Thorak, Josef

BORN 7 Feb 1889, Wien - DIED 25 Feb 1952, Bad Endorf, Bayern: Schloss Hartmannsberg
CAUSE OF DEATH asthma attack
GRAVE LOCATION Salzburg: St. Petersfriedhof, Domplatz (Gruftarkaden, 25 (cleared))

Josef Thorak was born out of wedlock in Vienna. His father's name was Thorak. His mother Mathilde Emig returned to Salzburg shortly afterwards. In 1896 his parents married and although his father Thorak often wasn't there, he recognised Josef as his son. Thorak was educated in Vienna and Berlin. At the Academy in Vienna his teachers Anton Hanak, Josef Müllner und Josef Breitner. In Berlin Ludwig Manzel was his teacher. In the 1920s he mostly created sculptures in wax. In 1925/1926 a summer house and studio was built for him in Bad Saarow. In 1928 he received the State Prize of the Prussian Academy of Arts.

From 1932 to 1939 the boxer Max Schmeling was his model. In 1934 he created the Turkish National Monument in Eskisehi. During the Third Reich he had many commissions. In 1935 his work was shown in an exhibition at the office of Alfred Rosenberg. His first wife Hilda Lubowski was Jewish and after he divorced her, the nazis allowed her to go to England. In 1937 he was appointed professor at the Academy in Munich and in 1938 a large studio was put at his disposal to create his enormous sculptures. Hitler liked his work and a huge studio was built for him in Baldham between 1938 and 1941. He became a member of NSDAP in 1942 and in 1943 Leni Riefenstahl produced the short documentary "Joseph Thorak - Workshop and Work".

After the war, Thorak lived quietly in Bavaria. On 6 September 1946 he married Erna Hönig, who was 25 years his junior. In 1948 he was acquitted by a tribunal in Munich as 'not affected'. Two appeals in 1949 and 1951 resulted in the same verdict. He received new commissions until his sudden death in 1952. He was buried in a crypt at the St. Peter Cemetery in Salzbug. His widow survived him for 52 years and was buried in a cemetery in Chiemgau. Most of Thorak's work is now lost.

When his grave was removed in 2022 after it hadn't been paid for, this led to criticism by the art historian Hermann Neumann and others because of its artistic and historical value.

Related persons
• was a friend of Bode, Wilhelm von
• made a sculpture of Gebühr, Otto
• was pupil of Hanak, Anton
• was pupil of Manzel, Ludwig
• used as a model Ondra, Anny
• used as a model Schmeling, Max
• has a connection with Speer, Albert
• executed grave monument for Ullstein, Franz


The grave of Josef Thorak at the St. Petersfriedhof, Salzburg.
Picture by Androom (27 Aug 2009)


The grave of Josef Thorak at the St. Petersfriedhof, Salzburg.
Picture by Androom (27 Aug 2009)


The grave of Josef Thorak at the St. Petersfriedhof in Salzburg was removed.
Picture by Androom (31 Aug 2022)


• Aubert, Joachim, Handbuch der Grabstätten berühmten Deutscher, Österreicher und Schweizer, Deutscher Kunstverlag, München, 1973
Josef Thorak – Wikipedia

Thorbecke, Johan Rudolf

Published: 10 Apr 2009
Last update: 09 Dec 2023