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Untitled portrait from Mooragh Internment Camp by Hugo Dachinger

Date made: 1940

Artist: Dachinger, Hugo

Description: Untitled portrait painted by artist Hugo Dachinger whilst interned at Mooragh Internment Camp in Ramsey, 1940. Head and shoulders portrait of a man in a shirt and tie with brown jacket. Inscription top left.

Early in the Second World War there were fears that ‘fifth columnists’ (spies) had been planted by the Germans amongst the refugees who had fled to Britain from Nazi-occupied Europe. As a result, a policy of mass civilian internment began in 1940 with men and women being interned on the Isle of Man.

Mooragh Internment Camp was a civilian internment camp created in Ramsey by the requisitioning of hotels along the promenade by Mooragh Park. It was the first camp to be opened on the island following the outbreak of the Second World War opening on 27 May 1940. It closed on 2 August 1945. During that period it was used to house German, Austrian, Finnish and Italian internees.

Hugo Dachinger studied graphic art in Leipzig, Germany from 1929, financing his studies by working as a window dresser. In 1932 he returned to Vienna to work for Saville & Co., an English company, as a graphic designer. Dachinger’s position in Austria as a socialist, a Jew and an artist became increasingly difficult during the 1930s. Following the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1938 when on a business trip to Leipzig, he was rendered unable to return to Vienna and so with the assistance of his firm went to Britain.

Dachinger was arrested in June 1940 under Churchill’s policy of the mass internment of enemy aliens. He was interned first in Kempton Park transit camp, then Huyton Camp, Liverpool and finally in Mooragh Camp, Isle of Man. Although only interned for seven months, Dachinger produced a vast quantity of artwork, often painted on newspaper.

Whilst in Mooragh Camp and following his release in January 1941, Dachinger staged exhibitions of his work entitled ‘Art behind barbed wire’. He married in the 1940s and resumed his career as a graphic and commercial artist and designer in London.

Measurements: overall: 48 x 67 cm

Materials: Watercolour on paper

Object name: painting

Collection: Art Collection

ID number: 2002-0106



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