Alfred “Freddie” Traum was born in Vienna, Austria into a traditional Jewish family. World War I left Freddie’s father, Elias, severely disabled with arthritis, and he barely left the apartment. Freddie’s mother, Gita, therefore, was often out of the apartment for business. Freddie and his father spent many afternoons together where Freddie learned from his positive outlook and his determination to overcome life’s hardships.
In March of 1938 Germany annexed Austria, and Freddie’s life dramatically changed. Freddie and his older sister, Ruth, were forced to leave their public school and attend a school only for Jewish students. Non-Jewish friends joined the Hitler Youth and quickly separated themselves from Freddie, often tormenting the Jewish children with bullying and physical abuse. Jewish youth movements flourished during that time and Freddie accompanied Ruth to her Zionist youth group meetings. While Ruth dreamed of moving to Palestine, their parents decided it would be best to keep the children together and made arrangements for both of them to go to England on the Kindertransport.
On June 20, 1939, ten-year-old Freddie said goodbye to his parents and his maternal grandmother Biene Aufrichtig Alster when he left with Ruth for England. Upon arriving in London, they were placed with a Christian family, the Griggs, who had two children of their own. Mr. Grigg was a locomotive driver and Mrs. Grigg took care of the home. Freddie quickly learned English and settled into a new country while still missing his parents and family back in Vienna. Most of his experiences and encounters were positive in London.
At the beginning of the war, Freddie's school was evacuated to the country. He no longer felt he was a refugee but instead one of the many evacuees from London. Freddie had many friends and volunteered to work on a local farm. In the countryside, Freddie and Ruth were the unwelcome guests of the young couple with whom they lived. On one occasion, the couple told him that they thought Hitler was doing the right thing. They only allowed Freddie inside the home during mealtimes and to sleep. As such, Freddie spent much of his time with his school friends outdoors. Upon the death of Mrs. Grigg, Ruth returned to London to help Mr. Grigg with the home. After Freddie joined Ruth in 1943, he witnessed the “doodlebug” (German V-1 guided missile) and other attacks by the Germans.
As news about the Holocaust surfaced, Freddie and his sister discovered that their entire family had been murdered. On June 6, 1942, his parents, Elias and Gita, were deported from Vienna to the Maly Trostenets killing site, near Minsk. His grandmother Biene was deported from Vienna to Theresienstadt on June 20, 1942. She was transported to the Treblinka killing center in September 1942. Elias, Gita, and Biene did not survive.
After the war, Freddie and his sister moved to Manchester where they lived within the Jewish community and gained British citizenship. Freddie served in both the English and Israeli armies, as a tank commander and later in the Israeli merchant marine. Freddie married another Holocaust survivor, Josiane, with whom he had three children. In 1963 Freddie and Josiane moved to the United States where Freddie worked for The Boeing Company. Freddie continued to stay in touch with the Griggs and planned regular visits and phone calls to his English family. Freddie, Josiane, and Fanny Aizenberg, Josiane’s mother, also a survivor, regularly volunteered at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.