Manfred Aronsbach was born on 23 November 1936 in Berlin. His parents were Paul Aronsbach (*1887), a merchant, and Selma Aronsbach, née Goldemann (*1895). Manfred had a sister twelve years his senior, Erika, born on 2 June 1924 in Berlin. His parents had married in Berlin in 1921 and ran a wholesale business for scrap paper and cardboard at Dircksenstraße 51 in Mitte. When Manfred was born, the family lived at Kaiser-Wilhelm-Straße 12 (now Karl-Liebknecht-Straße). In 1940 the Aronsbachs moved to Große Präsidentenstraße 8 near the Hackesche Höfe. Erika attended the parochial school on Bochumer Straße in Moabit until Easter 1938. Manfred never got the chance to go to school.
The gradual introduction of mechanisms to persecute Jews from 1933 on – or all those considered to be Jews under the Nazi state’s Nuremberg Laws – soon hit Manfred Aronsbach and his family. They included numerous measures designed to exclude Jews from society and deprive them of their civil rights. Paul and Selma Aronsbach no doubt tried to provide shelter for their children at home, but it was surely difficult to shield them from the hardships that increasingly threatened their lives in Berlin. By the early 1940s, at the latest, the family was struggling to survive. A police decree of 1 September 1941 “concerning the identification of Jews” was just one of the many new measures with drastic repercussions for them. It meant that they could not leave their home without wearing a “yellow star” branding them as Jewish. In the 1940s, Paul, Selma, and Erika Aronsbach were made to perform forced labour for various businesses in Berlin: Manfred’s father Paul worked for Warnecke & Böhm at Goethestraße 15/16 in Weißensee; his mother Selma was a forced labourer for Firma Martin Michalski – Uniformbetrieb, based at Große Frankfurter Straße 137. Erika Aronsbach was made to perform forced labour in the munitions factory Deutschen Waffen- und Munitionsfabrik Borsigwalde at Eichborndamm 103–122 in Wittenau.
Having been stripped of their rights, the Aronsbach family then faced deportation. They received a deportation notice in autumn 1942 and were interned together in one of Berlin’s assembly camps. On 19 October 1942, five-year-old Manfred, his parents, and sister Erika were deported from Berlin to the Riga ghetto, with the “21st transport to the East”. Manfred’s parents and sister were labelled “able to work” on the deportation list. They were possibly selected to perform forced labour in Riga before they were murdered in the ghetto, while part of a work crew, or in a Nazi extermination camp. In any case, none of the four members of the family were among the few survivors of the Riga ghetto.