Walter Wicclair

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Walter Wicclair ( pseudonym Walter Wielau ; born January 24, 1901 in Kreuzburg (Upper Silesia) as Walter Weinlaub; † January 18, 1998 in West Hollywood ) was a German-American actor , theater director , director and author. He is considered a well-known representative of German theater in exile during the Nazi era .


Wicclair, born in 1901, first attended high school and began a commercial apprenticeship. In 1920 he began as an extra at the theater in Gleiwitz , where he received free acting lessons. Wicclair worked as an actor in Germany from 1920 to 1933. In 1932 he founded the first permanent theater in his home town of Kreuzburg, which he named with the consent of the poet Gerhart-Hauptmann -Bühne and which he directed in the 1932/33 season. As a theater man, Wicclair described the Jewish part in the trade and medical services around the Kreuzburger Ring. One of his performances was attacked by SA men and the stage was then destroyed. Wicclair - at that time still vine leaves - was injured by a knife and was only barely able to escape the attack.

Wicclair fled from the National Socialists via Czechoslovakia , Holland and England to the USA and lived and worked in Los Angeles with interruptions until his death. His parents who remained in Germany later died in the Theresienstadt concentration camp .

In the United States, he changed his name to Walter Wicclair and became a US citizen. At first he earned his living as a dishwasher, gardener and worker in the aircraft industry. He later founded the Free Stage in Los Angeles and staged plays in German and English, some of which he also played himself. In September 1949, Wicclair staged Urfaust and at the same time played the role of Mephisto . He cast Norbert Schiller as Faust and, as a novelty, had a dark-haired actress play Gretchen with Gert Riederer . Only later did he find out that Leopold Jessner had already made a similar cast.

Wicclair advocated an examination of the theater of the Third Reich and its consequences for post-war theater and theater emigration, thereby ensuring that the press began to deal with this topic. In open letters and lectures he helped to “shake the myth of the greatness of theater in the Third Reich”. He succeeded in initiating the coming to terms with the past in the field of stage and theater studies, which were honored by embassies of the Federal Republic in California in the 1960s.

In 1958 Wicclair tried to build up an existence in Germany again. His first engagement after his return was in Flensburg . In the same year, 1958, he came to West Berlin with his production of the Dance of Death ( Strindberg ), with which he had successfully participated in the Competition Week of Contemporary Drama . At the Berliner Festwochen 1961/62 he staged Stefan Zweig's “Jeremias”. In 1963 Wicclair finally returned to the USA and, together with his partner Marta Mierendorff at the University of Southern California (USC), devoted himself to scientific research into the activities of German exile artists in California .


  • From Kreuzburg to Hollywood , with an afterword by Curt Trepte. Henschel Verlag, Berlin (East) 1975
  • Marta Mierendorff and Walter Wicclair (eds.): In the spotlight of the "dark years". Essays on theater in the “Third Reich”, exile and post-war . Edition Sigma, Berlin 1989. ISBN 3-924859-92-2 (Sigma media studies, 3)


  • Helmut G. Asper: Walter Weinlaub and the Gerhart Hauptmann-Bühne in Kreuzburg 1932/1933: A documentation on the 90th birthday of Walter Wicclair on January 24, 1991 , self-published in 1991.
  • Helmut G. Asper: Walter Wicclair's “The emperor's new clothes”: A fairy tale film of German exile , Siegen University, 1997.
  • Werner Röder, Herbert A. Strauss (Eds.), International Biographical Dictionary of Central European Emigrés 1933–1945 . Volume 2.2. Munich: Saur, 1983 ISBN 3-598-10089-2 , p. 1243
  • Wicclair, Walter , in: Frithjof Trapp , Bärbel Schrader, Dieter Wenk, Ingrid Maaß: Handbook of the German-speaking Exile Theater 1933–1945. Volume 2. Biographical Lexicon of Theater Artists . Munich: Saur, 1999, ISBN 3-598-11375-7 , p. 1016ff.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Walter Wicclair (1901-1998) by Helmut G. Asper - New newsletter from the Society for Exile Research e. V. (PDF; 72 kB)
  2. See Horst Fuhrmann: Heinz Pionteks Kreuzburg . In: Heinz Piontek: Roots and work of a poet from Upper Silesia. Dülmen 1985, pp. 13-22.
  3. Cf. Frithjof Trapp: Handbuch des deutschsprachigen Exiltheater 1933-1945: Persecution and Exile of German-Speaking Theater Artists , Vol. 1, Munich 1999, p. 398.
  4. Cf. Ingrid Maass: Repertoire of the German-speaking Exilbühnen 1933-1945 , Vol. 9, Hamburg 2000, p. 106.
  5. ^ Walter Wicclair: From Kreuzburg to Hollywood , Henschel 1975, p. 196.
  6. Georg Iven Heilbut: 1968 in a brochure about Walter Wicclair, p. 21