WEST BERLIN (AP) _ Sen. Rudy Boschwitz clambered up the creaking stairs he last walked down as a toddler when his family fled the Nazis 56 years ago.

Revisiting the Berlin house in which his parents lived until he was nearly 3, Boschwitz recalled the day of Jan. 30, 1933.

''The same day, my father came home and told my mother we would leave,'' the Minnesota Republican said Tuesday. ''And we went within six months.''

Boschwitz said the trigger for returning to his birthplace was the opening of the Berlin Wall.

''I've never been back,'' he said. ''With the reunification, for many practical purposes, of the city and maybe because I'm getting a little older, I had a yen to take a look at my roots.''

He and his parents, both Polish-born Jews, fled Berlin for Czechoslovakia in the summer of 1933 and ended up in New York, where Boschwitz spent the first three decades of his life.

While Boschwitz, 59, tried to piece together memories from his Berlin days, the past was vivid for Frank Schiff, a childhood friend who lived in the same house and whom Boschwitz met again by chance years later.

''It looks very familiar,'' Schiff said, once inside the 1915-vintage art deco apartment building.

The house, on busy Hohenzollerndamm avenue, is in what is now a West Berlin residential area that emerged relatively unscathed from fierce fighting at the end of World War II.

''It was very pleasant here before the Hitler period,'' said Schiff, a 68- year-old retired economist from Alexandria, Va. A German Jew, he too was uprooted and fled with his family to the United States in 1936.

Boschwitz returned on a rainy day to a city that was extensively rebuilt after the war. ''It's a nice place,'' was his first impression.

West German businessman Eberhard Naundorf and his wife, Christine, said they were glad to welcome Boschwitz back into the apartment they now rent.

''The war has created so many people who try to find their roots,'' said Mrs. Naundorf, herself of Polish-German descent.

On a four-day trip to Germany, Boschwitz visited the Berlin Wall after arriving Monday. He chipped out a few pieces.

East Germany opened the wall along with its other western borders on Nov. 9, under massive pressure from street demonstrators and an exodus of tens of thousands of its citizens.

In a sign of the changing times, Boschwitz was due to meet East German Foreign Minister Oskar Fischer and opposition groups, and tour East Berlin. He also will meet with Minnesota soldiers stationed in West Berlin.