Fans of the original Star Trek series in Germany got quite a surprise last Friday when an episode from the show’s second season was finally shown on the country’s public television station ZDFneo after being banned from broadcast for more than four decades, and the reason for the ban had nothing to do with the Chancellor being a Picard fan.
“Patterns of Force” was first broadcast in America on February 16, 1968 and found Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Dr. McCoy searching for a Federation historian (and one of Kirk’s professors at Starfleet Academy) on the planet Ekos. When they beam down to the surface they notice that the planet’s soldiers are dressed like Nazi stormtroopers.
The shadow of the Third Reich looms large over the action as Kirk and company soon find themselves in the midst of an galactic conflict between Ekos (ruled over by the missing historian) and the peaceful and technologically-advanced peaceful Zeon. It’s also the first time Spock has ever appeared shirtless in the show, and no stardate is mentioned at any point during the episode.
Nazi imagery is prevalent throughout “Patterns of Force,” something Germany has understandably always been very sensitive about in their entertainment. When the episode was originally slated for broadcast back in 1968, the downfall of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich was still too fresh in the minds of a nation fighting to put the horrific legacy the Nazis left in the wake of their deserved destruction behind them forever. Despite being banned from television airings in Germany, “Patterns of Force” was shown once on pay TV and has subsequently been released on VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray in dubbed and subtitled versions.
Until now it was the only episode of Star Trek banned from German television. ZDF editorial director Simone Emmelius told the German newspaper Bild, “By showing this episode, Star Trek fans will be able to see the complete series for the first time in its entirety.”