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. Written by
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. See more »
This episode was set in 1962, 17 years after the end of the war and Dachau is shown as abandoned. However, after the war it remained open, first as a prison and then as a refugee camp until the mid-1960s. See more »
Rod Serling served as a paratrooper in the Pacific theater during World War II. As a result, he had an hatred toward any form of totalitarianism. He had an especially intense hatred for the Nazis.
A man arriving at a small hotel in a German village inquires about the ruins of a "camp" nearby. He is told by the proprietress that it is the remains of a concentration camp. The man takes a cruel delight in prying the name of the village from the woman; "Dachau", she replies with anguish and shame.
The man is a former SS officer who served at Dachau and has returned to engage in some sadistic nostalgia for the good old days. His sentimental journey, however, takes a decidedly grotesque and horrifying turn.
As Captain Lutze, Oscar Bergei is nothing short of terrifyingly brilliant. As he strolls across the deserted camp grounds, his stride suddenly lapses into the arrogant strut of an SS officer on his way to mete out pain and death. His revelry in his crimes is sickening and his fate is richly deserved.
Serling's monologue at the end is a departure from other such speeches. It is a stark warning to the ages, coming from a man who had seen the horrors of history all too closely. A man, not only of vision, but of abiding conscience and humanity. Hollywood shall not see his like again.
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