Studying in Frankfurt

Waiting for U.S. Visas

"So we applied to go to the United States. When the captain found out, he said, 'Look, I can’t give you anything that’d be more valuable for you, more precious for you when you go to America than education.' He said get some education because we had to wait. We knew it was going to take years... before our visas come through.

And he hired a tutor for us, a Professor Stahofsky [spelling], to prepare us for college entrance exams. We worked during the day. At night we studied. We studied what we thought was necessary to be admitted to a university: algebra, history, Latin. I took six years of Latin in six months. And when the company was leaving in 1946, before 1946 we applied-.

We were admitted to university in Frankfurt, Germany. Oscar left in 1949. My visa came through in 1949, and I was working on my PhD at that time. And I asked the consul to postpone it another three months.... And again for three months. And eventually he called me in and said, 'Norbert, you go now or you’re going to lose your number. You’re going to wait another three or four years before your number comes up.' I says, 'Yeah, but you know, I want to get the degree.' He says, 'Who the hell wants a German PhD in America?' He says, 'You can make a better living cleaning the streets.' I says, 'I don’t want to clean the streets.' So he says, 'It doesn’t matter what you do in America as long as you do a little better than the guy next to you, okay?' And I left Germany in May 1950."