American Horror Story recap: The Girl With The Auschwitz Tattoo

Secrets are exposed as Anne Frank checks into The Asylum and goes gunning for a certain Nazi mad scientist
Ep. 04 | Aired Nov 7, 2012

TO BE FRANK, OR NOT TO BE FRANK? Franka Potente as Anne Frank... or someone who thinks she's Anne Frank. Which Persona is she?

Byron Cohen/FX

Sister Jude was most amused by Anne’s claim. “Anne Frank, is it?  What a relief it will be to millions of school children to know that you survived!” Anne correctly decoded Anne’s sarcasm. Wait. You think I’m crackers?! So she told her story. “There were so many bodies when the Allies arrived. Thousands, buried in mass graves. But I wasn’t one of them. I was too sick to tell anyone my name. Even if they had asked. The Brits nursed us back to some semblance of health. Afterwards I kept to the streets of Germany. A pickpocket, a thief. And then I met a soldier. Private William Snow of Rutherford, New Jersey. He saved me. He brought me back to America.” She had a husband? Call him! But she couldn't: The Korean War killed William in 1952 – the same year that Anne’s diary was published in America. Only then did she realize that her father had survived The Holocaust. But she didn't reach out to him, and made no effort to clarify the historical record. “People finally started paying attention to what they had done to us, all because of a martyred, 15-year-old girl. She had to stay 15. And a martyr. I could do more good dead than alive.”

“Your story is indecent,” declared Sister Jude. It also bared a resemblance the real-life story of Ingrid Pitt, a Polish girl who survived concentration camp, met an American G.I. in Berlin, then moved to the United States and eventually (after divorcing the soldier) became an actress renowned for her work in the horror movie genre , including The Vampire Lovers and The Wicker Man. As for Anne’s husband, there was a Dr. William Snow who was a figure in the social hygiene and eugenics movements of early twentieth century America, campaigns which considered and even advocated ideas like forced sterilization to engineer the cultivate the best possible straight white society. These notions became increasingly noxious in the wake of World War II, thanks to Holocaust survivors who shared the stories of the horrible things that were done by Josef Mengele and the like in death camps like Auschwitz.

“No! You are indecent!” said Anne, more right about Sister Jude (SCREECH!-SLAM!-SPLAT!) than she knew. “You have a Nazi war criminal working here!” Anne said she met Dr. Hans Gruber immediately upon her arrival at Auschwitz. He looked kind, she said, and she saw him acting kindly to a pair of dark haired twin boys. I immediately wondered: What if one of them is Dr. Thredson? (Twins were prized test subjects for Josef Mengele’s eugenics experiments.) Yet Dr. Gruber quickly revealed himself to be a perverse child predator. He would visit the girls’ barracks, hand out candy, and speak of wanting to “save” them. “But he couldn’t save everyone, so he left it to chance,” Anne recalled. The chosen ones were determined by a flip of a Totenkopf coin. “And when they came back – if they came back – something had changed. He had made them sick. Whatever he had done to them, they were afraid to speak out. They had been sworn to secrecy.”

“It wasn’t him,” said Sister Jude, sounding unconvinced of her own conviction. “You didn't see anything, because you weren’t there.” Anne rolled up her sleeve and showed Sister Jude her death camp tattoo. A 40603. “I know where I came from, Sister,” she said. “Can you say the same about your ‘Dr. Arden?’”

She couldn’t. Spidey senses now tingling – her intuitive moral compass, reactivated -- Sister Jude decided to play Nancy Drew. She descended the Stairway to Heaven to confront Dr. Arden in his science dungeon, only to find him in the midst of a confrontation with two police officers, the curiously named Bias and Conners. A “lady of the evening” had filed a complaint against Arden, alleging that he had roughed her up during an assignation awry. Ms. Mossy Bank also claimed that Arden had a secret stash of bondage pics and Nazi memorabilia. A swastika pin and Death’s Head coin that resembled the one that Dr. Hans Gruber flipped to choose his Auschwitz test subjects. Arden turned indignant, huffed away. So he wasn’t present when the cops told Sister Jude that they weren’t investigating a vice charge against Arden, but the possibility that Arden could actually be Bloody Face. They couldn't believe Kit Walker had the skills to surgically flay and cleanly decapitate those women. But Arden? Now there’s a guy who knows how to work a scalpel. Just ask Shelley. (So much for Dr. Thredson’s cynical belief – expressed last week -- that the police would never re-open the case against Kit. The men of science in The Asylum are quickly becoming as suspicious as its Catholic administrators…)

Following her meeting with Bias and Connors, Sister Jude took her concerns to Monsignor Timothy, who accused Sister Jude of… well, bias. Prejudiced against men of science, apparently. Sister Jude said she was merely looking to protect their shared dream of using Briarcliff as a springboard to papacy. “You imperil our dream by refusing to face your own failure,” said The Monsignor. “You’d rather to see Nazi war criminals than look in the mirror.” (He was referring to her drunken mismanagement of movie night, which allowed two inmates to escape. The Mexican and Shelley: Officially, still AWOL.) Monsignor Timothy was unwittingly correct about something: Sister Jude’s abiding shame over a certain female skeleton hidden in the closet makes it quite hard for her to look in the mirror.

Still, once Sister Jude left his office, we saw that Monsignor Timothy knew much about Dr. Arden’s monstrous past – and present. He called down to the dungeon as Arden was doing more experiments on dismembered, increasingly disfigured Shelley. “They’re onto you, Arthur. If you have any housekeeping to do, I suggest you take care of it.” (Later in the episode, Sister Jude’s mother superior told her to ignore The Monsignor and trust her conscience. “The men of our church,” she snarked. “It’s their instinct to protect themselves, cover up their mistakes.” The subtext, pretty transparent.)

NEXT: Inglourious Basterdina!

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