Related to, but not a duplicate of, Did Tarkin know Darth Vader's previous identity?

According to this answer, Vader's identity as former Jedi Anakin Skywalker was not a publicly known fact in canon. This is borne out by most of the films—only Palpatine was around during Vader's transformation, and most other people we see finding out only know because Obi-Wan and Yoda knew. As of the time of the Tarkin novel, Tarkin has suspicions, but hasn't voiced them to anyone, and Vader himself doesn't tell anyone in the films besides Luke.

But in A New Hope, we see this exchange (emphasis added):

VADER: He is here...

TARKIN: Obi-Wan Kenobi! What makes you think so?

VADER: A tremor in the Force. The last time I felt it was in the presence of my old master.

TARKIN: Surely he must be dead by now.

VADER: Don't underestimate the power of the Force.

TARKIN: The Jedi are extinct, their fire has gone out of the universe. You, my friend, are all that's left of their religion.

Here, we see Vader openly talking about Obi-Wan being his former master! And Tarkin responds by acknowledging Vader as a former Jedi. This isn't something that Vader does with other Imperial personnel at any other time that I know of. Even in private communication with Emperor Palpatine, both refer to "Anakin" in the third person.

This seems to imply that they've discussed it before, or at least that Vader didn't think that the secret was important to keep. Is there any Legends or Canon source explaining whether Vader knew that Tarkin was aware, or why he thought it was a good idea to admit to being Obi-Wan's sole apprentice?

  • 3
    Maybe he knows Darth is an ex-jedi or sith, but not precisely Anakin Skywalker ?
    – Max
    Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 0:21
  • Darth Vader the Last Jedi loyal to the Emperor. It's easy to imagine a propaganda campaign given what was known in the 1980s. Now one would have to assume it was either how every Jedi considered Yoda their master or his original identity was not too secret. Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 5:26
  • 4
    Is the fact that Anakin was Obi-wan's apprentice widely known? There doesn't seem to be much reason for outsiders to concern themselves with how the Jedi are organized.
    – Cadence
    Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 9:39
  • 3
    If Darth Vader is going to slip up and mention a top secret to someone, it might as well be to Grand Moff Tarkin, who no doubt has very high security clearance. Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 15:54
  • 2
    I also suspect, given that Tarkin was one of the few competent officers in the Empire, that he had already done some digging and therefore knew. And that Vader knew that he knew.
    – Dúthomhas
    Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 18:58

1 Answer 1


Grand Moff Tarkin is in Darth Vader's inner circle. Given all that Emperor Palpatine trusts Tarkin with, there is no reason why Tarkin should not have been privy to Vader's former identity, Anakin Skywalker, a former Jedi Knight, and the fact that Obi-Wan was his former master. It was useful for Tarkin to know that a "former Jedi" like Vader, was hunting down and killing off the remaining Jedi who managed to survive Order 66. If Tarkin is aware that Vader has control over The Force, then knowing about Vader's past as a Jedi and as Obi-Wan's Padawan is all par for the course.

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