Peter Chraplewski is the son of Siegfried Chraplewsky and Klara Eichner Chraplewski. He was born on February 8, 1937 in Berlin, Germany. His older brother Jan (now Caron) was born on December 7, 1930. Siegfried worked as the plant manager of a furniture company. He was Jewish, and Klara was Lutheran. They raised their sons without any religious affiliation. In the spring of 1939, the Chraplewskis decided to emigrate and booked passage on the St. Louis bound for Cuba. After the ship was turned back in the Havana harbor and returned to Europe, the family disembarked in Belgium and settled in Brussels. Following the German invasion in May 1940, Siegfried was rounded up as an enemy alien and sent to the Saint Cyprien and Gurs internment camps in southern France. After the Germans occupied southern France in 1942, Siegfried continued to be held, only then as a Jew, until his deportation to Drancy and Auschwitz later that year. Still in Brussels, Klara baptized her sons to give them a measure of protection. All three survived the war in Brussels as Lutherans. Peter was liberated in Brussels on September 4, 1944 at the age of seven. Siegfried was liberated from Buchenwald and returned to Brussels, but died four years later in 1949 from complications of multiple sclerosis. In August 1950 Klara and the two boys immigrated to New York on board the SS Volendam. Although Peter's immediate family survived the war, Siegfried's mother, Rebecca Chraplewski and his siblings, Berthold and Bianca Chraplewski, perished in the Holocaust.