Johannes Heesters a very controversial Dutch Tenor and actor, and although I try no to judge people I think it is save to call this man a traitor whose only passions were fame and wealth.
Remembered for his roles in such mid 20th-century German-language films as Viktor und Viktoria and Die Jungfrau auf dem Dach, this Dutch-born actor also performed in numerous stage productions and released two vocal music albums.
Heesters was born in Amersfoort, Netherlands, the youngest of four sons. His father Jacobus Heesters (1865–1946) was a salesman and his mother Geertruida Jacoba van den Heuvel (1866–1951), a homemaker.
Heesters was fluent in German from a very early age having lived for several years in the household of a German great uncle from Bavaria. Heesters decided to become an actor and a singer at the age of sixteen and began vocal training. Heesters specialized in Viennese operetta very early in his career, and made his Viennese stage debut in 1934 in Carl Millöcker’s Der Bettelstudent (The Beggar Student).
Aged 31, Heesters permanently moved to Germany with his wife and daughters in 1935. His signature role was Count Danilo Danilovitch in Franz Lehár’s Die Lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow). His version of Count Danilo’s entrance song, “Da geh’ ich ins Maxim“, was well known. During his time in Germany, he performed for Adolf Hitler and visited the Dachau concentration camp, which made him a controversial figure for many Dutch. Joseph Goebbels placed Heesters on the Gottbegnadeten (God gifted) list as an artist considered crucial to Nazi culture.
Heesters, a charmer like Maurice Chevalier, was the most honored non-German entertainer in Nazi Germany. With such prominent endorsement, he went on to a career in film, stage and television after the war, and went on to win many awards. But only in German-speaking countries did people excuse his opportunistic wartime behavior. In the 1960s he tried to do a show in the Netherlands, as the anti-Nazi Captain Georg van Trapp in “The Sound of Music” and was hooted off the stage.
Heesters funded the German war machine by donating money to the weapons industry.This helped to make Heesters a very controversial figure in the late 1970s. Heesters always denied these accusations despite reliable evidence.
Heesters befriended several high-ranking Nazi-officials and SS-officers.Hitler is known to have been an avid admirer of his acting skills.
At the same time, he was idolized by the Swingboy subculture, who admired his pale face and combed long black hair and tried to copy his attire. His style contrasted that promoted by the Hitlerjugend.
Heesters met Hitler several times.especially in the role of Count Danilo. Throughout the war Heesters continued to perform for German soldiers in camps and barracks. According to German author Volker Kühn, Heesters did perform for the SS at the Dachau concentration camp.
Kühn cites as evidence the testimony of a Dachau inmate, Viktor Matejka, who worked for the SS and told Kühn he pulled the curtain when Heesters performed in 1941.According to German writer Jürgen Trimbornhowever, the interview with Matejka may not be reliable as it occurred some fifty years after the performance was said to have taken place.
In December 2009, Heesters lost his libel suit against Kühn. While acknowledging having visited the camp, he denied having performed as entertainment for the SS troops.
In its ruling, the German court did not find that Kühn’s allegations were not true, but rather that too much time had passed for an accurate determination of fact to be made.
Heesters, who died in 2011 at the age of 108, said he was “gullible, credulous and naive”, and had no idea what was going on inside German concentration camps. Then again, he also said Hitler was “a good guy”
He worked until he was 105 and lived to be 108 years old , at the time of his death, was worth an estimated 65,000,000 dollars, sometimes associating with evil does pay.