German public broadcaster ZDF said Thursday it would stop showing reruns of the wildly popular television crime show “Derrick” after it emerged that its late star had belonged to Hitler’s notorious Waffen SS.
Horst Tappert, who played the beloved baggy-eyed detective from 1974 to 1998 in a programme that ran in more than 100 countries, was a member of an SS tank regiment on the Russian front, according to archive files released last month.
“ZDF is shocked and troubled by the news that Horst Tappert was a member of the Waffen SS,” spokesman Peter Bogenschuetz told AFP.
“We have no plans to broadcast any more reruns.”
ZDF produced 280 episodes of the show, which became must-see television for generations of post-war Germans. The most recent rerun had appeared on ZDF on April 1.
Military archives uncovered by a researcher showed Tappert joined the Waffen SS at the latest in 1943 when he was 20.
Tappert, who died in 2008, was tight-lipped about his wartime past in interviews and his memoirs, saying only that he had served as a medic before being taken prisoner at the end of the war.
Meanwhile Dutch public television channel Omroep MAX said it had scrapped plans to show around 20 episodes of “Derrick” from July.
“I was shocked by the news, you don’t expect something like that,” Omroep MAX chairman Jan Slagter told national broadcaster NOS over the weekend.
“We will not honour an actor who has lied over his past.”
And the southern German state of Bavaria, where the series was set, said it was weighing rescinding Tappert’s title of “honourary detective of the Bavarian police”, awarded to the actor in 1980.
“If we had known at the time of Horst Tappert’s possible past with the Waffen SS, we would never have approved the request” for the honour, an interior ministry spokesman said.
Several prominent Germans kept quiet after the war about their service in the Waffen SS, an elite corps responsible for some of the Nazis’ worst atrocities.
A Nobel literature laureate, Gunter Grass, saw his substantial moral authority undermined by his admission in 2006, six decades after World War II, that he had been a member of the Waffen SS as a 17-year-old.