Hitler’s favourite actor dies at 108

Updated: Dec 26, 2011, 13:47 PM IST

London: A Dutch-born actor who is said to have been a particular favourite of Adolf Hitler, died Dec. 24 at a hospital in Starnberg, Germany. He was 108.

Johannes Heesters rose to fame in Germany in the 1930s, becoming a crowd favourite at Berlin’s Komische Oper and Admiralspalast, Sky News reported.

Even after the war, Heesters was allowed to keep performing because the allies did not believe he was involved in propaganda or Nazi activities.

But his willingness to perform for Hitler’s regime meant that he was treated as an outcast in his native country, which had suffered terribly under Nazi occupation.

The actor admitted that it gave him a “heavy heart” not to be able to perform in his homeland, saying he did not believe he had done anything wrong.

“But apart from my career - and the fact that, through no fault of my own, Adolf Hitler was one of the fans of my art - what have I done?” he had said.

His critics had claimed that he performed for concentration camp staff at Dachau in 1941.

Heesters admitted making a visit there, though, at the insistence of authorities, but he denied having performed, despite the testimony of Dachau survivors.

When he tried a comeback in the Netherlands in 1964 - playing the anti-Nazi Captain von Trapp in The Sound Of Music - he was booed off stage.

He continued to be a popular performer in Germany well into his old age.

Even when he turned 105 in 2008, he was still performing in a musical comedy in Hamburg.

“To have nothing to do, to sit there waiting for little aches and pains, is fundamentally wrong. Life has to be lived,” he wrote.