Deaths-Head Revisited - Recap

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Captain Gunther Lutze, a Nazi SS officer, arrives in the small town of Dachau under the alias of Mr. Schmidt. He checks in at the inn and expresses interest in the nearby concentration camp which was shut down after the war, 17 years ago. The innkeeper recoils in horror, but Lutze decides to visit the abandoned camp where he served as commandant. Lutze enters the camp and remembers the prisoners that he hung and tortured. A man then appears, wearing a prisoner’s uniform. The man says that ”they” have been waiting, and Lutze turns to see the gates close and lock themselves. He assumes the new arrival is the caretaker, and then remembers him as Alfred Becker, a former prisoner. Lutze is astonished that Becker doesn’t seem to have aged in 17 years.

Lutze hears a howling noise which sounds like screams, and tries to find its source. He defends himself to Becker saying that he was just a soldier during the war, but Becker notes that he was a sadist, not a soldier. Lutze tries to dismiss his past, trying to put it behind him since he was just following orders. Becker doesn’t believe him and wonders why Lutze came back from South America, where he was safe. Lutze admits he felt nostalgic and thought that after all this time, people might have decided to overlook his “little mistakes.” Becker says there can be no forgiveness and that it is now time for Lutze’s trial, for the SS officer’s crimes against humanity. Lutze boasts of how he tortured Becker for hours at a time, then tries to run. However, he finds himself inside the prisoner’s barracks, surrounded by the prisoners out of the past.

The doors are sealed and Lutze can only cower as Becker reads the charges against him, detailing the thousands of people he ordered to be tortured and executed, and the men he murdered personally. The screams carried on the wind rise up and Lutze collapses in hysterics. He passes out and wakes up to find everyone but Becker has disappeared. Becker assures Lutze that the trial was no dream and now it’s time for Lutze’s sentence. Lutze sneers at Becker, believing him incapable and insane. He then remembers why Becker couldn’t pass sentence: he died 17 years ago. Lutze killed him and the other prisoners when the Americans advanced on the camp. He lunges at Becker… and finds himself outside by the scaffolds.

Becker appears and informs Lutze that he will be sentenced to a life of insanity, suffering the agony of all of his victims. As Becker details all the ways that Lutze tortured his prisoners, the SS officer feels all of their agonies and collapses, driven mad with pain. Becker informs him that this is justice, not vengeance, and that Lutze’s final judgment will come from God.

Two hours later, the police arrive with a doctor and discover Lutze, insane. The doctor can’t account for how Lutze could have been driven insane in only two hours, without a mark on him. As the police take Lutze away, the doctor looks around the camp and wonders why they still leave it standing.