Stephen B. Jacobs

Born 1939 in Łódź, Poland

Stephen Jacobs was born in the year that Germany invaded Poland. When he was four months old, he and his family were forced by the occupying authorities to move into the ghetto of Piotrków Trybunalski. From 1942, between 18,000 and 22,000 Jews were deported from this ghetto to the Treblinka extermination camp. The Jacobs family avoided this fate, which meant certain death, because they were working as forced labourers outside of the ghetto in Piotrków.

When the labour camp was disbanded at the end of 1944, the SS sent all male members of the family to Buchenwald, where they were initially forced to endure the conditions in the Little Camp. Thanks to a trick, 5-year-old Stephen was recorded in the camp’s registers as a 16-year-old. He worked in the grounds of Deutsche Ausrüstungswerke, an SS armaments factory near the concentration camp. On 11 April 1945, Stephen, his brother and his father were liberated by the US Army in Buchenwald.

Emaciated due to hunger, illness and forced labour, the reunited Jacobs family (Stephen’s mother had also survived multiple camps) went to Switzerland in 1946 and eventually emigrated to the USA. Stephen Jacobs now owns a successful architectural firm together with his wife Andi Pepper. He designed the monument for the Little Camp at Buchenwald, which was dedicated in 2002.

Find out more

History of the Piotrków Trybunalski ghetto on the Yad Vashem website