Ernie (Ernest Wolfgang) Michel was born in 1923 in Mannheim,
Germany, as son of Otto and Frieda Michel. His father's family had
roots in Germany that went back more than three hundred years.
In September 1939 at age 16 he was sent to his first
concentration camp. After almost six years interned in Nazi camps,
including Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Berga, he escaped from a death
march before the end of the war.
After working briefly for the United States Military Government,
he became a special correspondent for the German News Agency DANA at
the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial. His articles, carrying the byline
"Auschwitz Survivor #104995" appeared in all German newspapers.
Michel eventually immigrated to the United States as a DP in 1946
with the aid of UJA funds.
After a brief stint as a reporter and columnist for the Port
Huron Times Herald, he began his 50 plus year career with UJA, first
as a speaker and beginning in 1947 as a member of its staff. His
career culminated in his position as CEO of UJA-Federation, the
largest citywide fundraising organization in the United States.
He was the initiator and chairman of the highly publicized Word
Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors in Israel in 1981 which
brought together, for the first and only time, 6000 survivors and
their families from 23 countries and 4 continents.
His critically acclaimed autobiography "Promises to Keep",
covering his life story beginning with "Kristallnacht" in Germany in
1938, his arrest as a teenager and subsequent deportation, his
miraculous survival in camps, his final escape and his experiences
with UJA since his arrival in the U.S. in 1946 was published in
Mr. Michel is an avid collector of historical Judaica, has
established a major collection which is traveling throughout the
United States. The Exhibit includes some 150 unique and historical
items, letters, autographed photos, original documents and
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