An Update to “Seeing Double: POW Artists at Camp 133 (Ozada)

Last week, I published a post about two paintings that depicted the same scene at Camp 133 at Ozada, Alberta. As the existence of two paintings showing the same scene prompted many questions, I asked if anyone had other copies. And, within twenty-four hours of my original post, a reader had forwarded a third painting depicting the same scene at Camp 133 near Ozada, Alberta!

“Ozada – Kanada – 1942 – Camp ‘133’” by J.B., April 1, 1943.

Although somewhat “rougher” than the other two, the painting shows the same five tents, the clothes line (although simplified), the camouflage zeltbahn, the tent’s flag (more on this later), the single guard tower, and the looming Rocky Mountains. You can compare it to the original two copies below.

However, this third copy yields some more clues about the existence of all three paintings and provides some answers to my many questions. First, and most important, this is the only example with a date – 1.4.43. As the Ozada camp closed in December 1942, this indicates that this copy was not produced at Ozada but Camp 133 in Lethbridge, some five months after the POWs left Ozada. This supports the theory that POW artists were copying another version, perhaps as part of a group of artists or as students attending an art class. But they could also be making reproductions simply to sell to their comrades as souvenirs, trading them for canteen tickets or physical goods. Could Schädler’s version, as the most detailed, be the original? Or is there another, better copy out there that he was working from?

Another question that has been answered, at least partially, is the flag flying from the tent on the far right. In this copy, the artists has simplified the design and the letters “DAK” are clearly visible. “DAK” refers to Deutsches Afrikakorps, or German Africa Corps, the German force that fought in North Africa that the majority of the POWs in Ozada had served in. It is now clear that to the left of “DAK” is the insignia of the Afrika Korps’, a swastika over a palm tree. Referring back to Schädler’s version, the same insignia is visible, although “DAK” appears to be absent.

Although some questions remain to be answered, the existence of this third painting helps support the theory that some, if not all, of these pieces were produced in Lethbridge after the POWs left Ozada. Perhaps more copies will surface and help shed some more light on their history.

Thank you to Andreas for allowing me to share this painting.

Published by Michael O'Hagan

Historian studying German Prisoners of War in Canada during the Second World War

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