Voices From His Suitcase by Kay Koenig

“Under long-continued pressure from my family and friends, and with great reluctance, I will try to recall and record something of my long life. One of my descendants may be interested in learning where I came from and why I left Central Europe in 1939, mid-life to start all over again in remote Australia.”

Thus began the memoir of Karel Koenig. It was written in 1989 when he was in his ninety first year. This was an extraordinary age for a man, who was gassed as a teenage Calvary Officer on the Russian front in World War I, dodged a bullet in the back whilst escaping from the Nazis in World War II and survived a torpedo that was fired at the ‘Dunera’ when he was being deported to Australia as an enemy alien in 1940.    

This tale of luck and adventure was only part of the chronicle of Karel’s life. Another sadder and darker side was revealed in a suitcase of letters, documents and photographs left behind when he died. They were written by his mother, brother, wife and children who were trapped in Nazi occupied Czcehoslovakia. They are the Voices from his Suitcase.

This is a pictorial biography. An adventure story, love story and tragedy covering the first 50 years of the 20th century. It is  illustrated by more than 250 photographs and documents.

The Verdict

An immensely interesting and intelligently researched book I would highly recommend it.

Who might enjoy it: Readers who enjoy biographies with a dash of adventure, triumph and tragedy.

Who might not enjoy it: Those not keen history or war.

About the Author

Kay Koenig is Karel Koenig’s daughter-in-law. She first heard his story in 1969. It captivated her then and still does today. She is a graduate in geology and history with a keen interest in Australia’s past. Kay is married with three adult sons. This is her first book.


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