If you were a member of the Baby Boomer generation like I am, you likely grew up watching “Hogan’s Heroes.” The comedy, about life in a German POW camp, ran on CBS from 1965 to 1971 and has been continuously shown in reruns ever since it quit production.
Now let’s get something straight here at the start for those not familiar with the program. “Hogan’s Heroes” was a pure fantasy depiction of life in a German POW camp. An American air force pilot, Col. Hogan (Bob Crane), and his men ran a secret underground operation from within their barracks, helping other POWs escape, committing acts of sabotage and generally screwing with the German war effort.
They could come and go as they pleased through the tunnels they built and were in contact by radio with the Allies in London. The commandant of Stalag 13, Col. Klink (Werner Klemperer), and the sergeant of the guard, Sgt. Schultz (John Banner), weren’t the brightest bulbs of the German Luftwaffe.
It’s all complete nonsense and “Hogan’s Heroes” is consistently laugh out funny. There are some that were horrified at the show. And perhaps in 1965 not enough time had passed since the end of World War II in some minds.
About 20 years ago, I turned on a public access television channel to hear Robert Clary, who played Corporal LeBeau, speak to a class at West Aurora High School. I learned then that he was a holocaust survivor, having been liberated from the Buchenwald concentration camp. And there were others in the cast that had similar experiences.
During interviews, Klemperer, who had to flee Germany with his family before the war started, said the show was satire and neither he nor Clary expressed any reservations about being on it.
In 2001, Clary’s autobiography “From the Holocaust to Hogan’s Heroes” was published.
Every season of “Hogan’s Heroes” is available on DVD and the show is currently shown on Me-TV.
Until Next Time. . .