Winsloe, Christa (1888–1944)

views updated

Winsloe, Christa (1888–1944)

German playwright, screenwriter, novelist, and sculptor . Born in Germany in 1888; killed in 1944; married and divorced; had a relationship with Dorothy Thompson (1893–1961).

"In pre-Hitler Germany there were a number of excellent anti-authoritarian films which were up front and direct with their messages," wrote Nash and Ross in their Motion Picture Guide. "This genre soon disappeared with the rise of the Nazis, because of the boldness of their stand for individual freedom." Perhaps the best of these was adapted by Christa Winsloe from her play Gestern und Heute (Yesterday and Today) which was first presented in Berlin in 1930. The following year, it was made into the classic German film Mädchen in Uniform (Girls in Uniform), starring Dorothea Wieck and Hertha Thiele , and directed by Leontine Sagan . Written and directed by women with an-all woman cast, the film, says Nash, "has an assured quality. It knows what it wants to say and how to say it." The story concerns a young girl, Manuela von Meinhardis, struggling against the strict confines of a boarding school with its hardline Prussian principal who believes that, through discipline, hardship, stoicism, hunger, and "triumph of will," the Germans will rise again. But conformity is not in the girl's nature and she falls in love with her only listener, Fraulein von Bernburg, one of her teachers. Appalled, the principal forbids any further contact between the two until Manuela is found attempting suicide by jumping from a balcony. A novelization of the same story was published as The Child Manuela and released in Britain as Life Begins and in America as Girl Alone. A remake, starring Lilli Palmer and Romy Schneider , appeared in 1965, directed by Geza Radvanyi .

During World War II, Winsloe, who also wrote scripts for G.W. Pabst, lived in exile, helping fellow Germans escape to Switzerland. Just before the end of the war, she was shot and killed by a French criminal.


Nash, Jay Robert, and Stanley Ralph Ross. Motion Picture Guide, 1927–1983. Evanston, IL: Cinebooks, 1986.

About this article

Winsloe, Christa (1888–1944)

Updated About content Print Article