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You have sentiment, Murlowe, but no brains
~ Carl Lanser mocks his officer for being reluctant to murder civilians without warning.

Carl Lanser is a sadistic Nazi Kapitan in the Kriegsmarine who, after death, was damned to experience his worst crime in life from the victim's perspective over and over. He is the protagonist of The Twilight Zone episode "Judgement Night".

He was portrayed by retired centenarian actor Nehemiah Persoff.

history

Carl Lanser was apparently born in Frankfurt, Germany, and at some point chose to join the Third Reich, becoming a Kapitan in the Kriegsmarine, and the commander of a German U-Boat.

In 1942, his German U-Boat came upon a defenseless ship called the S.S. Queen of Glasgow, and though it was carrying civilians (including women and children), Lanser decided to open fire on it without any warning at all, slaughtering the entire ship's crew and passengers to the last.

Afterwards, Lanser expressed smug satisfaction with what he considered a job well done, but his second, Murlowe, was not enthused; he recognized the evil that had been done and could not reconcile the act with his conscience. He expressed these feelings to Carl Lanser, who dismissed them with contempt and disdain, deriding Murlowe as weak for having such sentiments.

However, Murlowe's fears proved well-founded; in death, Carl Lanser became an amnesiac, cursed to again and again experience being on the ship and meeting and knowing the lives he callously and thoughtlessly snuffed out, before dying along with them when his Nazi self showed up to shell the ship. And then, no sooner was Lanser "dead" and everyone else on the ship killed and the ship sunk, did the nightmare begin all over again...

trivia

  • The twist in the episode, that of a seemingly innocent and sympathetic protagonist turning out to be a violent and/or criminal individual being punished for their actions, is similar to the twist ending in two different episodes of the sci-fi anthology series Black Mirror (which in fact drew much inspiration from The Twilight Zone).
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