of relaying the paper with the Luftwaffe production figures to the underground. One nutty plan after another is dreamed up and discarded, with Newkirk offering his usual acerbic commentary on each. Finally, a warmly dressed Schultz drops in, sporting a big pair of earmuffs under his helmet. He tells them that they've going to serve as busboys and waiters for the cocktail party Klink will be throwing for Field Marshall Kesselring. The Unsung Heroes flatly refuse, complaining that they're tired of being trotted out every time Klink wants to impress an important guest. Hogan is drinking his coffee by the stove, only half-listening to them talk, when he suddenly pricks up his ears. Schultz is telling them about the dinner party in town, at the Hauserhof, that Klink is going to have following the cocktail party. Hogan then strolls over and politely suggests to his men that they volunteer.

At the same time, in Klink's office, the camp commandant is surprised that Feldkamp wants to invite Hogan - a POW and enemy soldier - to Kesselring's cocktail party. Feldkamp hopes that the change of atmosphere, a few party perks, and a few rounds with the schnapps might convince Hogan to cough up the Allied odd secret or two.

Meanwhile, back in the barracks, Schultz shuffles uncomfortably in the background while Hogan shares his plan with his men. They will hide the paper in the outer belt of Klink's uniform. Carter informs Hogan that he used the last of the leather he had to make a carrying case for his Dear John letters, but Hogan remains unfazed. He calls on Newkirk, then heads over to Schultz. Seeing that they're done talking, Schultz's face brightens. Hogan then tells him that he's talked his men into helping out Klink ... and as the other Unsung Heroes surround the poor sergeant, all talking loudly and keeping him confused, Newkirk unhooks his Sam Browne belt and steals the lower half - the cartridge belt, ammo pouches and all. Schultz fails to notice its absence until after he leaves the barracks. When he returns, fingering the front clasp of the shoulder strap and asking about his cartridge belt, Hogan blithely claims he came in without one. "Just be grateful it wasn't holding up your trousers!" Newkirk says. The confused sergeant turns and leaves, mumbling to himself - and as an excited Carter holds up the cartridge belt, all of the ammo pouches slide off and onto the floor - earning him the usual round of unbelieving stares from the others.

The time finally comes for Klink's cocktail party. Both he and the Unsung Heroes are busy with preparations. LeBeau has cooked another of his legendary meals using the ample supplies in Klink's larder - much to Schultz's glee. Klink warns Hogan to be on his best behavior. Hogan agrees, then discusses in detail the inherent problems of Germany's Me-110 and Me-109 fighter planes - as he lights one of Klink's cigars off of a nearby candlestick and begins to smoke it. Klink is too interested in Hogan's comments to notice, sensing that Hogan's comments might prove useful conversation fodder with the party guests later on. Shortly thereafter Field Marshall Kesselring himself arrives, with his chief-of-staff, his adjutant, SS Major Feldkamp, and the lovely Fraulein Ziegler in tow - and with that, the party begins. Just before Hogan joins it, though, Newkirk pulls him aside. The Unsung Heroes have successfully switched the outer belt on Klink's coat. Their beloved camp commandant will be their unwitting courier to town later that night.

Feldkamp does his best to pump Hogan using every conversational trick he knows, but the crafty American misleads him at every turn. At the same time, Klink attempts to impress Fraulein Ziegler by repeating much of what he heard Hogan say about the Luftwaffe's fighters not long before. Ziegler is so amazed by what she has heard that she excuses herself, then walks over to where Feldkamp is still trying to talk to Hogan. She asks to speak with Feldkamp, whereupon Hogan seizes his opportunity to excuse himself and walks over to Colonel Klink. What has been going on between Klink and Ziegler has not escaped Hogan's eyes. "How are you doing?" he asks. Klink manages to look both Prussian and moonstruck at the same time. "She thinks I'm a military genius," he gushes. Hogan does not believe him, and advises him to wait until Kesselring has had his turn with her. About that time Feldkamp walks up with Klink's overcoat in his arm. "How very nice of you!" he says, as the SS major helps him put it on, then adds, "And now, off to the Hauserhof!" Feldkamp is pure ice. "No, we are off to the guardhouse," he says levelly. "You are under arrest for treason!" Feldkamp barks, much to the shock of everyone else at the party - especially Hogan. "Colonel Klink didn't reveal any military secrets to me," he says. Feldkamp then reveals that Frau Ziegler is a top Gestapo agent, apparently meant for Hogan if Feldkamp's first line of attack failed. Klink just happened to be vain and stupid enough to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and with the wrong thing to say to impress a woman. As Klink is hauled away, Hogan rejoins his men. "You know, Klink has a good chance of getting shot," he says. Newkirk points out that Klink's problems will only get worse if the Gestapo finds the paper they planted on him. Carter remains optimistic. "Maybe we can get him to leave that belt to us in his will," he says - with such innocence and honesty that, as always, everyone else just stares at him.

