Jack was born in 1927 in Poland (Lodz).

While he was growing up, he never had one single Polish friend. All of his friends were Jewish, and he was going to a private Jewish school. He was an only child.

He describes life before the Holocaust as very happy, despite the segregation – of which he was not really aware at the time. His home was always full of friends and relatives.

His father was a house-painter.

When the war broke out on September 1st, 1939, Poland was quickly invaded by the Germans, which obliged Jack and his family to move to the ghetto.

Life in the ghetto was made of constant fear (fear of the random, nightly raids) and hunger. Jack’s mother started working, but he was not able to work at first, due to his young age, therefore he was not able to get any food.

The Nazis asked one day for all children under 10 to come with them, supposedly to a “kinder-garten”. Jack recalls that nobody in the ghetto wanted to believe that people were actually getting executed in gas chambers. They found it too horrible to believe, so they preferred to cling to their hope that extermination camps were just a rumor.

Jack remembers some things so precisely as if they had occurred yesterday. One is that they came for his father and he never saw him again. At first, he was sending letters on a regular basis, along with pictures showing that he was doing quite well in the work camp. But one day, it all stopped and they never heard from him again. But one day, Jack felt that he saw his father. A truck of deported men passed through town and he thinks that he caught a glimpse of his father as a very emaciated and weakened man lying in a truck wagon. He felt that this man had only less than a month left to live. But he was never able to be sure whether it was really his father or not, and he didn’t tell anything to his mother.

He also remembers that an aunt of his came to live with him and his mother, in their one-room place. She had visited them one evening and had spent the night with them in the ghetto. In the morning, she found that her place in town had been raided and all the inhabitants deported. So, she was too scared to go back there, her neighbors might give her in, so she stayed in the ghetto and lived with Jack and his mum.

One day, the Germans called for single people. Jack’s aunt packed her belongings and went. She was never to be seen again.

Jack remembers a little blonde, blue-eyed girl who was 5 years old, Marilke, and she was his cousin. Her parents hid her for days in the closet, underneath clothes, so that the Germans wouldn’t find her. Even though she was only 5, she was already very mature and was able to remain quiet for hours on end. However, one night, her parents came back from work and did not find her. They never saw her again.

The Germans were making propaganda urging the mothers to give up their children willingly, telling them they would go to nice schools.

Once, Jack had to undergo surgery for hernia in the ghetto. His mother came to see him during visiting hours, and he remembers that he cried a lot after she left, because he had realized how bad she looked, her face all swollen by hunger and malnutrition.

Jack remembers looking at men’s neck from behind as he walked on the streets of the ghetto, in order to find out who was rich and who was poor. The rich ones had a round neck, because they were somehow able to get enough food, whereas the poor ones had two hollows behind their necks.

One day, the Germans came and took away everybody from the ghetto. Jack and his mother were separated by a German doctor – whom he described as “elegant, in his early thirties, and good-looking” – who “selected” his mother for medical experiments, and decided that Jack could work in a camp. Jack never saw his mother again after that. He knew that “selection” meant death on the short term.

He was sent to Auschwitz. He slept in a barrack installment with many other youngsters his age, and, at night, it was so tight, that they had to all lie down at the same time following an order, and they could only move at the same time. If you went to the toilets during the night, you could never get in again.

Jack had become a furrier in the ghetto. In Auschwitz, he first went on with this trade, and then was made to carry heavy bricks in the cold. Once, he stole a potato from a huge pile of potatoes near the employees’ kitchen, and got caught by a soldier. At night, they made him undress and beat him with rubber hose.  

When the Russians rescued them, Jack remembers that many people died from suddenly eating so much after so many years of starvation.

After being rescued from Auschwitz, Jack moved to Belgium, where he met his wife, and, from there, they decided to go to Australia in 1950. They had a choice between Australia and the US, but preferred the former, since they wanted to be as far away from Europe as possible. And, also, the Korean War had just started. After 15 years in Melbourne, where Jack worked as a furrier, they moved to Los Angeles.

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