Charley Koenig – 21st Panzer Division – Africa Corps

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Charley and Thomas Blakey

Charley Koenig and Paratrooper Thomas Blakey at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans

Karl Friedrich Koenig was 19 when he entered combat as an officer candidate in 1943.  After arriving in Africa, he fought against both the British and the Americans as a part of the 21st Panzer Division, Regiment 5.  Six weeks after he arrived, the Germans surrendered.  Karl Friedrich was taken as a POW by the Americans, and transported to the United States.  Actively working to improve his English skills and pick up Americanisms, he became a translator and soon went by the name Charley.

After spending over two years in camps in Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, Charley and many POW’s were sent back to Europe in 1946.  Expecting to return home, they were instead diverted to POW camps in Belgium, and then on to England.  Finally, in 1947, Charley returned to Germany where he had a successful career in business, raising four children.

He has been an invaluable partner, sharing his wisdom in regards to peace, healing and reconciliation, as well as gaining the trust of German veterans we have interviewed.

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