|Lieutenant General Albert Burkhalter|
|Rank||General der Infantrie|
|Enlisted In||Wehrmacht, Heer|
|Appearances||Full List of Appearances|
General der Infanterie Albert Burkhalter (commonly referred to simply as General Burkhalter) is a recurring fictional character who is Colonel Klink's commanding officer. He appears in many episodes of the 1960s sitcom Hogan's Heroes. He was played by Leon Askin. Burkhalter was a friend of Adolf Hitler.
About General Burkhalter
General der Infanterie Albert Burkhalter was born on February 15, 1888 (speculation) in Würzburg, Germany and is Colonel Klink's superior officer. His position as head of the Luft Stalag Organization makes him close to Hitler, even though he is an Army officer, not a Luftwaffe one. There are two reasons for his being an Army General: First, at the beginning of the series he is intended to be a colonel, the aide-de-camp for the Chief of Inspection in Berlin, making him liable to inspect any branch of the armed forces, regardless of his position; second, this was later changed, and he was promoted, because Luftwaffe General uniforms were hard to find in the 1960s. The decorations he wears include the Ritterkreuz, or Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, with Oak Leaves and Swords; the Iron Cross, 1st Class, with Spange signifying that his Iron Crosses were awarded in WW1 then again in WW2; the Eisenkreuz 2nd Class, a prerequisite for being awarded the 1st Class; the Infantry Assault Badge in Silver(Bronze would be for Mechanized Infantry); the Wound Badge in black(1-2 wounds); and the German Eagle (Deutsche Adlerangriffe) Order, 2nd Class. This last is an unusual declaration for an officer on active regular duty, like him, as it was generally awarded to foreign allies or those sympathetic with the Nazis. It was primarily a diplomatic award. Few Germans were awarded it; three of these were head of the foreign ministry/diplomatic corps von Ribbontrop, Foreign Minister von Neurath, and Reinhard Heydrich, Reichsprotector of Bohemia and Moravia. His ribbons are, like Klink's, made up bars with different colors which actually do not represent any specific awards.
Like Klink, he appears to be a career military officer, only infinitely more competent. He was a colonel back in WWI, meaning he was not promoted for over twenty years. This might indicate that he was 'retired' from military service after WWI in accordance with the severe military personnel cutbacks set forth in the Treaty of Versailles, and recalled when Hitler began pre-War Germany's aggressive rearmament program. We do know that he is experienced in combat, for as a colonel in WWII, he took part in the first offensive against Russia (Operation Barbarossa, 1941) as a unit commander, from the day it began all the way to the end, or close to it. Burkhalter would later use his memories of the nightmarish Russian winter as a useful tool for keeping Klink and other subordinates in line. Burkhalter appears to have been wounded while fighting in Russia (which might explain the scar on his face) and spent some time in a rest camp. After his recovery, Burkhalter received his appointment to the Luft Stalag Organization. He received his promotion to general not long since his first visit to Stalag 13 after appointing Klink its kommandant.
NOTE: His scar "might" have been a combat wound, but most likely, it was actually a dueling scar. In Imperial and Weimar Germany, there were fencing societies/clubs in universities, and duels were often fought--though not to the death. Many German men were scarred in such duels. It was common and was considered a badge of honor.
Burkhalter has a wife, Berta Burkhalter, who is one of the few people he actually fears, referring to her once to Klink in private as "the highest authority in the Third Reich". Her private nickname for him is "Hansi", which he absolutely loathes, and will not tolerate being called so by anyone else, especially Klink. It is not known if the couple have children or, if they do, if any of them are old enough to be in the German military. He also has at least one parent still living, namely his mother, and a widowed sister, Gertrude, whom he is constantly trying to marry off. His noted disdain for Klink does not extend to ruling him out as a suitor for marrying Gertrude, but all of his senior officers have had the option at one time or another. He also has two nieces, Lottie (Gertrude's daughter) and Frieda, as well as an unnamed sister-in-law whose wedding he has attended, and a brother-in-law, Hauptmann (Captain) Joachim-Fritz Kurtz.
