Manfred Krug kept diaries about his turbulent life, which are published as a book. In BUNTE, his son Daniel talks about the greatest secrets of the unforgotten actor
500 artist portraits and autograph cards hang in the walls of the “Diener” restaurant. They are from another time. Framed, most black and white, some yellowed. The pictures show the German stars of the 80s and 90s. Harald Juhnke, Brigitte Mira, Günter Pfitzmann, Hildegard Knef, Manfred Krug. They were all guests at the artists’ bar in West Berlin. Daniel Krug (58), Manfred Krug’s only son, is now sitting here. The son does not have much of the powerful figure of his father. But its sparse hairline. And his uncompromising way of speaking. Also about his father. A conversation about the life of the artist of the century – actor, singer, author. And about the secret double life that his father led with his lover Petra Duda, with whom he had daughter Marlene in 1995.
Daniel Krug has “no desire for one-sided representations of internal family disputes”
BUNTE: Mr. Krug, how did you feel when you held your father’s diaries in your hands for the first time?
Daniel Krug: I don’t know the full contents of the diaries. I only read a page and a half in the original and quickly realized: I don’t want to read any more. You left it up to your father’s editor, Krista Maria Schädlich, to decide which passages from the diaries are published in the book.
She had been friends with my father since 1977, a close confidant. As an editor, she was responsible for his book “Abgehauen”, among other things, and also had deep insights into his private life. That’s why my siblings and I trusted her.
Why didn’t you want to read everything yourself?
Because there will probably be things in the diaries that I don’t want to know and that I don’t want to poison myself with either. Stories about the usual family disputes. Or things that simply don’t concern me, where I have to say: piety dictates that I don’t snoop around there. Also because I might read intimate things or things about myself. I already know enough about arguments and fights. My father was often of the opinion that he alone was right, that his view of things was the only right view. I don’t feel like one-sided representations of internal family disputes.
Daniel Krug: “After my mother’s death, we found two printed folders of diaries”
Was it painful to read the diary excerpts?
Everyone can imagine that: Your own father has a mistress, fathers a child with her, maybe has other wives. Your own mother suffers a lot. Did you want to read all that? And wouldn’t you also ask yourself: Would he have wanted his children to read all of that?
Would he have wanted it?
I dont know. Even if he wanted to, do I have to oblige him? I do not need to.
When did you discover the diaries?
Even after our father’s death, Krista Schädlich, who was also a good friend of our mother’s, kept asking us to keep an eye out for texts that were crying out for publication. She was thinking more of smaller texts, perhaps also original finds and letters. But it didn’t come to that. Then, in the fall of 2020, after my mother’s death, we found two printed folders of diaries and the rest of them in my father’s computer. We did it together, my sister Fanny and my brother-in-law were there. The computer was still in the “workshop”, as my father called his refuge, his small apartment next door, where he used to write. We tried several passwords and then successfully tried his date of birth.
Why did you only turn on the computer after your mother died?
Because my mother didn’t want to tackle this iron.
When did your father start making notes?
As far as we know, it was spring 1996, because that’s when the recordings started*. The day my mother discovered he had a mistress. She had come unannounced to his apartment next door. Although my mother had a key to this second home, she never went in unannounced or without ringing the bell. She ran out of butter that day…
January 13, 1996: “I had arranged with my Petra that she would wait for me with Marlene in my apartment across the street. There she was, wearing only her underwear, in a leather armchair, the child was lying on the floor, when suddenly Ottilie, without my knowledge came in to get butter from my freezer compartment. That’s what happened: Otti met Petra and the child. A few minutes later I went over to the small apartment. Petra said what had happened. I went over there again and brought the evening ended with dignity. Otti also seemed composed.”
Daniel Krug: “Otherwise my father didn’t reveal that much about himself”
When did you find out that your father had a mistress?
I only found out about this after my mother told me I had a half sister. My father had the stroke and was in the hospital emergency room. On the ward, my mother met the lady who was holding a child who was calling for his dad. After that, my mother told me that he had a baby with another woman.
