Karl Amson Joel

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Karl Amson Joel (November 20, 1889 – November 4, 1982) was a German Jewish textile merchant and manufacturer with Joel Macht Fabrik. He is the grandfather of conductor Alexander Joel and musician Billy Joel.


Joel, born in Colmberg as the son of a textile merchant, founded a Nuremberg based mail order textile and clothing company in 1928.[1] The following year he also started manufacturing. Joel's company soon became one of the leading mail order sellers in Germany (along with Quelle or Schöpflin).

After the rise to power of Nazism (1933), Joel was increasingly discriminated against by the regional Nazi Party leaders, especially Julius Streicher. Therefore, Joel moved his company to Berlin in 1934 where he rented a factory site in Wedding and installed new packing machines. The stitching department, however, had to remain in Nuremberg. As discrimination further increased (e.g. deliveries had to be marked with a "J" for Jude, or Jew), and Jewish firms became Aryanized, Joel was forced to sell his company to Josef Neckermann in 1938.[2] The original agreement of 2.3 million marks was further reduced by Neckermann to 1.1 million marks. The money was transferred to a trust account at the banking house Hardy & Co. in Berlin.

Meanwhile, Joel and his wife Meta had emigrated to Switzerland in July 1938. Their son Helmut (later called Howard) attended boarding school there. As a so-called "Devisenausländer" (currency foreigner) Joel could not get access to the trust account in Berlin. In August 1938 he was expatriated and his firm was confiscated the following month. Via France and England the Joels flew to Cuba. Finally, they reached the United States, where Joel started a new enterprise in 1942.

In 1957 Joel got a compensation of 2 million German marks for his former company from Neckermann who ran the most successful German mail order selling company at the time. In 1964 Joel returned to Nuremberg, where he stayed until his death in 1982.


  1. ^ Billy Joel (July 30, 2012). "Billy Joel". Here's The Thing. Retrieved 2012-08-03. They had a mail-order textile business, Joel Macht Fabrik ... 
  2. ^ Julia Goldman (January 17, 2003). "Stranger No More". The Jewish Week. Retrieved 2012-08-03. The purchaser was Josef Neckermann, a 25-year-old Wuerzberg native and Nazi-party member who earlier had bought out the Jewish department store king, Siegmund Ruschkewitz. Without realizing the significance of his actions, Neckermann reportedly wrote in his memoirs, "I just carefully stirred my cup of coffee ... and thus became an aryaniser."