Inge Meysel

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Inge Meysel

Inge Meysel (born May 30, 1910 in Rixdorf ; † July 10, 2004 in Seevetal ) was a German actress and radio play speaker .


Actress in theater and television

Berlin-Schöneberg , Heylstrasse 29, Inge Meysel had an apartment there on the ground floor until 1999
Berlin memorial plaque on the house, Heylstrasse 29, in Berlin-Schöneberg

The daughter of the German Jewish businessman Julius Meysel and his Danish wife Margarete Hansen left school early at the age of 17 and began her theater career in 1930 in Zwickau , Berlin and Leipzig . Inge Meysel first appeared on stage as an angel in the opera Hansel and Gretel at the age of three . She made her debut in 1930 in Zwickau in the first performance of Penzoldt's Etienne and Luise . She was married twice. Her first husband was the actor Helmuth Rudolph and her second marriage was to the director John Olden .

In the period from 1933 to 1945 had Inge Meysel as " half Jewish " banned from performing. A religious belief by the actress is not documented. Meysel went to the still Free City of Danzig and worked there as a telephone operator and technical draftsman.

Inge Meysel's father was expropriated and survived until 1945 in a cellar hiding after he had luckily escaped an attempt at deportation: Reinhard Heydrich himself had ordered his release as a disabled man in the First World War .

In the first Hamburg theater production after the Second World War, she played in Hugo von Hofmannsthal's Jedermann alongside Ida Ehre and Werner Hinz in the St. Johanniskirche in 1945 . In the same year, the 35-year-old came to Willy Maertens at the Thalia Theater in Hamburg. Here she soon became a celebrated character actress. The German premiere of The Tattooed Rose by Tennessee Williams with Ingrid Andree , Klaus Kammer and Wolfgang Wahl as partners, directed by Leo Mittler, was a great success in 1952 . Her roles in My best friend of John van Druten she played in 1955 then also at the Theater am Kurfürstendamm in Berlin under the direction of Erik Ode with Alice Treff and Harald Juhnke as a partner, and in 1955 she inspired in The Matchmaker by Thornton Wilder , first at the City Bühnen Essen and then with Hanns Lothar as a partner in Hamburg.

In 1957, three theater productions with her and colleagues such as Ernst Schröder , Brigitte Grothum , Ingeborg Körner , Horst Keitel and Jan Hendriks were sent on tour to South America as part of a German cultural exchange. Since their partner, the director John Olden , wanted to accompany them, they were forced to get married shortly before the start of the trip.

The world premiere of the Berliner Volksstück Das Fenster zum Flur (directed by Erik Ode ) by Horst Pillau and Curth Flatow on January 20, 1960 at the Hebbeltheater Berlin made her a theater star. This role, which the star comedian Grethe Weiser had rejected, earned her the nickname "Mother of the Nation". She also played the role of porter Anni Wiesner in the 1961 film adaptation of your most beautiful day (directed by Paul Verhoeven ) with Rudolf Platte .

She was best known nationwide in the role of Käthe Scholz in the TV series The Despicable One , which was broadcast once a year on Mother's Day from 1965 to 1971. In two early evening series of the sixties, Gertrud Stranitzki (1966–1968) and Ida Rogalski (1969–1970), she continued to play the role of a mother with everyday problems.

In the 1970s she played incessantly in the theater and had another success in 1974 with the title role in Rolf Hochhuth's play The Midwife , directed by Wolfgang Spier at the Theater am Kurfürstendamm Berlin . A theatrical success in 1980 at the Ernst-Deutsch-Theater in Hamburg was her portrayal of an evil, scheming and tough woman in Maxim Gorki's drama Wassa Schelesnowa , directed by Karl Paryla . She also went on a theater tour with the play, and it was recorded for television. She played her last theater role in Teures Glück between 1985 and 1996 over 800 times on tour and guest performances.

At the beginning of the 1980s, she played another leading role in a film in Der Rote Strumpf (1981) directed by Wolfgang Tumler. From 1982 to 1991 she played the cleaning lady Ada Harris in the comedic crime series Mrs. Harris. From the 1990s onwards, she also increasingly played unsympathetic or rebellious old women. The topic of dementia, which was first discussed in a broader public at the time, shaped some of her last roles, including some episodes of the ARD crime series Polizeiruf 110 .

Since 1945 she has also worked as a radio play speaker, mainly for the NWDR Hamburg and from 1956 for its legal successor, the NDR .

Sociopolitical engagement

Inge Meysel made her first public appearance in 1925 with a speech against the death penalty at a rally of Berlin's young democrats . She also participated in protests against Section 218 at this time. At the end of the twenties she switched to the Young Socialists . “The Young Democrats, Burmeister, Lilo Linke and others, that was my circle of friends! But politically I belonged to the young socialists. ”( Inge Meysel ). Meysel was also an "avowed" naturist .

In 1972 she supported Willy Brandt's election campaign and in 1978 she was, along with Alice Schwarzer and eight other women, one of the plaintiffs in the so-called “ sexism trial ” against the star . In 1981 she rejected the Federal Cross of Merit because it was not worth a medal that someone "lived his life decently". She supported the fight against AIDS through several appearances at charity events. That, as well as her open and direct manner, made her popular with gays and lesbians.

