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deaths head

Deaths-Head Revisited

"Deaths-Head Revisited" is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone.

Opening Narration

Mr. Schmidt, recently arrived in a small Bavarian village which lies eight miles northwest of Munich, a picturesque, delightful little spot onetime known for its scenery but more recently related to other events having to do with some of the less positive pursuits of man: human slaughter, torture, misery and anguish. Mr. Schmidt, as we will soon perceive, has a vested interest in the ruins of a concentration camp - for once, some seventeen years ago, his name was Gunther Lutze. He held the rank of a captain in the S.S. He was a black-uniformed strutting animal whose function in life was to give pain, and like his colleagues of the time he shared the one affliction most common amongst that breed known as Nazis: he walked the Earth without a heart. And now former S.S. Captain Lutze will revisit his old haunts, satisfied perhaps that all that is awaiting him in the ruins on the hill is an element of nostalgia. What he does not know, of course, is that a place like Dachau cannot exist only in Bavaria. By its nature, by its very nature, it must be one of the populated areas of the Twilight Zone.

Synopsis

A former captain in the Nazi military, Gunther Lutze, returns to the ruins of Dachau concentration camp to relive the memories. He meets Alfred Becker, one of the inmates that he knew from the war. As Captain Lutze reminisces about how he tried to implement the Nazi ways and was barely able to escape, he realizes that one of the last things that he did was kill Becker.

Becker tells him that he (Lutze) must atone for the atrocities that were committed under Lutze's command and that he and the other victims have risen up to serve justice. Captain Lutze is forced to undergo the same horrors as the inmates he tortured. He is not physically touched, rather he experiences the pain in his mind, and it drives him insane.

Before departing, Becker's ghost informs him, "This is not hatred. This is retribution. This is not revenge. This is justice. But this is only the beginning, Captain. Only the beginning. Your final judgment will come from God." Gunther, once found, is taken to a mental hospital in a strait-jacket, leaving his finders to survey the remains of the camp in wonder and bafflement. The doctor that takes Lutze away asks, "Dachau... why does it still stand?"

Closing Narration

There is an answer to the doctor's question. All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwalds, the Auschwitzes - all of them. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the Earth into a graveyard. Into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all, their conscience. And the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance, then we become the gravediggers. Something to dwell on and to remember, not only in the Twilight Zone but wherever men walk God's Earth.

Preview for Next Week's Story

Next week, we see what will happen to a world that, with each passing hour, draws closer and closer to the sun. This is a nightmare in depth, in which we watch two doomed women spend their last hours struggling for survival against a fiery orb that moves over the top of a hot, still, deserted city. We call it "The Midnight Sun," and we also recommend it most heartily.

Critical response

Gordon F. Sander, excerpt from Serling: The Rise and Twilight of Television's Last Angry Man:
Serling meted out nightmarish justice of a worse kind in “Deaths-Head Revisited” (directed by Don Medford), Serling’s statement on the Holocaust, written in reaction to the then-ongoing Eichmann trial, in which a former Nazi, played by Oscar Beregi, on a nostalgic visit to Dachau, is haunted and ultimately driven insane by the ghosts of inmates he had killed there during the war.

Cultural references

The band Anthrax sampled a few lines of dialogue for the introduction to the song "Intro to Reality" on the 1990 album "Persistence of Time."

References

  • Zicree, Marc Scott: The Twilight Zone Companion. Sillman-James Press, 1982 (second edition)
  • A play on the title of the popular Evelyn Waugh novel, Brideshead Revisited.
  • DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1593931360
  • Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0970331090

External links

Twilight Zone links

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