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Holocaust survivor shares story at KCC

By Paityn Viall
On May 4, 2017

On April 25 during the activity hour, Holocaust survivor Dr. Jacob Eisenbach visited Kirkwood Community College’s main campus to speak about his experience. 

The 94-year-old survivor said he was thrilled to be in Iowa to tell his story to Kirkwood students, faculty and community members.

According to, Eisenbach came to the United States in 1950 with his wife and son, attending the University of Iowa for dentistry. He was the first dentist in Anaheim Hills, Ca, retiring in 2015 at the age of 92.

World War II began on September 1, 1939, shocking both Eisenbach and his Polish family as it began to tear them apart. Out of an extended family of over 100, Eisenbach said only five members of his family survived the Holocaust. Today just he and one older cousin remain. 

On May 1, 1940, Eisenbach said he was placed in a ghetto with some of his family, completely cut off from the rest of society. Along with other people of the Jewish community, Eisenbach was subjected to harsh conditions in the ghettos, where many people starved or passed away from illnesses and other causes. 

Eisenbach said he was able to get through the ordeal through the connection of his family and they love they had for each other, particularly that of his mother who passed away one year before the war, at the age of 41. 

“No matter what the Nazis said or did to us, they couldn’t break those feelings,” he said.

Eisenbach said he wanted to leave students with a call to action, as he believes each and every person can make a difference and that this situation is of great global importance. “Genocides are still taking place today but more is being done to prevent and eliminate them,” said Eisenbach.

“Each one of us should be involved in the steps that are necessary to prevent genocide,” he added. 

William Townsend, a Liberal Arts student at Kirkwood who will be transferring next year for Computer Science, said he found Eisenbach’s words to be humbling. 

“It’s crazy how short history actually is, we’re just basically one handshake away from the next Holocaust,” Townsend said.


*Editor’s Note: In the previous edition the age of Dr. Eisenbach was incorrect. Eisenbach is 94 years old.

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