Alfred Avraham Schmidt was born in 1929 in Vilna, Poland. When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, his family fell under Russian occupation and he was sent to a Siberian labor camp with his brothers. Conditions in the camp were horrific, and they suffered from disease and lack of food. After the war, he settled briefly in Moscow before traveling to a DP camp in Austria. While in Austria, he attended engineering school. Alfred was able to come to the US in 1951, thanks to the sponsorship of a family. He enrolled in City College of New York and found a job working for an engineering firm. He met his wife Ida in 1951 and they married in 1953. Together they had four children.