1926 Essen, Germany
Fred Westfield’s older brother was born in Germany.
Fred Westfield was born in Essen, Germany.
January 30: Hitler was named Chancellor of Germany by President Paul Von Hindenburg.
March: the Enabling Act, an amendment to the Weimar constitution that gave the Chancellor power to enact laws, was signed into law, consolidating Hitler’s power.
September 15: The Reichstag passed the Nuremberg Race Laws.
Fred started school at a gymnasium. The school day began with the Hitler salute. As a Jewish student, Fred would stand but refrained from saluting. Fred was kicked out of the gymnasium due to the Nuremberg laws, so he returned to the Jewish school. In addition to restrictions on schooling, Jews in Germany, including Fred and his family, were not allowed to go to the movies, public parks, swimming pools and other places.
Fred’s father took his older brother to the United States, to live with his uncle in Nashville. His uncle was childless, and wanted to help.
Upon his return to Germany, Fred’s father was unable to continue practicing as a lawyer, forcing the family to live on savings, another impact of the Nuremberg laws.
November 9: Violent anti-Jewish protests, later known as Kristallnacht, occurred across Germany and occupied territories.
Fred’s father luckily escaped arrest during the Kristallnacht pogrom. While Fred’s father was out of town on business, the Gestapo came to the home to arrest him and to search for weapons. Fred’s mother suggested they search 12-year-old Fred’s closet—where they would find his toys.
Concerned about the deteriorating conditions for Jews in Germany, Fred’s father contacted relatives in London, England, seeking a place for Fred.
January: Fred was sent on a Kindertransport to England, via Holland, with a final destination of Harwich, England.
Fred took a few English classes in anticipation of his trip. New to the language, he greeted his foster mother with “goodbye” instead of “hello.” However, Fred learned quickly and attended school with his foster family’s son, who was a year older than Fred.
Fred’s parents pursued visas to the United States, and were placed on the wait list. Knowing they could remain on the list for years, his parents planned to leave for England to be closer to Fred. They sold everything they owned, but were allowed to take only ten marks with them.
July: Fred’s parents immigrated to England. Unable to work, they were supported by family members living abroad. Fred remained in the countryside with his foster family.
September 1: Germany invaded Poland; World War II began. England declared war on Germany two days later.
Fred’s father was placed in an internment camp in England due to concerns that German male refugees may have been spies.
Fred’s parents’ numbers were chosen for immigration to the United States. They sailed from Liverpool, amid the bombs and shrapnel of the war.
Fred and his family arrived and settled in Nashville, Tennessee.
Fred Westfield resides in Nashville, Tennessee.