Alfred Spiegel

"I will forgive but I won't forget!"

Name at birth
Benno Alfred Spiegel
Date of birth
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
I left Bremen at age 4 and moved to Bunde, Germany until I was 9 years old
Name of father, occupation
Max, Sold dry goods and linens
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Ida, Homemaker
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Parents, sister Ruth, older by one and a half years
How many in entire extended family?
I had four cousins on my mother’s side. My father has five brothers and sisters.
Who survived the Holocaust?
My sister survived. She lives in Bergenfield, New Jersey. An uncle and cousin on my father's side who live in Israel.'
My teachers in Bunde were horrible.  One never called me by name and said “This is what a Jew looks like.”  Kids beat me to a pulp one day.  My sister’s teacher, Mrs. Milke, beat her on the head with a stick.  Parents forbid me from visiting their children.  I never returned to school after the beating.  There were about 140 Jewish families out of 44,000 in Bunde, with our own synagogue which was burned down.  No Jews live there now except one convert.  The house I lived in is still there as a school.  We could not buy in stores and there were “No Jews Allowed” signs in many stores.  
In September 1938, we got an affidavit from a cousin in Chicago saying my father would have a job there so he wouldn’t be a burden.  Doctors had to certify that we were healthy.  My 85 year old aunt had diabetes and was put into a nursing home.  She was later taken to a concentration camp.  
There are streets with Jewish names in Bunde today.  Names of former Jewish residents are on plaques on houses.  When leaving, we were only able to take 50 Deutschmarks for four people in a nie-by-nine box.  We took a train to the Belgium border and the SS said, “All Jews off!”  An English couple on the train said “Stay still.”  And probably saved our lives.  We had jewelry sewed in a doll.  
We left Europe on a boat.  My father had a job in a Chicago coal yard but hated it.  He went back to selling linens.  A Chicago synagogue provided help.  At 9 years old, I had to start school in the first grade because I did not speak English.    

To learn more about this survivor, please visit
The Holocaust Memorial Center Oral History Collection 
How is it that you came to Michigan?
I met my first wife, Helen Tennenbaum, in South Haven. She was from Detroit. We got married and I moved to Detroit in my early 20’s.
Occupation after the war
Floor Covering Business Owner
When and where were you married?
I met my second wife Joyce, I was divorced, at a party put on by Hadassah at her house.
Robert, now deceased who died in a private plane crash in Georgia Nancy Finegood who is the Director of Restoration for the State of Michigan by my first wife. Robin Nosen who lives in San Diego Wendy Hirschfield who lives in Grosse Pointe by my second wife.
Five: Nancy has two boys, Robin two children, and Wendy has one boy
What do you think helped you to survive?
My mother understood what was happening in Germany and overcame my father’s reluctance to leave.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
I will forgive but I won't forget!
Charles Silow
Interview date:


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