It has been many years since the court case was settled to the favor of the show’s producers, Bing Crosby Productions, Al Ruddy, and the gang that concocted the TV sitcom “Hogan’s Heroes”.
Hogan’s Heroes has faded in and out of popularity, a few times now. Even the grizzly demise of the Sitcom’s Star , Bob Crane, is barely talked about these days. The only news now regarding the once popular TV sitcom is about a spin-off from Al Ruddy that in the makes. (Which don’t sound to promising to most of the shows fans). So, if you are a die hard Hogan’s Heroes fan like me, and you do a search on the origins of the television comedy show, you might come across some disturbing claims just like I did, that just don’t add up, or even sit right…
One of these claims that I see everywhere, especially on these tabloid type of websites , is that “Hogan’s Heroes” is based on a real POW Camp that was in Germany, known as “Stalag 13”. None of the television show’s writers were ever there, none of the producers were there either. Sure, their was a POW camp called Stalag 13, but there was many POW Stalag’s that were named after a number, as there were over 1000 POW camps in Germany during the second world war. No one who was held as a prisoner at the actual Stalag 13 was ever interviewed , or asked what life was like there, not by the TV shows creators, anyhow! The only thing that the Stalag 13 on the sitcom, and the real Stalag 13 had in common was the name, and perhaps the location, as the fictitious Stalag 13 was also located near Hammelburg, Germany.
The second claim that I come across all the time, by the same type of sites that are publishing alot of BS, is that Hogan’s Heroes is a spoof of the Movie, “The Great Escape”. While “Hogan’s Heroes” has much more in common with this movie than the sitcom does with the actual Stalag 13, The show is still a very far cry from the claim that “The Great Escape” was the origins of “Hogan’s Heroes”.
At the height of the television sitcoms popularity in 1971, Donald Bevan and Edmund Trzcinski, the writers of the 1951 play “Stalag 17”, sued Bing Crosby Productions, the show’s legal owner and producer, for copyright infringement. Their lawsuit was unsuccessful. The production had been made into a movie by Paramount pictures in 1953, under the same title “Stalag 17”. While the legal case was lost, the question still remains. and there are quite a few similarities between the TV Show and the Movie. To many to be dismissed as coincidence by most fans of the TV sitcom, and the movie.
The First, and pilot episode of Hogan’s Heroes was titled “The Informer”. The whole premise of the pilot episode was about a planted informant placed within the prisoners, who were helping others to escape. The Paramount Movie, Stalag 17 had the very same plot, the difference being the 1953 movie was more true to the life of a POW, while the 1965 made farce, “Hogan’s Heroes” was definatally a comedy. In the Movie “Stalag 17”, could it be a coincidence that the commandant of Stalag 17, Oberst [Colonel] Scherbach, started off in the movie saying “You cannot escape from Stalag 17!” while Colonel Klink of Hogan’s Heroes says throughout the whole series (and in almost every episode)… “There has never been a successful escape from Stalag 13.” Besides the plots being almost the same, Could it be a coincidence that the overweight, aloof guard in both the movie, and the pilot episode,
collaborated with the prisoners, and was also so happened to be named Sgt Schultz? Makes you wonder if the California Courts that decided in favor of the TV show, actually watched either the movie, or the show.
Regardless…There are many similarities between the movie “Stalag 17” and the Sitcom “Hogan’s Heroes”. One is, that I like them both! However, I know Nothing!