Dr. Vanetti is late of the University of Göttingen, where he worked with Szilard and Fermi, among others. General Burkhalter brings him to Stalag 13 for the peace and quiet he needs, which the general treats as a military necessity. Col. Hogan reads the tea leaves in his coffee pot and realizes the man must be killed.
An idle question is idly answered by Sgt. Schultz, there is an assassin from “De Gaulle’s army” in Stalag 16, let the colonel break him out. Hogan agrees, Schultz withdraws nonplussed.
Alas, Col. Crittendon is the only prize obtained from Stalag 16, and he volunteers for the mission. Dr. Vanetti speaks to Hogan, he has come to work with the Allies.
Crittendon is a dogged assassin curbed at last. A hole in the ground is all that’s left of Vanetti’s lab, to secure an escape.
Request Permission to
Carter can’t wait to get back home, his girl’s in love with an air raid warden.
He changes his mind when he’s left out of the customary planning, and volunteers to be arrested with disinformation.
The German soldiers in the beer hall take him for a Gestapo plant, he can’t get arrested. A Norwegian barmaid takes an interest in him, the Gestapo give him a ride back to camp.
Klink gives him thirty days in the cooler, the cigarette lighter containing a phony bombing chart is finally discovered.
A Klink, a Bomb and a
Klink the Fink, “Fine Inspirational Nazi Kommandant”, has a photo session at his desk. Allied air raid. Dud bomb landed in the prison yard. A delicate fake devised by Carter as a diversion.
No fake, the real thing (Carter is down in a tunnel trapped with his fabrication).
This unexploded bomb now has to be disarmed. Col. Hogan has the task, watched over by Col. Klink like a hawk.
It comes down to a simple choice, which of two wires to cut? Hogan defers to the Kommandant, who makes a command decision. Hogan cuts the other one instead.
All of this to get a German code book to London.
The Swing Shift
The new strategy is converting factories into war plants, cannons instead of autos near Hammelburg, Gen. Burkhalter’s pet project. Guards are temporarily assigned from Stalag 13.
Schultz waves Hogan and his men through the checkpoint, not noticing. Newkirk discovers his enlistment papers have gone through. “It is against the rules for one man to be in two armies in the same war,” says Sgt. Schultz.
Hogan points out the sabotage at the plant as incompetence stemming from Newkirk’s absence as Muller. The recruit is demobbed.
Gunpowder in the works allows the heroes to “blow this place to London, let them bomb it there when they have some spare time.”
Tiger has “the evil genius of Nazi finance” ready to defect, the Gestapo is alerted, he hides at Stalag 13 as Hitler incognito and in fear of assassination.
The defector is a double for Sgt. Schultz, which enables his final escape. Hitler’s voice is provided by Carter through the door of Klink’s quarters. “Do not come near me!”, he shrieks.
Eyes are averted by command during the Führer’s entry. Klink is the only man he can trust, a promotion is imminent. Hochstetter is in pursuit of the defector. “Major Hochstetter,” says Col. Klink, “there is a New Order coming, a New Order that will sweep vermin like you into the delousing station of history. You are under arrest.”
Hogan says afterward to the Kommandant, “you’d make a great Führer, you really would.” Klink, looking out his office window, strikes a pose.
Everyone Has a Brother-in-Law
The highest authority in the Third Reich is Burkhalter’s wife, according to him. The general appoints her brother adjutant of Stalag 13. The men are required to wear photo ID badges as part of the adjutant’s new regimen.
A Düsseldorf train headed to the Russian Front with munitions is delayed long enough for the adjutant to blow it up inadvertently and himself along with it, at least for official purposes. Burkhalter recommends an Iron Cross, the adjutant is quietly shipped out to an English POW camp.
Reichsgeneral von Hiner, “Bobo” to his friends, gets to the bottom of sabotage around Stalag 13. Marya, “the White Russian from Paris”, is evidently cozying up to him with information about Hogan. A rocket fuel depot is built close by. The general himself explains to Hogan it’s a trap.
Twice the heroes are ordered to evacuate if necessary. Hogan is kept at the depot, guarded by Schultz. Finally he breaks, a partisan attack is imminent. Hogan, Schultz and Marya are sent back to camp, the general prepares to defend the depot.
It explodes on schedule just as they arrive. “Who cares about rocket fuel,” Marya explains, “they’re not bombing Moscow with it, only London. We cannot trust Hitler to shoot all his generals, some we must take care of ourselves.”
Fat Hermann, Go Home
Marya the White Russian agent has a plan to steal a trainload of Goering’s artworks, Schultz is a doppelgänger for security purposes as the train passes Stalag 13.
Major Hochstetter doesn’t buy it. Hogan’s plan interrupts the farce with a partisan raid on the camp. The paintings are loaded on a plane and whisked to London.
Hochstetter is mollified with the notion that Schultz/Goering was engaged in a plot against Hitler. Marya gets a carload of pictures (cf. The Wild Bunch), Frankenheimer’s The Train receives its homage (and Oskar Homolka in Billion Dollar Brain).