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Green diving legend Hans Hass turns 90

Austrian diving legend and documentary maker Hans Hass – who was part of Hitler’s elite diving squad in WWII and became an environmental campaigner late in life – turns 90 tomorrow (Fri).

Vienna-born Hass is regarded as a visionary of deep-sea diving and one of the most important influences for the development of underwater film-making.

Hass once said: “I was always trying to do new things – things no one else has ever done before.”

Hass, who had to do without any subsidies for the longest part of his career as a diver, explorer and film maker, produced not less than 24 TV documentaries and six movies. Furthermore, he published 31 books. Hass also worked for the BBC as well as for several other international broadcasting companies and film producers.

Hass, who was born to a lawyer, discovered his passion for diving when he went to the French Riviera after graduating from school aged 18.

During the Second World War, Hass had to serve in the Nazi Wehrmacht. Due to his excellent diving skills, he was assigned to the so-called “Fighters of the Sea” battalion.

Founded in 1943, their main mission was to explore enemy port facilities, to eliminate the enemy’s vessels and to destroy bridges and floodgates in inland waters.

In 1951, his film “Abenteuer im Roten Meer” (Adventures in the Red Sea) were awarded with the ‘Great Prize’ of the Biennale Film Festival in Venice.

Eight years later, Hass was honoured as “Outstanding Underwater Photographer of the Year” in Los Angeles.

Hass was awarded the Golden Honorary Medal of the city of Vienna in 1999.

Already last Sunday, Hass celebrated his birthday at Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum for Natural History) as well as the 80th birthday of his wife Lotte Baierl who he is married to since 1950.

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