Wolfgang Krautwirth was born on May 16, 1933, to Channah Bina and Isaac Krautwirth, in Frankfurt am Main, one of the most important Jewish centers in Europe. Its Jewish community participated in all aspects of the city's social and cultural life, playing an important role in commerce, industry and banking. In 1933, Frankfurt even had a Jewish mayor, Ludwig Landmann.
Following the Nazi's rise to power on January 30, 1933, Frankfurt's Jews were subjected to physical assaults and a general boycott. All public institutions dismissed the Jews on their staffs - the hospitals, courts, schools, universities, and cultural institutions. Economic conditions worsened after the passage of the Nuremberg Laws in 1935. Later on, Jews were forced to wear the yellow star.
Wolfgang attended 1st and 2nd grade with his best friends, Gunter Strauss and Sigfried Meyer. They went to one of the private Jewish schools that was opened by the Jewish community after Jews were barred from public education. Wolfgang also took violin lessons. However, his school was closed before he could start 3rd grade.
The Gestapo began deporting German Jews on October 19, 1941. They first were expelled to sealed-off ghettos in eastern Europe, and later to the Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia, and other destinations. Just before his tenth birthday, Wolfgang and his family were arrested by the Gestapo. He was sent with his mother and sister to the women's section at the Birkenau concentration camp, while his father was sent to Auschwitz. At first, Wolfgang was exempt from work and he was excused from the torturous daily roll-call. His mother and sister did what they could to help him. In the summer of 1944, Wolfgang was transferred to the men's section, where he was housed with other children who had recently arrived from Poland. When the Germans evacuated Auschwitz in January 1945, Wolfgang was sent to various camps in Germany. He was liberated by the U.S. Army in May 1945, a few days before his twelfth birthday. He can't explain how he survived.