The Northern Westchester Examiner

Eisenbach Shares Memories of Holocaust Survival at Local Chabad

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By Danny Lopriore

Jacob Eisenbach was a 16-year-old Polish boy when Nazi Germany invaded his quiet life in October 1939, ripping his family apart and ushering in a period of the most devastating horror in modern world history.

Eisenbach, who survived the extermination of millions of his fellow Polish Jews along with most of his immediate family, visited Chabad of Briarcliff and Ossining on October 25 to share his intimate and poignant story of heartbreak and hope.

A recently retired dentist at 93, now an author and lecturer, Eisenbach reached back in time to the moment when he and his family and more than 300,000 Jews living in Lodz, Poland, became the first victims of Hitler’s rage against the Jews. Lodz was contained in Nazi barbed wire in a prison-like ghetto.

“We really had no idea of what was coming when Hitler decided to invade Poland,” the diminutive soft-spoken Eisenbach recalled. “We lived a good life in a very successful Jewish community when suddenly there were airplanes, tanks, trucks and soldiers with machine guns. Everything changed forever.”

Eisenbach details his experiences in his book, “Where You Go, I Go,” a memoir about how he and his younger brother Samuel survived the Jewish ghetto, escaping internment in Auschwitz concentration camp and forced to work in a Nazi ammunition factory from 1939 to 1945 when they were liberated.

“We were confined to the ghetto, surrounded by watchtowers manned by Nazis with machine guns,” Eisenbach said. “My sister, a beautiful, very intelligent young girl, was at school when war broke out and fled with friends to a Russian occupied town but was killed during the Nazi invasion. Our world just fell apart.”

Eisenbach recalled that his youngest brother was put to death at the Auschwitz concentration camp and his father was forced to carry heavy boulders at a labor camp before dying of exhaustion.

“The Nazis would starve you until your body began to swell, first from your ankles then up until you died,” he said. “I guess I was lucky, being only 5-foot-4, I needed less food. I made it through.”

One by one, his family killed, Eisenbach and his brother Sam were left in their empty apartment until the Nazis sent a letter calling for Jacob to be transferred to a camp – likely Auschwitz. Instead of giving himself up he and Sam went into hiding. The brothers managed to escape detection hiding behind a padlocked door until soldiers discovered the trick and arrested them.

“I was going to the camps and likely death, but Sam could have stayed behind,” Eisebach said. “But he said, “I don’t want to wait here alone. Where you go, I will go”. We were put on a train headed for Auschwitz, but were taken off and sent to work in a weapons factory.”

In July 1944 as Russian troops moved into Poland, Eisenbach and the other workers were transferred to another weapons factory where he met a co-worker named Irene, who would become his wife.

“We knew nothing about what was going on in the war outside our factory,” Eisenbach said. “One day, without any news, we learned that Poland had been liberated, and me, Sam and my girlfriend were free.”

Resilient and determined not to allow the life-changing experiences, deaths of his family members and millions of others and the war define him, Eisenbach remained in Poland, earned a degree in dentistry and hoped to make a life for himself and Irene. His brother Sam, who changed his name to a more Polish name to avoid questions about his Jewish heritage, became a successful military man in the Polish army.

“The war was over for two years and Sam was sent to another place and another position,” Eisenbach said. “But antisemitism was still lurking and he was shot and murdered after being found out to be Jewish.”

“I was the last one to survive in my immediate family,” Eisenbach said. “I am asked if I lost faith in humanity or in God, but I say no, because of so many of the wonderful people who helped save so many Jews during the Holocaust. Men like the King of Denmark and Raul Wallenberg. The Nazis were inhuman. I believe in humanity.”

Eisenbach and his wife moved to New York, then to Iowa, where he earned another degree so he could practice dentistry in the United States. He worked in Cedar Rapids for 18 years, until moving to Southern California. The Eisenbachs had three sons, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Irene died two years ago.

“I tell people I am in a new job,” Offenbach said. “I want to offer hope and love to the world. I have seen the horrors that man can do. But I have also seen that we in the United States are blessed. People are more willing to accept others now. There are so many millions of good people. We have to make the world better and never forget.”

Though he admitted being hard to hear at times, Dr. Eisenbach travels the world speaking and engaging his audiences with a positive outlook.

“We have a moral responsibility to bring hope and to remember what can happen when we allow inhumanity to any group,” he said. “Genocide is happening even today in many places and we must stop it. America should lead in that fight.”

Rabbi Dovid Labkowski, who introduced Dr. Eisenbach, said the visit seemed to fit with the Chabad Lubavitch current series “Great Debates in Jewish History” which begins on November 1 and runs for six weeks.

Eisenbach’s book is available on For information on activities or events at Chabad Lubavitch, call 914-236-3200, log on at or go to the Chabad Briarcliff-Ossining Facebook page.

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