Karl Max Stoecker

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Karl Max Stoecker (Stöcker)

Birthdate: (76)
Birthplace: Bochum, Westfalen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Deutschland
Death: 9 May, 1990 (76)
Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States
Place of Burial: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Kaspar Heinrich Stoecker and Martha Mathilde Stoecker
Husband of Elisabeth Alma Stoecker
Father of <private> Burke (Stöcker); Elke Zinkand and Margareta "Rita" Handler

Managed by: Ashley Odell
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Karl Max Stoecker

Karl Max Stoecker (born: Stöcker) was born on October 20, 1913 in the Ruhr city of Bochum, Westfalen, Germany. A draftsman for the Flottmann company in nearby Herne, he was a soldier for the Reich during World War II. He later moved to the United States, where he lived in various places and converted to Mormonism.

He had three known children:

  1. Margareta "Rita" (Stöcker) Handler, b. May 3, 1939
  2. Gabriela (Stöcker) Burke, b. 1954
  3. Elke Stöcker, details unknown

World War II

Karl attended the labor camp at Frödenberg, Bayern and earned the "sports badge," which included frontlines military and shooting training. He was not a member of the Nazi Party, the SA, or the SS.

He was conscripted into service on September 22, 1939 as a soldier in a rear-serving unit. He advanced to the rank of corporal during his service. His only combat service was in late 1942 on the Eastern Front in Russia. In 1943, he was transferred to the French Riviera -- likely saving his life, as his previous regiment was, as military historian Roger Moorhouse put it, "wiped out."

On August 16, 1944, he was captured by Americans in Saint-Raphaël, Var, France, after which he was taken as a prisoner of war by the Americans and sent to the POW camp in Algona, Kossuth County, Iowa (not Montana, as Karl had believed). He was processed there on September 1, 1944 and, like the other prisoners, lived a life of both agricultural labor and personal enrichment thanks to the humane atmosphere. He even played the violin in the camp's orchestra. Following his imprisonment, he was sent back to Germany.

His granddaughter Chelsea reports that "he had a sense of embarrassment" about his involvement, and records suggest his service was not enthusiastic.

Life in America

Although his initial experience with America was as a prisoner of war, he liked the country -- or, more specifically, the good treatment his received -- enough to want to return. After emigrating to the United States, he lived in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania (221 Sherwood Drive) and Everett, Washington (3124 100th St SE). His SSN was issued in New Jersey.

He is possibly, but not definitively, the Karl Stoecker who was living in Santa Ana, California and working as a manager of Stoecker's Signal Service there in 1960. Also listed in Santa Ana at that time were Russell Lowell Stoecker, owner of Stoecker's Signal Service, and his wife, Margery "Margie" V. Stoecker, the company's bookkeeper.

Karl died in May 9, 1990 in Los Angeles. He is buried in the Murmuring Trees plot of Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills.


One of his granddaughters through Rita is comedian and author Chelsea Handler. In August 2013, she was featured on an episode of the American version of the television show "Who Do You Think You Are?," during which she focused on learning about Karl and his involvement with the Third Reich.

His granddaughter described him as "a really good dad and a great grandfather ... whatever he saw [during the war] ended up ultimately making him a good man."


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Karl Max Stoecker's Timeline

20 அக்டோபர், 1913
Bochum, Westfalen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Deutschland
3 May, 1939
Age 25
Herne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
1 July, 1943
Age 29
Herne, Herne, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Deutschland
9 May, 1990
Age 76
Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States
Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States