It should be remembered that in 1968, when "Patterns of Force" was originally broadcast, WWII was a memory from a little over twenty years in the past. A little over twenty years ago as of the writing of this review, 2014, the Cold War came to an end, and we still don't have ideal relations with Russia (to perhaps put it mildly). So to have a Nazi episode at that time (and I still can't adequately reconcile a sitcom like Hogan's Heroes, which would have been in its third season at the time) would have been something like a bold gesture on the part of the series.
The episode is an allegory of the classic adage concerning those who fail to learn from history. A Federation historian actually thinks it's a good idea to base the working conditions of a whole culture on the Third Reich. Things go horribly wrong, and so we get literal Space Nazis.
|via Trek Core|
Nazis became a recurring staple in the franchise. Voyager's "The Killing Game" revisited them in a holodeck setting. Enterprise's "Storm Front" saw the conclusion of its Temporal Cold War arc in this context. Taken as a whole, that's a whole legacy, and I would submit an important one.
On its own, is "Patterns" a truly notable episode? Or is it merely something that from a distance looks like a story told in poor taste? It's certainly striking, easily identifiable from some of the more anonymous adventures.
I think it's worth considering. And that's as much an argument for watching an episode as you can find.
four quarter analysis