Meir Deutsch (born Pavel Deutsch) is the son of Josef Eliezer (Josip M.) and Gabriela (Ella Fischer) Deutsch. He was born in 1935 in Zagreb, Croatia, where his father owned VAGA, a factory that manufactured scales. Pavel had two younger brothers: Branko (later Yaakov, b. 1936) and Djordje (Yoetz, b. 1938). Pavel's parents were raised in Austria-Hungary: Josef, in Mattersdorf, Hungary (now Austria) and Gabriela, in Guta (Slovakia). In Zagreb, Josef and Gabriela were active members of the Orthodox Jewish community, and sent their boys to cheder. They also provided hospitality for the many Jewish refugees arriving in Zagreb. They greeted them at the train with sandwiches and hot coffee, and housed a family of Austrian refugees, Lola Schiff and her daughters, Anni and Lisl, in their home. In the years 1940-1941 Josef Deutsch sent food parcels to Jewish families in Germany, Austria and the part of Poland occupied by Germany. He did not get licenses for parcels to be sent to Soviet occupied Poland. Only one third of the lists survived and they include more than 300 parcels. Among the recipients were the family of the Gerer Rebbe, families Alter, in Gora Kalvaria and Warsaw. The lists were sent to him from the USA by Charles Richter in collaboration with Rabbi Schonfeld. During World War II, following the establishment of the NDH (Independent State of Croatia), the Ustasa raided their home and confiscated their furniture and belongings. They were forced to don the Jewish badge and identify their home as a Jewish dwelling. Josef's factory was confiscated by the NDH and transferred to a Croatian named Dr. Baric. Josef was arrested by the Ustasa on September 16, 1941. Four days later, he was transferred to the Jasenovac death camp, where he perished. After his arrest, Gabriela decided to flee with the children to the Italian zone. Her opportunity came on September 23, 1941. Since this was the second day of Rosh Hashanah, she sought her Rabbi's permission to travel on the holiday. She, the three boys, the Shiff family who stayed with them, and Mr. Lazar walked on foot to the border of the Italian zone and slept in the woods. After bribing border guards with British gold coins, they were allowed to cross the border and were taken to the home of a peasant, who put them up for the night. The following morning they boarded a train for Ljubljana. When the conductor asked for their tickets, they confessed that they didn't have any. The conductor said he understood and returned with food and drinks. After arriving in Ljubljana, the Italian authorities assigned them to Malo, a town in the province of Vicenza, which they were not permitted to leave. For the next two years they lived there in relative security. Their situation changed suddenly after Italy's surrender to the Allies in September 1943 and Germany's subsequent occupation of much of the country. Since they were known as Jews in Malo, the Deutsch family fled south to await the advancing Allied armies. At one point, they were stopped by Germans, but Gabriela was able to convince them they were Sudeten-Germans and they were allowed to pass. They stayed in various small villages in the Gran Sasso Mountains until their liberation in 1944 by the British 8th Army and its Jewish soldiers from Palestine. At that time, the Deutsch's moved to Bari, and after being out of school during all those years the boys started visiting a school put up by the British for refugee children. The teachers were soldiers from the Palestine Company.
Towards the end of 1944 President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill decided to issue about 1,000 certificates each for entry of refugees to the USA and Palestine. They were given the opportunity to choose where to go and decided to go to Palestine. They boarded a British War Ship "Princess Kathleen" and arrived at Haifa just before Passover of 1945