His agent confirmed he died on Thursday, but no cause of death was given. He had been suffering from cancer for a number of years.
He played a shell-shocked U-boat captain in Wolfgang Petersen’s six-hour film Das Boot.
It was Germany’s most expensive film when it was released in 1981.
Sander played an angel in Wim Wenders’ surrealist drama Wings of Desire, a film that was later remade in the US as City of Angels.
He also appeared in the 1993 sequel Faraway So Close.
Born in Hanover, Sander was also a veteran of the stage, becoming one of the top theatre actors in West Berlin and later in the reunified capital.
“We have lost one of our greatest artistic personalities and an unforgettable speaking voice,” Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit said.