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German TV Drops Detective Show over Waffen SS Actor Revelations

Alex Constantine - May 15, 2013

Photo: Waffen SS (Skull Division) veteran Horst Tappert in "Derrick."

German broadcaster ZDF has dropped repeat showings of a popular detective series after it emerged its late star had hidden his Waffen SS past. Archives released last month reveal Horst Tappert, who played Derrick in the show of the same name, had served in the Totenkopf panzer division.

Tappert, who died in 2008, had remained tight-lipped about his war record. According to the archives, the 19-year-old panzer grenadier was wounded on the Eastern Front in 1943.

With its motto "My Honour Is Loyalty", the Totenkopf (skull) division became one of the most ruthless units of the Waffen SS - the combat arm of Hitler's SS paramilitary force.

'Shocked and troubled'

ZDF, the German public TV broadcaster, said it would not show any more repeats of the 281 episodes of Derrick, which were made between 1974 and 1998.

"ZDF is shocked and troubled by the news that Horst Tappert was a member of the Waffen SS," spokesman Peter Bogenschuetz told AFP news agency.

"We have no plans to broadcast any more reruns."

Generations of Germans watched the show set in Munich, with its distinctive, baggy-eyed detective. The series was popular abroad too, shown on TV screens as far afield as Russia, China and South Africa.

Reacting to the revelations, 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," chairman Jan Slagter told Dutch national broadcaster NOS over the weekend. "We will not honour an actor who has lied over his past."

Bavaria's interior ministry said it was considering stripping the late actor of an honorary chief police inspector title awarded to Tappert in 1980, German media reported.

Tappert himself said of his war record only that he had served as a medic, AFP reports.

It is not the first such scandal in recent years. In 2006, another famous German, the novelist Guenther Grass, caused consternation when he revealed that he had served as a member of the Waffen SS.


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