Although Thiel was known for his arbitrary characteristics, he was not a loner. He already had a lot of friends in his younger days. Walter Thiel was an avid athlete, and he and his team took part at the Peenemünde sports festivals, just like he had done during school and college years. So he also established private contacts with his co-workers. One of his colleagues at Schumann‘s institute, Dr. Glimm, became godfather of Thiel’s daughter Sigrid. Dr. Heller, who was hired in 1940 with many other scientists and engineers, was one oft he most important colleagues of Thiel. Heller worked predominantly on fuel optimization, and Thiel and Heller seemed to have had close private contacts.
Other colleagues of Thiel at the development unit, who later followed von Braun to Fort Bliss (USA) as the first 118 paperclip engineers, included: Hermann M. Bedürftig, Konrad Dannenberg, Werner Dobrick, Hans Fichtner, Werner Gengelbach, Hans J. Lindenmayr, Dr. William A. Mrazek, Kurt E. Patt, Gerhard H. Reisig, Walther J. Riedel (Riedel III), Ludwig Roth, Helmut Zoike. Thiel had friendly relationships with the family of Bernhard Gerhardt, who later worked on the Russian space program. One of Thiel’s secretaries, Ingeborg Kamke, later married Konrad Dannenberg.
Here are portraits of some of Thiel's colleagues:Konrad Dannenberg (August 5, 1912 in Weißenfels - February 16, 2005 in Huntsville, Alabama) joined the rocket engine team of Thiel in 1940. Dannenberg studied mechanical engineering at the technical University of Hanover. He became a soldier from 1939 until 1940. In Spring 1940 Dannenberg was discharged from the army an became a civilian employee at the German Army's Research and Development Center in Peenemünde. After the war, Dannenberg was brought to the USA with the Wernher von Braun Team. He was later a Deputy Manager of the Saturn V, the moon rocket.
(Source of photo: private collection, Jackie Dannenberg, Huntsville, Alabama, photo about 1940)
One of the colleagues in Kummersdorf was Willi Schwarz (November 1910 – September 1962). Schwarz studied mechanical engineering at the H.T.L. in Breslau and finished his engineering studies in 1934. After working in different positions for several companies he was offered a job at the High Command of the Army in 1938 as a testing engineer for the fluid engine propulsion testing ranges in Kummersdorf, Peenemünde and Lehesten. From 1946 to 1950 Willy Schwarz and his family were in Chimki near Moscow, where he worked as a specialist for the USSR.
(Source of photo: private collection, Christa Schwarz, Dresden, about 1938)
Bernhardt Gerhardt (December 1893 - July 1963) was also a rocket specialist. The Gerhardt family survived the bombing raid of August 17/18, 1943. The Gerhardt family were Thiel’s neighbours in the Kalshagen settlement on the island of Usedom. They lived Hindenburgstraße 58. Both daughters played together, and the mothers were very close friends. After the war the Russian military took Bernhardt Gerhardt to Chimki, where he worked in rocket research until 1950.
(Source of photo: private collection, Hans Gerhardt, Toronto)
Klaus Riedel (August 2, 1907 in Wilhelmshaven – August 4, 1944 in Usedom), one of the first rocket pioneers and co-founder of the first rocket airport in Germany, was a longtime accomplice of Wernher von Braun. The Riedel family lived across the street on Hindenburgstraße 48, Thiel's on 56 in the Karlshagen settlement.
Heinz-Otto Glimm was a colleagues at the research department of the German army ordnance office, University of Berlin, headed by Ministerialrat Prof. Karl Erich Schumann. Glimm was also godfather of Thiels daughter Sigrid. Thiel and his colleague Heinz-Otto Glimm initiated the project “Exploration of combustion in liquid-fueled rockets”. In 1935 they built the first concrete test stands at the Kummersdorf site. In addition, they developed measuring methods in order to analyze the rocket tests systematically. (Source: Haeuseler, E.: Zur Geschichte der Raketenforschung. In: Weltraumfahrt. Zeitschrift für Astronautik und Raketenentwicklung. Heft 4; S. 105f)
(Source of photo: Screenshot from MAZ, April, 2 2014, private collection, Hans Schumacher, Berlin)