June 30, 1997: “Otti came around 2 a.m. She greeted Petra and sat down next to her, the child paid no attention to her. After I had survived the ordeal of the computer tube, a doctor brought the two women to my room. (.. .) In the hardest night of my life everything had come to light.”
Did your father talk to you about his mistress and his child?
No I do not think so. Anyway, there were very few occasions when things got really intimate, when there was an open conversation between father and son. My father didn’t usually reveal that much about himself. I got closer to him through the diaries.
July 29, 1997: “Marlene is a personality. Marlene is a little genius. Marlene is unique and wonderful. She is a feast for the eyes, I realize how much I missed from the childhoods of the three big ones. It’s a shame.”
Your father writes very lovingly, almost tenderly, about his baby, your half-sister Marlene.
In fact, we firstborns didn’t have much of our father. He was on the road 300 days a year. But when I read these entries, I don’t feel jealous. I’m not missing anything and I still feel secure in his love and affection. Despite everything, I experienced my father as very loving and tender. So many good memories connect us.
Did you have contact with your half-sister’s mother?
Yes, but rather superficially. And only a long time later. For the simple reason that I wanted to be loyal to my mother and not hurt her any more.
How was your parents’ relationship?
It was an intimate relationship. Necessarily. But it is also a fact that dealing with my father was anything but easy for my mother, and he was the dominant part in this relationship. This relationship was only possible because my mother was able to step back more often than she would have liked. As she got older, however, she became cheekier, resisted more and sometimes even verbally spanked his ass. The two became significantly closer again in 1999. When my father separated from Mrs. Duda.
July 22, 1999: “Petra and Marlene’s departure. The children came late, as always in the last few days, and I had the feeling that Petra would have preferred to stay at home. She, on the other hand, had the feeling, she said, that I I would have preferred to have spent the evening without them. (…) Can’t Petra imagine that after the stroke I absorbed some things with less concentration? Some things I didn’t quite notice at all? ‘What’s the matter with you two? What about you?’, Marlene said . ‘We have a row. There is. I’ll buy you a taxi now, you can go home.’ I kissed Marlene and they were gone. I think the really sad time for me is now.”
Daniel Krug about his father: “I have his choleric streak, which I’m not proud of”
What qualities do you inherit from your father?
The good and the bad. Highly sensitive and a sense of justice and injustice. But I also have his choleric streak, which I’m not proud of.
You saw your father as a dominant and strong man – and saw him weak and suffering…
This is not easy to put into words. It’s harder for me than anything else. Even though he was becoming frail, and even though he was out of his mind at the very end, he still let his own will rule him. It was hard enough to keep him from getting out of bed because he was too weak and fell.
June 15, 1998: “During the day I keep falling asleep like an old man. I can still get out of bed, can still hear and see. But otherwise I’m not far from the disease. I’m limp and listless, my knees buckle, I leave hardly the house anymore. (…) Sigmund Freud is said to have received a high dose of morphine from a confidant. He didn’t want to become ill. Would I have a friend like that when the time came?”
Do you remember the last moment together?
I wasn’t there when he died. I was on my way to my in-laws on the North Sea with my family. I just didn’t think it would happen so quickly. He died at home in the presence of my mother and sister.
Would you like to say something else to him?
no There’s just one thing that still bothers me sometimes. My father recognized my own talent for music and especially rhythm early on. He knew enough musicians and really could have given me a different kind of music education. But he had me learn to play the piano from an elderly lady who had already retired, and within a few months she unfortunately managed to completely destroy my musical motivation for the next few years. It was probably the more archaic part of his nature that spoke inwardly: “He has to do it alone, after all I worked everything out for myself.” That’s all I’m struggling with. Otherwise everything is fine.
*The 1996/97 diaries were published last year. Daniel Krug recorded the audio book.
By BUNTE author Martin Heidemanns