A fictional crime drama based on the premise that the Bush administration ordered the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Washington aired this week on German state television, prompting the Green Party chairman to call for an investigation.
“I think absolutely nothing of the conspiracy theory that has been hawked in this series. I hope this particular TV movie will be discussed very critically at the next supervisory board meeting of ARD [state television],” said Green Party Chairman Reinhard Buetikofer, who acknowledged that he had not seen the show.
Sunday night’s episode of “Tatort,” a popular murder mystery that has been running on state-run ARD-German television for 35 years, revolved around a German woman and a man who was killed in her apartment.
According to the plot, which was seen by approximately 7 million Germans, the dead man had been trained to be one of the September 11 pilots but was left behind, only to be tracked down and killed by CIA or FBI assassins.
The woman, who says in the program that the September 11 attacks were instigated by the Bush family for oil and power, then is targeted, presumably to silence her. The drama concludes with the German detectives accepting the truth of her story as she eludes the U.S. government hit men and escapes to safety in an unnamed Arab country.
As ludicrous as it may sound to most Americans, the tale has resonance in Germany, where fantastic conspiracy theories often are taken as fact.
Many Germans think, for example, that the 1969 moon landing was faked, and a poll published in the weekly Die Zeit showed that 31 percent of Germans younger than 30 “think that there is a certain possibility that the U.S. government ordered the attacks of 9/11.”
In fact, three of the hijackers who seized control of commercial airlines on September 11, 2001, including the ringleader, Mohamed Atta, purportedly had ties to a Hamburg, Germany-based al Qaeda cell.
ARD, and ARD-produced television shows, are funded by a monthly tax on German televisions. The network plays a role similar to the British Broadcasting Corp., or the Public Broadcasting Service in the United States, which is nominally independent but funded by taxpayers.
“Tatort,” which translates to “Crime Scene,” is a drama with a rotating cast of actors solving mysteries in weekly episodes set throughout Germany.
The U.S. Embassy in Berlin was not impressed with the latest episode, which seemed to use haunting Arabic music to portray Arabs and Muslims as innocent victims of American aggression.
“Any claim or suggestion that the United States government was behind the 9/11 disaster is absolutely absurd and not worthy of further comment,” said Robert A. Wood, spokesman for the embassy.
A German diplomat in Washington said no one in Germany took the plot seriously because it was “pure fiction.”
“It was so out of line with what people really think,” the diplomat said, adding that the episode does not deserve further comment.
Nicholas Kralev in Washington contributed to this article.