From the BZ editorial team
Mourning for one of the greats of German television!
Former WDR director Fritz Pleitgen is dead. He died at the age of 84 on Thursday evening (September 15) in Cologne. This was announced by West German Broadcasting (WDR) on Friday.
Pleitgen had worked as a journalist at WDR since 1963. From 1995 to 2007 he was its director – he was considered one of the most influential German journalists and media makers.
WDR director Tom Buhrow explained that Pleitgen was a highly respected broadcast manager, correspondent and political journalist. “Fritz Pleitgen’s death is very sad news for all of us at WDR. In our hearts the flags are at half-mast. A great captain is now leaving the stage of life,” says Buhrow.
And further: “He shaped the WDR like no other. Fritz Pleitgen stood for courage and fairness, and he loved his WDR. But its charisma goes far beyond this station. Throughout his life he stood for public service broadcasting and its role in society. As director and highly respected broadcasting manager, correspondent and political journalist, he decisively shaped West German Broadcasting for many decades and led it to success.”
Legendary Brezhnev interview
Pleitgen made a name for himself from 1970 as a correspondent for the ARD studios in Moscow. In the middle of the Cold War, he was the first western journalist to conduct an interview with the then General Secretary of the CPSU, Leonid Brezhnev. This was followed in 1977 by a position as a GDR correspondent in East Berlin and from 1982 as ARD studio manager in Washington and New York. Pleitgen is also known to the television audience through numerous moderations of “Brennpunkt” programs or the ARD “Presseclub”, which he moderated until 2006.
In 2020, Pleitgen, who was then honorary president of the German Cancer Aid, made a pancreatic cancer disease public. (bw/afp)