German postcard by Ross-Verlag, no. A 2550/2, 1939-1940. Photo: Haenchen / Tobis.
Charlotte Thiele was born as Carlotta Margarita Teresa Thiele in Berlin in 1918. She trained at the Drama School of the Schauspielhaus Berlin.
Her debut as an actress was in the short film Wochenendfriede/Weekend peace (1938) with Hans Brausewetter, one of the first films of renowned director Kurt Hoffmann.
In 1939, she became an instant star with her first feature, the Revue film Wir tanzen um die Welt/We dance around the world (Karl Anton, 1939) with Irene von Meyendorff, Carola Höhn and Carl Raddatz. Thiele played the lead as the captain of the dance troupe.
Remarkable is the lesbian subtheme in the film. Hanns-Georg Rodek in Die Welt: “there is no other film from the Nazi era, where a woman so openly courted a woman: Charlotte Thiele dismissed Beau Carl Raddatz and charmed Irene von Meyendorff.”
According to Wikipedia, Thiele was offstage as extravagant as onstage. At premieres she used to wear a monocle, and she refused to fit in the cliché of the Ufa starlet. In her next film, the adventure comedy Ein Mann auf Abwegen/A man goes astray (Herbert Selpin, 1940), she was seen as the daughter of Hans Albers.
In 1941, she played a doctor in the controversial pro-euthanasia propaganda film Ich klage an/I Accuse (Wolfgang Liebeneiner, 1941) in which a successful doctor (Paul Hartmann) is forced to make a heart wrenching decision after his beautiful young wife (Heidemarie Hatheyer) is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. This film was commissioned by Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels at the suggestion of Karl Brandt to make the public more supportive of the Reich's T4 euthanasia program, and presented simultaneously with the practice of euthanasia in Nazi Germany. The actual victims of the Nazi euthanasia program Action T4 were in fact mainly killed without their consent, or that of their families.
In her next film, Titanic (Herbert Selpin, Werner Klingler, 1943), Thiele played Lady Astor, the wife of Karl Schönböck. The film used the sinking of the British luxury liner Titanic in 1912 as a setting for an attempt to discredit British and American capitalist dealings and glorify the bravery and selflessness of German men. Titanic was commissioned by Joseph Goebbels and enjoyed a brief theatrical run in German occupied Europe starting in November 1943—but not in Nazi Germany proper by order of Goebbels himself who feared that it would weaken the German citizenry's morale instead of raising it. Goebbels later banned the playing of the film, and it did not have a second run.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 2550/1, 1939-1940. Photo: Quick / Tobis.
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3823/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Hämmerer / Wien-Film.
Goebbels' powder box
Charlotte Thiele made with Ein Blick zurück/A look Back (Gerhard Menzel, 1944) starring Rudolph Forster, her final film.
Reportedly, Joseph Goebbels had side-lined her. Hanns-Georg Rodek: “’You do not meet the requirements of a German woman,’ the doctor would have told her in the face. He had tried to court her like so many other screen beauties, but she gave him the cold shoulder. She threw his powder box with an engraved dedication in the trash.”
Thiele was first married to the prominent physician Wolfgang Wohlgemuth, an assistant surgeon to Ferdinand Sauerbruch. With her second husband, the Croatian diplomat Branko Buzjak, she emigrated in 1944 to Argentina.
In 1954 she returned to Germany. That same year Thiele was suddenly back in the media spotlights due to the involvement of her ex-husband, Dr. Wohlgemuth, in a scandal around GDR politician Otto John. Thiele was not involved in the case, and the affair did not help her to build a new film career.
In 1956, she returned for once before the camera in an episode of the American television series Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Presents/Rheingold Theatre. The episode, The Last Tour (Derek N. Twist, 1956) was filmed in Germany. It did not lead to new role offers and Thiele retired.
Charlotte Thiele died in Berlin in 2004. She was 85.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 2709/1, 1939-1940. Photo: Tita Binz / Tobis.
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3400/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Haenchen / Tobis.
Sources: Hanns-Georg Rodek (Die Welt), Wikipedia (German), and IMDb.