The next day, Hogan pays a courtesy call on Klink - who is now a prisoner in his own cooler, locked in one of its main detention cells. The term is an apt one, for the building is not heated, and Klink is hugging his overcoat closely to him, stamping his feet and trying to keep warm. Hogan has brought him some of the leftovers from the party table, and the hungry Prussian colonel wolfs them down. Hogan tries to use the food as a pretext to "loosen" Klink's belt, but Klink won't let him touch it. He is cold and frightened, and despite the gift of food blames Hogan for what has happened. "You're the one that shot off your mouth," Hogan reminds him, "trying to be a big man for that little blond." He then adds, "All a dame has to do is say hello to you, and you're ready to give her a road map to Hitler's bunker." Klink shrugs off the insult. "All right, I like women!" he says, then throws his arms up in the air. "Kill me." Hogan lowers his voice. "I wouldn't say that too loud in here," he says. Klink then proceeds to continue berating Hogan, calling it "the saddest day of my life when you were captured," before Schultz returns to them "... with good news and bad news." The good news? Feldkamp has ordered Klink to be executed by firing squad in the morning. The bad news? No blindfold. Worse, every guard in the camp that is not on sick call or leave has volunteered to be on his firing squad. Klink sinks down on his bunk, his utter shock soon turning to despair.

Across the yard, in Barracks 2, Carter is thoroughly trouncing Newkirk at gin. LeBeau watches for Hogan to return, while Kinch is busy with a message pad. Hogan returns and reports failure in retrieving Klink's belt. They are just starting to debate whether or not they should rescue him when Schultz hurries in and quickly closes the door behind him. He is there to ask for their aid in helping Klink to escape to Switzerland. It's quite a daring plan, involving drugs and dynamite and getaway cars, but has obvious flaws. "Why don't you just use the key you have here to unlock his cell door?" Hogan says, tapping the sergeant's belt. The others chime in, and quickly tear the rest of Schultz's plan to shreds. The fat sergeant looks despondent, but Hogan motions him to one side. "I have a plan," he tells him. "What do we use to get him to Switzerland?" Schultz asks. Hogan opens the window and points toward Klink's quarters. "Field Marshall Kesselring's car," he tells him. "Have Klink in the car at exactly 9:05 and leave the rest to us." As an excited Schultz leaves, while Hogan turns to his men. "You don't think Laurel and Hardy can really make that plan work?" he asks them, then smiles. "We're gonna save Klink's life," he tells them, "and we wind up with the belt."

That night, Corporal Wolfschmitt has cooler guard duty. Schultz distracts him with a bottle of schnapps and offers to cover for his subordinate. Once Schultz is alone, he rushes inside. "Kommandant, I have a plan," he tells Klink. "You can be in Switzerland by tomorrow morning." For a moment, Klink's pride gets the better of him. "Schultz! I am a German officer! My father before me was a German officer! All of the Klink men have served in the military, and the one thing that has set them apart from all the others was their courage." Schultz keeps his feet on the ground. "How would you like your steak?" he asks, referring to Klink's last meal request. Klink's pride vanishes at once. "What do you want me to do?" he says, almost begging.

