Hans Wolter von Gruenewaldt: Artworks from Prisoner of War Camp 13 Murchison

18 June – 11 September 2022

With the outbreak of World War II civilian Hans Wolter von Gruenewaldt, a German Mining Engineer, fled South Africa to avoid internment, only to be captured by the British Army and spend the next six and a half years as a Prisoner of War (POW). A dramatic journey took him across the globe, miraculously surviving the sinking of the SS Arandora Star and enduring inhuman treatment aboard the HMT Dunera, on his way to Australia. His destination was the Goulburn Valley in central Victoria, POW Camp 13 Murchison.

Von Gruenewaldt came from a cultured aristocratic family. A talented artist, he created many artworks over the years he spent at Camp 13. He painted in oils, watercolours and house paint, sketched in pencil, charcoal and ink—whatever materials were available. Regularly sketching, he captured wildlife scenes surrounding the camp, drew pensive portraits and created comical caricatures of other POWs and Military Officers. The admiration of von Gruenewaldt’s artistic skills lead to the Camp 13 Commandant requesting he decorate the Garrison Recreation Hut, where he painted 17 large murals on the inside walls of the building.

Murchison, Australia. 29 November 1943. Group of German prisoners of war (POW) interned at A Compound, No. 13 POW group. Back row, left to right: 41208 Heinz Fisher; 35091 H. Grunwaldt; 35027 Mich. Boesl; 35319 V. D. Ohe; 35180 H. von Greunewaldt; 35299 H. Messerschmidt; 35131 R. Fabichler. Front row: 35128 Bernh. Koehnke; 35278 W. Senssfelder; 35083 Georg Erler; 35318 P. Schnieder; 35109 D. von Hardenberg. Note: The number is an assigned POW number. Image: Australian War Memorial

The visual legacy of over 200 artworks produced by von Gruenewaldt at Camp 13 have been safeguarded in the township of Murchison by the Murchison & District Historical Society (M&DHS) and the Murchison Returned Services League (RSL). This exhibition captures von Gruenewaldt’s story and brings together a selection of his murals, portraits and sketches that have not previously left Murchison township.

This SAM SQUARED exhibition is presented in partnership with the Murchison & District Historical Society and the Murchison RSL sub-branch. To learn more about Murchison & District Historical Society and Hans Wolter von Gruenewaldt, visit their website: https://murchisonhistoricalsociety.wordpress.com/

Curator: Jessica O’Farrell, Exhibitions Curator

IMAGE: Hans Wolter von Gruenewaldt, composite image. Image courtesy of Murchison & District Historical Society.




Location: Williamson Community Gallery, Level 2