Thate, Hilmar


Hilmar Thate was born in Dölau, Germany, on April 17, 1931. He studied acting at the Academy of Theater and Music in Halle. After an engagement at the Stadttheater in Cottbus, he moved to Berlin in 1952 and performed at the Theater der Freundschaft and then at the Maxim Gorki Theater, at the Berliner Ensemble under Bertolt Brecht (1958-70) and at the Deutsches Theater (1971-79). He was awarded Stage Actor of the Year for his brilliant performances in Mann ist Mann (Berliner Ensemble) and in Richard III (Deutsches Theater).


Thate developed into a preeminent character actor with a flexibility that gained him access to a full range of genres. With equal conviction he played the title role in the television mini-series Daniel Druskat—a film dealing with the problems of agriculture collectives in East Germany—and as Eduard in the DEFA film version of Goethe’s Wahlverwandtschaften.


In 1976, Hilmar Thate protested with other artists against the expatriation of poet and singer/songwriter Wolf Biermann. In 1980, with his wife and well-known actress, Angelica Domröse, Thate left for West Germany, where he continued his career as a freelance actor in television, film and theater. He worked with well-known theater and film directors, including Peter Zadek at West Berlin’s Schiller Theater. Thate played in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss and Thomas Brasch’s Engel aus Eisen, which was nominated for the 1981 Palme d’Or at the Cannes International Film Festival.


Thate was awarded Best Actor for his role in Andreas Kleinert’s Wege in die Nacht at the 1999 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. In 2006, he published his autobiography, entitled Neulich, als ich noch Kind war.


Hilmar Thate died on September 14, 2016.

Festivals & Awards:

1999 Best Actor, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival for Wege in die Nacht
1980 Stage Actor of the Year for Richard III
1967 Stage Actor of the Year for Mann ist Mann

Bibliography & More:

Thate, Hilmar. Neulich, als ich noch Kind war [trans. Recently, When I was Still a Child]. Cologne: Lübbe. 2006.




Hitlerkantate (Hitler Cantata)
Der neunte Tag (The Ninth Day)
Operation Rubikon (Operation Rubicon, TV)
Wege in die Nacht (Paths in the Night)
Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss (Veronika Voss)
Die zweite Haut (The Second Skin, TV)
Engel aus Eisen (Angels of Iron)
Don Juan – Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 78 (Don Juan, 78 Karl Liebknecht Street)
Daniel Druskat (TV mini-series)
 Die Wahlverwandtschaften
(Elective Affinities)
1967 Saatfrüchte sollen nicht vermahlen werden (Seed Corn Should Not Be Ground, narrator)  
Der geteilte Himmel (Divided Heaven)
Frau Flinz (Madame Flinz, TV)
Der Fall Gleiwitz (The Gleiwitz Case)
1960 Leute mit Flügeln (People with Wings)  
Kosmos – Erinnerungen an Alexander von Humboldt (Cosmos: In Memory of Alexander von Humboldt, narrator)
Das Lied der Matrosen (The Sailors' Song)
Einmal ist keinmal (Once Does Not Count)

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