Minutes later, Schultz is trying to quietly escort Klink towards Kesselring's staff car. They run into some garbage cans enroute, tipping off the Unsung Heroes that the escape is underway. "Sounds like Stan and Ollie now," Hogan quips. The Unsung Heroes, using the darkness for cover, rush out of their barracks and towards Klink's quarters. Against all odds, Klink and Schultz have made their way there ahead of them without being spotted. Klink climbs into the driver's seat of Kesselring's car, but for some reason it won't start. He and Schultz then try to push the car away even as the Unsung Heroes arrive. They join in pushing, and before Klink can jump on the running board it rolls away from them towards the main gate. "Wait, wait!" he calls out, oblivious to the danger he's now in. "My only chance for freedom!" Just then the car explodes in front of them, and they dive for cover. Kesselring and Feldkamp rush out of Klink's quarters at the sound, and almost immediately spot the group. "What is going on here?" Feldkamp demands. "Klink! What are you doing out of the cooler?" And since Klink is too flummoxed to reply, Hogan quickly jumps up to bat. He explains to Feldkamp and Kesselring that Klink looked out of his cell window and saw somebody planting a bomb in the trunk of Kesselring's staff car. He then overpowered Schultz, took the keys and freed himself, then risked his own life rushing to save the field marshall. Kesselring looks sternly at Klink once Hogan finishes. "Is that what happened?" he asks. Klink gives his familar vain grin. "Sir," he says, "I couldn't have told it better myself." Feldkamp starts to take Klink back to the cooler, but Kesselring intervenes. He is grateful for Klink saving his life, and will use his own authority to have all charges against him dropped. He also reinstates Klink as camp commandant on the spot. After Kesselring leaves to make the necessary calls, Hogan congratulates Klink and suggests he celebrate in town. Klink is so giddy that he leaves immediately - leaving behind a preturbed and irritated Feldkamp.

Not long after, the Unsung Heroes watch from just outside their barracks as Klink leaves his quarters and heads for his car. He has a noticeable spring in his step and is wearing a fresh uniform. Hogan watches him start the car, then looks at Kinch. "Did you get in touch with the underground?" he asks. Kinch nods. "They're at the Hauserhof waiting for him," he responds. As Klink drives toward the main gate in order to leave for town, Schultz joins Hogan and his men. He still finds it hard to believe that he was going help Klink escape a virtual death sentence. "The good news is that Colonel Klink is back," he says. "And what's the bad news?" Hogan asks. A disappointed look crosses Schultz's face. "We had to call off the firing squad," he answers.

Story Notes Edit

  • This is the one hundred and twenty-seventh episode of the series, but is the one hundred and twenty-fourth episode shown on television and the sixth episode shown for the Fifth Season.
  • The episode title is a wordplay on the Gary Cooper movie The General Died at Dawn, which is frequently misquoted as The General Dies At Dawn.
  • An American newspaper is mentioned in the episode: The New York Times.
  • Buckingham Palace, one of the palaces of the British Royal Family, is mentioned in the episode.
  • The Major Feldkamp of this episode is probably the same character as the Colonel Feldkamp of The Battle of Stalag 13, even though they are played by different actors. In this episode Feldkamp is played by Ben Wright.
  • Hogan mentions to Feldkamp that the Allies already have detailed plans of the German fortifications on the Normandy beaches.

Background TriviaEdit

  • This is the first time that an actual historical character visits Stalag 13 on screen - in this case, Field Marshall Albert Kesselring, one of the ablest and most seasoned of the German generals in World War II. All other "appearances" before this were either impersonations (Hitler, Goring, etc.) or the character "appeared" off-camera (Rommel).
  • Hogan jokes about Hitler's bunker. Which one is unclear, as Hitler had several command bunkers in different locations, although most current-day fans naturally assume the Fuhrerbunker in Berlin.

Timeline Notes and Speculations Edit

  • This is the seventh episode in chronological sequence, per the series timeline. It follows Bad Day in Berlin, and is followed by The Top Secret Top Coat.
  • This probably takes place in late 1942. This is based on the weather, Major Feldkamp's presence in the story, and the mention of Normandy.
  • This appears to be the first time that Scultz is used as a food taster by Klink - in the event that any of the prisoners are trying to poison him.
  • Klink states that his family has a military history going back for generations. "My father before me was a German officer .... All of the Klink men have served in the military."
  • Field Marshall Kesselring has met Klink in person before - and judging from his tone when introduced at the cocktail party, is not particularly fond of him.
  • Feldkamp is incredulous when Hogan claims the Allies have a fighter plane that can go over 500 miles per hour. The Germans were the only ones that had such a plane at this time - the Heinkel He-280 prototype jet fighter, which could do 512 miles per hour. They would get a second later on with the Messerschmitt Me-262, which could do 544 miles per hour, and the only one of the two that actually saw combat. No Allied fighter of World War II could match this speed.

