One of my favorite TV shows as a child was “Hogan’s Heroes.” The comedy portrayed a crew of cunning saboteurs (aka: “POW’s) who were always able to pull the wool over the eyes of a group of bumbling Nazi’s. A few years ago, I was wondering how many of the cast were still alive and what they were doing. I found out that their present was not as interesting as their past. Here is a brief synopsis of what I found:
Otto Klemperer (Colonel Kink) was the son of another Otto Klemperer – a world famous Jewish German conductor who had been discharged from his post at the State Opera in Berlin by the Nazis and went, with his family, into exile in the US during World War II.
John Banner (Sergeant Shultz) was a young Austrian Jewish actor who was touring Switzerland with an acting company when Nazi Germany and Austria united in 1938. Unable to return to Austria, he emigrated to the US as a political refugee.
Howard Kaine (Colonel Hochstedder) was born in 1926 to a Jewish family in Nashville, Tennessee and began acting when he moved with his family to New York City.
Leon Askin (General Burkholder) was born into a Jewish family on Yom Kippur in September of 1907. He became a famous actor in the “Louise Dumont Playhouse” in Dusseldorf until he was thrown out of the theater as a Jew. About a month later he was arrested by the SA, taken to the SA barracks and beaten by a member of the SS. After his release, he emigrated to Paris where he eventually ended up in an internment camp in 1938. He remained there until he emigrated to New York in 1940.
Robert Clary (Corporal Louis LeBeau) grew up in a French Orthodox Jewish family as the youngest of 14 children. In 1941, when the Nazi’s took over in France he endured the isolation, the curfews, the ghettoes, and the mistreatment of the Nazis. In 1942, at the age of 16, he was interned in a concentration camp (see . It was the last time he would see his mother and the eleven other family members who were imprisoned with him (see here). As the war wound down, he was transferred to other camps until he, along with his fellow prisoners, were liberated.
I find it interesting that for six funny years these six men were given an opportunity to stand back and have, in a sense, the “last laugh” on the regime which had murdered their family members and threatened their very existence just because they were Jewish.
The Bible tells us of another who will have the final laugh at those who rise up to destroy the Jewish people and the heritage they represent – God Himself. To those rulers who would set themselves against Him, and His anointed, the Bible tells us:
He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: The Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, And vex them in his sore displeasure. (Psalm 2:4,5)
From the ancient Egyptians, to the Babylonians, and on to the Nazis, history is littered with societies who have opposed, conquered, and oppressed the Jewish people. Once world leaders, now they do not exist, are shadows of the societies they once were, or have become mere by-words illustrating human arrogance and cruelty.
As a Christian I believe God still looks at the Jewish people as “His people.” He still has a plan for them, and that plan is intertwined with the return of Jesus, the Messiah, to earth. Until that time, God’s promise to Abraham to bless those who bless him and curse those who curse him is still very much in effect. As an American, I believe that our nation should always take that promise of blessing and cursing very seriously. Although many do not see it this way – it is God’s mercy that the Trump administration is pursuing a more positive course with Israel than the presidents who came before. It is my prayer that this course will continue through future administrations as well.
There is a saying that “He who laughs last, laughs best.” The Bible tells us that God will have the last laugh – and it will be at those who opposed Him, His people, and His Christ.
On which side of the laugh will you be?