History Week at the Murchison Heritage Centre launched a new book Art Captured that looks into the life of German prisoner of war, Hans-Wolter von Gruenewaldt, whose artwork has become a part of the town’s identity.
Mr von Gruenewaldt’s art, created while he was in Prisoner of War Camp 13, has been preserved as the years have gone by and currently adorns the Murchison Community Hall and local nursing home.
Mr von Gruenewaldt’s son gifted an extensive folio of 200 of his artworks to the Murchison Historical Society several years ago and they have been reproduced in Art Captured, which shows his creative talents.
Relatives of the German man, daughter-in-law Ann Marillier and granddaughter Fleur Marillier, travelled from New Zealand for the launch of the book and were proud of his legacy.
‘‘It’s great to see how loved his paintings are and his connection to Murchison,’’ Ms Marillier said.
Murchison Historical Society president Kay Ball said his works were really diverse, from comical murals to watercolour landscapes to portrait work.
‘‘Not only is his work of an exceptional quality, but it also helps tell the story, mostly in an amusing way of life in a prison camp,’’ Ms Ball said.
‘‘It was fortunate his large murals in the recreation hall of the camp were preserved when the building was relocated and used first as Murchison’s RSL Hall.’’
Mr von Gruenewaldt was living in South Africa during the outbreak of World War II working as a mining engineer.
Because South Africa was a British territory he attempted to make a daring escape to avoid internment by signing on as seaman on German cargo vessel.
The ship was intercepted by the British navy in the mid Atlantic and he was captured and taken to England.
Mr von Gruenewaldt was then bound for Canada on the Arandora Star, but did not make it as it was torpedoed by a German U-Boat off the Irish coast.
He survived in the water for many hours before being rescued and returned to England and was then placed on the ‘‘Hell Ship’’ Dunera to travel to Australia with 2500 prisoners.
He spent more than five years in the Murchison camp before returning to Germany and then South Africa.