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Author searching for artwork by Second World War internee

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Horst Augustinovic with his ninth book, A Fascinating Life (Photograph by Stefano Ausenda)

An author and philatelist is seeking the public’s help to find artwork by a woman who was interned in Bermuda during the Second World War.

Horst Augustinovic’s ninth book, A Fascinating Life, contains essays, letters and a few pieces of art by writer and artist Gabriele Humbert Parker, whom he met while studying postage in the 1970s.

Mr Augustinovic said: “I was working on an exhibit about postal censorship during the Second World War, and Dr Parker mentioned she was interned during that time.

“She gave me a bunch of her letters with the censor marks when she was interned and that is how we met.”

Born in Constantinople to German parents in 1898, Dr Parker met and married Bermudian Harry Parker in 1937 and moved to the island in 1938.

She was interned with more than a dozen other Europeans at Huntley Manor in Paget from 1941 to 1942, at the barracks in St George’s from 1942 to 1943, and was put under house arrest in her Warwick home until the end of the war.

Gabriele Humbert Parker

Gabriele Humbert was born in Constantinople, Turkey, to German parents in 1898.

She earned a PhD from the University of Göttingen in Germany and won a Fellowship at Hunter College in New York in 1930.

She taught German at Vassar College, also in New York, from 1931 until 1938, and then moved to Bermuda to be with her husband, Harry Parker.

Dr Parker helped to establish the Bermuda Art Society after being interned on the island during the Second World War and was active in the Bermuda Philosophical Society, the 19th Century Club and the SPCA.

She also chaired the Warwick Welfare Society, was The Royal Gazette’s art correspondent and served as president of the Altrusa Club for three years.

Dr Parker died in 1980.

Many of Dr Parker’s writings were placed in the Bermuda Archives after she died in 1980 and were never seen again — until Mr Augustinovic asked to see them last year.

He said: “I was just blown away — 14 cartons full of documents were in the archives.”

Despite these findings, Mr Augustinovic found very few of Dr Parker’s artworks, as he believes many were destroyed.

He said: “Dr and Mr Parker’s house was sold in the mid-1980s, and the story was at the time that somebody took the paintings and burnt them in the garden, which is a tragedy.

“I estimate that about 125 paintings were burnt. Who did it … I do not know.”

Mr Augustinovic encouraged anyone who may know more or who might have one of Dr Parker’s artworks to reach out to him.

Dr Parker painted landscapes, still lifes, portraits and plants, and signed her work using her maiden name, Humbert. She mostly placed her signature in the bottom-right corner.

A painting by Gabrielle Humbert Parker, which is in the care of the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art (photograph supplied)

Mr Augustinovic said Dr Parker was an “amazing woman, in just about every respect, and I believe that more people should know her story, even if only a couple of people”.

Mr Augustinovic can be reached at 236-8011 or at horstaugustinovic1@gmail.com

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Published April 08, 2024 at 7:45 am (Updated April 08, 2024 at 7:04 am)

Author searching for artwork by Second World War internee

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