Thorsch, Alfons

Alfons Thorsch

Porträt, Schwarz-Weiß-Foto

21 May 1872 Vienna – 30 November 1945 Montreal, Canada

Alfons Thorsch was born on 21 May 1872 in Vienna as the only son of Markus David and Anna Thorsch, née Behrend (1844–1922). After his father's death in 1883, his brother Philip Thorsch (1831–1905) took over as director of Bankhaus M. Thorsch & Söhne. On his death in 1905 he was succeeded by Alfons Thorsch. In 1891 Thorsch started studying in the Law Faculty of the University of Vienna and was awarded a doctoral degree in 1893 in economics from the Philosophy Faculty of the University of Freiburg im Breisgau. In 1902 he married Marie Spitzer (1882–1944) with whom he had five daughters, Clarisse, Henriette, Gabriele, Eva and Dorothea. The couple lived first at Richardgasse (now Jauresgasse) 9 in the 3rd district and in 1904 at Richardgasse (now Jauresgasse) 13. The family moved in 1916 to Bratmannpalais (Palais Thorsch) at Metternichgasse 4 in the 3rd district, built in 1897/98 by Friedrich Schachner. As they were considered Jews, Marie and Alfons Thorsch and their children left Austria when the National Socialists came to power. Palais Thorsch was occupied directly after the annexation by the Nationalsozialistische Kraftfahrkorps (NSKK) and the Gestapo and ultimately expropriated by the NSDAP, which gave it to the NSKK. Gestapo Section II H/So seized Marie and Alfons Thorsch's assets on 15 June 1938 and confiscated them. The Vermögensanmeldung  (declaration of assets) signed by Marie Thorsch on 23 July 1938 in Zurich did not include a valuation, as the art collection seized in Vienna was being kept in safekeeping by the state. Only the paintings from the collection were listed on behalf of the Gestapo by Gert Adriani, an assistant of Kunststaatssekretär Kajetan Mühlmann and from December 1938 curator in the Picture Gallery of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, and transported to the Zentraldepot für beschlagnahmte Sammlungen (Central Depot for Seized Collections) in the Neue Burg on Heldenplatz in Vienna. They were shown to Hans Posse, Hitler's "special representative", and earmarked for dispersal among various museums. Because of the increasing danger of air raids, the NSKK had the remaining interior furnishings at Palais Thorsch moved in August 1943 to two Lower Austrian castles, Guntersdorf and Immendorf. Schloss Immendorf was blown up in the last days of the war, and the tapestries and paintings belonging to the Thorsch collection were burned. Alfons and Marie Thorsch had managed to flee to Canada via Switzerland and Britain. Marie Thorsch died in exile in 1944, Alfons Thorsch in November 1945. He had commissioned the Royal Trust Company in Montreal to manage his asssets. The thirty paintings that had been distributed to the planned Kunstmuseum Linz (art museum Linz), the Ferdinandeum in Innsbruck and the Picture Gallery in the Kunsthistorisches Museum were returned to the family by order of the Finanzlandesdirektion (Provincial Tax Office) in 1949 under the First Restitution Act. All other objects from the Thorsch collection, the family pictures, library, furniture and silver tableware, could not be found after 1945 in Vienna or in the Central Collecting Point in Munich. The majority of the gold and silverware had no doubt been sold on the art market. Their whereabouts today are unclear.

Author Info
Publications about the person / institution

Heinrich Benedikt, Damals im alten Österreich, Erinnerungen, Wien-München, 1979.

Hubertus Czernin, Die Auslöschung. Der Fall Thorsch (= Bibliothek des Raubes 1), Wien 1998.

Roman Sandgruber, Traumzeit für Millionäre. Die 929 reichsten Wienerinnen und Wienern im Jahre 1910, Wien-Graz-Klagenfurt 2013.

Heinrich Treichl, Fast ein Jahrhundert. Erinnerungen, Wien 2003.


BArch Berlin, R1501-10814.
BArch Berlin, KV-26-1-NSKK, 742.

BArch Koblenz, B 323/480, fol. 154.

BDA-Archiv, Restitutionsmaterialien, K. 48, PM Thorsch.

LAB, 72 WGA 4584-4591A/57

OeStA/AdR, E-uReang, 1Rep AbwSt Abt 6, Beschlagnahmte Vermögen (1938-1939), Teilbestand.
OeStA/AdR, E-uReang, FLD, Zl. 16998, Alfons Thorsch.
OeStA/AdR, E-uReang, BMfVW, Abt. 2, GZ. 32.111-2-/1948.
OeStA/AdR, E-uReang, VVSt, VA 33346, Marie Thorsch.
OeStA/AdR, ZNsZ, Gauakt 245.169, Kurt von Barisani.
OeStA/AdR, ZNsZ, RStH Wien, GZ.1.060/1939.
OeStA/AdR, ZNsZ, RStH Wien, SIIG 41-38-80, RSt I – 10491/38.

WStLA, Historische Wiener Meldeunterlagen, Meldeauskunft Alfons Thorsch.
WStLA, M.Abt. 119, A41, VEAV I-904, I-908, 3. Bez., Alfons und Marie Thorsch.