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Nazi-era singer loses libel suit

Johannes Heesters performs in Germany. Photo: December 2008
Heesters is said to have been one of Hitler's favourite performers

A 105-year-old Dutch entertainer has lost his libel lawsuit over claims that he sang for Nazi guards at the Dachau concentration camp during World War II.

Johannes Heesters had been seeking a retraction from German author Volker Kuehn who made the claims.

But a German judge said that although this could no longer be proven, there was enough evidence to suggest that Mr Heesters appeared on stage at the camp.

Mr Heesters does admit visiting Dachau, and that he performed for Adolf Hitler.

But he insists that he never espoused Nazi politics.

'Dark times'

At a court in Berlin, Judge Michael Mauck ruled on Tuesday that there were "certain indications of a performance" of Mr Heesters in Dachau, southern Germany, in 1941.

But the judge added that now - more than 60 years on - it was "no longer possible to clarify whether a performance took place".

Judge Mauck also said that Volker Kuehn had the right to make his claims.

Mr Kuehn said he was satisfied with the verdict because it showed that in Germany people were encouraged to talk about the dark times of World War II.

Johannes Heesters, born Johan, began his career in Amsterdam in the 1920s and moved to Germany in 1935, where he enjoyed success.

Heesters - believed to be the world's oldest performing singer and actor - was never accused of being a Nazi propagandist, and the Allies allowed him to continue performing after the war.

He was booed off stage in Amsterdam when he previously tried to stage a comeback in the early 1960s.

Since then he has performed in other countries, notably Germany and Austria.

He now lives in Munich, southern Germany.

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