Former Cedar Rapids resident Dr. Jacob Eisenbach returns to the area as our special guest speaker for several 2017 Holocaust Remembrance Events. Dr. Eisenbach will be speaking publicly at several locations. See our events listings for times, dates and locations in Cedar Rapids and Mt. Vernon, Iowa.
Jacob Eisenbach was born in Poland in 1923. Eisenbach grew up in a loving household with all of the hopes and dreams of any family. He was to be a doctor; his brother Sam, an author; and his sister dreamed of a career as a pharmacist. That all changed when Hitler’s army invaded Poland in 1939.
The Jewish ghetto in Eisenbach’s hometown of Lodz became a fenced prison camp. The family was torn apart. His mother died before the invasion, his father was sent to a labor camp, and his 11-year-old brother Henry was sent to Auschwitz. His sister was killed by machine gun fire in the city of Lwow, where Nazis killed over 100,000 Jews in three days. Only Jacob and his brother Sam survived, hiding out and fending for themselves.
Sam and Jacob were eventually captured and taken to a work camp in Poland, where they were forced to work in a munitions factory. They were later moved to a second munitions factory, where Jacob met a young woman, Irene, who was to become the love of his life. Amidst the horror and oppression, love bloomed. Sadly, Sam survived the war only to be murdered by an anti-Semite two years after the end of the war.
After surviving the war, Jacob and Irene moved to Germany where he studied dentistry, becoming a doctor just as his father had dreamed. They later immigrated to the United States and settled in Cedar Rapids, where they raised a family, and where Dr. Eisenbach set up his dental practice. In the early 1970s, the couple moved to Southern California. Irene passed away in 2013, but Dr. Eisenbach continued to practice dentistry in California until last year when he retired at the age of 93.
The sponsors of all of Dr. Eisenbach’s speaking appearances are the David and Joan Thaler Holocaust Memorial Fund and the Inter-Religious Council of Linn County. Dr. Eisenbach’s appearances are part of the annual Yom HaShoah Service, or Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Dr. David and Joan Thaler established the fund in 1995 to provide support for education about the Holocaust to residents and students in Eastern Iowa. The fund provides support for academic courses about the Holocaust, public speakers and other educational programs.