Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Marcus Kringle, Martin Burger/Anna Braun (Anna does not appear in this chapter), Johann Schingelheimer, Wolfgang Hochstetter
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 interrogates Martin Burger.
Date Of Completion: December 2, 2015
Date Of Posting: March 13, 2016
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Paramount does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1223
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
All chapters can be found here.
Detective John Reagan
Boston Police Department
The interrogation room at the Hammelburg Police Station consisted of a scarred wooden table with a cheap plastic ashtray, three wooden chairs, a bare lightbulb and a small window set in the steel door. The walls were olive-gray institutional drab, and it still looked better than a similar Gestapo room, Marcus guessed.
Martin Burger was hustled into the room and sat down in the chair designated for those being grilled. The chair wobbled.
“All right, Herr Burger, let us begin,” said Marcus. He and Johann rolled up their sleeves. Hochstetter stood in the corner, quietly smoking a cigarette. Marcus disliked his presence but was not about to tangle with a Gestapo officer. Let him watch. Maybe he would learn something. “So, Herr Burger, where were you on the night of the 16th?”
“Were was I? At the hotel.”
“And did you see Heinrich Merkel?”
“Never heard of him.” Burger’s coat was in the outer office. He leaned back in the creaky chair and looked dapper in his expensive suit.
“He was the young man found in the alley behind your hotel, a victim of the Strangler.”
“I never met him.”
“He was the boyfriend of Maidie Stein, the only woman to escape the Strangler, courtesy of a Good Samaritan.”
“A shame.” Burger’s tone was bored.
Marcus took an object out of his pants pocket and laid it on the table. “Do you recognize this?”
The gold watch sparkled under the harsh glare of the lightbulb. Marcus saw a flicker in Burger’s eyes.
“Funny, because this watch was sold to you in 1914, courtesy of Herr Otto Strauss in Heidelberg.”
“Let me examine it more closely.” Burger picked up the watch. “Ja, it is mine. I have been looking for it. Where did you find it?”
“At the scene of Fraulein Stein’s attack.”
“The Strangler must have picked it up somewhere. I told you, my watch has been missing.” Burger waved his hand dismissively.
“When was the last time you remember having it?” Johann asked.
“I an not sure, maybe my first dinner at Stalag 13? I remember putting it on while I was dressing at the hotel.”
“And you do not remember seeing it after that?”
“Are you in the habit of walking in the woods around Hilda’s Hofbrau?” Marcus asked.
“Nein, I do not even know where Hilda’s Hofbrau is.”
“Quite a coincidence that you lose your watch and the Strangler picks it up, only to lose it at the site of an attempted murder.”
“Ja, a coincidence.” Burger tapped his fingers on the table as the chair wobbled annoyingly.
Marcus and Johann were seated opposite Burger. Hochstetter remained in the corner, the glow of his cigarette the only indication that he was still there. Marcus was grateful that he was staying out of the way.
“How is your relationship with Fraulein Braun?” asked Marcus.
“What?” Burger blinked in confusion.
“Do you get along well with her?”
“What has that to do with anything?”
“Just answer the question, bitte.”
Burger glared but said, “I get along well with her.”
“So you get along with women in general?”
“I would say so.”
“Does that include Gertrude Axel?”
“Who…?” Suddenly Burger remembered and his anger crackled. “What about Gertrude?”
“You had a relationship with her in 1914, but she grew tired of your possessiveness, so she cut you dead. You did not like that.”
“She was a flirt, but still worth my time.”
“But she did not consider you worth her time.”
Burger’s tapping fingers curled up into a fist. “Gertrude was a spoiled young lady. She liked to dangle her suitors.”
“And you disliked that game,” Johann said.
“Of course, what man would not?” He tried to steady the chair. His tone was thick with annoyance.
Marcus lit a cigarette, blowing the smoke toward Burger. “You were confronted.”
“By Gertrude? She…”
“By Gunther Strong.”
Burger stopped talking. He leaned back as if relaxed, but Marcus saw the tension in his hands. They were resting on the table but knotted. Burger could act calm, but he could not quite hide his anxiety.
“Gunther confronted you about Gertrude, and he wound up dead by the Strangler’s hand.”
“So? Just because a victim of the Strangler spoke to me proves nothing.”
Marcus blew out another ring of smoke while Johann said, “You were here in Hammelburg during the summer of 1914, when the Strangler went on his first rampage. You come back to this town and guess what? The murders start up again. How do you explain that?”
Burger shrugged. “I do not have to explain it; you do.”
“You have not been keeping up with German law lately, have you?” Johann asked in amusement.
Anger sparked in Burger’s eyes. “This is a joke. I demand to be released!”
Marcus’ eyes narrowed. “You are not in a position to give orders, Herr Burger.”
“I will speak to the Fuehrer!”
Marcus shrugged. “You may do that, but the Fuehrer prefers scandal not to touch his inner circle.” The detective’s diffident tone grew hard. “Now, Herr Burger, let us get down to brass tacks. You were present in Hammelburg in 1914. You knew two of the victims, Gertrude Axel and Gunther Strong. You harassed Gertrude Axel until she told you to get lost, and you did not like that. Gunther Strong, one of Gertrude’s suitors, confronted you about her. They both ended up dead soon after.”
Burger looked increasingly uncomfortable during this recitation. Marcus continued relentlessly.
“You show up in town 29 years later and the killings begin again. Your watch was found at the scene of one attempted strangling. We have also found out that you were unaccounted for during the time of at least two murders. Now tell me, Herr Burger, what should we think about this, hmm?”
Burger was still calm, but Marcus had seen a flicker of fear in the brown eyes. He slowly blew out a ring of smoke.
“None of this proves anything!” Burger crossed his arms. He swore under his breath as the chair wobbled again.
“I disagree.” Marcus tapped his cigarette into the cheap ashtray. “You cannot account for your whereabouts during the murders. Your watch was found after an aborted strangulation at the very scene. Your actions in 1914…well, let us just say they paint you in a very bad light.” Repeating the case against a suspect usually worked. Relentless repetition made them feel trapped and nervous. “You are the Hammelburg Strangler!”
“I am not!”
“We shall see. Detective, book Herr Burger.”
“You will regret this,” snarled Burger as Johann escorted him out.
After their departure Hochstetter said, “Interesting interrogation techniques, Detective.”
No doubt you would have gotten a confession with a hot poker and thumbscrews.
“Thank you, Major.”
The Gestapo officer stubbed out his cigarette in the ashtray. “You have a case, but you have no witnesses or fingerprint evidence. Do you think you can get a conviction?”
Marcus smiled. “In today’s Reich? Ja, I do.”
He stood up and stretched. As he turned toward the door, Hochstetter spoke again.
“He really is close to the Fuehrer, you know.”
Marcus answered, “And he hates scandal.”
Marcus walked out of the interrogation room while Hochstetter shook his head, following his colleague out.