Jack Wayne

"Do not tolerate antisemitism or injustice!"

Name at birth
Jenek Weintraub
Date of birth
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
Lodz, Poland
Name of father, occupation
Mylech Weintraub, Bakery owner and baker
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Bluma Kraushorn, Homemaker and helped in the bakery
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Parents and four children, Lawrence, Jack, Ruth and Israel
How many in entire extended family?
Maternal and paternal grandparents; four maternal aunts and uncles; four paternal aunts and uncles; fourteen cousins
Who survived the Holocaust?
My brother Larry and my sister Ruth
I was born in Lodz, Poland.  I was the second child of four children.  I went to public school until World War II started.  I was twelve years old at that time.
When Hitler came to Lodz, all of the Jews were placed in the ghetto, 1939.  I worked in a bakery in the ghetto, as well as a furniture factory and a clothing factory.  I lived with my mother, brothers and sister as my father died at the age of 42 before the war began.
The ghetto was liquidated in 1944, and we were shipped to Auschwitz – Birkenau where we were separated.  Larry and I were together in Auschwitz until we were selected to work in the Janina coal mine, which was 25 miles away from Auschwitz.  My mother and young brother went to the gas chamber.  
Life in the camp was extremely difficult due to a poor diet and lack of food.  The Russians were beginning to invade.  Early in 1945, Auschwitz was abandoned and the inmates were placed on trains whereby we were driven around for days.  Then the Germans took us to Flossenburg and we stayed there for awhile.  
At this point, I was forcibly separated from my brother.  I was then taken to Obertraubling.  Here, I started to clear an airstrip and cover up craters because the Americans and British were constantly bombing the air strip.  
At this camp I became seriously ill and was placed in the infirmary.  This camp was evacuated and the seriously ill prisoners, like me were shipped by trucks to Dachau.  My health improved, so I was selected to bury the dead bodies.  This was April, 1945 and we found out that the Germans were going to blow up Dachau because General Patton’s army was on the march.
At this point, I decided to try and escape by myself.  I asked a guard if I could use the bathroom, which was behind a tree, and he said I could.  I then took off for the forest, running as fast as I could.  However, the guards realized I was missing and chased after me.  They found me and shot me.  They thought I was dead because I lost consciousness.  However, I woke up three days later in an American field hospital where they nursed me back to health.  
After approximately three, four weeks, I was discharged and allowed to leave.  I was given some clothing and some money and I boarded a train to Frankfort where there was a Displaced Persons (DP) camp.  At the camp, I learned that my brother was alive and living in Bad Nauheim, Germany so I took the train to that city. 
Meanwhile, Larry received a phone call from the camp notifying him that I was alive.  Larry was living with a group of survivors in a house in Bad Nauheim and I was able to move into this house with him.
About a month later, in September, I was walking on the main street of Bad Nauheim, when I recognized my sister Ruth who was walking across the street from me.  She was on her way to Palestine with a group.  She had stopped at the DP Camp to inquire about her brothers, and she found out we were alive, so she came to Bad Nauheim and the three of us were reunited.
Meanwhile, the American Commission for the Care of European Orphans contacted us in Bad Nauheim and inquired as to whether we would like to come to the United States.  Of course we were interested if the three of us could come as a family.  They acknowledged that the three of could travel together.  
Arrangements were made for us to be transported on a ship called “The Marina Fletcher.”  We left Germany in July, 1946 from Bremerhaven, Germany and we arrived in New York in July, 1946.  The commission asked where we wanted to live in the U.S. and my brother Larry stated we wished to go to Detroit.  The reason for this was that Larry had met a Jewish Chaplain in Germany and this man was from Detroit.  Thus, we spent about three weeks in New York and then traveled to Detroit.  
In Detroit, Larry and I stayed with a Jewish family and Ruth stayed with another family.  Larry was twenty years old and he got a job in a Jewish bakery having already started speaking some English.  I also had a part-time job at a pharmacy and was also placed in the eleventh grade at Central High School.  
At this time, I was eighteen years of age.  Ruth, who was sixteen, went to high school.  I graduated high school in 1948 and was admitted to Wayne State University where I received my Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate in education in 1968.  I taught at Wayne State while teaching public school in Dearborn.  
In October, 1956, I married Johanna Mandelstamm and we have been married for 54 years.  
I returned to Lodz in 1995 with my wife and in-laws.  Many things had changed including the name of the street where my family had lived.  Naturally it was a very emotional experience.  
I was able to speak Polish fluently so the people did not realize I had been gone for so many years.  We also spent time in Israel because I still have some cousins in Israel.  Last year, 2010, my wife and I traveled to China.  This was a strenuous but enlightening trip.
I continue to lead an active and productive life and feel blessed for the path that this life has led me.  I hope I can continue to give back for all I was given, my wife, my family, my education, and my career.
Name of Ghetto(s)
Name of Concentration / Labor Camp(s)
What DP Camp were you after the war?
Frankfurt, Germany
Where did you go after being liberated?
Bad Nauheim
When did you come to the United States?
July, 1946
Where did you settle?
Detroit, Michigan
How is it that you came to Michigan?
My brother Larry met a Jewish chaplain in Germany and this man was from Detroit. We spent about three weeks in New York and then traveled to Detroit.
Occupation after the war
Professor at Wayne State University
When and where were you married?
October, 1956
Johanna Mandelstamm
Dr. Marsha Bille, physician; Felicia Neumann, middle-school counselor
Milas, Cole and Jack Naumann, and Chandler and Cameron Billes
What do you think helped you to survive?
My own ingenuity. My faith. I was a problem solver. Also, luck!
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
Do not tolerate antisemitism or injustice!
Charles Silow
Interview date:
To learn more about this survivor, please visit:

Contact us

Subscribe to our newsletter

Subscribe to our email newsletter to receive updates on the latest news

thank you!

Your application is successfuly submited. We will contact you as soon as possible

thank you!

Your application is successfuly submited. Check your inbox for future updates.