Hogan’s Heroes: Season 1, Ep 17, “Happy Birthday, Adolf”

LOGLINE: Hogan and his men must destroy a German anti-aircraft artillery unit so that the Allies can send in a bombing raid on Hitler’s birthday.

The Heroes receive a coded message from "Mama Bear": They want a probing raid (reconnaissance) in advance of a bombing raid scheduled in two days as a "present" for Adolf Hitler’s birthday. (Hitler’s birthday is April 20, when the weather in Germany is fairly mild, but it’s perpetually winter at Stalag 13.) They want to know troop movements and other information about what’s going on in Sector Q (which, so far, we know nothing about), and they need it by 3 PM, after which they’ll be observing radio silence until the raid is over. Hogan "volunteers" LeBeau to do the reconnaissance.

LeBeau does reconnaissance

LeBeau goes out dressed as an elderly woman and stops a few feet away from an area that’s surrounded by a chain link fence with a sign that says (in German) "Halt – Exclusion zone – Unauthorized access strictly prohibited." He looks at the activity going on, checks some maps, and starts back to camp.

He arrives back at the camp after 3 PM, for which he apologizes: he was accosted by a platoon of German soldiers and the increased presence of troops meant he had to take a long detour. The Germans have evidently moved in a gun emplacement at Schmeckhausen, along the beach where they would be able to shoot down any planes coming across. LeBeau says there are twelve guns, all of which shoot "88’s," 88mm (3.5 inch) artillery shells. All seems lost until LeBeau makes a comment about being a nice present for Hitler. This gives Hogan an idea…

Captain Hoganburg and his driver

In the next scene, Captain Hoganburg (Hogan in a German infantry officer’s uniform), accompanied by LeBeau in a corporal’s uniform, is standing in the office of Major Keitel (played by Howard Caine), with orders (forged by the guys in the print shop) stating that Keitel should turn over command of the camp to Hoganburg for the celebration of der Fuhrer’s birthday. Keitel is understandably upset, and calls "headquarters" (Newkirk and Kinchloe sitting atop a telephone pole near Keitel’s office with a telephone set) to confirm with Colonel Stimmer. Stimmer (Newkirk) tells Keitel to follow the orders as written, and tells him fix up the buildings where he is.

Keitel is upset by all of these demands. How is he to fix everything up in time for the festivities, and Hoganburg has a suggestion: why not call Klink at Stalag 13 and ask him for help? With that, Hogan and LeBeau depart.

Hogan and Helga having a private moment

Back at Stalag 13, Hogan and Helga are busy making out as he waits for the commandant, and he asks her if she’d like to go to a party the next night and bring along a couple of her friends, "a nice assortment of blondes, brunettes, and redheads." She wants to know how he’s going to get out of camp, and he goes over to the door of Klink’s office and eavesdrops on the conversation Klink is having with Keitel. Klink is adamant about not letting the prisoners out of camp, but when he hears what the occasion is, he’s more than willing to help.

Klink tells Helga to get Hogan, who just happens to be there to request two hours’ extra electric light because of Hitler’s birthday. Klink assumes it’s so Hogan and his men can dig an escape tunnel and denies the request, and Hogan assures him they’ve finished the tunnel, now they’re putting in an elevator. Klink stands and walks around his desk (giving Hogan time to put the pickelhaube helmet from Klink’s desk onto the chair) and says that, if Hogan and his men agree to work at Schmeckhausen, he’ll get 40 extra minutes of electric light. They bicker and settle on a price of one extra hour of electric light and two ballgames, and Hogan departs, stopping to kiss Helga and to hear Klink’s reaction when he sits on the helmet…

Note the helmet on the chair

Next scene, Schultz brings the work detail to Schmeckhausen, and they decorate a room for the party, complete with balloons, streamers, and a banner that says "Happy Birthday Adolph." (Yes, they spell it that way and no, none of the Germans says anything about it.) When finishhed, Schultz counts the men as they get back onto the truck. After being counted, Carter, Newkirk, and LeBeau get out of the truck and hide. They dress in German uniforms, with Hogan dressed as their captain, and he warns them not to talk. LeBeau asks if it’s OK to whistle at the girls, and Hogan says "Only in German."

Hogan (as Hoganburg) is arguing with Keitel, who argues that he feels he should remain in command. Hoganburg argues that the orders are for Keitel to have a good time. On the pretense that he’s yelling at LeBeau, Hogan tells him to fetch the girls. As the argument continues, Helga and her friend, both looking gorgeous and dressed to kill, walk past, drawing Keitel’s attention. When he sees them standing and waiting for him, Keitel says "Call me if you need me."

Major Keitel and his dates for the Fuhrer’s birthday party

Hogan and crew set about doing the mischief they intended to do.

Back at Stalag 13, the men change from the German uniforms back into their usual clothes. LeBeau pours a bottle of wine ("practically vinegar," he says) into a decanter for Hogan to take to Klink’s office. In Klink’s office, Hogan sits with Klink and Schultz, drinking the wine and telling bad jokes.

In Schmeckhausen, the party goes on as an Allied assault mounts. When the air raid sirens begin to blast, Keitel and his men go out and man the artillery. All the guns are pointed at where the Allies are flying, and Keitel gives the order to fire. But, instead of 88mm shells, these pop out of the guns…

All Keitel can do is say "schweinhund!" over and over.

The next day, Keitel is in Klink’s office, arguing that the prisoners who set up the party sabotaged the guns. Klink fires back that the prisoners were all accounted for and couldn’t have done anything, and forces Keitel to admit that they did an excellent job getting ready for the party. Keitel says that Berlin will hear about it and storms out. Hogan, who’s listened to the whole argument, hides his face as Keitel passes him. Klink tells Hogan that, since they did such a good job cleaning up in Schmeckhausen, he’d like them to do the same. He and Hogan get into a negotiating war, with Helga watching, as the episode fades out.


  • Bob Crane as Hogan
  • Werner Klemperer as Klink
  • John Banner as Schultz
  • Robert Clary as LeBeau
  • Richard Dawson as Newkirk
  • Ivan Dixon as Kinchloe
  • Larry Hovis as Carter
  • Cynthia Lynn as Helga
  • Howard Caine as Keitel

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