Stephanie Karlsruher Freudenthal was born in Mannheim, Germany, a city with a large Jewish community. Stephanie’s father and uncle had a business together.
Stephanie, at age 6, was no longer allowed to attend public school but was forced to attend a segregated Jewish school. She knew many of these classmates as they had attended the public school together.
Stephanie’s older brother left for America since he could not find work or continue his studies in Germany.
Stephanie’s other brother, who was 15 or 16 at the time, was encouraged by their parents to emigrate to America so they would have family already there. After the ban of Jewish businesses in 1933, Stephanie’s father’s had business suffered, and he was forced to close it. Stephanie experienced her first anti-Semitic action against her when she was 8 years old. Children in her neighborhood threw rocks at her and called her ‘a dirty Jew.’
Stephanie travelled to Berlin, Germany to visit her grandfather and to say goodbye before their trip. Although she did not know it at the time, but this was the last time she would see him. The family traveled from Hamburg, Germany to New York City and reunited with Stephanie’s brothers. After staying with relatives for a short time, the family of five moved into a two-bedroom apartment. They had to substantially cut their standard of living and Stephanie’s brothers went to work to support the family. Although she was 9 years old, Stephanie was placed in second grade because she didn’t know English. It was humiliating, but she adjusted.
Stephanie met her husband Ernest; he was a peer of her oldest brother, having been raised in the same town as she was. Stephanie and Ernest became friends and soon began to date.