Fred Flatau was born in Berlin in 1931 to an affluent Jewish family. His family was very assimilated and not religious. His father was an entertainment lawyer who fought for Germany in World War I.
During Kristallnacht in November of 1938, the Nazis took Fred’s father to a concentration camp called Sachsenhausen. Fred’s mother used bribery to get her husband released. Ordered to leave Germany, the family fled to Prague (Czechoslovakia), then Italy. They stayed in a luxurious hotel in Italy for five years. They were forced to wear black shirts but did not have problems with anti-Semitism.
However, when Hitler allied with Mussolini, Fred’s father was sent to a camp called Ferramont for one year. The family moved around for years attempting to escape capture and persecution. When they made it to Rome they used their connections to get an apartment and changed their name to “Ferrucci.” Fred became an altar boy and attended Mass.
On June 3 , 1944, President Roosevelt announced that 1,000 Jewish refugees were able to enter the United States. Fred’s family was one of those 1,000. Fred was thirteen years old when they sailed to America and made their way to Oswego, New York. From there they moved to New York City. Fred eventually moved back to Germany and completed his medical education at a prestigious university.