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Karl Schwesig (1898-1955)
Portrait of Osias Hofstätter
Gurs Camp 25 February 1941

 © Beit Lohamei Haghetaot

Watercolor on paper, 23 x 15.3 cm

Osias Hofstätter (1905-1994) was born in Bochnia, Galicia (Poland). In 1914-1915 he immigrated with his family to Vienna. He worked as an agent and accountant until his arrest by the Gestapo in 1938. Hofstätter managed to escape and fled to Belgium. While there, he got married to Anna Schebestova, and lived in the Marneffe refugee camp. In May 1940, when the German forces invaded Belgium, Hofstätter was arrested and interned in Saint Cyprien camp in the South of France. During his time there he befriended the artist Karl Schwesig. Following the destruction of the camp in a storm on 29 October 1940, the inmates were transferred to Gurs, where Hofstätter remained until 1941. He then escaped and lived in hiding in an old-age home in the South of France. In 1942 Hofstätter crossed the Swiss border, living in several refugee camps: Igel, Wald and Birmensdorf. He then studied art in Zurich from 1943 to 1945, and after the war continued his studies at the Academy of Applied Art in Vienna. In 1948 Hofstätter moved to Warsaw and worked as a newspaper graphic editor. He eventually settled in Israel in 1957, remaining there until his death, in 1994.

Signed, lower middle: Karl Schwesig. Inscribed (in German), lower middle: Für Osias Hofstätter Gurs 1941 Febr 25, [To Osias Hofstätter Gurs 1941 Febr 25]

© Beit Lohamei Haghetaot, Museum Number 378.
Donated by Hannelore Schwesig, the artist’s widow, Ein Hod, Israel, 1959