Born in Poland in 1922, Norbert Friedman grew up in a working-class family in Krakow. His father, Josef, was a kosher butcher, and his mother, Gusta, took care of Friedman and his younger brother. In 1935, Poland passed anti-Jewish laws, including education quotas and a ban on ritual slaughter. Friedman was barred from entering engineering school, and his father was forced to work on the black market.
Life became much worse for Friedman after the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939 and eventually discovered his father’s secret butchering business. The family hid in the town of Wielopole until 1941 when the Nazis announced that women, children, and the elderly would be spared “resettlement” if the men volunteered to serve in labor camps. Friedman and his father volunteered and were transported to Mielec labor camp, where they were forced to work in an airplane factory. Friedman’s mother and younger brother were exterminated a few months later. For the next four years, Friedman moved from one camp to another and was imprisoned in eleven camps by the end of the war.
After liberation he worked as a translator for the U.S. Army and finished college in Frankfurt, Germany. In 1950 Friedman immigrated to the United States, initially settling in Atlanta. With the goal of becoming a journalist he applied for a job at the Atlanta Journal, but the personnel director told him he had little chance of advancement because he was Jewish. Friedman resettled in New Jersey and started a machine shop. After his retirement Friedman began writing about his experiences in the Holocaust. He published his memoir, Sunrays at Midnight, in 2006. Today, he lives with his son’s family in Sandy Springs, Georgia and continues to write.