One Year Ago
Herr Mueller and his assistant break into a long-lost vault just ahead of the police. Mueller thanks his assistant for helping him escape as he opens an airtight vault. Inside is the body of an S.S. officer, his throat cut open. Mueller says that the dead man, Rausch, was the intended successor to Hitler. He lights candle and lets the corpse thaw, and then takes out an amulet with a swastika on it and invokes Thule, calling upon the servants of Valhalla to give the body life. After a moment, the dead man comes to life and garrotes Mueller's assistant with a link of barbed wire. Mueller explains that their minds are linked through the amulet, and places one half of it around Rausch's neck. He explains that once Rausch has killed Mueller's enemies, they will be free to create a new Reich, and that one of his targets will give him particular pleasure to dispatch.
In the U.S., Jack wakes from a dream where he's held in a P.O.W. camp while the German officer known as "the Butcher," Rausch, prepares to torture him.
An elderly man in a wheelchair, Lefty Cook, is at home when there's a knock at the door. The visitor claims he's a war buddy of Jack Marshak, and Lefty is glad to let him in. The visitor explains they spent time with Jack in Germany during World War II. Lefty admits he was there as well and helped liberate the ghetto, and talks about how they captured a Nazi scientist, Horst Mueller, who was performing experiments on POWs. The visitor notices a photo of Jack's squad and easily picks out Jack among them. As Lefty talks about his fellow soldiers, the visitor moves around behind him and garrotes him with a piece of barbed wire. Rausch finishes his murder and touches the amulet around his neck, and hears Mueller's voice in his head, complimenting him.
Jack is considering a locked box at the shop when two men come in: Shaw and Simpson, members of his former squad. They are there for Lefty's funeral, but Jack says that he isn't going. They insist he needs to be there with them, but Jack doesn't see the point. They point out that all they can do now is make sure they're buried right and Jack reluctantly gives in. They go to the funeral home and share a toast over Lefty's body. Shaw notes that another squad member, Carruthers, was also murdered recently. Jack examines Lefty's neck and discovers the marks of barbed wire. Shaw pulls him away while Simpson takes one more drink and then leaves the flask with Lefty and closes the coffin lid.
The three men go to a bar where a talk show host, Carl Steiner, is talking about demanding respect from other countries. Jack tries to make a call while Shaw and Simpson talk about how Lefty played baseball before becoming soldier. Jack comes over and tells the others that he checked with the Veterans Administration, and two more of their fellow squad members have died recently. Jack points out that Rausch killed using barbed wire, and admits that he had a dream about the Butcher the night that Lefty died. Numerous drinks later, the men go back to Curious Goods and Shaw insists on staying a few days. Jack puts him in Micki's room since the cousins are out of town, and Shaw insists that Jack will be feeling better in a few days.
Mueller is back in his cell, whistling and crossing off faces on a photo of Jack's squad. He then circles Simpson's face.
Jack has another dream of one of his fellow soldiers being tortured while the Butcher wraps barbed wire around Jack's neck. He wakes up screaming, and Shaw comes down to check on him. The next day, Jack receives a delivery from the Veterans Administration as Shaw comes down. The files confirm that the two soldiers in Europe were strangled with barbed wire, at the same time Jack started having his dreams. He then goes to the lockbox and notes that Mueller was experimenting with rejuvenation of the cryogenically frozen dead. Shaw doesn't believe that Mueller could have frozen Rausch and insists that nobody could come back from the dead.
Rausch, using the identity of radio talk show host Karl Steiner, is taking a call and debating the benefits of euthanasia of the mentally retarded. Once his broadcast is over, he meets with an interviewer and insists that people listen to him because he tells the truth. She notes that he's become a major influence over the last year, and would rather talk about the future than dwell on his past. As they talk, the Butcher hears Mueller's voice telling him that it's time to get moving again. He touches his neck and notices blood, and tries to break off the interview. The interviewer asks one last question, what his message is, and he tells her that he wants the weak and uneducated to get out of the way so the country can rise to power again.
Rausch staggers into a bathroom, his neck bleeding, and finds a man washing his hands. He prepares to strangle the man to eliminate any witnesses, but Mueller's voice booms in his head, telling him to stop. Rausch staggers into a stall and clutches at the Amulet of Thule. Mueller's face appears in the mirror and he tells Rausch to only kill those he orders him to, and that the next death will heal his wound. He assures Rausch that soon, he won't feel any pain again.
