“I Was Always Happy And Thankful”: From WWII Germany To Post-War America

Karl Veile


Karl Veile was born on March 6, 1928, and grew up in Gussenstadt, Germany. He was part of a large and loving family. One grandfather was the Mayor of his town, and three uncles fought in World War I, but his father did not have to serve. Karl was a young boy when Hitler came to power, but living in rural Germany, he felt little impact. As a young boy, he was compelled to join the Hitler Youth, but he enjoyed the physical training like orienteering, skiing, and track and field events. When World War II started, his father served as a quartermaster and Red Cross specialist, and was responsible for returning wounded Soldiers from the front for convalescence. His father was on a train of wounded Soldiers leaving Stalingrad, and departed three hours before that city was cut off by the Soviets. While his father was deployed, young Karl faced many additional responsibilities on his grandfather’s farm, and in a local bakery. Finally, in 1945, he was called up for service in the Luftwaffe, and was assigned to an anti-aircraft battery in Vienna. His older brother also served in the Luftwaffe, and was captured by the Americans, eventually being detained in a prison camp in Nebraska. Karl’s war ended when his major told him, “The war is over. Go home.” After the war, he became a hairdresser and met his wife, who was a German refugee from Hungary. In 1957, he came to the United States with his wife, two daughters, and $200. He settled in Galveston, and eventually opened a beauty salon. One of the most important aspects of his life was becoming a born-again Christian, and that shapes his outlook on life. In this interview, he talks about growing up in a small village in Germany, his experience in the Hitler Youth, his short time in the Luftwaffe, and immigrating to America. He describes his childhood as extremely happy, and he paints an idyllic picture of life in rural Germany in the 1930s. He details many of the activities he engaged in while a member of the Hitler Youth, and discusses his love for track and field. He discusses his time in the Luftwaffe, and highlights two times when his position came under attack. He explains what life was like after the war, when American Soldiers occupied his town, and some were quartered in his family’s house. He talks about meeting his wife, and compares her much more traumatic wartime experience with his own. Finally, he discusses coming to the U.S. to live the American dream, and explains how blessed he feels every day.


conflicts World War II World War I
topics Civilians Military Family Life After Military Returning from War Nazi Germany
interviewer David Siry
date 21 September 2017


name Karl Veile
service Luftwaffe Air Defense
unit Luftwaffe Air Defense
specialty Hitler Youth
service dates 1945 1945