Documentaries about people and their worlds

Helpless heroes -

Whistleblower without protection

A documentary by Caroline Nokel and Valentin Thurn

A production for WDR

TV-Premiere: 22nd november 2018, 23.25, WDR

Further broadcasts:

16.12.2018, 22.50, tagesschau24.de

19.12.2018, 21.02, tagesschau24.de

20.12.2018, 09.30, tagesschau24.de

20.02.2019, 21:45, HR

Rudolf Schmenger should be punished, as 70 other tax investigators from the Frankfurter tax office. The officials opposed their superiors, who demanded that they let many cases of tax evasion pass to Luxembourg. The authorities sidelined them, and little by little they all gave up. Almost all. Over fifteen years after the scandal there is still Rudolf Schmenger.

He won the court in all instances, but he has not been rehabilitated until today. How did he endure that? His case went through the press, but did he make a difference in Germany? Are the whistleblowers better today?


Valentin Thurn is on the search. Unfortunately, in employment law, it still looks bad: whistleblowers can even be fired if they report a criminal act by the employer. To change that, a whistleblower protection law was already planned in the coalition agreement of the last government but was never implemented. While politics have remained inactive, many companies became active: In the last ten years many whistleblower hotlines were developed, of course, out of self-interest, in order to prevent grievance in the press. But is that enough?


Director and author: Valentin Thurn and Caroline Nokel

Camera: Dieter Stürmer, Gerardo Milsztein and Boris Fromageot

Editor: Frederic Sapart

Commissioning editor: Angelika Wagner

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