Joseph Kempler’s favorite author as a young boy was Karl May pronounced (MY). Who? Most Americans probably never heard of him since he was a famous German author during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Often referred to as the Louis L’Amour of of Germany, Karl May is famous for creating two endearing characters: Old Shatterhand, a strong young German engineer who can knock someone out with one punch, and Winnetou, a wise Apache chief.
Interestingly, although Karl May wrote a popular western series, he never actually got further west than Buffalo, New York. Most of his knowledge of the old west came from guide books! Adolf Hitler was also a huge fan of Karl May’s books and handed out copies to German soldiers.
When Joseph and his family were forced to move from their Krakow apartment and relocate to a tiny, unheard of village, there was little room for non-essentials like books. However, Malka, always an indulgent mother, allowed Joseph to bring his basket of beloved books, including his Karl May collection.
Read more about Joseph in this sample of The Altered I, a Holocaust Memoir.
Preorder The Altered I here.
Related Article: Why Karl May Captivates Germany