Quotes Edit

Schultz is on guard duty at the main gate, talking with Hogan. Newkirk, on trash detail, approaches.

  • Schultz - It's going to snow again. The weather is getting a little nippy.
  • Newkirk - Yes, it's a good thing the mail arrived.
  • Schultz - Why? Are you expecting any warm clothing?
  • Newkirk - No, I use the letters to cover the holes in me underwear.
  • Schultz - I could use a few letters myself.
  • Hogan - Yeah, in your case, Schultz, you would need a New York Times, Sunday edition.

After SS Major Feldkamp gets out of his Kubelwagen ....

  • Klink - Ah, Major Feldkamp! So good to see you!
  • Feldkamp (levelly) - Klink, what are these prisoners doing at the gate?
  • Klink - Oh, they're here on a work detail.
  • Hogan (jumping in) - You see, it's the maid's day off, and what with the field marshall coming ....
  • Feldkamp (looks shocked, then turns to Klink) - Are there any other state secrets you think the prisoners should have?
  • Klink (protesting) - Major Feldkamp, I assure you--
  • Feldkamp (interrupting) - Why don't you give them the plans of the Normandy fortifications, hmmh?
  • Hogan (again interrupting) - Well, thanks anyway, Major, but we already have those.

Schultz enters Barracks 2, in full winter gear with earmuffs

  • Hogan (talking loudly) - Come back later, Schultz, we're busy!
  • Schultz - Just a moment, Colonel Hogan! I'm inviting your men to a cocktail party.
  • Kinch - Is that the bash for Field Marshall Kesselring?
  • Schultz - That's correct!
  • Newkirk - What time you sending the car around for us, Schultzie?
  • Carter - Boy, I hope it's not formal. This is the only outfit I have.
  • Schultz - Don't worry about your outfit. You're all going to wear white jackets.
  • Newkirk (angry) - Oh, the old busboy routine again? Well, you can tell Klink I'm out.
  • Carter (angry) - And I'm not going to be a waiter again, either.
  • Kinch (angry) - And you can get yourself another bartender!
  • Schultz (upset) - Oh, come on! You're going to spoil Kommandant Klink's whole evening! He planned a cocktail party for Marshall Kesselring in his quarters, and then a dinner party in town - at the Hauserhof!
  • Hogan (pricks up his ears at this)
  • Kinch (has seen Hogan's reaction) - If we don't get to go to the dinner, Schultz, forget it!
  • Schultz (turning to Hogan) - Awwwww, Colonel Hogan, please talk to the men!
  • Hogan (walking over, nonchalant) - Wait a minute, fellas. We shouldn't let Colonel Klink down. After all, he's done a lot of nice things for us.
  • Newkirk (mocking tone) - Yeah, you're right. I haven't thanked him yet for me scurvy.
  • Schultz (hopeful) - How about you, LeBeau? Are you going to make those, heh, little hors d'œuvre? Huh? For the party?
  • LeBeau (wicked smile, slowly) - Of course.
  • Schultz - Good!
  • LeBeau (evenly) - And Klink will serve me breakfast in bed on Bastille Day.
  • Schultz - LeBeau!!
  • Carter - Turnabout's fair play.

Feldkamp discussing his plan to make Hogan talk.

  • Feldkamp - A change of atmosphere, a few glasses of schnapps might loosen his tongue.
  • Klink (obsequiously) - Ha-hah, it's always loosened mine.
  • Feldkamp (disgusted) - Ja. We have all that in your bulging dossier.
  • Klink (shudders) - That is not what I meant, I--
  • Feldkamp (stands) - Just see that Colonel Hogan is there!

Party time in Klink's quarters. Schultz enters, spots the hors d'œuvre plate, and strolls over to it to help himself. LeBeau slaps his hand even as he reaches for it.

