Fred Bachner

Fred Bachner

Born: September 28, 1925

Berlin, Germany

Fred was born to a Jewish family in the German capital. Berlin's Jewish community was large--approximately 170,000 by 1933--and the city was the seat of most of Germany's national Jewish organizations. Fred's family owned a successful clothing factory. He attended a Jewish public school in Berlin.

1933-39: In 1938 the Germans began deporting Polish citizens. Both my parents were Polish by birth, but only my father and brother were sent to Poland. Mother and I remained in Berlin until our emigration was approved in June 1939. After finding my father and brother, we settled near Krakow. By early September Germany invaded Poland. We fled to the countryside but were overtaken by German forces who ordered us back to our town.

1940-45: Once the Germans controlled our area, I was forced to register for a work detail. After working near the town for some time, I was deported to several camps, and eventually to Auschwitz. There I was assigned to check shoes for hidden valuables. The Nazis had found out that some Jews from Belgium and the Netherlands were hiding diamonds and gold in the soles of their shoes. Before these people were gassed, their shoes were brought to us and guards watched as we tore open the shoes. We were ordered to turn in whatever we found.

Fred escaped from a transport train that was ambushed by Allied forces. He was liberated by the U.S. Army in the spring of 1945.