Joseph Ferber was born in the town of Brody, then in eastern Poland. After completing his schooling, he went to the city of Kraków where he worked as bookkeeper. When World War II began, he returned to Brody, which fell under Soviet rule in accordance with the terms of Nazi Soviet Pact. Following the German invasion of the Soviet Union, Mr. Ferber was drafted into the Red army, in which he served bravely for four years. He fought in a number of battles, including the heroic defense of Stalingrad.
Following his demobilization, Mr. Ferber returned to Brody, but found the town destroyed and no trace of his family. He then went to the town of Zakopane where he served as the chief security officer for a home of Jewish orphans who had been rescued during the war by sympathetic Christians. With the help of Jewish refugee relief organizations, Mr. Ferber, the children and the orphanage staff made their way to Paris from where they hoped to emigrate to Palestine, a desire shared by many survivors at the time who saw their future in an independent Jewish homeland. Mr. Ferber's interview reflects his strongly held socialist and Zionist viewpoints.