It sounds like a lost Goon Show script. Or an episode of Hogan’s Heroes—which made POW life appear so thrilling yet utterly uninjurious that, while other girls daydreamed about Mary Tyler Moore’s mod Minneapolis bachelor pad, I fantasized about the snug, comradely confines of Staling 13.
(By the way: in a delightful pre-postmodern touch, the Nazis on that show were played by Jews. Knowing that makes watching the old reruns super-trippy.)
Yet Bader’s story, if certainly not reflective of the Germans’ (or the Japs’ or the Russians’), is nevertheless true.
It’s enough to turn that German guest’s faint final words—as he stands amid the chaos in the Fawlty Towers lobby—back upon him:
“However did they win?”
I asked my husband, seated beside me on the couch during the Bader doc, if he could imagine ISIS or Al-Qaeda or whoever they are this week coordinating airdrops for amputees, or merely “threatening” to hide their prostheses. It was a rhetorical question.