Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Louis LeBeau, Robert Hogan, James Ivan Kinchloe, Marcus Kringle, Johann Schingelheimer, Unnamed Clerk, Maid, Wilhelm Breck, Martin Burger/Anna Braun
Fandom: Hogan’s Heroes
Genres: Angst, Drama, Mystery
Rating (this chapter): PG-13
Warnings: Major character deaths; Descriptions of strangulations
Summary: Hogan and his men encounter the Hammelburg Strangler.
Chapter Summary: Marcus interviews Martin Burger.
Date Of Completion: January 13, 2015
Date Of Posting: February 5, 2016
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Paramount does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1704
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
All chapters can be found here.
THE SUMMER OF 1914
Before the guns
And the blood
And a touch
Streaked the sky
At violet dusk.
“You were very lucky, mon Colonel.”
Hogan shrugged on his bomber jacket and nodded. “Luckily the Gestapo doesn’t care about this case.” He picked up his uniform cap. “The regular police answered the call, and our men caught the case.”
“Let’s hope they catch this guy.” Kinch adjusted the radio’s dials.
“And soon.” LeBeau scrambled up the ladder.
“Do you think they ever will?” At Hogan’s quizzical look, he added, “The killer?”
“Maybe.” Hogan put the cap on his head. “Maybe not. Except for tonight, this guy hasn’t made a misstep in twenty-nine years.”
“So you don’t think he’s a copycat?”
“No, and I have no proof, just a feeling.”
Hogan turned and went up the ladder, his mind already on the next mission.
While Hogan and his men did their plotting, Marcus and Johann studied the watch that Hogan had found in the forest for clues.
“No personal engraving,” Johann said.
“But we do have the name of the watchmaker?”
His partner nodded. “’Otto Strauss, 1914’.”
“Hmm, we had better find out if Mr. Strauss is still in business.”
“The only watchmaker I have seen in town is not named Otto Strauss.”
“Ja, but there are other towns.” Marcus stood up from behind his desk. “We had better get those interviews done first.”
“Ja, ja.” Johann stood as well. “I will head over to Muellers’ Bakery right now.”
“Gut.” Marcus pulled on his greatcoat. “I will see Herr Martin Burger.”
The two detectives left the police station together, separating as they headed in different directions. Marcus enjoyed the walk in the cold air. It was not uncomfortable for a winter’s day. The cold, clear air was refreshing and helped order his thoughts.
On a day like this, he could almost forget the war. The town was replete with Tyrolean charm with its gingerbread architecture and snow-covered evergreen trees surrounding the place. People were polite and going about their business, though a few appeared strained.
No doubt loved ones are off in the army.
Marcus had had his fill of war during the last one. He had done his duty in the trenches…he stopped walking and stared off toward the woods. Images flashed before him and he felt trapped, angry and fearful as the dark woods smelled of gunpowder and blood…
Shaking his head, he broke the spell and started walking again. He had learned to live with these little incidents over the years. It was just a thing a veteran had to endure. There would be many young men learning that sad fact soon.
He arrived at the entrance to the Grand Arms Hotel and went into the ornate lobby. Marble pillars and floors, Corinthian leather furniture and crystal chandeliers bespoke the finest hotel in town. A holdover from the days in the last century when there had been a thriving spa nearby, it was a little down-at-the-heels, but not so one would notice unless one looked closely. Marcus strode up to the desk.
The desk clerk glanced up and immediately could tell by Marcus’ clothes that he could not afford a room here. “Yes?” he asked in a clipped tone.
Marcus showed his badge. The prim clerk was even less amenable. “We have no need of house detective skills. We already employ a man for that.”
“I am here to see Herr Martin Burger. Room number, bitte.”
The clerk was appalled. “Surely a fine gentleman like Herr Burger…”
The clerk blanched at the tone and hurriedly supplied Marcus with the number. Marcus was rather pleased at his imitation of a Gestapo officer. It definitely got things done.
“Danke,” he said coolly and took the elevator up to the top floor, nodding to the operator. Once disembarked, he strode down to Room 612 and knocked.
No answer. He knocked again, wondering if he should identify himself as police when a maid came out of the next room and started pushing a cleaning cart.
“May I help you, sir?”
“Ja, I wish to see Herr Burger.”
“Ah, he and his wife are down in the restaurant.”
“Danke.” He did not bother to correct her assumption about Burger’s girlfriend. That was their own business.
As he rode the elevator back down to the first floor, he ground his teeth at the thought of the clerk. He could not prove it, but he was certain that the swine had deliberately omitted telling him that Burger was in the restaurant.
He exited the elevator, glaring at the clerk, who quickly looked away. Satisfied with all the proof he needed, he sauntered toward the restaurant.
