By Julian Mattocks • Photographs Courtesy Julian Mattocks
One black-and-white sketch in particular captivates my attention as I fascinatedly look through the drawings. Its focal point—a single tree in full bloom—stands alone by some water, exuding a simple sense of beauty to the artist. In the background, a security fence and watchtower signal the start of a more barren landscape. But it is the few choice words scribbled at the bottom of the paper that leave me wanting to know more: “Kleine Freiheit (A Little Freedom), POW Camp Mexia, 1.4.45”.
“My father always said he never ate as well as he did in Texas as a prisoner of war,” says Vienna native Hannes Rosenkranz. We’re sitting in a Viennese café for lunch and the 72-year-old is enthusiastically tucking into a chicken leg. “He was treated very well by the Americans. And even the cheap products that the locals didn’t eat were popular with the German and Austrian prisoners. I remember him telling me about canned fish called silver hakes that they were convinced were used as dogfood over there before being delivered to Europe in the care packages after the war. They’d never tried anything like that before.” He brings his thumb and forefinger to his lips before kissing them with gusto: “Delicious!”