Dir. Dr.-Ing. (chem.) Walter Thiel at the age of 30 (1940)

(source: private collection of the Thiel family)

Walter Thiel’s life in short:

Oskar and Elsa Thiel’s (maiden name Prinz) second son Walter Erich Oskar Thiel is born in Adalbertstraße on March 3 in the Silesian city of Breslau

Walter Thiel passes all Abitur exams with the highest possible grade A

Thiel started to study Chemistry at the Technical University of Breslau
Accepted as a member to the Study Foundation of the German Nation (“Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes”)
Winter semester, diploma examinations for the Dipl.-Ing. (chem.): Walter Thiel passes all 7 exams with the highest possible grade A
Thesis: ”About the addition of compounds with strong polar carbon-halogenous-bonds in unsaturated hydrocarbons“ (in German: „Über die Addition von Verbindungen mit stark polarer Kohlenstoff-Halogenbindung an ungesättigte Kohlen-Wasserstoffe“)

April 15 to May 15: methodical assistant at the Organical-Technical Institute at the Technical University of Breslau with Prof. Straus (Co-supervisor: Prof. Ruff)

May 15 to August 31: extracurricular assistant at 1st Chemical Institute at the University of Berlin (Thiel followed Prof. F. Straus to the 1st Chemical Institute of the University of Berlin)

November 8: oral exams in Breslau

Late 1934
or early
Thiel became research instructor at "Reichswehrministerium" in the institute of Prof. Erich Schumann at University of Berlin (research department of Heereswaffenamt)
The institute is testing its findings at "Versuchsstelle Kummerdorf-Ost"
Thiel and his colleague Glimm devoloped the first concrete test stands at the institute's testing site Kummersdorf-Ost
Dornberger and his team (e.g. Wernher von Braun) worked at "Versuchsstelle Kummersdorf-West"
October 1: Marriage with office clerk Elfriede Martha Strohwald, who was born on December 4, 1911
March 14: birth of daughter Sigrid

August 4 to October 2: National Service as a radio operator in Magdeburg (3. W.A. 13)

In autumn: assignment as leading testing engineer and jet propulsion expert at the German Army’s testing site for the development of liquid-fuel rockets in Kummersdorf-West near Berlin

Thiel's findings in his paper („Empirische und theoreti­sche Grundlagen zur Neuberechnung von Öfen und Versuchsdaten, Schießplatz Kummersdorf Vers. West.“), that were presented on April 27, introduced developments that lead to decisive changes in rocket development

Summer: development of rocket propulsion engines of Heereswaffenamt was relocated to Peenemünde

Walter Thiel’s family moved to Hindenburgstraße 56 in Karlshagen (near Peenemünde on the island of Usedom in the Baltic Sea)

Thiel became “Director of R&D” and he was also von Braun’s deputy regarding development topics

Many new scientists were recruited in order to speed up R&D of the A4

1941September 5: birth of son Siegfried

October 3: first successful launch of an A4 rocket

1943August 17: Thiel quit his job, he wanted to leave Peenemünde in order to get his professorship, his exposition was already finished; Dornberger refused to accept his resignation

Night of August 17/18: The Thiel family is killed during a bombing a Royal Air Force bombing raid (Operation Hydra) in Karlshagen near Peenemünde

1944October 29: posthumous award of the Knight’s Cross of the War Merit Cross with Swords (Ritterkreuz des Kriegsverdienstkreuzes mit Schwertern), German Cross in Silver (Deutsches Kreuz in Silber)
1970 A lunar crater is named after Walter Thiel
1976Thiel is inducted into "Space Hall of Fame" of New Mexico Museum of Space History, Alamogordo, New Mexico, USA

It is not exactly known what kind of connections Thiel had with the Nazis. But it is likely that he was loyal and in line. The private archive of Family Thiel has a photo showing Thiel wearing a party-badge. That may support the suggestion that he was loyal to the system. It is not known when exactly Walter Thiel became member of the NSDAP, as his NSDAP membership card could not be found in the Federal Archive in Berlin. Presumably, he joined the NSDAP in 1940 at the latest. In addition, the archive could confirm that he was definitely not a member of the SS.