My fascination with Wonder Woman started when I was a kid. Wonder Woman’s first season was set during WWII and she was a brunette just like me and kicking Nazi ass. This was the same year that I was learning about the Holocaust in Hebrew school
My other favorite show was Hogan’s Heroes.
There was no chick who looked just like me, but they were cool guys thwarting Nazis. This prompted me and a friend from Hebrew school named Janet to write our own script entitled Wonder Woman Meets Hogan’s Heroes. Alas, I do not have any documentation of this fine work of art. But for months we acted out the scenes that we crafted in her basement.
So while doing my research on my Wonder Woman show, I did a look into Hogan’s heroes and discovered. Almost all the Nazi characters were played by Jewish actors, many of whom had lost their families at the hands of the Nazis. There is a tribute site that has been set up for them – Hogan’s Jews - It is an informative and entertaining read.
But, here are some other things I’d like to share. Now the show has always had its critics and I have always disagreed with them.
Several years back The Boston Globe printed an article written by reporter Renee Graham, she had this to say about the show,
“Call this political correctness if you like, but under no circumstances should a film of `Hogan’s Heroes’ be made. For those who don’t remember, this was the 1960′s World War II comedy starring Bob Crane, Werner Klemperer and John Banner that presented the Nazis as the biggest cutups since the Keystone Kops. Let’s be clear here: Nazis are never, ever funny. Ever. So it’s with great joy that I report that the film version of `Hogan’ is on ice, at least for now.”
Where I respect her disdain of Nazis (yick!) I accept her outrage but counter it with this:
“I was never crazy about Hitler,” says Mel Brooks. Who was? But even now, more than 50 years after the fall of the Third Reich, the man who masterminded the extermination of more than 7 million people is still handled with care, as if the magnitude of his crime demands no less. Brooks had the guts, and gall, to realize that the simplest way to demolish Hitler was to mock him.
“If you stand on a soapbox and trade rhetoric with a dictator you never win,” says Brooks, 75. “That’s what they do so well; they seduce people. But if you ridicule them, bring them down with laughter–they can’t win. You show how crazy they are.”
Hogan’s Heroes was revenge through sitcom.
A quote from John Banner “Well, who better to play Nazis than we Jews?”
And it was Winston Churchill who said, “History is written by the victors.”
To me Hogan’s Heroes is exactly that and I bet Mel Brooks would agree.
Other cool things I found
Jews singing Christmas Carols! John Bannerand Werner Klemperer singing Silent Night in its original German plus Robert Clary (who played Louis LeBeau) singing a French Carol on the Bing Crosby Christmas Special – 1965 with the special bonus of the commercial that leads into the segment where the catch phrase is “Isn’t that wild?”
Hogan’s Heroes and Carol Channing selling Jell-O
Hogan’s Heroes in German! The German show is called Ein Käfig Voller Helden and translates to mean “A Cage Of Heroes.” From what I have read, the accents chosen for the German characters are supposedly hilarious if you’re German, and they gave the British prisoner (played by Richard Dawson) a stutter. I’m not sure why, but I think if you’re German, stuttering is funny. I wonder what if they laugh at screenings of The Kings Speech. Also, saying “Heil Hitler” in Germany is against the law, so whenever they Heil they say things like “How high is your corn?”
Hogan’s Heroes in French – the show is called “Papa Shultz.” Ummm okay, why?
And two on Robert Clary:
An interview about his book From The Holocaust to Hogan’s Heroes.
Plus a documentary about his experiences during the war.
…and finally, an Air Force recruitment ad, directed to the ladies, staring Hogan himself – Bob (I’d like to film you naked) Crane: