Adolf Wohlbrück

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Anton Walbrook in the 1940s (Adolf Wohlbrück)

Adolf Wilhelm Anton Wohlbrück (born November 19, 1896 in Vienna , † August 9, 1967 in Garatshausen ) was an Austrian actor who called himself Anton Walbrook in exile in England .


Adolf Wohlbrück in the summer of 1930 as Andreas Bleichenwang from What you want in a photograph by Genja Jonas

Wohlbrück was the son of the circus clown Adolf Ferdinand Wohlbrück (1864-1930) and grandson of the actor and vaudeville artist Adolf Wohlbrück (1826-1897). After attending a monastery school in Vienna and high school in Berlin, he took acting lessons at Max Reinhardt's school . During the First World War he was captured by the French, where he founded the Aucher Gefangenschaftstheater, and then continued his career at various stages in Munich , Dresden and Berlin. He occasionally began to act in silent films, but it was only with the sound film that he appeared regularly. He embodied the elegant, urbane gentleman , often at the side of Renate Müller , for example in the films Viktor and Viktoria and The English Marriage . From 1933 he changed his appearance and appeared with a mustache .

Wohlbrück, not only a “ half-Jew ” and allegedly homosexual, but also a vehement opponent of the National Socialist regime politically, emigrated to England via France and Hollywood in 1936 and worked there under the stage name Anton Walbrook - “Adolf” would certainly have caused offense at the time. Even in exile he actively supported Jewish actors and “non-Aryan” relatives of German actors, financially or by helping them pave the way to escape.

In contrast to many other German-speaking actors, he was also able to record considerable success in English-speaking exile. One of his first roles in Great Britain was Prince Albert in the 1937 period film Queen Victoria and in the sequel Sixty Glorious Years from 1938. Wohlbrück also played elegant, sinister foreigners; for example as a murderous husband in the film thriller Gaslight (1940) and as a ballet impresario in The Red Shoes (1948) under the direction of the directing duo Powell - Pressburger . He had previously made the films 49th Parallel (1941) and Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) with Powell and Pressburger . In both films, Wohlbrück embodied - unusually in view of the World War and the function of the films as propaganda works - positive Germans who reject National Socialism. In 1947 he took British citizenship .

After the Second World War he was back on German stages. First in 1951 in Düsseldorf under Gustaf Gründgens , then also in Hamburg and Stuttgart. He also worked in international film productions. In Der Reigen , directed by Max Ophüls , he embodied the role of the omniscient emcee . In the late stages of his career he turned back to the theater and made fewer films. In 1967 he received the gold film tape for many years of outstanding work in German film. He died on August 9 of the same year at the age of 70 of complications from a heart attack after collapsing on stage during a performance in Munich at the end of March 1967.


Grave of Anton Walbrook in Hampstead , London

(The following German films in the order of censorship approval)


  • Kurt Loup: The Wohlbrücks. A German theater family . Claassen, Düsseldorf 1975, ISBN 3-546-46205-X , table of contents (1 page) in the joint library network
  • Robert Dachs : "Say goodbye ..." 1992 Book and exhibition in Vienna, Berlin (German Historical Museum), Munich, Salzburg a. a. Chapter on the life of Adolf Wohlbrück
  • Georg Seeßlen : L'homme fatale. The seduction of melancholy: the actor Adolf Wohlbrück and his films . In: Christian Cargnelli, Michael Omasta (ed.): Departure into the Unknown. Austrian filmmakers who emigrated before 1945 . Volume 1. Waspennest, Vienna 1993, ISBN 3-85458-503-9 , pp. 29-38.
  • German Stage Yearbook 1968 . Bühnenschriften-Vertriebs-Gesellschaft mbH, Hamburg 1967.
  • Kay Less : "In life, more is taken from you than given ...". Lexicon of filmmakers who emigrated from Germany and Austria between 1933 and 1945. A general overview. ACABUS Verlag, Hamburg 2011, ISBN 978-3-86282-049-8 , p. 661.
  • Paul S. Ulrich: Biographical directory for theater, dance and Musik , Berlin-Verlag Spitz, 1997, p. 2052 (with references).
  • Ellen Gibbels ; Elisabeth Hettwer: Adolf Wohlbrück / Anton Walbrook: Actor-Emigrant-European , 1992; Manuscript, Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Brigitte Stieghahn, Adolf Wohlbrück (1896–1967) - data on his life, Berlin 1999, see also personal file “RKK 2600 Adolf Wohlbrück” in the Federal Archives in Berlin-Lichterfelde
  2. ^ Deutsches Theater-Lexikon, Biographisches und Bibliographisches Handbuch, founded by Wilhelm Kosch, continued by Ingrid Bigler-Marschall; sixth volume, Zurich and Munich 2008, p. 3499
  3. Eike Pies , Principals - for Genealogy d. German-speaking professional theater from the 17th to 19th centuries , A. Henn Verlag Düsseldorf, 1973, ISBN 3-450-01061-1 , 9783450010614, p. 389 genealogical overview (based on Kurt Loup)
  4. Adolf Wohlbrück - the melancholy seducer . Deutschlandfunk, August 9, 2017. Accessed December 6, 2017
  5. Adolf Wohlbrück: "I owe everything to my beard" . Die Presse, April 18, 2014. Accessed December 6, 2017
  6. ^ Sylvia Buchen: New gender constructions and (queer) subcultural currents in the Weimar Republic . Freiburger FrauenStudien 17 (2005), pp. 203–224, see there page 207 (PDF file)
  7. a b German Stage Yearbook 1968 p. 149