As a boy, Bill attended school in Burgsteinfurt, a German town near the Dutch border. After the Nazis came to power in Germany in January 1933, Bill experienced increasing antisemitism and was once attacked on his way to Hebrew school by a boy who threw a knife at him. In 1936, he and his family left Germany for the Netherlands, where they had relatives and thought they would be safe. However, after Germany invaded the Netherlands in May 1940, antisemitic legislation--including the order to wear the Jewish badge--was instituted. Bill, his sister, and his parents were deported to the Westerbork transit camp in the Netherlands. In August 1943, Bill was deported from Westerbork to the Auschwitz camp in German-occupied Poland. He was transported from Auschwitz to Warsaw in late 1943, following the German suppression of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. Bill and other prisoners were forced to demolish the remnants of the ghetto. As Soviet forces advanced, Bill was placed on a death march and then transported by train to the Dachau camp in Germany. He was liberated by US forces at the end of April 1945.
Westerbork was just, uh, a camp where you're waiting to be, to go, to go to the east. And, uh, the sad days were Tuesdays when the transports left, every Tuesday, the, the boxcars came in and then the transports left. And that was, uh, these were the sad days, and the fear before that: Were you or were you not on the list? The list came out on Mondays, and if you were not on the list then you could breathe again for a week. This was the fear by all. And you knew that by Monday night about, I remember. And then on Tuesday there was a void after, after the trains left, there was a terrible morose in the camp and a terrible, uh, sadness. But then the next day you, you at least you had a week's reprieve. Then we went back to the, you went back to work and, and we waited for the, next, next weekend, the next Monday when the lists were published.