Advanced Search

Learn About The Holocaust

Special Collections

My Saved Research




Skip to main content

Oral history interview with Alfred Fiks

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

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.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Dr. Alfred Fiks
Katherine Saint John
interview:  2016 August 18
interview:  2016 September 29
interview:  2016 November 03
3 digital files : MP3.
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:38:16
This page: