“Star Trek” has been watched and adored around the world, but not every episode has made it to television screens in every country.
In fact, Germans have been deprived of an episode for more than 40 years. Until now.
“Patterns of Force,” which first aired in the United States in February 1968, has aired on German television for the first time, last Friday. The episode, featuring Nazis and swastikas, has been left off German schedules for decades, and even when it aired Friday night, it was treated as if it were heavy adult content.
“By showing this episode, ‘Star Trek’ fans will be able to see the complete series for the first time in its entirety,” said Dr. Simone Emmelius, director of German public television station ZDF, according to The Telegraph. Yet, the episode aired after 10 p.m., helping to ensure that no one under the age of 16 was allowed to watch. This was done so that only an adult audience “capable of questioning the complexity of the episode” were able to watch.
The episode was written by Gene Roddenberry and directed by Vincent McEveety. It was known for its bit of irony — William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, both Jewish, donned Nazi uniforms. Also, the episode was filmed on the 25th anniversary of the Holocaust observance, according to Internet Movie Database.
“Patterns of Force” did not take place in Nazi Germany, but instead on the planet Acos. David Brian, a character actor who died in 1993, played John Gill, who took on the role of Fuhrer in the Nazi-immitated society. Shatner and Nimoy thought it was appropriate that two Jews would defeat a “Hitler” on such an anniversary.
But “Patterns of Force” is not the only Star Trek episode to feature Nazis. The two-part “Star Trek: Voyager” episode “The Killing Game” featured Hirogen aliens dressed as Nazis in a holodeck simulation.
That episode, however, has aired in Germany — back in 1998, and in the middle of the day, according to Airlock Alpha reader Mark Szemeitat. Now that the episode has finally aired, breaking decades of absence from the German airwaves, Szemeitat did say he hoped the episode would become a part of the regular “Star Trek” run on German television, and be shown at more normal times.
This story was updated Nov. 8, 2011, to include information about “The Killing Game’s” air schedule in Germany.