Rabbi Selig S. and Hilda Fromm Auerbach

Rabbi Auerbach was born in Hamburg, Germany on October 20, 1906. He remembers a happy youth growing up in an Orthodox home. He left Hamburg as a student to study at the University at Marburg, then the University of Berlin. He remained in ·Berlin until 1932, when he moved to Wurzburg.

Here, as an assistant rabbi, he taught at high schools and later married a woman who was one of his students.  He discusses how life began to change during this period with increased Nazi persecution.

In April 1934 he became District Rabbi of Recklinghausen, Westphalia, located near the border of   Holland. Here he met the Gestapo head, who coincidentally had known Rabbi Auerbach’s uncle, and had become indebted to him (details of this story are in the tape). Because of this association, Rabbi Auerbach was able to occasionally get favors, and help, for the Jews in his congregation.

He recounts activities occurring around Kristallnacht, when he happened to be out of town near Berlin. His home in Recklinghausen was set on fire, and his wife, who was pregnant at the time, lost her baby after jumping from the burning building. He himself was arrested while leaving the Berlin area, and was put on a train to Sachsenhausen. He was later ordered off the train, and was sent back to Recklinghausen, where he and many of his congregation narrowly missed being sent to a concentration camp.

Within a few days, he escaped to Holland with their two year old daughter. Shortly afterward his wife met him there, and they went to England. They then came to the United States during the war.