Alfred Silberstein was born in 1929 in Berlin, Germany. During World War II he was consigned as a servant to the SS, and survived medical experimentation eventually finding a new life and future in New Zealand.
Alfred was born, raised, and schooled in Berlin, experiencing the Nazi regime as a child. His father was arrested shortly after his department store was destroyed during the Reichskristallnacht. Upon release from the concentration camp where he was interred, he returned home, a broken man.
Fred himself was consigned to work as a servant in the house of SS officials in a luxury villa near the big Wannsee lake. Blonde and blue-eyed, he was often not taken to be Jewish. That did not of course prevent his eventual arrest and deportation to Auschwitz in February 1943. Selected by the notorious Josef Mengele for medical experiments, he was spared the gas chamber but had to endure months of torture.
Fellow prisoners saved him when on one occasion he was ready to give up and take his own life. Miraculously he then also survived the death marches that followed after the Auschwitz installations were disbanded. After the war, Alfred was reunited with his sister Hansi and together they emigrated to New Zealand and settled in Auckland. At first he worked as a carpenter but then he was able to enrol in a cooking course and pursue his dream career goal of becoming a chef. He died in 2009.
Image header (above): Alfred Silberstein in Berlin 1946 © Haus_der_Wannseekonferenz, photographer