21 February 2008
The 104-year-old Dutch singer Johannes Heesters, who was a favorite of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, was met by protests after he took the stage in his Dutch hometown. Heesters appeared at a concert in the town of Amersfoort, near Amsterdam, for the first time since 1963, when he was booed off the stage by crowds who gave him the Nazi salute. Dozens of protesters as well as a handful of neo-Nazis also showed up for last week’s event, and concert-goers were forced to submit copies of their passports and undergo airport-style security scans before being allowed to enter the theater, which seats 800.
Heesters was a very popular German-language singer and film star in the 1930s, and he held performances to boost the morale of German soldiers during World War II. The popular cabaret singer, who resides in southern Germany, has said he knew nothing about the Holocaust, even though he visited the Dachau concentration camp in 1941. Heesters was never accused of being a propagandist or anything other than an actor who was willing to perform for the Nazis, and after World War II the Allies allowed him to continue his career. But in his native country he is viewed by some as irredeemable.