The Making of an American

The Autobiography of a Hungarian Immigrant, Appalachian Entrepreneur, and OSS Officer

  • Author(s): Himler, Martin edited by Cathy Cassady Corbin
  • Series: Appalachian Echoes
  • Imprint: University of Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 0000-00-00
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Paper: Price $34.95 | Buy Now


Martin Himler emigrated from Hungary to America in 1907, and he arrived in New York City with no money and no plan other than to find work. From these impoverished beginnings, Himler persevered to become a self-made new American. As a coal mining entrepreneur, he established the Himler Coal Company—a bold experiment in a worker-owned mine—founded the small town of Himlerville, Kentucky—a town almost completely populated by Hungarian immigrants—and founded and edited a weekly newspaper, the Magyar Bányászlap (Hungarian Miners’ Journal). During WWII, Himler was called by the United States government to work for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Colonel Himler arrested more than 300 Nazi war criminals and interrogated 40 himself.

Himler’s autobiography tells in Himler’s own words his life story as it evolves into the American dream, wherein hard work results in success. Himler captivates readers from his earliest memories of his childhood in Hungary to his experiences with the OSS.

Following Himler’s death, the manuscript of the autobiography was passed down among Himler family members and then donated to the Martin County Historical and Genealogical Society, Inez, Kentucky, in 2007. Editor Cathy Cassady Corbin’s annotations enhance Himler’s words, while the introduction by scholar Doug Cantrell provides historical context for Himler’s migration to Appalachia. Finally, Charles Fenyvesi’s foreword analyzes Himler’s courageous OSS work.


Cathy Cassady Corbin is a retired English teacher, current editor, and co-coordinator of the Himler Project.

Doug Cantrell is a professor in the History Department at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.

Charles Fenyvesi has been a journalist since 1962 and has written for such newspapers as the Washington Post and US News and World Report. His most recent book is When the World Was Whole: Three Centuries of Memories.