Wilhelm was the oldest of two children in a Jewish family living in the Habsburg capital of Vienna. Shortly after Wilhelm was born, World War I broke out. Because of food shortages, Wilhelm and his mother left for her hometown of Hostoun, near Prague. After the war they returned to Vienna where his father had remained to run his shoe business. As a young man, Wilhelm worked for his father.
1933-39: In March 1938 Germany annexed Austria. Soon after, the Germans arrested Wilhelm because he was a Jew dating a Christian woman, an act forbidden under Nazi law. Released on the condition that he leave Austria within 30 days, Wilhelm, with a Jewish friend, traveled to the Czechoslovakian border. After several aborted attempts he crossed the frontier illegally. Wilhelm went on to Prague where he stayed with relatives.
1940-44: In 1941 Wilhelm was deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto, and then to Riga, Latvia, where he was put in charge of a group of prisoners peeling potatoes in the ghetto's "German section" for Jews from the Reich. He was then deported to several other camps and eventually to Troeglitz, a subcamp of Buchenwald. There, he made contact with a Christian villager from outside the camp. The man often traveled to Vienna and managed to bring back bread from Wilhelm's aunt and smuggle it in to Wilhelm.
In March 1945 Wilhelm was deported to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. He died only a few weeks before the camp was liberated by the British army on April 15, 1945.