Burkhalter is cantankerous and formidable, and while nowhere near the fool Klink is, he is not as smart as Hogan either, and can often be manipulated in similar ways. Some of these weaknesses he shares with Klink include fear of being sent back to the Russian Front, as well as susceptibility to flattery, unless the flattering is completely ridiculous. Despite his claims to live a Spartan existence ("up at 6, bed at 10"), like Klink he loves to party and has eyes for pretty younger women, his wife notwithstanding. On one occasion, the Heroes are able to blackmail Burkhalter through some potentially compromising photographs to save Klink from being sent to the Russian Front. On another occasion, Burkhalter comes close to transferring both Klink and Schultz to the Russian Front; however, in the process, the two (with help from Hogan) prove to be such masters of chaos that Burkhalter cancels the order; he declares that if he sends them to the Russian Front, he will be shot for treason!
Burkhalter also has little love for the Gestapo officer Major Hochstetter, and is one of the few people not afraid of him. But while he may clash with Hochstetter from time to time, the general respects and has confidence in the Gestapo major, in comparison to the cowardly, incompetent Klink, whose mere presence would give him headaches. For Klink, Burhalter reserves a special kind of scorn, even criticizing and ridiculing him in the presence of junior officers. Given his disdain of Klink, Burkhalter is constantly mystified by the fact that Stalag 13 has never had a single successful prisoner escape with Klink in command, a record unmatched by any other prisoner of war camp in Germany. Burkhalter occasionally admits he is impressed by this, and will even defend him from time to time, insisting that the perfect record is a strong reason for keeping Klink where he is.
Post-World War II
It is not known what happens to General Burkhalter after the war, although in the final episode of the entire series, Hogan tricks Burkhalter into launching a V-2 rocket in the direction of his own house! Given certain aspects of Burkhalter's war record - notably stealing art from Paris to impress Reichsmarschall Goering, and repeatedly using Stalag 13 as a shield against Allied bombing of legitimate military targets- Burkhalter may have been charged with war crimes after Germany's unconditional surrender in 1945.
However, apart from high-profile cases like Hermann Goering, a great many individuals were charged in the post-war trials but given light to moderate sentences at most. Burkhalter may have served a few years and then as he would be considered be too old for active service, would probably became a consultant for the reborn post Word War II German military; retire at age 60-65 and probably secure a nice fat pension from the West German government and the CIA.
Other speculation is that he is a POW for a short time and emigrates to Argentina since his home was destroyed by his own action and becoming a consultant to the Argentine Air Force and be granted Argentine citizenship
- Burkhalter is in command of all Luft Stalags despite being a Heer (Army) because the Luftwaffe (Air Force) and the Heer worked hand-in-hand. Meanwhile, the Kriegsmarine (Navy) were focused on defending Germany's shores.
- Besides the Knights Cross of the iron Cross with Oak leaves, Burkhalter also wears the Infantry Assault Badge; the 1914-1918 Iron Cross 1st class with a 2nd award decoration above it and a black Wound Badge [wounded once or twice]
- Burkhalter's facial scars may be saber fencing scars, which were fashionable among members of some upper class German and Austrian student societies in the 19th and 20th centuries. These fencing scars were usually marks of honor in German 'Burschenschaften,' similar to fraternities in the USA and Canada. The fencing scars themselves were called Schmisse (dueling scars).
- As he is often addressed and ridiculed by referring to Austrian Sachertorte (Sacher-cake), a specialty from Vienna, this indicates that he might be from Vienna or had at least studied there. That the University of Vienna also has a strong tradition of 'Burschenschaften,' supports the fact mentioned above. (NOTE - In real life actor Leon Askin was from Austria.)
- Burkhalter is referenced in the 2005 video game "Return to Castle Wolfenstein", wherein a General Burkhalter (who resembles him in name only) appears in the mission Paderborn Village.