Deaths-Head Revisited

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"Deaths-Head Revisited"
The Twilight Zone episode
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 9
Directed by Don Medford
Written by Rod Serling
Featured music Stock
Production code 4804
Original air date November 10, 1961
Guest appearance(s)

Oscar Beregi, Jr.: Captain Lutze (Mr. Schmidt)
Joseph Schildkraut: Becker
Karen Verne: Inn Keeper
Robert Boon: Taxi Driver
Ben Wright: The Doctor
Chuck Fox: 23575 (uncredited)

Episode chronology
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"It's a Good Life"
Next →
"The Midnight Sun"
List of Twilight Zone episodes

"Deaths-Head Revisited" is episode 74 of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. The story was later adapted for The Twilight Zone Radio Dramas starring H.M. Wynant.

Opening narration[edit]

Plot[edit]

Gunther Lutze, a former SS captain, checks into a hotel in Dachau, Bavaria, under the name "Schmidt". The receptionist seems to recognize him, but he deflects suspicion by claiming to have spent the war serving on the Eastern Front. After taking some time to harass the woman by forcing her to explain what the Nazis were doing in Dachau, he returns to the ruins of Dachau concentration camp to relive his time as its commandant during World War II. As he strolls around the different areas of the camp, he revels in the recollections of the torment he inflicted on the inmates, remembering with a cold smile the suffering he was responsible for.

As Lutze prepares to leave, he is surprised to see Alfred Becker, one of the camp's former inmates and a particular victim of Lutze's cruelty. Lutze supposes that Becker is now the caretaker of the camp, to which Becker cryptically replies "In a manner of speaking." As they talk, Becker relentlessly dogs Lutze with the reality of his grossly inhumane treatment of the inmates, while Lutze stubbornly and unemotionally insists that he was only carrying out his orders. Lutze tries to leave, but finds the gate locked. In one of the camp buildings, Becker and several other inmates later put Lutze on trial for crimes against humanity and find him guilty. Becker is about to pronounce the sentence when Lutze remembers that he killed Becker 17 years ago on the night American troops came close to Dachau and realizes that Becker, as well as all the inmates who witnessed his trial, are ghosts. As punishment and atonement, Lutze is made to undergo the same horrors he had imposed on the inmates. He is not physically touched; rather, he is made to experience the pain and suffering in his mind, culminating near the gate, the gallows, and the detention room where he screams in agony, having been driven 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."

Lutze is eventually found and taken to a mental institution for the criminally insane, leaving his finders to survey the remains of the camp in wonder and bafflement, wondering how Lutze could have been driven insane in only two hours. As they prepare to leave, the doctor who examined him looks around visibly upset and asks, "Dachau. Why does it still stand? Why do we keep it standing?"

Closing narration[edit]

Critical response[edit]

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[edit]

The band Anthrax sampled a few lines of the dialogue for the introduction to the instrumental song "Intro to Reality" on the 1990 album Persistence of Time. The instrumental segues into the next song, "Belly of the Beast", which itself is based on the episode's story.

The New Jersey hardcore band Rorschach samples some of the lines from the ending narration on the song "Lightning Strikes Twice" from their album Remain Sedate.

References[edit]

  • 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 978-1-59393-136-0
  • Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0

External links[edit]