Giehse, Therese

BORN 6 Mar 1898, München, Bayern - DIED 3 Mar 1975, München, Bayern
BIRTH NAME Gift, Therese
CAUSE OF DEATH kidney failure
GRAVE LOCATION Zürich: Friedhof Fluntern, Zürichbergstrasse (Gruppe D, FG 80045)

Therese Giehse was born in Munich into a Jewish family. She debuted on the stage in 1920 and in 1925 she was engaged at the Kammerspiele in Munich. There she was very successful until the nazis came to power in 1933. She left for Zürich, where she continued her career and was a member of Erika Mann's cabaret "Die Pfeffermühle". She was also Erika's lover. Helped by W.H. Auden, in 1936 she travelled to England and married the homosexual English author John Hampson in order to obtain a British passport. After the ceremony in Solihull she immediately returned to Switzerland.

In 1941 she performed in Zürich in the premiere of "Mother Courage and Her Children" by Bertold Brecht. After the war she returned to Germany and in 1950 she played Mother Courage again, this time directed by Brecht. She continued her theatre career during the 1950s and 1960s and also appeared in 20 movies and several television productions. She never talked about her affair with Erika Mann or other aspects of her private life. The details of her marriage to John Hampson became known from the autobiography of Walter Allen (1911-1985), one of the witnesses. Giehse died in Munich in 1975 of kidney failure after an eye operation and was buried in Zürich.

Related persons
• was teacher to Finkenzeller, Heli

20/5/1936Marriage of convenience between Therese Giehse and John Hampson. They were both homosexual but Giehse needed the marriage in order to obtain British citizenship because she was under threat for her anti-nazi activities. She travelled to england where W.H. Auden took care of the arrangements. The marriage took place in Solihull near Birmingham. The witnesses were W. H. Auden, Louis MacNeice, Walter Allen and Reginald Smith. Auden decided that they should go for a drink immediately afterwards and ordered large brandies at the nearby Barley Mow pub. Therese returned to Switzerland afterwards. 


The grave of Therese Giehse at the Fluntern Cemetery, Zürich.
Picture by Androom (18 Aug 2005)


A 1930s marriage of convenience – Solihull Life

Gielen, Josef

Published: 02 Jan 2011
Last update: 16 Jan 2022