Jack Kurz

I was born in Poland where I lived until my family was sent to a concentration camp. When my family was forced to separate, my mother told me to look after my brother.

It was then that I realized the horror of what was happening. I started plotting with a friend to run away. When it came time to put the plot into action, I dragged my brother along. The three of us escaped through the window of the guards' center. The Nazis slept on all sides as we slowly moved towards our escape. We hid in cornfields during the day and in the forest at night. After a while, we traveled to our grandmother's house in the ghetto.

In 1941, everyone had been "liquidated" from the ghetto to Plaskow camp. In 1942, my brother was selected to go to Auschwitz because of the need for skilled carpenters. I remembered my promise to my mother, so I traded a loaf of bread with a man for his place on the transport in order to stay with my brother. When we arrived at Auschwitz, we were told that there was only one way out- the chimney. At Auschwitz, we stood naked in the extreme cold for hours, then shaved from top to bottom, and marched many miles.

I was shocked when one day I did not even recognize my brother who was standing right next to me. Once, when health checks were taken my brother and I hid in a basement. Later, in January 1945, we hid again, too afraid to come out even as the camp was liberated.

In 1949, I came to America and started a business, Airport Transmissions. I married my wife in 1952 and had two children.

Biography from the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Project, Monroe Community College
Photograph by Louis Ouzer