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Oral history interview with Alfred Fiks

Oral History | Accession Number: 2016.377.1 | RG Number: RG-50.030.0907

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.

Dr. Alfred I. Fiks, born on June 2, 1931 in Berlin, Germany, discusses his parents and their immigration to Germany from Poland; his father’s service in the Russian army during World War I; going to the Tiergarten in Berlin with his nanny, Marie; his brothers, Max and Fritz; the death of Fritz; the fur coat store owned and operated by his parents; the tradition of going to synagogue for the high holidays; his parents’ desire and efforts to integrate into German society; his family’s apartment near Kurfürstendamm; watching a military parade and being told to leave by a member of the Hitler Youth; being thrown out of public school and sent to a Jewish school in 1937 or 1938; antisemitic propaganda; the revocation of his parents’ German citizenship in 1934; how Max was able to get a student visa to the United States; his parents’ unsuccessful efforts to acquire visas to the US in 1938; his family’s experiences during Kristallnacht; his father’s in-depth letter to Max describing Kristallnacht; his father’s escape to Paris, France; his father arranging visas to France for him and his mother; traveling by train to Brussels, Belgium and then to Paris; reuniting with his father; Max’s decision to join the US Army and his letter to President Roosevelt; moving to Niort, France; getting visas to Cuba; (Part 2) the fear of gas attacks in Paris; living in the country outside of Niort; moving to downtown Niort; encounters with German soldiers; the arrest of his parents; the German occupation of France; escaping to Limoges, France with the help of local farmers; his aunt’s refusal to leave Niort and her later deportation; traveling to Marseille, France; sneaking aboard a ship to Casablanca, Morocco; staying in Casablanca for a few weeks with other refugees; the Serpa Pinto’s captain’s initial refusal to allow the family to board the ship; the ship’s three-week journey from Casablanca to Havana, Cuba; stopping in Jamaica and spending a few days in a detention camp; arriving in Cuba; spending a few weeks in the Tiscornia detention camp; moving to Old Havana and adjusting to life in Cuba; his parents receiving money from the Joint Distribution Committee; attending English classes; receiving visas to go to the US in the spring of 1943; flying to Miami, FL; receiving an identification card with a stamp reading “enemy alien”; reactions to life in the US; traveling by train to visit his brother Max at Camp Croft in Spartanburg, SC; going to live with his father’s cousin in Brooklyn, NY in 1943; the fate of his relatives; keeping up with world events during and after the war; the creation of Israel; earning his bachelor's degree in business administration with a major in industrial psychology; earning his master's degree and later PhD; marrying and having children; his interest and career in psychology and languages; traveling and living internationally; not talking much about his wartime experiences; and his thoughts on religion, history, and his US citizenship.

Interviewee
Dr. Alfred Fiks
Interviewer
Katherine Saint John
Date
2016 August 18  (interview)
2016 September 29  (interview)
2016 November 03  (interview)
Language
English
Extent
3 digital files : MP3.
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Record last modified: 2018-01-22 11:27:06
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn551494