August 8, 1921,
William was born to a large liberal Jewish family in Stuttgart, Germany. His father, a World War I veteran, worked as a textile wholesale businessman and owned his own small store where he sold cotton and linen goods. Stuttgart was a seemingly safe city and became the home for many Jews. However, opportunity appeared bleak for William’s family in Germany. He arrived in New York several days before his sixteenth birthday. His uncle sent him to Danville, Illinois, where he was to improve his English and to work in a department store. In November 1938, William’s father was arrested and sent to Dachau. He was later released. The rest of the family left Germany before the outbreak of World War II.