HANS Weiss, a German who fled Slovakia to the US, gave up a business career to paint.
photo: Courtesy of SNM
The Museum of Carpathian German culture in Bratislava houses a permanent exhibition of paintings, photographs and Apollo components by Weiss.
Toward the end of the World War II, many Carpathian Germans, as well as millions from the east, had to face the consequences of a war they did not start and the power politics of Stalin and Beneš.
By the autumn of 1944 nearly two-thirds of them were forced to leave their Slovak homeland. Hans Weiss was among them.
He was born in 1931 in Podhorany, a former German village in the northern part of the Spiš region. After the war he and his parents were kept in an internment camp in Nováky, and then moved to Germany. Later the whole family managed to emigrate to the USA.
In America Weiss became a design engineer. In 1963 he founded his own engineering firm, Dynamic Metal Product, in Manchester, Connecticut. Among the firm’s products, which Weiss designed, were component parts for the Apollo space project.
Despite his business success, in 1989 Weiss decided to sell the company and devote all his time to art.
He had been painting since he was a child, but it was in the United States where he was first able to study visual arts. He studied at universities in New York and Hartford, Connecticut.
He most frequently draws and paints still lifes and landscapes in watercolour and oils. He has drawn particular inspiration from the way of life of Native Americans.
However, he has never forgotten his native land, and is also inspired by the memory of the northern Spiš region.
His paintings depicting the way of life of the Carpathian Germans have both a documentary and artistic value. Through them, he has managed to make the history of the Spiš region - the tragic war and its sad aftermath - present again.
The Museum of Carpathian German Culture in Bratislava is currently undergoing renovation but will be open again in January.
29. Nov 2004 at 0:00 | Rastislav Fiľo