Jack insists that Rausch is killing them one by one, but Shaw is still skeptical. Jack opens the lockbox and explains he hasn't touched it since the war. Inside are relics that he collected in Europe, including Mueller's diary. Inside it is a drawing of the Amulet of Thule, which belonged to an ancient Teutonic society of alchemists and warlocks who believed they could grant a millennia of life. Jack insists that Mueller used Thule's secrets to bring Rausch back to life, and calls Simpson to meet with them.
Simpson gets into his car and turns on the radio to a rebroadcast of the Karl Steiner Show. Steiner talks of how certain people are naturally inferior. Rausch is hiding in the backseat and strangles Simpson.
Two hours later, Jack is waiting for Simpson when he gets a call. It's the police, who inform him that Simpson is dead. Jack and Shaw go to the crime scene and Jack explains that barbed wire caused the puncture wounds in the neck.
In his cell, Mueller crosses off Simpson’s face and vows that soon he and Jack will meet for the last time.
Back at the store, Shaw insists that Rausch can't possibly be alive. Jack, checking his resource books, notes that the Thules infuse their power in silver amulets and could communicate over great distances. Shaw notes that Mueller couldn't have gotten out of jail, and Jack makes a call to the military prison in Germany.
Rausch is listening to a tape of his show and considering the Amulet of Thule. Mueller speaks to him and appears in the reflection of a mirror. Mueller tells Rausch that killing Jack will give him eternal life, but they have other business to tend to first.
Jack makes contact with the prison official, who says that Mueller receives no outside mail or phone calls. He has no choice but to fly to Germany to talk to Mueller personally. The official notes that a year ago, Mueller managed to escape briefly but was recaptured the next day. As Jack packs, Shaw tells him that he's not going and insists that he won't run away from anyone. He insists that he'll be ready and won't be caught unawares like the others. Before he goes, Jack gives Shaw his service revolver and Shaw insists he can take care of himself.
Jack arrives in West Berlin and goes to the military prison. As Jack waits for his meeting, he dozes off and dreams of how the Allied forces broke into the POW camp. Breaking free, Jack strangled Rausch with his own barbed wire garrote. Jack wakes up with a start and goes to the phone to call Shaw.
Shaw is at Curious Goods reading an article on Steiner, unaware that Rausch is in the shop. When the phone rings, Shaw goes to answer it and Rausch strangles him.
Jack is taken to see Mueller, who says he's been expecting him. He claims he has nothing to do with the death of Jack's friends and Rausch is in his grave, and mockingly notes that Jack is the one who killed Rausch. Jack says that he knows Mueller brought Rausch back, and Mueller comments that Jack looks unsettled due to bad dreams. He boasts that he brought Rausch back so they could resurrect the Reich, and Shaw is already dead. Jack vows to kill him, but Mueller is happy that everyone who put him in prison is dead except Jack. He gives Jack the other half of the Amulet of Thule and tells him to give it to Rausch. As Jack leaves, Rausch boasts that the Master Race will rise again.
Back in the States, Jack enters the shop and finds Shaw's body. He sees the magazine that Shaw was reading and recognizes Steiner as Rausch.
Rausch is taking calls on the show and accepting the accolades of his fans. Jack calls and addresses him as Rausch, and tells him in German that Jack has what he wants. He tells Rausch to come and get it. Rausch cuts off and says that he's going into politics and he'll want all of his listeners to help him.
As Jack waits for Rausch to arrive, he imagines Simpson and Shaw telling him they're reporting for duty. Jack tries to pull himself together and prepares all of his World War II weaponry. He waits for Rausch and tries to stay awake, but dozes off and dreams of the liberation of the camp again. Suddenly Rausch bursts in and Jack jerks away and opens fire. Rausch hides in the shadows and boasts that he's waited fifty years to kill him. He tells Jack to give him the Amulet of Thule in return for a quick death. Jack slips through the shadows and tries to find the man, but Rausch loops his barbed wire garrote around Jack's wrist, disarming him. Jack drops the Amulet half while Rausch wraps the wire around a shelf post. He goes to get the Amulet half and attaches it to his half. Jack manages to free himself and pick up his gun, and Rausch dares him to fire. The bullets have no effects even after Jack shoots him in the head.
Rausch gets up and picks up his garrote, as Jack hides in the shop. Rausch goes after him, and Jack gets behind him and uses his own garrote to wrap it around Rausch's neck and tie him to the banister post. The Butcher posts that Jack can't kill him, but Jack uses his knife to cut the Amulet of Thule away from Rausch's neck. The Butcher starts bleeding from his wounds and dies once and for all.
Later, Jack places the photo of his squad in the lockbox with his other relics. He places the Amulet of Thule inside the box, locks it, and places it in the vault. As he goes back upstairs, he remembers everything that Mueller said about how the Master Race would rise again. Share this article with your friends