In January 1987 she spoke about her same-sex experience in an interview with Emma : “Men were canceled until 21. But by then I had long had a love affair with a woman. With a collegue. […] I think that many women […] notice that their need for tenderness is better fulfilled by a woman. ”However, this was not the first request to speak on the subject, because as early as 1975 she spoke in a theater talk show after the Format of the “hot chair” in the Hamburg painter's hall about her same-sex experience. However, it did not hit the headlines and thus a wider public until the 1990s. In 1995 , she involuntarily outed the then Tagesschau spokesman Wilhelm Wieben , saying in an interview with the star : “Actually, I only have gay friends. For example, I like to travel with Wilhelm Wieben. ”However, he did not resent Meysel and expressly consented to the publication of the interview passage to Stern .

Four years earlier she appeared as a prominent member of the German Society for Human Dying . Politically, she campaigned for the SPD for decades , later also for the former member of the Bundestag Angela Marquardt (former member of the PDS , now SPD), who supported her financially with her studies.

Inge Meysel's grave at Ohlsdorf cemetery (2011)

Last years

The "bitter struggle" against raising a dike for flood protection in front of her house made headlines in 1999, as it would block her view of the Elbe. The "lively senior citizen is to have a dike set up in front of her luxury bungalow with a panoramic view of the Elbe," which she did not agree with. After her death, the Lower Saxony Higher Administrative Court decided in 2011 that the dike heightening was legal.

Inge Meysel had apparently suffered from senile dementia since 2003 , but still played in an episode of Polizeiruf 110 in the spring of 2003 , where, at the age of 92, she portrayed the very old , resolute "Grandma Kampnagel". At the end of April 2004, she suffered a complicated fragmented fracture of her right thigh, which was stabilized in an emergency operation with an intramedullary nail.

Inge Meysel died on July 10, 2004 in her house in the Bullenhausen district of the Lower Saxon town of Seevetal. Her urn was buried on July 23, 2004 in Hamburg at the Ohlsdorf cemetery next to her husband John Olden, who died in 1965 .


In 1975 Inge Meysel received a valuable porcelain bowl from the Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin from the Governing Mayor of Berlin Klaus Schütz in recognition of her achievements . A few years later, in 1991, she was given the Ernst Reuter badge .

On July 10, 2014, the Berlin Senate had a Berlin memorial plaque put up on the long-term home of the actress in Berlin-Schöneberg, Heylstrasse 29 .


Cinema (selection)

Television (selection)

Theater (selection)

Radio plays (selection)


  • 1961–1972: Eleven times the Bravo Otto (six times in gold, four times in silver and once in bronze) audience award of the youth magazine Bravo
  • 1965 and 1999 (for life's work): Golden Camera
  • 1966: Golden Screen
  • 1966 and 1967: silver screen
  • 1968, 1970–1973, 1990: Six times the Bambi , media award from Hubert Burda Medien
  • 1975/76: Golden curtain of the Berlin theater club Die Hebamme
  • 1981: Federal Cross of Merit (the award was refused by Meysel. Meysel's reason: "A medal for having lived your life decently?")
  • 1985: Silver Leaf of the Union of Dramatists
  • 1990: Hamburg Medal for Art and Science
  • 1991: Ernst Reuter badge in silver from the city of Berlin
  • 1995: Telestar special prize for life's work
  • 2000: Honorary Prize of the German Television Prize
  • Boy Gobert Prize : Honor mask with diamonds



  • Maurus Pacher, Inge Meysel: The hidden years. The unauthorized biography. Ullstein, Frankfurt / M., Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-548-22829-1 .
  • Sabine Stamer: Inge Meysel. Europa, Hamburg 2003, ISBN 3-203-83015-9 .
  • Alice Schwarzer : Inge Meysel, actress in: Alice Schwarzer portrays role models and idols. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 2003, ISBN 978-3-462-03341-0 , pp. 182-198. (First published in EMMA 1/1987)

Web links

Commons : Inge Meysel  - Collection of Images

Individual evidence

  1. a b Note in: Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung of February 7, 2015, p. Weekend 2
  2. Inge Meysel. An interview by Alice Schwarzer. ( Memento from October 11, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) In: Emma , January 1987: "The absurd is also: I'm not even Jewish."
  3. Mourning the Mother of the Nation . In: , July 10, 2004.
  4. Interview with the Mainz young democratic newspaper Zündstoff 1989
  5. Inge Meysel: Der Mischling, in: Emma, ​​January 1, 1987
  6. Hot chair . In: Der Spiegel . No. 23 , 1975, p. 138 ( online ).
  7. ^ Picture, February 24, 1992: Courageous confession. Inge Meysel: "I loved women" ; dpa, 1992: "I was bisexual, I, the 'mother of the nation'"; Bunte, 2001: "If you are not bisexual, you are missing out on the best."
  8. By Evelyn Holst: 8 p.m. Retrieved June 13, 2019 .
  9. Battle for the dike: Inge Meysel's chances increase
  10. The old lady and the dike
  11. Dike wall in front of Inge-Meysel-Villa may be built
  12. Grave of Inge Meysel and John Olden
  13. "I'm a Berliner, through and through" In: Der Tagesspiegel from July 11, 2004
  14. Memorial plaque for Inge Meysel . In: Berliner Zeitung of July 8, 2014, page 15.
  15. NDR: Inge Meysel - the "mother of the nation". In: Retrieved November 19, 2016 .