Jack Zelcer

Jack Zelcer was born on November 22, 1933, in the city if Verviers, of Liege, and in the country of Belgium. He went to school in Switzerland as well as Belgium. Before the war he had almost 120 members in his family. After the war he only had 4 members of his family. Most of his family had died in various concentration camps. He says there was no time for personal hobbies. I communicated with him via e-mail.

His most vivid memory is when he was laying on the forest floor in Belgium with his mom on top of him. He said he didn't understand why his mom did that but he knew that it was for his own protection. When the war first started he was 6 and when the war ended he was 12. During the war he was in the forests and in various places in Switzerland. Trying to escape from the horrible things that were going on in Belgium to the Jews.

He says that the best thing that ever happened to him was when he was transferred from a refugee camp to nice Swiss families. He says that the most difficult part of the war was not being able to see his parents for a long period of time. He actually didn't see his parents for 5 years. Jacks told me a story. "It was in the middle of the night at my home in Liege, Belgium, and I heard pounding on my door. I don't believe my father answered the door. It was broken down; it was the Germans who were assembling all Jewish people in my town. Everyone was going to be taken to a German Assembling Camp in the city of Maline, Belgium. This is where we were checked out and made ready for transportation to Germany into a concentration camp. We were taken on to a cattle rail wagon and the train departed for Germany. About half way through Belgium, in the outskirts of the city of Tirlemon, our train came under attack by allied airplanes.

Luckily enough the door to out wagon was not properly locked and we were able to open it. As the train had stopped we could see all the various soldiers running through the fields nearby the forest. Almost everyone from the wagon had jumped off into a different direction in the forest. We had to hide there until nighttime. Eventually the train and the Germans departed and our run for safety took us wandering over night and resting in hiding in the forest in daytime for many, many weeks. We had made our way all the way though Belgium and France up to the Spanish border, where we settled down in Lourdes (holy city), which the Germans had agreed to consider neutral.

When my parents and I reached Switzerland, we were at first rejected. We manage to find another way in and were accepted this time. My parents were sent to a Refugee camps and I was placed into Swiss families homes. Two of the families were different farmers where I had to go to school and in my spare time, I had to go in the field and watch the cows. The third family I went to was in a different part of Switzerland in the city of Zurich. I only spoke French and my new family spoke German. The family was very kind to help me learn this language. After the war, I was able to speak it fluently. After the war, we boarded a train, and traveled back home to Belgium. And yes, I was reunited with my parents in Switzerland. My cousin George had also managed to stay alive, as he was the only one coming back from Auschwitz. George is still alive today thank God, at the age of 97. At the end I was the happiest boy around, especially when I was with my mum and dad!!" He thinks that a 7th grader should NEVER forget.

by Dij