Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Twilight Zone New Year’s Marathon II: "Death’s Head Revisited"

It’s American television, so the nationality of the portly central character is telegraphed by his fake German accent. He has returned to the small Bavarian town of Dachau, site of the former concentration camp. The receptionist at the hotel, dressed in native folk garb, nervously answers his questions about the camp. The gentleman, a former Nazi living in South America, wanders into the now deserted camp, where he meets the apparition of a former inmate, Becker, whom he had sentenced to death shortly before the Americans arrived.  Becker is still adorned in his prisoner’s stripes, but the roles are reversed. He is now the interrogator. At first, the former Nazi scoffs at the notion that one of “the pigs” would interrogate an SS officer, but when he attempts to leave, he finds that the gates are locked.
The Nazi throws himself against a stanchion and is knocked unconscious. He was once the mouthpiece for irresponsibility, claiming that he was only taking orders. Now his punishment will be to live through all the tortures he inflicted, from being strung up over a hot pipe, to marching in the cold, to being the subject of unspeakable experiments on the human body. He soon goes insane and is discovered by a German doctor, who says that the man is suffering a madness in which he actually experiences excruciating pain.  The doctor blames this insanity on the proximity of the camp, and exclaims that he doesn’t understand why the camp, which is a reminder of a kind of evil that would drive anyone mad, is allowed to exist. It would be so much easier, the doctor insists, to destroy both the structure and the memories it elicits.

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