Charles C. Milford was born Klaus Mühlfelder in Berlin on July 13, 1927, to Simon Mühlfelder and Hedwig Mühlfelder née Roeckert. Simon came from a Jewish professional family in Thuringia, while Hedwig was a Berliner from a Christian family. Simon and Hedwig intended to leave choice of religion to Charles; however, they baptized him on April 15, 1933, after the Nazis came to power. Because he was classified by the Nazi regime as a Mischling of the first degree, Charles was expelled from school in March 1943. Milford was apprenticed as a telecommunications fitter from April 1943 until he was conscripted into forced labor under Organisation Todt in June 1944. Brought to France, he was forced to repair damage from Allied aerial attacks on the railroad yards at Beauvais and Soissons, which were bombed nightly. As the Allied forces advanced into France, he managed to flee to Berlin in September 1944. He resumed his apprenticeship for three months. In January 1945, he was again conscripted by Organisation Todt and assigned to work as a concrete laborer in Berlin.
After the war’s end, Charles studied German and English in Berlin from 1946-1950. Milford emigrated from Germany to the United States in 1950. In 1951, he signed his “Declaration of Intention” and officially changed his name from Klaus Mühlfelder to Charles C. (Claus) Milford. He entered Columbia University’s School of Library Service in September 1950 and completed his master’s degree in August 1951. Charles was drafted into Army for service in the Korean War in September 1951. After basic training at Fort Lee in Virginia, he was deployed to Korea, where he was assigned to manage the only Special Services Library in South Korea, located in Pusan, from 1952-l 1953. He was released from active duty September 1953.Charles was naturalized as an American citizen on February 1, 1954. Charles C. Milford’s career as a librarian spanned almost 40 years. He was employed as a librarian at the Tacoma Public Library (1953-1959), Oregon State Library (1961-1964), and Stanford University’s Food Research Institute (1964-1991). From 1959 until 1961 he earned his master’s degree in political science from the University of Washington. It was during his time at the Tacoma Public Library that Milford met Patricia Elizabeth Shannon, and they married in 1963 in Berlin, where Charles’s father Simon Mühlfelder and maternal grandmother Agnes Roeckert were still living.
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Sculptures from the collection of Charles Milford (Klaus Mühlfelder), Leo Baeck Institute, 2019.12a-h.