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Crime scene detective Peter Sodann dies at the age of 87

Crime scene detective Peter Sodann dies at the age of 87
Peter Sodann died at the age of 87.

This caused a scandal, first in the GDR, where he was imprisoned for a few months. He also caused a stir in reunified Germany with controversial statements. His most famous role – that of Chief Inspector Bruno Ehrlicher in “Tatort” – was the hard shell, soft core type. Peter Sodann died on Friday in Halle an der Saale, as his family announced on Sunday. He was 87 years old.

Then was born on June 1, 1936 in Meißen, Saxony. According to his own statements, he was able to read when he was around five years old. “I read everything I could get my hands on: German heroic sagas, Wilhelm Hauff’s fairy tales, Karl May, Robinson Crusoe, Tarzan’s adventures in the jungle,” he said in his memoirs entitled “No Half Measures.” His big mouth helped the worker’s son to assert himself.

After an apprenticeship as a toolmaker and a foray into law, he studied at the Leipzig Theater University. He also ran the “Council of Mockers,” a cabaret that was disbanded in 1961 because of a program that was found to be counter-revolutionary. Because of anti-state agitation, he was then arrested and excluded from studying. He spent nine months in prison and was later spied on by the Stasi.

After completing his studies late, director Helene Weigel brought the disgraced man to the Berliner Ensemble in 1964. A little later he made his first major film “Zansibar or the Last Reason” with Bernhard Wicki. He came to Halle through engagements at the Berliner Ensemble, in Erfurt, Chemnitz and Magdeburg. There, in the 1980s, he and his colleagues occupied a run-down GDR cinema – and created their own stage: the “new theater”.

In the GDR he did receive recognition: in 1986 he received the National Prize. In 2001, he received the Federal Cross of Merit in reunified Germany. In 2005, the city of Halle let his contract with him expire, “I was given up on the theater,” Sodann said in his autobiography, not without bitterness.

He then devoted himself fully to another project close to his heart: the literary heritage of the GDR. Since 1989, it has collected several million books that were printed in eastern Germany between 1945 and the end of the GDR and were in danger of ending up in the trash. From this he set up a GDR library in a former manor in the village of Staucha in the Meißen district. “I fight against forgetting,” he said. “The past cannot simply be wiped away.”

He also had political ambitions. In 2005 he wanted to run for the federal election as a non-party for the PDS, but withdrew his candidacy shortly afterwards – otherwise he would have had to forego the “crime scene” role. From 1992 to 2007, his inspector Ehrlicher investigated first in Dresden and later in Leipzig.

In 2009, he ran as a left-wing candidate for the election of Federal President. This earned him admiration from fans, but also a lot of head shaking – because of public statements about wanting to build “socialism or something similar” where people were all equal. One of his sons, Franz Sodann (50), is a member of the state parliament in Saxony for the Left. Peter Sodann had four children and was married twice.

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