Thiel, Walter Erich Oskar, born 03-03-1910 in Breslau was a German rocket scientist. The second son of Oskar Thiel (civil servant at the German Post) and Elsa (Prinz) Thiel. In 1929 he passed all his school graduation exams (Abitur) with the highest possible grade A. After graduation he studied chemistry at the Technische Hochschule zu Breslau (now Wrocław University of Technology). Due to his excellent work he was exempt from study fees as of the third semester. In summer semester of 1931 he passed the preliminary examination with excellence. In winter semester 1933 he passed all 7 diploma exams with the highest possible grade A and he became Dipl.-Ing. (chem.). In 1934 his thesis “Über die Addition von Verbindungen mit stark polarer Kohlenstoff-Halogenbindung an ungesättigte Kohlen-Wasserstoffe” received the highest possible honor (summa cum laude). He became Dr.-Ing. (chem.). His doctorate was confirmed on 08-11-1934 in Breslau (source: Walter Thiel’s doctorate).
He became the third civilian hired by Walter Dornberger for German research at Kummersdorf on 0111-1932, after Wernher von Braun & Heinrich Grünow), and in 1936, transferred to Dornberger’s new rocket section. He also worked with the later Chanccelor of Germany Heinrich Lübke
After transferring from Kummersdorf to the Peenemünde Army Research Center in the summer of 1940, Thiel became deputy director of the Peenemünde HVP Organization under von Braun. Before working at Kummersdorf. Thiel was a chemical engineer at the Heyland Works at Brietz near Berlin. Gauleiter of Berlin was Josef Goebbels (did you know) Thiel also designed the motor for the Wasserfall anti-aircraft missile. Walter Thiel was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1976. The crater Thiel on the Moon is named after him. By 15-09-1941, Thiel officially declared the basic eighteen-pot design of the A-4 motor finished. Earlier in the Spring of 1941, Thiel began investigating nitric acid and diesel oil to be used as the fuel for the 30-ton-thrust A-8. Then on 18-12-1941, Thiel documented the initial A-9/A-10 motor design of six combustion chambers into one common nozzle in Secret Command Document 1496/41.
Death and burial ground of Thiel, Walter Erich Oskar.
By the middle of August 1943, Dr Thiel declared that the A-4 developmental problems preclude mass production, recommended the project be abandoned, and resigned with notification he intended to lecture thermodynamics at a technical college. Thiel and many fellow scientists and researchers were very exhausted and unhappy in Peenemünde. Work overload, pressure to succeed and the conversion of a research unit to a production facility started to take its toll on the scientists. During the following night (17-18 August 1943) the Royal Air Force launched a bombing raid on Peenemünde, Operation Hydra. The Thiel family
died in a trench outside their home in Karlshagen. Thiel, age 33 and his family (wife Martha, daughter Sigrid and son Siegfried) were buried in the war cemetery in Karlshagen.
Martin Schilling replaced Thiel. Schilling died old age 88, on 08-05-2000 in the USA. Walter Thiel is buried on the Waldfriedhof Halbe in Kummersdorf. On 29-10-1944, Thiel was posthumously awarded the Knight’s Cross of the War Merit Cross with swords.