After his abitur he studied chemistry at the Polytechnical College in Breslau. Due to his excellent work he was exempt from study fees as of the third semester.

The Thiels, who were petty bourgeois, had lost all of their money during the Great Depression, and they would have never been able to finance any college studies, not even with Herbert’s support. Due to his outstanding talent, Thiel received scholarships, and starting with the third semester he could study without having to pay fees.

In the summer semester of 1931 he passed the preliminary examiation with excellence. In 1932 he was admitted to the Study Foundation of the German Nation (“Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes”), and in the winter semester of 1933 he passed his engineering exams in all seven subjects with the highest grade A.


In 1934 his thesis ”About the addition of compounds with strong polar carbon-halogenous-bonds in unsaturated hydrocarbons“ (“Über die Addition von Verbindungen mit stark polarer Kohlenstoff-Halogenbindung an ungesättigte Kohlen-Wasserstoffe“) received the highest possible honor (summa cum laude).


Title/Cover of Walter Thiel’s doctorate for a Dr.-Ing. (chem.)
(Source: private archive of the Thiel family)


From April 15 to May 15 1934 Thiel was a methodical assistant at the Organic-Technical Institute at the University of Breslau, and from May 15 to August 31, 1934 he was extracurricular assistant at the 1st Chemical Institute at the University of Berlin (today: Humboldt University Berlin).


His doctorate was confirmed on November 8, 1934 in Breslau (source: Walter Thiel’s doctorate). His time at the University of Berlin already represented useful preparation for his subsequent work at the Reichswehrministerium.


Thiel was a member of a fraternity (Kyffhäuserverband) upon recommendation of his patron (a senior member of the fraternity). As always, Thiel was very committed in this area too, although he initially did not want to join a fraternity. After a while he held two official positions at the fraternity.