OBITUARY: Werner Rulf

Werner Rulf was for more than 20 years the distinguished London Correspondent of Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF), the independent channel of German Television. He proved an outstanding interpreter of Britain to the German audience. Raising his reporting above the cliche level to which, through ignorance or lack of time, so much of the work of foreign correspondents succumbs, became a mission for him.

When he obtained British naturalisation in 1961, he was proud to be allowed to remain a German citizen. His two passports were something of a symbol. England was his and his family's devoted home, but he was German first, a rare being nowadays, when national loyalties are looked down upon; he was true to his country's best democratic tradition, and at the same time loved the country of his adoption. The often controversial, indeed unproductive, area of Anglo-German relations found no better professional practititioner.

The quality of his reporting on the British political, social and cultural scene was helped by his previous interest. Rulf read English, German and Romanic philology at the university of Gottingen and came to England in 1949 as an assistant lecturer in German at Birmingham University. Next year he joined the German Service of the BBC, then a prestige job for a young German abroad, since the BBC still had many listeners in Germany inherited from forbidden wartime listening. Rulf became a newscaster, later editor and author of his own broadcasts, which also led to joint programmes with the new German Broadcasting Association (ARD), much indebted to British midwifery.

Early in 1963 Rulf was invited to set up the London studio of Germany's Second Channel Television (ZDF) and became staff correspondent and head of its London office until 1983. He stayed on as a permanent collaborator until 1989, producing his own documentary features - on relations between British public and police, on the role of the ancient universities, on the environmental rebirth of the Port of London - which found much acclaim in Germany.

A Berliner by birth - his father was a civil servant in the Berlin-Wilmersdorf local government - Rulf completed his grammar-school education at the well-known Grunewald Gymnasium by 1941. He was then conscripted to the Luftwaffe, trained as a wireless operator, and seconded to an interpreter school. He counted himself fortunate that the war ended for him as a British prisoner of war by September 1945. His Evangelical family background was important for him in withstanding the allurement of Nazism for a German of his generation, and to find an easy bridge to Britain's liberal tradition. He was at heart a German conservative (with a small c), rare in his metier.

After his retirement he continued to report on British affairs for the German weeklies Christ und Welt and Rheinische Merkur, and was devoted to his hobby, a large collection of videos of old British and German films and television programmes overflowing into many rooms of his Chiswick home. He was the author of two lively travel guides for German readers, England, der Suden (1990) and London (1991).

He had married in 1951 Helga Muller, from an old Westphalian family of mineworkers, and their two daughters continue professionally in their father's bilingual commitment.

Roland Hill

Werner Rulf, journalist: born Berlin 30 May 1920; Assistant Lecturer in German, Birmingham University 1949-50; staff, BBC German Service 1950- 62; London staff correspondent, ZDF 1963-89; died London 22 October 1995.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

HR Business Partner (Maternity Cover 12 Months)

£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...

Project Manager (Procurement & Human Resources)

Unpaid: Cancer Research UK: If you’re a professional in project management, lo...

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup