In 1935, my father died of a heart attack in my arms. I had a strong Jewish identity and could not take what was going on. just before Kristallnacht, 7,000 jews of Polish extraction were deported from Germany to Poland; about 8,000 remained in a forced labor camp in Zbasyn, for as long as eight to nine months. This included my mother and I, my brothers Hermann and Bernhard. We were eventually allowed to return to Hamburg to get our affairs in order to leave Germany, preferably within a month.
I left in December, 1939 after World War II began, for Genoa, Italy and then to New York. I escaped with the help of the Italian jewish underground. I came with a transport of 500 refugees to the United States.
My older brother Hermann and his wife Eva were deported to the Warsaw ghetto; Hermann died there while Eva, a Christian, survived. My mother and younger brother Bernhard were sent to Auschwitz to their deaths. My brother Friedrich had left for the US in 1936, and with our cousin Louis Thau, provided the affidavit for me to join them in New York. Friedrich’s wife Erna (my best friend) and their young son, Werner, remained in Germany and were eventually murdered in Auschwitz.