Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Marcus Kringle, Johann Schingelheimer, Oskar Marx
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 a witness from 1914 and learns some interesting facts.
Date Of Completion: November 17, 2015
Date Of Posting: February 23, 2016
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Paramount does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1268
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
All chapters can be found here.
THE GARDEN OF PEACE
Before the War,
Rested my soul,
Before it rested
Sergeant Axel Morganschein
"Poems From The Trenches"
The body of the young man had been found in the alley behind the Grand Arms Hotel. The victim was blond, blue-eyed and strangled with a red ribbon pinned to his chest. Marcus sighed. Once the police photographer had finished taking pictures, he said, “Take the body to the morgue, boys.”
He went back to the precinct while his men interviewed people in the hotel. He received Johann’s phone call and told him the grim news.
“Listen, do not come back to Hammelburg. Go over to the university and find out all you can about Herr Martin Burger.”
“Right. A pity we cannot interview his aunt and uncle.”
Frieda Marx had died in 1933. “We might be able to interview Oskar Marx. He is over his recent illness. I am going over to see him now.”
“All right. I will call you tonight when I am through for the day.”
Marcus said goodbye and hung up his desk phone. He would get a report from the medical examiner after he was through with the autopsy, so he grabbed his notebook and left the precinct, jumping in his car and heading for the Edelweiss Rest Home.
The rest home was located twenty minutes outside of Hammelburg. Ten more minutes and he could drive through the gates of Stalag 13, Marcus thought wryly. He was very familiar with the area.
He parked his car and walked through the front doors, stopping at the Reception Desk. A blond young woman greeted him with a polite smile. “May I help you?”
“Yes, I am here to see Oskar Marx.”
“Ah, gut. He is in the Garden of Peace. Just go down this hall and you will see the door to the garden.”
Marcus walked down the corridor and saw a set of glass doors leading to the garden. Today was unseasonably warm, and Marcus could understand why a recently-bedridden man would want fresh air.
He spotted the lone resident in a wheelchair sitting by a fountain that was shut off for the winter. He approached, making some noise so as not to startle the old man.
Oskar Marx looked up at Marcus’ approach. He still had a full head of white hair, and his skin was only a little wrinkled. Frail and hunched over, his hands shook slightly as he adjusted the blanket over his thin shoulders.
“I am Detective Marcus Kringle. I would like to ask you a few questions, sir.”
Surprised, Marcus nodded, “Ja, sir.”
Oskar waved his visitor to the stone bench next to his wheelchair. Marcus sat down and Oskar drawled, “The cherub’s water has been cut off.”
For a moment Marcus thought that Oskar’s mind was wandering, then he realized that the old man meant the fountain.
“Ja, he will have to wait until spring for his drink.”
Oskar chuckled. “Ja, ja. Now, what about 1914 do you wish to know? I read the papers so expected a visit from the police. Happily not the Gestapo.”
“Nein, not the Gestapo.” Marcus smiled. “Well, sir, your niece Gertrude Axel was seeing a variety of young men that summer, keeping them on the string, so to speak?” Oskar smiled briefly. “Do you recall any of their names?”
Oskar folded his hands in his blanketed lap. “I recall some, but I am sure I did not know them all.”
Marcus waited patiently. The subject was understandably painful for the old man.
“Well, let me see…” Oskar stroked his chin. “ He rattled off a list of names, Marcus quickly writing them down in his notebook. He paused as one name glared out at him.
“Excuse me, Herr Marx, did you say Martin Burger?”
“Ja. He is the big cheese now, but back then, he was just a student trying to go out with Gertrude.”
“Was his family not influential back then?”
“Pah!” Oskar waved his hand. “He tried to act big, but that meant nothing to Gertrude.”
“Ja. She thought him foolish and made fun of him more than once.”
“I doubt he liked that.”
“Ha, he did not.” Oskar smiled gleefully, then the smile faded. “Poor Gertrude. She was just a pretty girl enjoying the flirting game before settling down as a hausfrau. When she was murdered, my Frieda never got over it. She loved her niece like a daughter.” His hand trembled harder as he wiped his eyes. “So did I.”
Marcus allowed him a moment to gather himself. Oskar lifted his head almost defiantly.
“Martin Burger thought he owned the world. He pestered Gertrude all summer.”
“Did she feel uncomfortable?”
“At first she laughed, then she grew cross with his unwanted attentions.”
“Did he continue to bother her?”
“Ja, and one other suitor. I do not recall if she ever said his name. Ach, young people! Some cannot take their lumps.”
Marcus privately agreed. How many young men got into trouble harassing women?
“And Burger did not stop the harassment?”
“Nein. But Gertrude had many other suitors. I think one of them confronted him, by name of…” Oskar thought hard “…Gunther Strong, that was it.”
Marcus paused, then wrote the name down. “Did Martin Burger express any condolences to you and your wife?”
“Yes, the schwein.”
Marcus took a card out of his coat pocket. “If you remember the name of the other bothersome suitor, or anything, really, about that summer, give me a call.”
“Ja, I will.” Oskar pocketed the card. “Funny how things stand out from that summer, even before Gertrude was killed. I suppose it was because it was the last summer we had before the Great War started. We knew it was coming after Ferdinand was assassinated, but there was hope…” He shrugged. “Detective, do you think that Burger is your man?”
“We are gathering evidence, Herr Marx.”
Oskar smiled briefly at Marcus’ parry. “I would not be surprised if it turned out to be him. Entitled young schwein are still schwein.”
Marcus silently agreed. He put away his notebook.
“Danke, Herr Marx. You have been most helpful.”
“I hope so, Detective.” Oskar sighed. “It is so peaceful here.”
Marcus thought about the irony of a Garden of Peace in a country so eager to make war. The beauty of Germany was always obscured by the clank of jackboots and the smoke of cannon. Since the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, his beloved country had been the aggressor. He feared this current war was the worst of a bad bunch.
He rose from the cold stone bench. Gray clouds were gathering and the wind was whipping through the trees.
“Would you like a ride indoors, sir?”
Oskar pulled his shawl tighter around his shoulders. “Ja, I would. Danke.”
Marcus pushed the old man’s wheelchair out of the garden and into the warm building.
“Danke, young man. I can take it from here.” Oskar held out his hand and they shook hands. “Find this killer.”
“I will do my very best, sir.” He watched the old man wheel himself down the corridor.
Marcus felt a little thrill of excitement as he nodded to the receptionist and went out into the cold winter air. Things were looking up. He pulled up the collar of his coat.
The man who had confronted Martin Burger in 1914, Gunther Strong, had been one of the victims of the Hammelburg Strangler discovered that summer.
Time to wrap up the case against Martin Burger.