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Berlin theatre manager quits amid bullying and sexual harassment accusations

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Volksbuehne theatre in Berlin
Volksbuehne theatre in Berlin   -   Copyright  Jörg Zägel/Creative Commons

The manager of the Volksbuehne theatre in Berlin has stepped down in the wake of accusations by women of bullying and sexual harassment.

Klaus Doerr announced his resignation from the German capital's prominent theatre on Tuesday.

He said that he takes “complete responsibility for the accusations against” him and was stepping down in agreement with the city government.

“I deeply regret it if I hurt employees with my behaviour, with words or glances,” Doerr said in a statement released by the theatre.

He added that he regretted not succeeding in “creating an open climate, sensitive to discrimination” within the theatre that would have recognised problems in time and enabled employees to come forward confidentially with complaints.

The city government's culture minister, Klaus Lederer, said on Monday that employees had “reported incidents of abuse of power, bullying, verbal violence and sexual harassment.”

Officials spoke to the women who made the claims in late January and were still assessing a meeting with Doerr held earlier this month, he added.

Doerr, an experienced theatre manager, took over at the Volksbuehne in 2018.

Lederer's department has said that no one came forward with complaints against Doerr before he was appointed.

But that changed in January when a letter setting out complaints was sent to a counselling office set up in 2018 for people in the film, television, theatre and music sectors.