He was born with three broken bones, as can be read dryly on his private homepage – and was to suffer many more. But his glass bone disease did not prevent Peter Radtke from pursuing a unique career as a humanities scholar, actor and committed campaigner for the rights of the disabled. As the working group Disability and Media, which he founded himself, announced, Radtke died on Saturday at the age of 77.
Radtke was born in Freiburg in 1943 and initially trained as an interpreter. He then obtained his Abitur via a second educational path and studied Romance and German in Regensburg and Geneva. He wrote his doctoral thesis on “The problem of ‘fragility’ in Rabelais, Diderot and Claudel”.
From 1974 Radtke also played theater, initially with other handicapped people in plays such as “Message from the Olm Grotto”, which won first prize in the theater competition of the federal working group “Help for the Disabled” and the German Writers’ Association.
George Tabori later brought him to the Münchner Kammerspiele. Radtke appeared as Willie in Samuel Beckett’s “Happy Days” and was seen in Franz Xaver Kroetz ‘stage version of Franz Kafka’s “A Report for an Academy”.
In addition to his artistic work, Radtke was involved in various projects for disabled people. From 1977 he was entrusted with the development and management of the “Disability Program” department at the Munich Adult Education Center. Radtke founded the German Society for Osteogenesis Imperfecta, an advocacy group for people with vitreous bone disease, and until 2001 chaired the European Association for the Promotion of Creativity and Art of Disabled People. Since 2003 he has been a member of the Ethics Council.
In addition to many academic writings, Peter Radtke published an autobiography entitled “Career with 99 Fractions”. He was a holder of the Federal Cross of Merit on ribbon.