Singer settles suit over alleged Nazi-performance
BERLIN – BERLIN (AP) — A 106-year-old entertainer has settled a lawsuit over a claim he sang for Nazi guards at a concentration camp during World War II, a German court said on Thursday.
Johannes Heesters gave up asking for retraction from German author and documentary maker Volker Kuehn, who said in 2008 that the entertainer sang for SS troops at Dachau concentration camp in 1941.
The Berlin state court said in a statement that Kuehn had reiterated his position, but agreed not to call Heesters a liar anymore and to settle the lawsuit.
The court says Heesters agreed to pay the cost of the legal proceedings. Heesters' bid for retraction and an injunction had been turned down in 2008, but he appealed the decision.
In some of his works, Kuehn cites a former Dachau inmate, Viktor Matejka, who insisted he pulled the curtain for Heesters before the entertainer performed for the SS.
In a 2008 interview with a Dutch newspaper, Kuehn said Heesters always tried to play down or deny this appearance.
Heesters then took Kuehn to court to try to force him to retract his statements.
In the 2008 trial, Judge Michael Mauck ruled there were "certain indications of a performance" by Heesters there, but more than six decades later it was "no longer possible to clarify whether a performance took place."
Born Dec. 5, 1903, in Amersfoort, Netherlands, Heesters moved in the early 1930s to Vienna and then to Berlin, where he became popular with the Nazis.
He was never accused of being a propagandist or anything other than an actor willing to perform for the Nazis, however, and the Allies allowed him to continue his career after the war.
Heesters, who has Austrian citizenship and lives in Bavaria, still occasionally performs on stage.