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Crossing over to 'The Twilight Zone'

['WS-xx-letter to the editor']
['WS-xx-letter to the editor']

Dear editor: Even media addicts like me, who are habitually frequent television viewers, would have to admit that television today, despite the availability of 1,000 or so channels, is beset by problems of dullness and repetitiveness.

However, I would like to comment on an episode of "The Twilight Zone," entitled "Death's Head Revisited."

This was created in 1961 and originally shown on CBC-TV in 1962, but is currently available on YouTube.

The show opens with a stern and somewhat sinister-looking German man of about 50 checking into a small hotel in a town in Bavaria. The female clerk of the hotel says that the man reminds her of someone who worked at the nearby Dachau concentration camp during the Second World War. The conversation ends without further incident, but the man, a Mr. Schmidt, next travels to the remnants of the concentration camp.

It is revealed in this show that he is indeed a former member of the SS, responsible for the infliction of unspeakable oppression and torture on millions of Jews and other prisoners during the war. Schmidt proceeds remorselessly to inspect what is left of the barracks. He had been living in South America, but apparently could not resist a mysterious impulse to return to the scene of his evil doings.

Schmidt is confronted unexpectedly by a former inmate of Dachau, a man named Becker, who has returned from the dead and is still wearing his prisoner's clothing. Schmidt ludicrously downplays the horrors of the Nazi regime and asks for forgiveness for "the little mistakes" of the camp administrators. Becker replies combatively that Schmidt is asking for far too much, and that he may as well ask for the Earth to stop rotating on its axis.

Schmidt is then led into the interior of the camp, where a dozen or so other former inmates of Dachau also magically return from the dead.

Becker tells Schmidt that he is now going to be put on trial for crimes against humanity.

Schmidt reacts with extreme fear and disbelief, but he is soon found guilty by Becker, who is now the spokesman for the inmates. Schmidt's punishment is that he be rendered permanently insane, and the former SS member falls to the ground, writhing from uncontrollable forces.

Schmidt is next taken away by ambulance to a hospital, and the viewer can readily imagine his being confined to a hospital for the rest of his life, probably strapped to a bed continually in order to contain his gross and wild irrationality.

Perhaps the most striking and significant aspect of the trial that was held in the Dachau camp was that Becker admonished Schmidt before sentence was handed down that "this is only the beginning. Your final judgment will come from God."

There are many people today who practice torture and other serious violations of human rights, and they should realize that a similar fate may well be awaiting them.

Lloyd Bonnell, Corner Brook

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