Michael Jacobs speaks at 13th SC(E) Holocaust Remembrance Observance

Story by Pfc. Crystal D. Eldridge
13th SC(E) Public Affairs

"Now you are not human anymore."

These are the words Michael Jacobs, Holocaust survivor who spoke to Soldiers of the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) at their Holocaust Remembrance Observance at Howze Theater here May 18, remembers every time he looks at the numbers tattooed on his arm.

He remembers well the Schutzstaffel (SS) worker who looked at him as his identification tattoo was completed and said, "You are a number, and you better remember this number because that's what you will be called from now on."

"They put the same number on my shirt, so I became B4990," Jacobs said to the Soldiers. "But in my mind, I was still a free person."

Jacobs was born in Poland in 1925. Fourteen years later, his family was herded into cattle cars and shipped to a ghetto in Ostrowiec, Poland, following the Nazi Army's invasion of Poland.

More than 60 years later, Jacobs said he could still hear the screams of men and women being hauled away from their children and being led to their death. Among those killed were his parents, two brothers, two sisters and a brother-in-law. The place of their death was Treblinka death camp.

Jacobs and one of his brothers managed to evade death at Treblinka. Before long, though, his brother joined a group of Jewish partisans who were fighting the Nazis and was killed by Polish partisans.

Jacobs was alone.

The teenager was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, in Poland. From there he was part of a death-march, where he said he remembers people falling over from weakness. Rather than leaving the Jews to die, the SS killed them where they lay, Jacobs said.

At the end of the march, Jacobs was forced into an open railroad gondola and taken to Gusen II, a subcamp of Mauthausen, in Austria. At the age of 19, Jacobs was liberated from Gusen II by American forces.

Despite these hardships, however, Jacobs said he never gave up hope and he always held on to the belief he could get through everything.

As proof of this, he went back to school after his liberation and graduated from the Seminar for Sports Instructors in Landsbury, Germany. Using this education, he taught calisthenics and sports and organized sport clubs for Jewish refugees. He also taught German children gymnastics while working as a shopkeeper in Mittenwald, Germany.

Finally, in 1951, Jacobs received immigration papers and traveled to Dallas, where he met his wife, Ginger. The two now have four children and four grandchildren.

Throughout the years since his liberation, Jacobs has used his experiences to raise awareness of the Holocaust and the potential for such atrocities to happen again. He authored a book titled Holocaust Survivor: Mike Jacobs' Triumph Over Tragedy and founded the Dallas Memorial Center for Holocaust Studies, which is now called the Dallas Holocaust Memorial Center and is dedicated to the memory of the 11 million souls who perished at the hands of the Nazis from 1939 to 1945.

 

Michael Jacobs
Michael Jacobs, Holocaust survivor, holds up a pair of children's shoes he recovered from a Nazi death camp, while speaking to Soldiers of the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) during their Holocaust Remembrance Observance May 18. Photo by Pfc. Crystal D. Eldridge, 13th SC(E) Public Affairs