Look, sir, you talk about the High Command and the Luftwaffe, and then you talk about the Gestapo and the SS. To me, they're the same! We're fighting the bloody lot! There's only one way to put it, sir: they are the common enemies of everyone who believes in freedom. If the High Command didn't approve of Hitler, then why didn't they throw him out?
Colonel Von Luger, it is the sworn duty of all officers to try to escape. If they cannot escape, then it is their sworn duty to cause the enemy to use an inordinate number of troops to guard them, and their sworn duty to harass the enemy to the best of their ability.
Preissen: The prisoner Bartlett is discharged into your custody, Colonel von Luger.
Herr Kuhn: I suggest the prisoner Bartlett to be kept under the strictest security confinement permanently.
Oberst Von Luger: Make a note of Herr Kuhn's suggestion.
Hauptmann Posen: Jawohl, Herr Oberst.
Herr Kuhn: We have reason to believe this prisoner is the mastermind behind numerous criminal escape attempts.
Oberst Von Luger: [sarcastically] Squadron Leader Bartlett has been three months in your care. And the Gestapo has only "reason to believe"?
SS-Hauptsturmführer: If he once more falls into our hands, he will not be so lucky.
Oberst Von Luger: Air force officer prisoners are the responsibility of the Luftwaffe- not the SS! Or, the Gestapo.
Preissen: [Condescendingly] At present, yes, Herr Oberst. That is why they're turned, for the moment, over to your care.
Herr Kuhn: Of course, if the Luftwaffe is not up to the task, the prisoners will find themselves totally in our charge. We, regretfully, are not so professionally understanding. [Kuhn, Preissen, and the Hauptsturmführer start to leave, but Kuhn stops and looks closely at Bartlett.] Squadron Leader Bartlett: if you escape again and be caught, you will be shot.
Hauptfeldwebel Strachwitz: What are you doing over here by the wire?
Hilts: Well, like I told Max here, I was trying to get my...
German Soldier: Achtung!
[Von Luger enters]
Von Luger: What were you doing by the wire?
Hilts: Well, like I told Max... I was trying to cut my way through your wire because I want to get out.
Von Luger: Suche ihn.
Hauptfeldwebel Strachwitz: Bitte.
[Before Strachwitz can search him, Hilts produces his wire-cutters and hands them over to Von Luger]
Von Luger: You speak German?
Hilts: Jawohl, Herr Oberst.
Von Luger: Wire cutters?
Hilts: Jawohl, Herr Oberst.
Von Luger: I have had the pleasure of knowing quite a few British officers in this war. And I flatter myself that we understand one another. [In the gathered crowd of prisoners nearby, Flying Officer Ives blows a raspberry, visibly irritating Strachwitz and Von Luger.] You are the first American officer I have met. Hilts, isn't it?
Hilts: Captain Hilts, actually.
Von Luger: Seventeen escape attempts.
Hilts: Eighteen, sir.
Von Luger: A tunnel man, engineer.
Von Luger: I suppose what's called in the American Army, "A hotshot pilot." Unfortunately, you were shot down anyway. So we are both grounded for the duration of the war.
Hilts: You speak for yourself, Colonel.
Von Luger: You have other plans?
Hilts: I haven't seen Berlin yet. From the ground, or from the air. And I plan on doing both before the war's over.
Von Luger: Are all American officers so ill-mannered?
Hilts: Yeah, about 99 percent.
Von Luger: Then perhaps while you are with us you will have a chance to learn some. Ten days isolation, Hilts.
Hilts: Captain Hilts.
Von Luger: Twenty days.
Hilts: Right. Oh, uh, you'll still be here when I get out?
Von Luger: [visibly annoyed] Cooler!
Bartlett: It's possible for one man to get out through the wire, even get away, but there are in fact a considerable number of people besides yourself in this camp who are trying to escape.
Hilts: I appreciate that. [pause] Something's coming. I can feel it, and it's coming right around the corner at me, Squadron Leader.
Hilts: How many you taking out?
Bartlett: Two hundred and fifty.
Hilts: Two hundred and fifty?
Hilts: You're crazy. You oughta be locked up. You, too. Two hundred and fifty guys just walkin' down the road, just like that?
Hilts: Wait a minute. You aren't seriously suggesting that if I get through the wire... and case everything out there... and don't get picked up... to turn myself in and get thrown back in the cooler for a couple of months so you can get the information you need?
Bartlett: Hilts, how do you breathe?
Hilts: Oh, we got a steel rod with hinges on it. We'll shove it up and make air holes as we go along. [to Ramsey] G'night, sir.
[Hilts walks out]
MacDonald: Why didn't anyone think of that before? It's so stupid, it's positively brilliant! Oh, but it'll bring every goon in the camp down on top of us!
Bartlett: I don't know. Perhaps we're being too clever. If we stop all the breakouts, it will only convince the goons we must be tunneling.
Ramsey: I hope it works. If it doesn't, those two will be in the cooler for an awfully long time.
Hendley: Come on, Roger. We all know the score here, at least... most of us do. Your idea of this escape is to... start another front, to foul up the Germans behind the lines. All right, that's fine, that's fine. But once we get past that barbed wire, once we have them looking all over Germany for us, that mission is accomplished. Afterwards, we have some ideas of our own.
Bartlett: You mean getting home? Back to your family and children?
Hendley: That's right.
Bartlett: Good God, man. Do you really believe I haven't thought about that, too?
Bartlett: [of the Americans' homemade vodka] In the three years, seven months and two weeks that I've been in the bag, that's the most extraordinary stuff I've ever tasted. It's shattering!
MacDonald: Well, I think it's rather good... Well, with your permission, sir, I think I'll all on Kives. Er, call on Ives.
Bartlett: Not Colin. He'd be an appalling hazard to the whole escape. That must be my decision.
Hendley: You want to talk about hazards? Let talk about hazards. Lets talk about you. You're the biggest hazard we have. The Gestapo has you marked. No one has said you can't go.
Bartlett: That's true, and I have thought about the Gestapo. But if you're asking me how far a commanding officer is allowed to go, or dare go, or should be permitted to play God, I can't answer you.
Hendley: Colin's not a blind man as long as he's with me. And he's going with me!
Ramsey: Roger's idea was to get back at the enemy the hardest way he could, mess up the works. From what we've heard here, I think he did exactly that.