The former director of the Bad Hersfeld Festival has died. Dieter Wedel was considered one of the greatest German directors, but had recently fallen into disrepute due to allegations of sexual abuse.
The director and former director of the Bad Hersfeld Festival Dieter Wedel is dead. He died in Hamburg on July 13 after a long, serious illness, as his lawyers announced. The district court in Munich announced his death on Wednesday. Criminal proceedings against Wedel were pending there.
The court actually wanted to announce on Wednesday whether there would be a trial against Wedel. According to the court, the case against him is now being discontinued.
Allegation: rape in a luxury hotel
The public prosecutor had accused Wedel in March of last year of an allegation from 1996. The actress Jany Tempel states that Wedel raped her in a Munich luxury hotel at the time – an accusation that Wedel has denied.
Nothing is known about the circumstances of his death. There were contradictory statements about his date of birth during his lifetime. According to current information from the Munich court, he was born on November 12, 1939. He was 82 years old at the time of his death.
Miniseries wrote television history
Born in Frankfurt and raised in Bad Nauheim, Wedel was one of the most successful German filmmakers.
With his miniseries such as “The Great Bellheim” (1993), “The Shadow Man” (1996), “The King of St. Pauli” (1998) and “The Semmeling Affair” (2002), he delighted an audience of millions and wrote television history .
Viewer records in Bad Hersfeld
From 2015 Wedel was artistic director of the Bad Hersfeld Festival. At the open-air theater festival, the doctorate in theater studies set audience records and made sure that many celebrities walked the red carpet at the opening.
The festival management reacted with great dismay to the death news on Wednesday. Director Joern Hinkel, his successor and long-time companion, said according to a statement: “The Bad Hersfeld Festival owes a lot to his passionate commitment and courage. Its reputation in the theater and festival landscape is linked to his struggle for artistic quality and contemporary themes with high entertainment value.”
Wedel, Hinkel continued, attracted attention nationwide with sensational productions, the development of the abbey park as a foyer in the countryside and prominent actors.
That had its price: in 2017, the Bad Hersfeld Festival brought in a big minus of 600,000 euros, for which many city councilors blamed Wedel. Despite a record budget of 7.8 million euros, he was not able to keep to the financial framework, it was said at the time.
“A lot achieved at the festival”
Bad Hersfeld Mayor Thomas Fehling (independent) was very concerned and said: “In the years that he worked here, I always got to know Dieter Wedel as a very honorable, open, reliable and empathetic person.” He achieved a lot in Bad Hersfeld, raised the festival to a new level with innovations and brought many well-known actors to the stage of the monastery ruins.
Resignation because of #Metoo
Wedel resigned from his current contract in January 2018 after several actresses – including Tempel – accused him of sexualized violence as part of the #MeToo debate.
Fehling finds it “extremely regrettable” that the allegations of violence and investigations have cast a shadow over Wedel’s life’s work. The allegations did not match how he perceived Wedel. “I’m having a hard time putting that together.”
Wedel has six children from six women, including a son with Hannelore Elsner, who died in 2019. At the festival he was mainly seen alongside his wife Uschi Wolters.
End of further information