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OF MEN AND HORSES: THE NAZI ART UND WEISE

Like all regimes in need of self-affirmation the Nazis made sure that Art is on their side: today, the unmistakable style of the Nazi artwork produces a queasy feeling in most beholders´ guts. On one hand, it is not bad: so proud, so well-defined, of such perfect proportions. The god-like humans, the over-dimensional symbols, even their horse statues – like the two so called “Thorak-Pferde” recovered from a hide-out and about to be sold by a shady, self-proclaimed art dealer – never fail to (if quietly) to impress.

But then, the other hand comes into play: those artworks, they were not there to please the beholder´s eye. Like a fist held close to a face, they were meant to crush, to overwhelm, to install fear and force into subservience. First and foremost, among the regime´s opponents. But their thundering symbolic spared no supporters either. The Germans, the “real” Germans in the Nazi understanding of the word, could feel flattered by their aesthetic perfection and their powerful impact – all those perfectly chiselled chins and the throbbing muscles, all those firm, full breasts and the throngs of children around the robust hips: in people´s imagination that is what their tired, grey, stretch-marked bodies mutated into. The beauty was, as always, in the beholder´s eye.

But there was also another message they conveyed. They proclaimed out loud in their guttural Austrian brawl: “You arrre strong!”, “You arrrre beautiful!”, “You arrrre gods and goddesses and so much better than others!”, then they paused for a second, fixed their eyes on the Volk and added with a smirky threat so typical of Goebbels: “As long as you obey.”

Arno Breker, Josef Thorak and Fritz Klimsch were Hitler´s court artists whose works spread the news of the Nazi power and self-proclaimed superiority, providing their authors with direct profits and acclaim. Some of their most significant artwork has just been recovered in a police-raid organised after a tip-off from an expert, followed by an extensive investigation. The two giant horses from the Neue Reichskanzlei in Berlin as well as a massive relief by Arno Breker plus several other examples of high-rank Nazi art were offered for sale by a “private collector”. Even ignoring the fact the Thorak Horses were almost certainly stolen from the sports grounds of the old Soviet barracks in Eberswalde where they were put by the Red Army administration after the war, and that the origin of all other works is equally suspicious, the case of the recovered artwork shows us again that unlike many other regimes whose symbols faded and crumbled with time, this one left behind bronze and marble scars that refuse to heal or to go away. On the contrary, their value seems to do nothing but grow.

5-B1-G20-1939-28 Gartenfront Neue Reichskanzlei/Foto Berlin, Neue Reichskanzlei (1938 erbaut von Albert Speer). - Teilansicht der Gartenfront von Nord- osten mit Pferdeskulptur von Josef Thorak. - Foto, 1939.

The Thorak Horses were offered for sale at the price of 8 million dollars and sooner or later someone would have certainly bought them. Now they are likely to be put on display at one of the Berlin museums. How about melting them down for a change and putting an end to that sick perfection their author strove to reflect in the name of the regime he blindly followed?

So blindly, in fact, that in 1933 he divorced his Jewish wife and left her with their small son to their own devices. Hilda Thorak, maiden name Lubowski (her brother, Dr Oskar Lubowski was for many years Leni Riefenstahl´s GP) and the little Peter Thorak were said to have left Germany for England but since the end of WW2 both count as Verschollen, as “Missing”. While her Nazi-faithful husband is yet again celebrated as a great artist, his name shouted from the rooftops, the two are gone for good. And while the world gets excited about the horses´ return, Hilda´s passport with a bright red “J” (Jüdin) stamp at its front is offered for sale at one of the auction houses in Hamburg. At EUR 5,000 it sounds like a bargain.

hilda thorak´s passport inisde hop huesken

Post Scriptum

Here is the original passport of Hilda Thorak offered for sale through an auction house in Hamburg.

The question is: if Hilda Thorak left Germany to avoid persecution as a German Jew, then how come that her passport is still in Germany? If it is offered for sale from abroad, then why not there? It would surely be easier, considering how strong the unhealthy interest in all things Nazi seems to be outside of the Federal Republic, especially in the USA?

Unfortunately, all enquiries to that matter were left with one reply only: the auctioneers do not share this sort of information. And we have no EUR 5,000 to buy the main piece of evidence. Perhaps one of the Berlin museums does? Let´s hope that they read that. It could help explain why Hilda Thorak´s passport contains no mention of her little son…

6 comments on “OF MEN AND HORSES: THE NAZI ART UND WEISE

  1. auntyuta
    June 16, 2015

    I was wondering about this too, why the son is not mentioned. What a mystery that it is not known what happened to Hilda and her son. I looked up the following.

    http://www.meaus.com/hilda-lubowski-thorak-wife.htm

    Thorak’s Jewish Wife Hilda Lubowski Sought

    Apparently this goes back to 2004. Is it possible that still nobody could find out what happened to them?

    • notmsparker
      June 16, 2015

      One of my readers and I did a bit of digging behind the scenes – through Ancestry.com – and located a Hilda Thorak born on May 16th, 1897 in the UK. She died in 1983 and worked as a teacher before that. There is also a Peter Thorak who could be her son or a relative of other degree as they both seemed to have travelled to the same places, albeit not together: she could have visited him in New York and Montreal for that is where the HMS Mauretania and Invernia took her in 1955. The search continues…:-)

  2. Chris Longstaff
    March 7, 2017

    I think I know something of what happened to Hilda Thorak. She fled to England before WW2 broke out and was ‘adopted’ by my aunt. She changed her name to Gilda, lived with and near my aunt in Shropshire where I now live.
    I used to meet her when I was a child and apparently was bathed by Peter when I was very young..(1940s!)
    I have in my hand now a picture postcard from Venice from Peter dated 29th July 1952 addressed to my aunt

    • notmsparker
      March 8, 2017

      Dear Chris, this is quite an amazing comment! Thank you so much for it. My attempts at finding her or her traces were in vain before. But I did hope that perhaps somebody out there knew and would contact me. And so you did. Thank you for closing that chapter on a positive note. Warm greetings from Berlin!

      • Chris Longstaff
        March 10, 2017

        I’m so pleased to have been of help in filling in another piece of the jigsaw – if not the last piece. It was quite by chance that i came across your interest.
        I may be able to find a little more information if you wish. I have Peter & Hilda/Gilda’s addresses from the 1960s and 70s & may have photos of one or both. My aunt’s brother (my uncle) may know a bit more but he is now 96 and his memory not as good as it once was. Still very good for his age though!
        Best wishes from UK
        Chris

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This entry was posted on June 15, 2015 by in architecture, ART, Berlin, history, history of Berlin, WW2 and tagged , , , , , , .

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