Hans Kloss

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The name Hans Kloss can refer to two persons: An Austrian lawyer and bank director who eventually presided the Austrian National Bank or a fictional character from a Polish TV-series. This article covers the latter.

Captain Kloss (Kapitan Kloss) is a fictional World War II secret agent appearing in the 18-episode 1967–1968 Polish television series Stawka większa niż życie (Direct Translation: More Than Life at Stake; DVD Movie Translation: Playing for High Stakes; Popular Translation: You Bet Your Life), following earlier live television theater plays. It was, and still is, widely popular in Poland.

He is actually a Pole named Stanisław Kolicki working for Soviet Intelligence, who impersonates a Nazi Abwehr officer, Hans Kloss, of whom he is a look-alike, in order to wreak havoc inside German intelligence services and armed forces. The switch is accomplished after the real Hans Kloss is arrested for spying behind the Soviet front lines. Following appropriate preparation the look-alike Kolicki is allowed to "escape" back through the front lines and return to Abwehr service. While there, he hurts the German intelligence efforts in various inventive ways. Throughout, he manages to make himself appear trustworthy and advances in German ranks, while at the same time making the Germans suspect each other of being defectors, traitors or agents themselves, often resulting in their execution. The main character starts his espionage work as a lieutenant, promoted after a dozen episodes to the rank of captain.

Kloss is played by Stanisław Mikulski, who became typecast following this role.

The various episodes of the series are unconnected, apart for advancing in time over the period of war; certain actors even return in different roles. The pilot (Wiem kim jesteś - I know who you are) explains the basic premise.

A recurrent supporting character is Hermann Brunner, a Sicherheitsdienst officer, played by Emil Karewicz, whom the audience loved to hate. Although Brunner only appeared in 5 episodes out of 18, he usually stole the show. One of his "trademark" sayings was "I hate the sight of a man being beaten... unless I am the one doing the beating".

Captain Kloss is generally thought to be a direct inspiration for the 1970 Soviet television series about Stierlitz. Of course, he is himself inspired by Konrad Wallenrod and James Bond, albeit much less directly.

Except for the pilot episode, the series does not reveal exactly which intelligence service Kloss is working for, as in the other episodes he receives his instructions from an unspecified Centrala or Central Control. Hence, the viewer is left to wonder whether it is the London-based Polish government in exile or some Soviet intelligence organisation, for example the GRU military intelligence. At the time the series was made, when Poland was still a Soviet satellite state, this deemphasizing of a possible Soviet connection made the character of Kloss more palatable to those Poles who resented Soviet domination, and hence preferred a fictional secret agent not associated with the disliked apparatus of Soviet Intelligence. In the 15th episode he is revealed to hold a rank of major in the Polish People's Army, and in the last episode appears in the Polish uniform accompanied by Soviet officers. Overall, the series was relatively free of communist propaganda, unlike some other series made at the time dealing with wartime events, and hence remains highly watchable today.

Although the settings are extremely precise, the series is pure entertainment and the main characters in it have no historical basis. His code name was J-23.

In Germany the series was shown under the title Sekunden Entscheiden (Seconds Decide).

Comic books[edit]

Cover of Kapitan Kloss #14 (comic series). Art by Mieczysław Wiśniewski

Adventures of Captain Kloss were adapted into 20 comic book albums by Mieczysław Wiśniewski. They are:

  1. Agent J-23 (Agent J-23)
  2. Wsypa (The Big Bust)
  3. Ostatnia szansa (Last Chance)
  4. Kuzynka Edyta (Cousin Edith)
  5. Ściśle tajne (Top Secret)
  6. Hasło (The Password)
  7. Spotkanie z Ingrid (Rendez-Vouz with Ingrid)
  8. Cafe Rose (Cafe Rose)
  9. Wyrok (The Sentence)
  10. Kurierka z Londynu (A courier from london)
  11. Partia domina (A game of dominoes)
  12. Noc w szpitalu (Night at the hospital)
  13. Podwójny nelson (A double nelson)
  14. Żelazny krzyż (The Iron Cross)
  15. Tajemnica profesora Riedla (The mystery of professor Riedl)
  16. Spotkanie na zamku (Encounter at the castle)
  17. Akcja "Liść Dębu" (Operation "Oak Leaf")
  18. Oblężenie (The Siege)
  19. "Gruppenfuhrer Wolf" (Gruppenfuhrer Wolf)
  20. W ostatniej chwili (At the last moment)

See also[edit]

External links[edit]