MILWAUKEE – The Hebrew translation of a World War II memoir by Milwaukee-area author Max Gendelman has been published in Israel.
The English title is “A Tale of Two Soldiers: The Unexpected Friendship Between a WWII American Jewish Sniper and a German Military Pilot.”
The book is a memoir about the unlikely friendship between an American Jewish G.I. and trained sniper for the U.S. Army, formed with a German Luftwaffe pilot during World War II.
On Dec. 18, 1944, 21-year-old Max Gendelman was captured in the Battle of the Bulge, one of only a handful in his company to survive. Starving and dazed, his dog tags blown off, he was marched through German villages and eventually arrived at a farm the Reich had commandeered from a German family.
The family’s grandson, Karl Kirschner, a lieutenant in the Luftwaffe conscripted against his will, was hiding out in one of the barns. To Max’s astonishment one day Karl spoke to him through the fence; they discovered a shared passion for chess, and began to secretly meet to play the game.
As they got to know each other, they recognized what they needed to do; they formed a pact, a plan to escape together. This was the start of a friendship that would endure for more than six decades.
The Hebrew version of the book is for sale in Israeli Steimatzky bookstores and is available online through Amazon under the title “The Story of Two Soldiers,” according to a news release.
The book, endorsed by Deborah Lipstadt and Wolf Blitzer among others, has had legs since its publication in 2013, according to the release.
The Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library, located in the Milwaukee Public Library, recorded an audio version.
In conjunction with Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2016, Nina Edelman, daughter of the author, was invited to host a live call-in book club of National Library Service patrons in Wisconsin. The focus was her trip to Linda, Germany, where the pivotal story of unexpected friendship took place. Relatives and neighbors of the featured Luftwaffe pilot were astonished to learn of the details of the story and an ensuing lifelong friendship in the U.S.
Besides Amazon.com, the book is locally available at the Jewish Museum Milwaukee. It has also been for sale at the United States Holocaust Museum and the Galicia Jewish Museum in Poland.