The Enchanted Suitcase

A Window Onto My German Father's World War II Life

Non-Fiction - Memoir
253 Pages
Reviewed on 11/29/2022
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Author Biography

Helga Warren is a Washington, DC tour guide specializing in German and French tours of the city, and a former public school German Immersion teacher. She lives in the Virginia suburbs of the nation’s capital with her husband. The daughter of two German parents, she grew up in a German-speaking household and had the good fortune of spending her teenage years in Paris, which led to a lifelong involvement with languages. Her grandchildren are the light of her life. She would never have written a book if it weren’t for that old suitcase.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Stephanie Lynn for Readers' Favorite

The Enchanted Suitcase: A Window onto My German Father's World War II Life by Helga Warren is a revealing account of one German soldier's life. Compiled from both handwritten letters and the two memoirs he had written, Warren has pieced together the previously untold story of her father's life. Born Karlheinz Rudolf Stöss before later changing it to Karl H. R. Stoess, he had lived an interesting life, much of which has not been revealed until now. The book gives readers glimpses of what his writing offers, from his time as a young German soldier, a young man in love with life who loved to travel, and as a POW in America. We also see how these events changed him, leaving a much more withdrawn, serious man in their wake.

The Enchanted Suitcase by Helga Warren is a wonderful treasure and gives a unique look into a time of history many may never see. This memoir transports readers into the life of Karl Stoess beautifully, providing an unusual taste of his travels and experiences through his surviving personal accounts. Stoess’s incredible storytelling skills shine in the emotional saga revealed by his writings. His daughter Helga Warren shares his gift for words, which we see in the stunning presentation of this eye-opening memoir. She captures the very essence of a young soldier's heart and the painful realities of war that left him forever changed. Through his account, we see how his exploits during the war begin to erode his zest for life, eventually leaving behind the man she would later come to know as her father. This memoir offers a unique look at a rarely seen side of the war and its lasting legacy.