Fred’s childhood in Berlin

Fred Marcus

Fred Marcus

On May 16, 1924, Fred Marcus is born in Berlin, Germany. He is given the name Fritz Werner Marcus by his parents, Samuel “Semmy” Marcus and Gertrud Marcus (born Kowalewski).

The Marcus family has lived in Prussia for over 200 years and Semmy is proud of his German roots. He served in Germany’s military during World War I and was awarded the Iron Cross. Gertrud’s family is Protestant, but she converted to Judaism when she and Semmy married. Although Semmy grew up in an orthodox family, he is not particularly observant and Jewish traditions do not play a prominent role in Fred’s childhood home.


Fred Marcus: My father spoke with pride about the fact that our family had lived in Germany, no, even in Prussia for 200 years. And so we were very assimilated, very integrated into society. And I don’t think that when I was small, other than going to my grandparents’, there was a very pronounced Jewishness or feeling of being Jewish or being different from anybody else. That was all taught to us by the Nazis. […]

[…] being persecuted for being a Jew motivated me to find out more about Judaism. It seemed so preposterous what the Nazis were doing, that all of a sudden, you were an outcast, didn’t belong, had to be thrown out, et cetera, that I really wanted to know more about what it was that I was being persecuted for.

“Our lifestyle was very similar to that of American Jews today.”

USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive, Interview 9214

Gertrud, Fred, and Semmy Marcus during their holiday in Marienbad in June 1928

Courtesy of Audrey Friedman Marcus

Semmy is a successful businessman. Together with his brother Martin, Semmy runs a company that manufactures men’s neckties. The Marcuses live in a comfortable apartment near the center of Berlin and spend summers vacationing on the Baltic coast or in Marienbad, a famous spa in Bohemia.

Fred Marcus’ Timeline

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