The paintings of Gustav Potthoff, a World War II prisoner of war, will be on display in “Room to Breathe” at the Columbus Learning Center until Wednesday.
Gustav Potthof was born in Indonesia. In 1941, he enlisted in the Netherlands Army Tank Battalion. Japan invaded Indonesia in January 1942; after two months of fighting, 40,000 soldiers, among them Potthoff, were taken captive and sent to prisoner-of-war camps. Potthoff survived but remained haunted by his captivity experience in Thailand.
Decades later, he began painting detailed scenes of POW camp life, including the guards, beatings, the jungle, escape attempts and those left behind.
During those three years, he and other prisoners were forced to work on the Burma-Thailand railroad, including at the infamous camp at the River Kwai.
Potthoff gained his freedom in 1945 when the war was over. In January 1946, he was recalled to active duty. He retired from the military in 1962.
He then came to Columbus, where he went to work for Cummins in 1965 until his retirement in 1987.
The Learning Center hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday; and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
The public is invited to stop by at any time during these hours. The center is at 4555 Central Ave. No. 1600, Columbus.