Werner Klemperer and John Banner Singing Silent Night

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  • Colonel Deutsch- my compliments colonel. Tell me, how did you know it was a blank?
  • Colonel Hogan – If it were a live grenade, you would have been the first to run.

(Deutsch’s smile quickly turns to a frown)

  • Colonel Hogan (continuing) – You see, you and I both know that you’re not a member of a super race.
  • Colonel Deutsch (coldly) – After our war games, I shall teach you respect for the SS.
  • Colonel Hogan (evenly) – I doubt it.

Hogan’s Heroes, Praise the Fuhrer and Pass the Ammunition, aired January 20, 1967




From 1965.  Bing Crosby Productions produced many television shows, including Hogan’s Heroes.  It was only natural that Crosby would have the cast of Hogan’s Heroes as guests on his Christmas Special.  Both Klemperer and Banner were Jewish refugees from the Third Reich who served in the United States Army during World War II.  They both had lost relatives in the Holocaust and both encountered flak for being in the cast of Hogan’s Heroes.  Klemperer said that he would go to his grave happy knowing he had made Nazis look ridiculous and John Banner remarked that who but Jews could better poke fun at Nazis.  Having them sing Silent Night in the original German was a reminder that there was far more to the German culture, part of their heritage, than the nightmarish Nazi 12 year Reich.


Robert Clary sang a French Carol.  Also Jewish,  he is still alive at age 92.  As a boy he was sent to Buchenwald.  Three of his twelve siblings survived the War, all of the rest of his immediate family perished in the Holocaust, most of them at Auschwitz.

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  1. Leon Askin and Howard Caine (the always scene stealing Major Hochstetter), were also Jewish. My boys, who watch old TV and probably couldn’t name three modern shows except to say they’ve heard about them, have pointed out how cutting edge Hogan’s was. Look at the character of Kinchloe, an African American who is part of the main ensemble cast and is often Hogan’s right hand man, the smart one, the capable one next to Hogan. And the show doesn’t hold back about a black man in Nazi Germany. In one episode, there is a boxing match between the prisoners and the guards. General Burkhalter (Askin) makes it clear that he doesn’t want to lose to the prisoners, much less a black one. This was only a couple years after the march on Washington, and try to find many other shows on prime time saying such things.

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