Hogan's Heroes hurt POWs
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    Question Hogan's Heroes hurt POWs

    Hogan's Heroes hurt PoWs
    Neil Wilson
    13jul06

    COLONELS Klink and Hogan and Sgt Schultz of the sitcom Hogan's Heroes have done real PoWs of the Nazis no favours, a federal minister says.

    Veterans' Affairs Minister Bruce Billson said that thanks to Hollywood, those in German and Italian prison camps in World War II were wrongly perceived by many as having had a fairly easy time.

    Mr Billson, 40, said after launching this year's Weary Dunlop Medical Research appeal that he watched repeats of Hogan's Heroes as a child.

    But he had a totally different view as he now considered whether European PoWs should be given a one-off $25,000 compensation payment.

    Survivors of Japanese captivity, who were often subjected to barbaric cruelty and slave labour, won the payment in 2001 after a long campaign.

    It was extended to 14 Korean War prisoners or spouses last year.

    But the Federal Government has so far refused to include World War II European PoWs, who were mainly RAAF and RAF airmen and Diggers captured in Crete, Greece and North Africa.

    "I think it's likely Hogan's Heroes has done a bit of a disservice," Mr Billson said.

    "Col. Klink and Sgt Schultz haven't done much good, really."

    "It has added to a false impression that the only ones who really suffered were the prisoners of the Japanese.

    "Images of jolly good old chaps, the PoW camp band, men getting Red Cross parcels, creates a different impression than the reality in Europe."

    Mr Billson said many Australians suffered "hardship, horror and brutality".

    "Conditions varied. It depended on the location, the time, and Red Cross were involved only when it suited the captors," he said.

    "This interests me and I've asked for people to come to me with more specific information."

    PoWs were sent on long, hazardous marches in the frozen 1944-45 winter as the Germans fled the Russians.

    Others were forced to perform gruesome tasks cleaning up bomb-ravaged cities.

    Some British PoWs were held at the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp.

    And four Australians were among 50 PoWs murdered by the Gestapo after they escaped from Stalag Luft III.

    Their story was told in Paul Brickhill's book The Great Escape, which became a hit movie of the same name in 1963.

    It is believed Mr Billson will also consider a Canadian report on European PoWs.

    The RSL and Ex-PoW Association said the $25,000 payment was one of their six budget priorities this year.

    Ex-PoW Association national secretary Cyril Gilbert said he liked watching Hogan's Heroes.

    But Mr Gilbert said it was no joke that 862 surviving European PoWs and their 1278 widows had not been compensated. More were dying every month.

    Past Veterans' Affairs ministers had used the lower death rate of men in Europe compared with that of prisoners of the Japanese as a reason to stall on compensation.

    "They've been like Sgt Schultz: 'I know nothing, I know nothing'," Mr Gilbert said.

    "The European PoWs have been discriminated against plainly, and that has split the veterans' community.

    "In my opinion, the majority of European PoWs suffered more than those who were in Singapore for the war.

    "Germans abided by the Geneva Convention only when they wanted to -- not too often."

    Mr Gilbert and RSL national president Maj-Gen Bill Crews welcomed the fresh approach by Mr Billson.

    "Hogan's Heroes created a very wrong impression of imprisonment under the Germans, like it was some holiday camp," Maj-Gen Crews said.

    "We believe all those men suffered significantly at different times."

    Mr Gilbert said it would be as foolish to judge German stalags by Hogan's Heroes as it would be to judge Japanese slave labour by the Bridge on the River Kwai.

    Ellie

    Is this a joke?


  2. #2
    Marine Family Free Member
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    Like my late Aunt used to say as we watched Hogan's Heros, "The Germans were never that dumb." We all knew that it wasnt real; it was just a television program but it still pizzed her off to no end.


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