Hermine Medelsky

Period: 1918–1945

Medelsky was one of the most famous actresses of the New German Theatre in Prague. She was the only German actress to receive the State Award for Dramatic Art in 1930 which was awarded by the Ministry of Education for outstanding artistic work in Czechoslovakia.

Hermina Medelsky was born in Vienna in 1884. She was offered engagement in Berlin during her studies where the director of the German Theatre of Prague noticed her in 1905 and offered her a job in Prague. She accepted and worked there until 1932 when she had to quit due to her illness.

In 1926, Hermina Medelsky wrote a brief article for Prager Presse about her early days as an actress and about her 25-year-long theatre career. She writes:

After 21 years, my relationship to the Prague audience is not and never has been regrettable. My directors have provided me with artistic support, and they guided me gently and painlessly across the dreaded “bridge”. In this phase of life, one is compassionately offered the role of “Daja” instead of “Recha”, and “Marthe Schwerdtlein” instead of “Gretchen” – which is something one has long feared, and yet it feels somehow unexpected. It requires plenty of enthusiasm and love for theatre to accept the change and to keep giving one’s best within this newly restricted space. However, I did not find it so complicated to move on, and I thought it better to hear “Oh, are you really playing Aase already?” than to hear the pitying words like “Oh, is she really still a Gretchen?” As I have received many sincere and heartfelt congratulations to my anniversary, it proves that I have maintained my audience’s heart and popularity.[1]

Medelsky died after the fire that broke out in her flat in the Vinohrady quarter in 1942. The tragedy was covered by both Czech and German newspapers.

Actress Medelská-Šimáčková died.

Last week, in the early night hours of Friday 3 May, inhabitants of the house number 62 in Fochova Street in Vinohrady noticed thick smoke coming from the actress Hermegilda Medelská-Šimáčková’s flat. They called firefighters who entered the flat to find the owner lying unconscious amidst the flames of the burning furniture. She was given medical treatment at the Professor Pelnář’s clinic where doctors found she had been heavily intoxicated with flue gases. This condition was followed by broncho-pneumonia and despite their thorough medical care, doctors could not prevent worsening, and the actress passed away on Saturday.

Hermína Medelská was a member of the dramatic ensemble of the German Theatre in Prague for many years. She was a sister of the famous Lotta Medelsky of the Burgtheater in Vienna.

[1] Prager Presse (15. 10. 1926), s. 3.

Zdroj karikatury: Letem světem (11.11.1931), s. 2.

Zprávy o úmrtí: Deutsche post für das Sudetenland (8. 5. 1940), s. 6. , Lidové noviny (8. 5. 1940), s. 3.