Eve Brown

Home of the Danube Swabian for over 200 years.



Syrmia Biographies

Professor Oskar Sommerfeld
Professor & Academic Painter


Professor Oskar Sommerfeld

Academic Painter
from the town of India (Indjija)

As remembered by his fellow
countrymen of India.

Translated by Rose Vetter

These two paintings reveal his joyful spirit and love of his homeland.  Professor Oskar Sommerfeld once said, "I consciously distance myself from modernity because I am convinced that I can express the memory of my homeland and the historic significance of our fate only through my personal art form." 

From the very beginning, the art works of our Landsmann, Professor Oskar Sommerfeld, were closely tied to his homeland, to which his art and his life were dedicated. 



Born in 1885 on the Pußta Mojavolja to a civil servant of the counts Pejačevič, he spent a happy childhood there.  After completing elementary school and four years of high school, he attended a school for cadets in Fünfkirchen.  As a young officer he was then educated at the Academy of Art in Budapest, where he developed his skills as draftsman and painter.  After World War I he traveled abroad and received further education in Paris and Munich.  In 1922 he settled down in India as a freelance artist and remained there until his marriage in 1930, when he moved to Ruma.  He displayed his art collection in private exhibitions in Neusatz, Belgrade, Linz, Essegg, Budapest, Vienna and Fünfkirchen.  The art critics of Belgrade called him "The Discoverer of the Syrmian Landscape".  Thus he also discovered Čortanovci as the ideal Danube beach in India.


Professor Sommerfeld claimed that for him the most beautiful country in the world was Syrmia, fulfilling an artist's every wish: Flat wheat and corn fields, softly rolling meadows, a manifold world of flora and fauna, the Fruschka Gora, coniferous and oak forests, softly flowing and untamed streams, the Danube and the Sawe, old monasteries, as well as an eventful history.  In this way he portrayed the width and depth of Pannonia in his paintings. 

To the vulnerable soul of the artist the expulsion in 1944 was a traumatic experience  which could not remain without an impact on his work.  How could he portray the historic significance of the fate of the Donauschwaben, as well as his own, without considering the pain, the death and the evil we had to endure? 

This picture expresses the misery and desperation of the refugees. 


Professor Sommerfeld was active to the end.  And so it happened that the last painting on his easel was still literally damp when he died on April 27, 1973 at the age of 88 years.

[Story and images contributed by Gerhard (Gary) Banzhaf, OH]
[Published at 14 Jun 2008]

Externals Links:

Verein Salzburger Donauschwaben und donauschwäbisches Kulturzentrum
(Salzburg club Danube Swabians and donauschwäbisches Cultural Center)

[Published at by Jody McKim Pharr] ©2003 Donauschwaben Villages Helping Hands, a Non-profit Corporation.
Webmaster: Jody McKim Pharr
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Last Updated: 22 Sep 2019