Derrick in the SS

Anyone who grew up in Germany or the Netherlands, would have seen at least one episode of the German Police drama Derrick, set in Munich. The show ran between 1974 and 1998. It is well-rumoured that even Pope John Paul II was a fan.

Yesterday, I started watching a TV show called Faking Hitler. It is about Konrad Kujau, the man who forged the Hitler diaries. The show mentioned that Horst Tappert had been in the Waffen SS. Horst Tappert was the actor who played the aforementioned character Derrick, as seen in the above picture.

This came as a surprise to me. In April 2013, information emerged he had served as a member of the notorious Waffen-SS during World War II and had hidden the fact for years. Reruns of Derrick were suspended in Germany and some other countries as a result. He had never personally disclosed his connection with the SS. At age 19, he was, according to his widow against his will, transferred from the Army to the Waffen-SS. Initially a member of a reserve anti-aircraft unit in Arolsen, he was listed as a grenadier with the 3rd SS Division Totenkopf in March 1943. In 1945, he was briefly a prisoner of war in Seehausen, Altmark. Warsaw Ghetto Uprising from 19 April to 16 May 1943 was the training Battalion of the 3rd Panzer Division Totenkopf that took part in the suppression of the uprising. Given the fact that was soon after Tappert had joined the division, there is a great likelihood he would have been involved.

Horst Tappert wasn’t the only one with a connection to Derrick that had an SS past. The main author of the Derrick stories, Herbert Reinecker, joined the Hitler Youth movement in 1932 at the age of 17. From April 1935 onward, Reinecker worked full-time as a propagandist for the Nazi youth movement.

In 1936, Reinecker moved to Berlin where he became the editor-in-chief of the youth magazine, Jungvolk. In the same year, he also co-authored a book, Jugend in Waffen (Armed Youth). This was a time when the Nazis had already been in power for three years and when the media had long been gleichgeschaltet (the process of Nazification by which Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party successively established a system of totalitarian control). In 1943, he joined the Nazi Party and worked as the editor-in-chief of a magazine, Der Pimpf (The Pimp) about the training system of the Hitler Youth. Throughout World War II, Reinecker served in the propaganda company of the Waffen SS.

I was wondering why there weren’t any reruns of the show. I moved to Ireland in 1997, it’s why I missed out on the media reports in Germany and the Netherlands about the Derrick scandal.

Horst Tappert died in 2008, and Herbert Reinecker on 27 January 2007, ironically the date of the International Holocaust remembrance.