Karl Muffler, 1920s
Source: Sue Muffler and Jennifer Anderson
Karl Friedrich Muffler was born in 1900 in south-west Germany. As a teenager, he decided to pursue a career in confectionery craft. After completing his qualifications, Karl worked for several firms in Germany, then travelled as a confectioner on a Spanish passenger liner.
Around 1929, Karl met Bill Ikinger, a German-Australian citizen who was recruiting German pastry chefs for employment in Melbourne. Karl was attracted by the idea and, despite speaking little English, migrated to Australia under Ikinger’s sponsorship in 1930.
Karl worked in Melbourne at Ikinger’s cake shop in Brunswick, then established his own business, the Embassy, which operated in Malvern until the late 1930s. Karl was an innovative and artistic cake designer, introducing his customers to the ‘Dolly Varden’ cake (a novelty cake in the form of a full-skirted doll).
At this time Karl was also affiliated with the Tivoli Club, and the ‘German Labour Front’ through his father-in-law Adolf Mayer. On 4th September 1939, he was detained as an enemy alien, along with dozens of other German residents in Victoria.
For six long years, Karl remained interned, mostly at Tatura camp in northern Victoria. He kept himself occupied decorating cakes, and learning woodcarving and drafting. Meanwhile his wife Hilde, also a German migrant, was issued with a travel permit and her movements were restricted to within 15 miles of Melbourne’s General Post Office.
The couple were reunited after the war. With no family left in Germany, they decided to stay in Australia, became naturalised in 1947, and had two daughters.
Karl's love of cake-decorating continued throughout his life. He passed away in 1996.