‘The Artist’ POW Wilhelm Rubenbauer

This is an interesting story about a German prisoner of war called Wilhelm Rubenbauer who was held at camp 193, which I picked up from the Madeley Village website.  The Madeley camp despite having a Crewe postcode is actually just within Staffordshire and also not too far from Shopshire boundary either.  Both the Weston and Warmingham camps which have been covered on here were still classed as a satellite camps to camp 193 despite this being across the border according to the Mark Tyrrell’s book Embracing the Enemy.

Wilhelm Rübenbauer was China painter and a budding artist with aspirations to attend the Academy of Arts.  Before he could complete his studies in hand painted glass and porcelain he was called up for war duty.  Unfortunately he was captured just before the end of world war 2 and was held in various POW camps.  We know he was held at Madeley (193 Tileworks camp sketch pictured right) and another camp Adderley Hall (192 house sketch pictured below) in Shropshire, not only because of an his biography but also because of the signature local landmark art produced by Wilhelm during imprisonment. Initially although being stationed at the old brickyard, the POWs were not allowed to work, so Wilhelm made good use of the downtime and improvised with cement bags to make the paper needed for his masterpieces and keep him occupied.

kommandantThe last Christmas before the end of the war Six paint boxes with six colours in each were distributed to the imprisoned soldiers by the Red Cross. Willhelm was lucky enough to receive one of them.  He made great use of the paints and recorded memories of his time in the area within the paintings and sketches he produced. Willheim’s son, Berthold who was born in 1951 was later so inspired by his father’s work that he to become an artist and treasures these paintings and sketches as prized memories from an inspirational chapter of his father’s life.
Unfortunately Willhelm died in 1993.  Although he is no longer with us, his determination and the story of how he made the most of a difficult situation still lives on through his art.  It seems that after returning to his homeland around 1948 eventually he was at some point also able to complete his training and return to his role as a China / Porcelain artist.  The feature image of decorative plate is actually an example of his work and depicts a Christmas scene dated 1972.

photo01Wilhelm Rubenbauer, 1916 – 1993


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