As with everything else in the Grand Arms, the restaurant was elegant with marble pillars, red silk draperies, and sparkling cutlery. The maitre d’ suddenly appeared, reminding him of the desk clerk. Well, this one better watch out!
“I am here to see Herr Burger.”
“He does not wish to be disturbed…”
Marcus flashed his badge. “I wish to see him now.”
The maitre d’ quickly escorted him to a prime table by the tall windows. He said, “Herr Burger, a Detective K. Marcus Kringle from the police to see you, sir.”
The maitre d’ bowed and left. Marcus noted that Anna Braun was a brunette, not a blond. He smiled and said, “Thank you for seeing me, Herr Burger.” He wanted to play charming with the big fish. He would not let the dummkopfs take him off his game.
“Have a seat, Detective.”
“Danke.” He nodded to Anna Braun as he took his seat.
“Fraulein Anna Braun,” Burger introduced.
Marcus smiled. He had no wish to commit a faux pas by addressing her incorrectly. Now he was supplied with the right way.
“How are you enjoying your stay in our little town?” he asked.
“Oh, fine, fine. Anna has found some interesting shops.”
“Ah, gut.” That would keep the shopkeepers happy. “I read in the paper that you are doing top-secret work for the Fuehrer here?”
“Ja.” Burger sipped his glass of orange juice.
Marcus knew he would get nowhere with this line of questioning, which was fine by him. He started with the questions he was really interested in.
“I wanted to ask…”
The waiter appeared and Burger asked Marcus if he wanted anything. He ordered coffee and a sweet roll. Once the waiter had departed, he started again.
“Could you tell me what you remember of the Hammelburg Strangler case in 1914?”
Burger frowned as he cut a piece of pork sausage. “Why are you interested in 1914?”
“The Strangler was active then, too. Perhaps something you observed then could be useful now.”
Anna reached over and covered Burger’s hand with hers. “Please cooperate, Martin. Perhaps you can help.”
Martin Burger looked disgruntled but began to talk. “Ah, well, that summer was a long time ago. I had just completed my term at the University of Heidelberg and was enjoying one last summer of freedom before taking on my responsibilities in the family business. I stayed with my aunt and uncle.”
“I read a newspaper article in which you were interviewed. Your cousin Gertrude Axel was a victim.”
Regret shadowed Burger’s face. “Yes, Uncle Oskar and Aunt Frieda were very upset. Aunt Frieda was very close with her sister, who was Gertrude’s mother.”
“Did your cousin have a problem with a boyfriend, or was she being bothered by anybody else?”
Burger shook his head. “She was not dating at that time. She had suitors but was keeping them dangling.”
Marcus thought he heard disapproval in the businessman’s voice. “You were not fond of such a tactic?”
Burger shrugged. “Games are all right but only for a little while. I like my women more straightforward.” He smiled at Anna, who smiled back.
Do you get impatient with coquettish women?
“So Gertrude said nothing about being harassed by any of her disappointed suitors?” Marcus thanked the waiter who brought him his coffee and roll.
Burger started to shake his head, and then paused. “She did mention that she felt uncomfortable one night. I never got details from her.”
“Did any other young woman you know feel uncomfortable?”
Marcus almost sighed. Whether or not Martin Burger was the Strangler, he was getting nowhere. He debated whether to ask Burger where he had been on the night of the aborted murder but that would tip off his hand. He would find another way. He took a bite of the vanilla-frosted sweet roll. It was excellent.
“I suppose there had been much talk that summer about the murders?”
“Yes, but rather subdued, actually. There was a lot of war talk going on and people were nervous about that, too.”
“I wonder why the Strangler changed from women to men? His last two victims were men,” he explained to a quizzical Anna.
“Perhaps they were witnesses?” Burger pondered.
Not a bad guess.
“Were they both blonds?” asked Anna.
“Yes.” Smart girl.
“So he might have transferred his obsession to the men,” Burger observed.
“Possibly.” Burger took a long sip of coffee. It was high-quality stuff. He had not enjoyed such a fine cup of coffee in months. “Unfortunately, the police in 1917 were not able to solve the crimes, so we do not know.”
Anna glanced at Burger, who was concentrating on his eggs. “What about the latest attempt by the swine? Any clues?”
“I am afraid not.” The watch would remain confidential.
Conversation turned to trivial matters as Marcus enjoyed his coffee. When he was ready to take his leave, Burger asked, “By the way, what does the ‘K’ in your name stand for?”
Marcus smiled a little stiffly. “Kristopher.”
Burger smiled widely and Anna hid her smile with her napkin. Marcus bid them goodbye and muttered, “My parents had a strange sense of humor,” as he walked away.
As he left the dining room he shrugged on his coat. A little smile played around his lips.
Martin Burger had not been wearing a wristwatch.