Johannes Graefenstein -- Painter -- 7 November 1923 - 13 June 2004

Johannes Graefenstein -- ein Kunstmaler 7.11.1923 - 13.6.2004

Wacker, Nelly. "Johannes Graedenstein, Painter." Volk auf dem Weg, October 2004, 17.

Translation from German to English by Alex Herzog, Boulder, Colorado

Johannes Graefenstein
On June 19, I received the following sad news from Irma Graefenstein:

"Dear Frau Wacker, I am sending photos of two paintings by my husband. Sadly, Johannes died suddenly on June 13 while on a trip. It was a heart attack ...

What should I do with those pictures? Would you pick them up here in Neuss or should I simply toss them? That would be sad -- my husband put a lot of effort into them. Please let me know soon, for on June 21 I will be traveling for a long stay with my youngest daughter, and that's where my Johannes was buried."

Naturally, I called immediately and expressed my sympathy to the mourner.

"It was so terrible ... so sudden. The train was stopped at the main station in Koeln, Johannes stepped off the train, then went back inside and complained that he was feeling bad, and plunked down on a seat. I was going to give him some spray under his tongue, but he laid his head back -- dead. Please ... just a moment ..." I put down the receiver.

When I called back about an hour later, Irma had calmed herself. I asked her to mail the paintings at my expense and to let me know how much I owe her. "Only for the postcards. My husband would turn around in his grave if I accepted money for them from you. But I would like to ask you for one favor: please write a few lines for VadW. He was such a dear man and a good father."

I promised to do so and asked her to tell me a few things about the life of the deceased.

The next day I received the desired information, along with many photos of paintings, among them the impressive triptych "Preis des Krieges [The Cost of War]."

Johannes Graefenstein was born [in 1923] in Zurich on the Volga. There he completed the tenth grade and in 1941, along with all Volga-Germans, he was exiled to Siberia, where he was forced to work as part of the Trud Army in a collective. Subsequently he worked for ten long years in the Lenisnki-Kuznezk underground coal mine.

"In 1945 we were married," said Irma," and by the time we were able to leave for Kazakhstan in 1956, we already had three daughters. There Johannes worked as a painter/artist in middle schools and art galleries, until in 1979 we were able to leave for Germany. After completing a language course my husband obtained a position in the ministry for commerce/economy in Duesseldorf and worked there until his retirement. He finally had sufficient time to devote to his beloved painting. He took part in exhibitions in Wiesbaden, Darmstadt, Duesseldorf, Stuttgart and Neuss. It is so difficult to realize that he ..."

Once again, our deepest sympathy, Mrs. Graefenstein!

Nelly Wacker

Paintings of Johannes Graefenstein

Our appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation of this article.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller