Question: Did any of your family survive the Holocaust?
Joe: Yes, my sister Dziunka (Judy) survived. She and her husband were hidden by a Christian family, an early group of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I began looking for any surviving members of my family after liberation. I asked anyone I met if they had known or heard of my brother, my sister, or my mother and grandmother. One man said he knew a Dziunka Laub that she was in a displaced persons camp in Germany. I wrote to her: Judyta Laub (German for Dziunka) Someplace in Germany. I gave it to him. By some miracle this man delivered the letter to her and she made her way to Linz, Austria, where I was staying and found me. Together we went to the displaced persons camp in Landsberg, Germany.
Question: Did you ever find out what happened to the other members of your family who didn’t survive?
Joe: Some of them. My father, Max died in the Bochnia ghetto of a stomach ailment. My mother, Malka and Babcia (grandmother) were transported from Bochnia to Auschwitz, and it is my belief that they died there. My brother Dolek was with me from Rackowice, to Plaszow, and Mauthausen. We were separated in Mauthausen and I never saw him again, but I found out that he died of typhus in Gusen.
Question: I notice from the photos that you were in the National Guard. Considering all the things you experienced in the camps why did you join the National Guard?
Joe in uniform
Joe:The Korean War had started, and I wanted to avoid the draft. A very good friend of mine, Leon Sperling, who I went through Landsberg DP camp and knew in New York, came to me one night and said that the draft law went into effect at midnight, but if we joined the National Guard we could avoid it. So that is what we did.
Question: You only had an education to the fifth grade level. What kind of work did you do after you came to this country?
Joe:I did a lot of different jobs. When I was in the DP camp I went to a radio school, even in the National Guard I was in communications. I had a strong interest in Hi Fidelity sound and gravitated to that field. I worked at Jewel Radio as an assembler, and then moved on to Fisher Radio. I was looking for work in electronics and was hired by American Measuring Instruments Corporation. Near the end of the 1950s I started work with Audio Devices which was bought by Capitol Records. I worked in the tape division, for over 30 years until Capitol Records closed that division.
To read more about Joseph Kempler click for excerpts from his memoir THE ALTERED I: MEMOIR OF JOSEPH KEMPLER, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR.
Available on Amazon.com and Google Play.