Hogan's HeroesHogan's Heroes was a television sitcom that ran on the CBS television network from 1965 to 1971. Starring Bob Crane as Colonel Hogan, the show took place at Stalag 13, a German prisoner of war camp for Western Allied prisoners during World War II.
The show's improbable premise was that the Allied prisoners of war at Stalag 13 were using the camp as a base of operations for sabotaging the German war effort and assisting the Allies. The prisoners operated a secret network of tunnels that led outside the camp, and had radio contact with Allied command. They were aided by the fact that the camp commandant was the bumbling colonel Klink (played by Werner Klemperer), who proudly proclaimed that "no one has ever escaped from Stalag 13", not knowing that his prisoners routinely came and went as they pleased via the secret tunnel network. Klink was a patriotic German, but was not malicious or evil, and was likeable in his own way. Because he was so easily manipulated by Hogan and his fellow prisoners, the worst thing that could have happened for the prisoners was for Klink to be transferred away; this in fact was the source of an occasional plot line. Hogan was also aided by Klink's bumbling and highly incompetent guard Sergeant Schultz (played by the portly John Banner), a basically good hearted man who, when confronted with possible shenanigans by the prisoners that he would rather not believe, would simply repeat to himself "I know nothing! I see nothing!"
However, it should be noted that both Colonel Klink and Sergeant Schultz had illustrious World War I careers; Schultz won the Iron Cross, Germany's highest decoration, for bravery in the trenches, and Klink wore the Pour le Merite, awarded to aces. It is for this reason that some writers of Fan Fiction surrounding this show portray Klink and/or Schultz as being smarter than they appeared, and mildly in opposition to the worst of the Nazis. As examples, in one work, Schultz's family is portrayed as being part of the Confessing Church, an Underground Protestant church that opposed the Nazis, but to which he obviously wouldn't want anyone to know he belonged. In a series of self-published novellas by E.M. Seifert, Klink is portrayed as being a master spy.
Other members of the German military were more threatening. General Burkhalter (Leon Askin) frequently tired of Klink's incompetence and often threatened to send Klink to the Russian front, which served as a running gag throughout the show as the worst thing that could happen to a German soldier. "Klink, you will be court-martialed, shot, and sent to the Russian front," he once told Klink. Perhaps even more menacing was Major Hochstetter (Howard Caine) of the Gestapo, who never understood why Hogan would simply barge into Klink's office and hang out there as if he had a privileged role rather than simply being a prisoner of war. "Who is this man?" Hochstetter would demand.
The prisoners were often threatened with being sent "to the cooler", a punishment quarters in which the temperature was lower than comfortable.
The show made no serious attempt to resolve the language problem of the Germans and the Allies. All the German characters in the show simply spoke English, but with a German accent, although they used certain stock German phrases like "Heil Hitler".
Some of the actors, including Werner Klemperer, were Jews who had fled the Nazis during World War II. Robert Clary, who played the Frenchman LeBeau, had spent time in a Nazi concentration camp as a child. The show also starred Richard Dawson, who later became famous as the host of the show Family Feud.
The show later became popular in Germany, with dubbed-in lines. In response to the sensitivities over Nazism, when German characters raised their arms and said "Heil Hitler" in the original version, the dubbed German version would replace that line with something ridiculous, such as "The wheat grows this high".