Great Escape Forger (Hardback)
The Work of Carl Holmstrom – POW #221. An Artist in Stalag Luft III
As one of many artists confined in Stalag Luft III, Carl Holmstrom’s superb artwork depicts life as a Kriegie created with the perspective only a prisoner of war could draw upon as an eyewitness to history. He spent the majority of his captivity in that camp made famous by The Great Escape, later made into an award-winning film.
While a POW, he sketched his fellow prisoners and encouraged others to take up drawing as hobby, thus breaking the boredom of camp life. But his artistic ability proved to be even more important. Carl forged invaluable official German documents for escape purposes for other prisoners—work that was tedious and painstaking. Remarkably, he saved over 200 examples of his work by carrying them on the appallingly-arduous 1945 winter march through Germany when the camp was evacuated as the Russians closed in from the east
Post war, Carl Holmstrom said, ‘The drawings were made during imprisonment and represent a sincere effort to portray to the American people and especially to the relatives of the prisoners, intimate glimpses of Kriegie life.’ His words proved to be prophetic.
His daughter, Susan Holmstrom Kohnowich, spent five years working on an expansion of Carl’s earlier self-published Kriegie Life book. Extensive research went into the write-ups under the drawings and the biographies of the men in the portraits. This superb book honours Carl’s exceptional artistic gift. Indeed, it has strong claim to contain the finest collection of POW art to emerge from Nazi-occupied Europe.