Twilight Zone – Deaths-Head Revisited

★★★★★  November 10, 1961 Season 3 Episode 9

If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.

In the previous episode we met a young monster named Anthony. In this episode we meet a realistic monster named Gunther Lutze…in the past… known as SS Captain Gunther Lutze who wants to relive his glory days. This is a powerful episode made less than twenty years after WWII. Oscar Beregi Jr plays the Captain in all of his infamous glory. Joseph Schildkraut plays Afred Becker, a figure from Luntz’s past, a figure he knows all too well.

We last saw Oscar Beregi Jr in the The Rip Van Winkle Caper but in this one he takes it up a level. He is so convincing as Lutze that you hate this character and everything he represents. The set is very impressive and realistic. CBS had made a pilot for a western, and they had built a four-sided frontier fort. This set cost around $200,000 and it was standing out on Lot 3 at MGM. The crew downgraded it for this episode and it works well.

This episode is chilling for what it represents. Serling did an excellent job with  this story. It was satisfying to see the tables turned, and the sadist finds himself on trial with  Alfred Becker in charge.

From IMDB

The title refers to the “Totenkopf” or Death’s Head symbol used by the SS during World War II depicting a skull and crossbones. It is distinguished from similar traditions of the skull and crossbones and the Jolly Roger by the positioning of the bones directly behind the skull.

Beregi and Schildkraut both hailed from distinguished Yiddish stage families, and had lost most of their European relatives in the Holocaust.

This show was written by Rod Serling

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration: 

Mr. Schmidt, recently arrived in a small Bavarian village which lies eight miles northwest of Munich… a picturesque, delightful little spot one-time 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 SS. 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 SS 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.

Summary

Gunther Lutze, a former captain in Hitler’s SS, decides to return to the area that contains the remnants of Dachau concentration camp. As he revels in the memories of the days when he had tortured prisoners, prisoner Alfred Becker appears before his eyes. What he does not realize is Becker is an ghostly apparition, and plans to put Lutze on “trial” for crimes against humanity for the torture and killing of the prisoners that were held in the camp. It is one trial Lutze may regret.

Rod Serling’s 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.

CAST

Rod Serling…Narrator
Joseph Schildkraut…Alfred Becker
Oscar Beregi Jr…SS Capt. Gunther Lutze (as Oscar Beregi)
Kaaren Verne… Innkeeper (as Karen Verne)
Robert Boon… Taxi Driver
Ben Wright… Doctor
Gene Coogan… Victim (uncredited)
Chuck Fox… Victim (uncredited)
Jimmie Horan… Victim (uncredited)
David O. McCall…Victim (uncredited)
Arthur Tovey…Victim (uncredited)

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

21 thoughts on “Twilight Zone – Deaths-Head Revisited”

  1. A really powerful episode and a great example of how TV can transcend just entertainment. I love the scene where the Block 6 court first reads the charges. It’s like the SS officer has to an extent repressed the actual horror of what he’s done and when confronted so directly can’t take it. And what a fitting verdict – to feel all the pain and torment he has caused for the rest of his life. I’m sure it was pretty emotional for both the actors to play these roles given their family history.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I can’t add much to what you said Paul. Serling pulled no punches on this subject. He even went out of his way to say he despised Hogans Heroes. You won’t find a stronger message today than this episode.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hogan’s Heroes was satire and meant to ridicule and humiliate the Nazis. My cousin, who is full-blooded German but grew up on an Army base with my aunt and uncle, used to get a real kick out of that show when they visited the US. He hated the Nazis and loved seeing them look like buffoons.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. So proud of your Twilight Zone canon of work, Max, and at this point, I wonder if you see life through a more warped viewpoint because of it, haha! I mean that as a good thing. I could see you running into a daily obstacle or challenge and saying, “This is like the Twilight Zone,” haha! Good to catch up on some of your posts. I LOVE The Pixies and The Pogues! How are you and your fam and job?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Bernie…I ALWAYS see life through a warped view lol. Yes I do that believe me!
      Family is doing fine…Job is crazy…moving the company to Azure in the cloud from Server 2003…dealing with all sorts of problems…for three straight weeks I was recovering email…Family is doing fine!

      I hope your job and family are doing alright…I’ll be around to your post in a couple of hours.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Busy, busy! Sounds like a tedious transition at work! It got one of our IT reps to join Song Writers Club! He writes death metal, and the kids love his stuff. Typical IT stereotype: Dark room down the hall, needed to go outside, haha!

        Good to hear! Nice to reconnect for sure! Rylan is 9 months! Swim lessons, first big cold, still a snot waterfall, lots of sporadic sleep 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I can’t believe it’s been 9 months already! The fun has yet to begin.

        So Death Metal lol…whew that stuff is out there. It’s fast…that is for sure.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Baby Blue always rotates on my jogging playlist. Air-tight perfect song in all ways 🙂

        Been listening to older, Roger Water-less Floyd. Not as good, but David Gilmour is still a guitar solo genius…

        Liked by 2 people

      4. It might be the best power pop song…

        Ok…that is cool…Gilmour’s guitar….you could pick it out of 1000 guitarists…he has his own style.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Kudos to Serling for pulling no punches. Sounds like a very good one. I always thought ‘Hogans Heroes” was a bizarre premise for a show, especially back then closer to the war. A bunch of friendly, bumbling Nazis running a POW camp? Sounds like something Monty Python would’ve done in the 70s and taken a lot of heat for.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hogan’s Heroes is a funny show…They do it in a way where nothing bad is mentioned… Serling hated it but was good friends with Bob Crane the star of it.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. This episode was truly chilling and amazing it was even aired so soon after WWII. The very idea of one of those monsters returning to the death camp to have “fond memories of torturing and killing” is just plain evil. The punishment he will suffer with for the rest of his life is inadequate to the crime, but there is nothing on earth that is adequate justice for any war criminal.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This is such a chilling and well done episode. It’s one of the last I managed to watch before Netflix pulled the plug on the Twilight Zone. And speaking of ‘Hogan’s Heroes’, I hated that show and never found it the least bit funny.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is chilling… I’m happy that Serling didn’t pull any punches with Nazis but he realized many of the German people had nothing to do with it.

      Liked by 2 people

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