Fritz Gluckstein was born on January 24, 1927 in Berlin, Germany to a Jewish father and a Christian mother. His father, a liberal Jew, was a judge and a decorated veteran of World War I. When Hitler came to power in 1933, his father was dismissed from office, and the family lived in drastically reduced circumstances. Raised as a Jew, Fritz was a Geltungsjude, a “counted Jew”, and was subject to all the restrictions imposed on the Jews of Germany, including the wearing of the Yellow Star.
In 1942, his Jewish school was closed and he was sent to work cleaning up a Jewish cemetery. On his 16th birthday, he was interrogated by the Gestapo. Following that, he was assigned to work in a factory which made armaments for the German Air Force. He and his father were picked up with the rest of Berlin’s remaining Jews during the infamous Fabrikaktion on February 27, 1943.
Released from the Clou nightclub, one of the holding centers where Jews were taken, he was rearrested the following week, when he went to pick up the family’s ration cards. He was then interned with other husbands and children of non-Jewish women in a building on the Rosenstrasse. That building, which had previously been an administrative office of Berlin’s Jewish Community, was the scene of a demonstration by the non-Jewish wives and mothers demanding the release of their loved ones. The only public demonstration against the Nazi regime ever to take place in Germany, it resulted in the release of all those being detained.
Following the demonstration, Fritz and his father were assigned to forced labor gangs, which were sent to demolish damaged buildings after air raids. When the war ended, Fritz returned to a special course to finish his high school diploma. In January 1948, he immigrated to America and became a veterinarian.