created by

Felix Kindelán


* 6th March 1898 in Munich, today Germany

† 3rd March 1975 in Munich, today Germany

Therese Giehse is considered one of the most powerful actresses of the 20th century. She was a member of, amongst others, the Munich and Zurich Kammerspiele (chamber theatres), as well as the Berlin Ensemble of the playwright Berthold Brecht. She became particularly well-known for playing the lead role in Brecht’s 1941 work Mother Courage and Her Children. She was a popular performer of Brecht.

In 1933, together with her lover Erika Mann, Erika’s brother, Klaus Mann, and musician Markus Henning, she founded the Munich cabaret group Die Pfeffermühle (The Peppermill). The ensemble left Germany that same year, as Giehse was both Jewish and a politically left-wing artist, making her a target for persecution by the National Socialists. The programs that the group performed while in exile contained harsh attacks on the National Socialists and therefore, due to rioting, had to take place partly under police protection. They performed in Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria, and the Czech Republic.

In order to get a British passport, and thus escape National Socialism, the lesbian Therese Giehse married the likewise homosexual writer John Hampson-Simpson on May 20, 1936.

She returned to Germany after the war and continued to perform in Zurich, as well as in Munich, Berlin, Salzburg, and Vienna.

Therese Giehse was presented with the German film award – the “Filmstrip in Silver” – and in 1988, her portrait appeared on the 100 Pfennig stamp in the Women in German History series.

In later life, Giehse spoke reluctantly about her love affair with Erika Mann, “but I do not talk about myself,“ she stated. Therese Giehse was lesbian.

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