Aktenzeichen XY … ungelöst

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Aktenzeichen XY … ungelöst
XY Logo.jpg
Created by Eduard Zimmermann
Presented by Eduard Zimmermann (1967–1997)
Sabine Zimmermann (1987–2001)
Butz Peters (1997–2001)
Rudi Cerne (2002–present)
Narrated by Wolfgang Grönebaum (1967–1989)
Michael Brennicke (1989–present)
Opening theme Heinz Kiessling
Ernst-August Quelle
Country of origin Germany
Original language(s) German
Executive producer(s) Claus Legal
Running time 90 minutes
Production company(s) Securitel, ZDF
Original network ZDF
Picture format 16:9
Original release 1967 (1967)–present
External links
Website aktenzeichenxy.zdf.de

Aktenzeichen XY … ungelöst (German for "Case number XY … Unsolved") is an interactive German television programme first broadcast on 20 October 1967 on ZDF. Created by Eduard Zimmermann, it aims to combat and solve crimes. The programme is currently presented by Rudi Cerne. It airs monthly, with 12 episodes in a year, on Wednesday at 8:15 PM.

Until 2003 it was produced in co-operation with the Austrian public service broadcaster ORF and Schweizer Fernsehen, a division of the Swiss public broadcaster SRG SSR.

The programme was adapted by the BBC as Crimewatch and for the US market as America's Most Wanted, and Unsolved Mysteries. Other adaptions aired in Canada, Poland, Hungary and New Zealand.

The goal of the programme is to throw light on unsolved offences with the aid of viewers. Each episode contains three to five short films, each lasting about ten minutes, in which a real criminal case is reconstructed. The cases are mostly complex ones in which the criminals and chains of events are still unknown. In addition cases are discussed in the studio in which, for example, the identities of criminals or unknown murder victims are sought with the aid of a photo. Viewers can use the telephone or Internet to give information. According to a study by the programme's editorial department, about forty percent of cases shown on the programme are solved.


The creator and first presenter of the programme was Eduard Zimmermann. After the programme's 300th episode he passed the presentership onto Butz Peters, who fronted the show together with Zimmermann's daughter Sabine. Since 18 January 2002 Aktenzeichen XY has been presented by Rudi Cerne.

With Aktenzeichen XY Eduard Zimmermann and ZDF succeeded in starting a TV format that had not existed worldwide until 1967. Although news reports had often shown photofits, an actual independent show of this type was unknown at this time.

The idea came to Zimmermann during his work with the programme Vorsicht Falle! (de) (Eng: Beware, Trap!) first broadcast in 1963, in which he warned the viewers of Nepper, Schlepper, Bauernfänger (Eng: Scammers, Hustlers, and Conmen). The viewers frequently sent him information regarding descriptions of the fraudsters on the programme. This gave him the idea to use the medium of TV to work with the police on unsolved crimes. In a biographical statement Zimmerman also admitted that his motivation for both programmes was partly a personal one; he himself is a victim of fraud.

Aktenzeichen XY was initially produced in the ZDF studios in Wiesbaden, before moving to the FSM studios in Unterföhring from 1969.

On November 8, 2002, the broadcast of the 350th episode was celebrated, after Aktenzeichen XY had been on the air for 35 years. Eduard Zimmermann was the guest of Rudi Cerne on his own programme, which concerned a several-decades-old crime that had particularly touched him - the abduction of a young girl named Ursula Hermann, who was buried alive in a crate for extortion on September 15, 1981 (a case similar to the case of Barbara Jane Mackle, although the Mail Online states that the inspiration actually came from Dirty Harry), but suffocated in her prison because the ventilation duct was clogged up by leaves.[1] At the time 3,228 cases had been featured on the show, of which 1,182 had been solved. 1,880 people had been sought and 914 of them had been caught. This included 624 murder cases.

In April, 2012 the program received international public attention of a somewhat amusing nature when one of its case re-enactment performers, German actor Aaron Defant (de), was erroneously arrested in Stuttgart following his portrayal of a jewel robber in the episode of March 14, 2012 and a call to the police by one of the program's viewers. This misunderstanding was, however, cleared very swiftly.[2][3]

The programme is known for large viewership in all age groups. In 2014, Aktenzeichen XY is still watched by around six million viewers with an audience share by 20%.

Similar formats[edit]

In Germany[edit]

The private broadcaster Sat.1 and the public broadcaster MDR both produced similar programmes, known as Fahndungsakte (Eng: Manhunt Files) and Kripo live respectively. SAT.1 cancelled Fahndungsakte in 2000 after three years' run due to low audience figures. MDR has had more success with Kripo Live since 1992, which concentrates on Kriminalpolizei.


The format has been sold to several countries, including Great Britain, where it has been known as Crimewatch since 1984, the Netherlands (Opsporing verzocht, 1975), Israel (Crime Investigation, 1986), Poland ("Magazyn Kryminalny 997", 1986-2010; "997: Fajbusiewicz na tropie" 2013-), Hungary (Az XY Akta Megoldatlan, 1992) and Ireland ("Crimecall", 2005).

Aktenzeichen XY is the only German television format to have entered the American market, where it is known as America's Most Wanted and was broadcast from 1988-2013.



External links[edit]