  • LeBeau - Uh-uhh, Schultz, this is for brass!
  • Klink (irritated) - Schultz!
  • Schultz (quickly covering) - Herr Kommandant! I came to tell you that all security measures for Marshal Kesselring have been taken.
  • LeBeau - What he really came for is to swipe a few of the hor'd'ovuers.
  • Schultz - That's not true! I had a lovely dinner at the mess hall. (suddenly looks nauseated)
  • Klink (picks up the tray) - Schultz, please! Help yourself to the hors d'œuvres.
  • LeBeau - But Colonel--
  • Klink (low but mean) - Quiet, cockroach!
  • Schultz (almost drooling) - You mean it, herr kommandant?
  • Klink (grandly) - Why, of course. Class distinction between officers and men is old-fashioned. We're all in this together, comrades in arms ...
  • (Schultz reaches over, picks up an hors d'œuvre even as Klink pats him on the back)
  • Klink (continuing) ... fighting for the Fatherland ....
  • (Schultz grabs another, then another, as the Unsung Heroes watch in amazement)
  • Hogan (enters, also amazed) - How's it going?
  • (Kinch motions to Klink and Schultz, Carter shrugs his shoulders)
  • Klink - Do you feel anything cutting your gums, eh? Any nausea?
  • (Schultz shakes his head, wolfs more hors d'œuvres)
  • Klink - Dizzyness? Double vision?
  • (Schultz suddenly stops eating.)
  • Klink (holds up two fingers) - How many fingers do I have? (waves them in front of Schultz)
  • LeBeau (suddenly realizing) - You're using him as a food taster!
  • Hogan (mock surprise) - I'm shocked! (marches over)
  • Schultz (hurriedly) - It's alright! Let him do it!
  • LeBeau - I'll show you, herr kommandant, there's nothing to worry about!
  • (Whereupon he, Hogan, and Schultz attack the remaining hors d'œuvres with gusto. Klink watches, confused, having lost control of the situation. LeBeau finishes the last one, then holds the empty plate in front of Klink.)
  • LeBeau - Kommandant, there is no poison in the hors d'œuvres.
  • Klink (now upset) - And no hors d'œuvres in the hors d'œuvres!
  • LeBeau (straight-faced) - Well, I have another tray in the kitchen, if you want to take a chance.
  • Klink (angry) - Then go out and get one, cockroach!
  • Schultz - Kommandant, I go too, to see there is no funny business!

After Schultz has given Klink news about Feldkamp's execution order ....

  • Schultz - They're asking for volunteers for the firing squad.
  • Klink - Hah! They'll never get any volunteers from my men!
  • Schultz - I beg to report, herr kommandant, they did.
  • Klink (unbelieving) - How many volunteered?
  • Schultz - Seventy-six.
  • Hogan (surprised) - How many men do you have?
  • Schultz - Eighty-two.
  • Klink (defiant) - At least six of my men are loyal!
  • Schultz (resisting a smile) - No, herr kommandant. Two are in the hospital, and four are on furlough.
  • Hogan - Well, that makes it unanimous.
  • Klink - Wait a minute, wait a minute. We only have eighty men!
  • Schultz - Counting the two deserters, but they came back this morning when they heard you were going to be shot.

Hogan returns from the cooler after visiting the incarcerated Klink.

  • Newkirk - They're really putting the screws on him, aren't they?
  • Hogan - [They] have the firing squad taking target practice outside his window.
  • LeBeau - That's cruel, even for the Bosch.
  • Hogan - Worse yet, they're using a monocle for a bullseye.
  • Klink - How's Klink taking it?
  • Hogan - He's taking it like the man that he is - on his knees, sobbing hysterically.

Bloopers Edit

  • Kesselring did not have a moustache, and was older than the actor who plays him in this episode.
  • It's a bit of a stretch to believe that Schultz can't overhear the Unsung Heroes make their plans while wearing a pair of earmuffs. Kinch's insult about Hitler takes on a different twist, though, if this is true. By ignoring the insult, Schultz is letting them know that he is also going to ignore anything else they might say that he shouldn't hear.

External links Edit


Previous episode:
Unfair Exchange
Next episode:
Bombsight

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