Joachim Gottschalk

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Joachim Gottschalk (10 April 1904 Calau – 6 November 1941 Berlin) was a German movie star during the late 1930s, a romantic lead in the style of Leslie Howard. He starred in a series of German films opposite the popular German actress Brigitte Horney.

Life and work[edit]

Gottschalk, who was born in Calau, Brandenburg, Germany, married a Jewish woman, Meta Wolff, shortly before Hitler came to power, and they had a son, Michael. The Gottschalks managed to avoid the anti-Semitic Nuremberg laws and rising tide of anti-semitic violence in Nazi Germany. Then, Gottschalk took his Jewish wife to a social function and introduced her to some of the prominent Nazis who were present. Although the Nazis were charmed, the Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels (a virulent anti-Semite) learned about this incident, and decreed that Gottschalk would be required to separate from his Jewish wife. When Gottschalk refused, Goebbels ordered Gottschalk's wife and child transported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp[citation needed]. Hans Hinkel insisted on the divorce and Gottschalk was threatened to play no further roles[citation needed]. Gottschalk insisted on accompanying Meta and Michael to Theresienstadt, but Goebbels ordered Gottschalk inducted into the German Army, the Wehrmacht[citation needed].

In November 1941, minutes before the expected arrival of the Gestapo, Gottschalk and his wife committed suicide by gas poisoning after sedating their son, who died with them. They are buried at the Südwestkirchhof Stahnsdorf ("Berlin South-Western Cemetery") of Berlin. Brigitte Horney, Gustav Knuth, Hans Brausewetter, Werner Hinz, Wolfgang Liebeneiner, and Ruth Hellberg attended the funeral.

Goebbels ordered no further mentions of Gottschalk in the German newspapers, but word got out anyway and millions of German women mourned his death. Because of Nazi censorship, most of his devoted fans did not learn the awful circumstances of his death until after the war.



  • Hull, David Stewart. Film in the Third Reich: Art and Propaganda in Nazi Germany, Simon and Schuster, 1973.
  • Smith, Howard K. Last Train From Berlin: An Eye-Witness Account of Germany at War, Phoenix Press, 2001.

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