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Atlanta, Georgia
September 19, 2005
Mini DVR/transcript
26 pages

Fred Eisenberg was born Manfred Eisenberg in November 1918 in Bonn, Germany. His parents were Eugen and Rosa Laufer Eisenberg. He was an only child. His father was a buyer for ladies clothing at a major department store. His mother came from Frankfurt am Oder and his father from Raciborz, Poland (German: Ratibor). Eugen was a German soldier in World War I and the family considered themselves to be Germans first and Jews second. Fred didn’t have much of a Jewish education. He was bar mitzvahed in Berlin and they went to synagogue but not a regular basis. As the anti-Jewish laws were put into effect, his father lost his job and they have to move in with other Jewish families in “Jew houses.” They couldn’t have a radio or telephone or go shopping except at certain times of the day. They just existed, not daring to say anything to anybody because “the walls had ears.” The world closed in on them. Around 1937 or 1938 the Eisenberg family determined that Hitler wasn’t going “to pass” as they had thought and began trying to get out. No country would have them. Fortunately, Fred had an aunt in England, but she could sponsor only him. He had to leave his parents behind. He knew on the train platform that he would never see them again. Fred left Bremerhaven, Germany for England in August 1939. (!) He was 21 years old. He could speak a little English from school. He stayed at the Bloomsbury House in London, which was a organization that took care of Jewish immigrants, helping them find jobs and get settled. The war was declared shortly after his arrival and he was arrested and interned as an “enemy alien.” The British send him to the Isle of Man and from there to Saint-Jean-de-Cherbourg, Quebec, Canada. He occasionally received letters from his family but they were so heavily censored they told him nothing important. His father died in the hospital in 1942 and 1943. He cried when he got the letter telling him of his father’s death. All letters stopped after his mother was deported on one of the final trains from Germany to the east. He does not know what happened to her. In Canada Fred worked on a farm. It was hard work but the camps were humane. Around 1943 he returned to the Isle of Man, where he joined the British Army. He didn’t actively serve because his German language skills meant that he worked as an interpreter between the British and German prisoners of war. When the war ended he was in Glasgow, Scotland where he met his wife. (Note: Get name) They married in Scotland in order to get the papers to get to the United States and re-married in a Jewish ceremony here. In the United States they settled in New York where they had friends. In England he had been a tailor so he went to work in a factory in Rochester, New York doing tailoring. He hated working in a factory though and eventually got a job as a salesman for another firm and was assigned to the south. They settled in Albany, Georgia and then moved to Atlanta in 1958. At first they were concerned about segregation, the KKK, racism etc. They had to make peace with racial discrimination for the few years and he sympathized because he felt the Blacks must feel like he had in Germany. However, times changed. As a Jew he was never discrimination against. His wife taught Hebrew school at the Hebrew Congregation in Albany. His son, Gen (no ‘e’) was born in Rochester, New York and his daughter in Albany. Fred discusses his family and his life in Germany, his refugee experience, his time in the British army, his return to Germany to visit Bonn and Berlin, his children's attitudes towards his experiences, segregation, and he and his wife's participation in the Jewish community.

OHC-Fred Eisenberg

Fred Eisenberg (1918 - ) - Oral History

63 Related Subjects

Eisenberg, Fred, 1918-2012

Eisenberg, Eugen

Bonn (Germany)


Berlin (Germany)

Eisenberg, Rose Laufer

Ratiborz, Poland

Frankfurt an der Oder (Germany)

Jewish soldiers

World War, 1914-1918

Soldiers, German

Bar Mitzvah
Judaism - Customs and Practices

Judaism--Customs and Practices

Hitler, Adolf, 1889-1945


Jews - Persecution

Youth--Societies and Clubs

Hitler Youth
Youth - Societies and Clubs; Germany; National Socialism

National Socialism

Emigration and Immigration

Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Deportations

Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)

International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement

Jewish refugees

Bremerhaven (Germany)


Identification Documents


Enemy Aliens

Isle of Man


Saint-Jean-de-Cherbourg, Quebec, Canada
Canada, Quebec

Quebec, Canada

Bloomsbury House (London, England)

Soldiers, British

Internment Camps
Enemy Aliens


World War, 1939-1945

Prisoners of War, German
World War, 1939-1945


Glasgow (Scotland)


Jewish physicians



Tailoring Industry and Trade
Clothing Industry and Trade; Tailors; Clothing Workers

Rochester (N.Y.)
New York

New York


Albany (Ga.)


Atlanta (Ga.)




Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
White Supremacy Movements

White Supremacy Movements

Holocaust Survivors

Albany Hebrew Congregation (Albany, Ga.)



City of Hope National Medical Center (U.S.)

Benedict XVI, Pope, 1927-

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