Yes, Bing Crosby did more than croon and act in "Road" films with Bob Hope. Indeed, his company is responsible for bringing us Hogan's Heroes -- a tension-filled, powerful, gripping World War II drama.
The alleged "show" (more on this "alleged" part later) is set in a German prison camp. Hogan is a colonel in the U.S. Army Air Corps who is, seemingly, the senior P.O.W. officer in the camp. Hogan and his fearless, fellow prisoners could easily escape from the camp. Indeed, they have cleverly burrowed tunnels under the camp and could leave at will.
However, they don't want to leave. No, they may be tempted to return home to the "good life," but they have more important things to do. They make the ultimate sacrifice, ladies and gentlemen, to help protect the cause of the noble Allies. They choose to stay in the prison camp, spy on the cruel Nazis, and send back information to the allies in order to help with the war effort. Additionally, Hogan and company engage in daring sabotage operations and manage, time and time again, to stick it to Uncle Fritz and help derail his insane plans.
If caught, Hogan and crew risk death. But, does that deter them? Does the fear of death compel them to escape and head home? No, my friends. That's not the case at all. Hogan and his brave men choose to risk their necks to help the Allies. Sakes, I could almost cry when I think about their sacrifice and dedication. God bless you, lads. God bless you all.
And, oh, what risks they take! Hogan and company, in every episode, match wits with the feared Colonel Klink. Klink, of course, is a military genius who has never had an escape from his camp. Klink, while wise and powerful, is outsmarted from Hogan and the lads. Oh, sure, he may get close to figuring out their operation, but Hogan and company are always one step ahead of him.
Want more evidence of the risk of our heroes? How about the fact that they set up cameras to record their exploits so that we can now sit back and watch a video history of their various operations in the comfort of our homes? The Nazis could have found those cameras and, indeed, would have discovered the operation set up by the bravest prisoners of war in WWII. We should all be thankful that they took the risk of setting up those cameras so we could get a good look at the lives of a few men who truly helped turn the tide of the war.
Now, with all that crud aside, let me mention a thing or two about this show. I view it as little more than an extension of the propaganda what was used in World War II in the United States. The Allies were all clever and pure of heart, while the Axis was made up of evil and bumbling folks. This idea is played to the hilt in Hogan's Heroes as Hogan and the boys are fun-loving, intelligent folks who are dedicated to stopping the Nazis. The Nazis, on the other hand, are evil, stupid and lazy.
This is a show I watched early on Sunday mornings with my Father while growing up in Central Arkansas. Our NBC affiliate carried re-runs of the show, and my Dad and I had great fun watching it. Dad, being a man who studied history and political science at great length in college, explained to me why the show was completely silly, but offered a glimpse into how the U.S. government wanted us to think of Nazis during World War II.
A friend of mine who graduated from high school with me but now lives in Germany told me that Hogan's Heroes is actually very popular over there. He claims that Germans want to distance themselves from their Nazi past as much as possible, and Hogan's Heroes allows them to both mock Nazis and view them as a silly, doomed force in German politics.
Hogan's Heroes, for better or worse, has managed to worm itself deeply into American culture. This is not a great show by any means, but it does teach us a lot of how we perceived ourselves and our allies during World War II, and how many of us viewed our enemies.
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