This Day in Twilight Zone History: Celebrating the 1961 premiere of 'Deaths-Head Revisited'

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Today, November 10, This Day in Twilight Zone History celebrates the 1961 premiere of "Deaths-Head Revisited." 

In this creepy episode, an ex-Nazi SS officer (Oscar Beregi Jr.) returns to the concentration camp in Germany where he inflicted so much torture and death ... only to be confronted by the ghosts of his victims, led by Alfred Becker (Joseph Schildkraut).

 Oscar Beregi, Jr., one of the busiest character actors in 1960s TV, was perfectly cast as Lutze, the Nazi concentration camp officer whose little nostalgic visit back to his camp takes a side trip into The Twilight Zone.

There were certain topics in the early days of television that were simply Kryptonite to network executives, the Holocaust being one of them. In their limited imagination, they couldn’t picture sponsors selling laundry detergent, diapers, and underarm deodorant on a show about millions of Jews being murdered. So no one would touch the subject – until Rod Serling came along. He gave the sponsors more credit than they probably deserved and brought stories of the Holocaust into the modern TV world, first with a Playhouse 90 episode entitled "In the Presence of Mine Enemies" (starring Charles Laughton and a young Robert Redford) and then with "Deaths-Head Revisited."

The ghost of concentration camp victim Alfred Becker (Joseph Schildkraut) confronts ex-Nazi SS officer Lutze (Oscar Beregi, Jr., left) in "Deaths-Head Revisited." The concept of a revenge drama set in the world of the Holocaust was decades ahead of its time. 

Perhaps because it was a ghost story and not pulled from actual events, the episode didn't concern CBS execs as much as it could have, but then again, Rod had that unique contract that gave him total creative control over content. So let's toast this important episode and the man who never shied away from a challenge, Mr. Rod Serling.