December 14, 2021
Question: Reader C.B. of Willits, California, asked you a question in the June 2021 issue of G&A about Sgt. Schultz’s rifle as used in the vintage television program “Hogan’s Heroes.” You are correct in that Sgt. Schultz did carry the Krag-Jørgensen, but many other characters also are shown carrying the same rifle. You will find many other weird uses of other firearms in the show. I, too, am old enough to have watched the show when it first aired, but I was given a set of DVDs by my son a few years back and I watched them all. Just recently, April 1, 2021, I began to re-watch the show, and in doing so, I, too, came of the realization that many of the firearms shown are not German at all! It is fun to see the strange firearms in the hands of the “enemy.” The same applies to all of the strange and re-badged vehicles (mostly trucks) used in the production of that show as well!
-A.R. of Shoreham, Vermont
Answer: Thank you for the added information. It is very interesting. I would recommend that readers who are interested in the program to give it another look-see.
Question: There is a simple reason that “Sergeant Hans Schultz” was shown toting a Krag-Jørgensen rifle in “Hogan’s Heroes”: Historical accuracy! Unlike the Americans, the British and the Russians, the Germans never managed to manufacture enough of their standard arms to equip every member of their armed forces. The combat troops had first call on all 98Ks, MG 42s, MP 40s, and P.38s that came out of the factories. But there weren’t enough of those to arm the occupying troops, the third-line troops guarding German installations at home, or fourth-line troops such as prisoner-of-war camp guards. The Nazis took over the arsenals and armories of the nations they occupied, and the occupying units were frequently armed with guns of the army they had conquered to simplify supply issues. When it came to rifles, the third- and fourth-line troops were armed with whatever they could scrape up. Given that Denmark was the model protectorate of the Third Reich, even retaining its pre-war government, and close enough to Germany that the Germans could ship rifles and ammunition right to their troops, the Krag-Jørgensen rifle were surplus to meet the needs of the Wehrmacht. There weren’t all that many German troops in Denmark until 1943, in any case. Thus, it is not surprising that Danish Krags would have been turned over to the Luftwaffe and issued to the guards of the prison camps. The thinking in the OKW would have been that it would be unlikely the guards would need to shoot the downed flyers; the rifles were more a symbol of their authority over the POWs than practical firearms. The average American television viewer of the 1960s could identify the longarms used by the U.S. Army in World War II, the German Luger, the M1911A1, the Colt Peacemaker and possibly the Winchester Model 1892, but that’s about as far as it went. If they saw a German soldier with a bolt-action rifle, they would assume it was a Mauser 98K. I know I didn’t pick up on the fact “Schultz” carried a Krag-Jørgensen until the show was in reruns, and I’ve been gun-obsessed my whole life. The fact the production company would go to that level of detail shows they understood how serious a business comedy can be.
-R.J. via email
Answer: Thanks for your interesting reply. The Germans made use of just about every arm they could from those countries they defeated, so your point is well-taken. Of course, as far as TV people are concerned, especially around the time of the production of “Hogan’s Heroes,” they went to gun rental firms and picked up bits and pieces that were photogenic as long as they more-or-less resembled what they figured might actually have been used, and which could use readily available blanks.
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