Sunday, November 6, 2011

Boldly Going: Star Trek Nazi Episode Airs for 1st Time in Germany, 43 Years Later

Germany decided to boldly go where no one has gone before when a controversial episode of the classic science fiction series Star Trek was aired for the first time, forty-three years after its original broadcast in the US. The episode, titled "Patterns of Force", featured the captain of the USS Enterprise James T. Kirk and First Mate Spock dressing up in military garb with the Nazi party's infamous swastika symbol emblazoned on their arm bands.  The crew infiltrate a group of dictatorial tyrants on the planet Ekon as they try to wipe out the population of nearby planet Zeon.

When the episode was first screened in 1968, it was considered too controversial to air in Germany, as it had only been a little over two decades since the fall of Hitler and the Third Reich after World War II. Still, German television network ZDF screened the episode after 10:00 PM, with a warning that the material may not be suitable for any viewer under the age of sixteen.

The series' two major stars, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, are both of the Jewish faith. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry used his show many times to portray the struggle of people to overcome the scourge of racism, discrimination and prejudice through artful storytelling. (Even if Shatner tended to overact his key scenes!)

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