Survivor STORY

Jack Storch (Itzik Sztorch) was born in Ozorkow, Poland to Moszek Sztorch and Miriam Lewkowicz Storch. When he was 12, the Nazis overran Poland and the Sztorch family was forced to move into the Lodz ghetto. His father was beaten and died of collapsed lungs. His oldest brother, Ruben, fled to Russia and was killed when the Germans pushed eastward into the Soviet Union. His brother Marty was arrested and sent to Auschwitz. Soon the rest of the family was also transported to Auschwitz, where his mother and his sister Chava were immediately separated from Jack and his younger brother, Volek, and were soon murdered.

At Auschwitz, Jack worked as a slave laborer at construction sites and tried to protect Volek. As the Allied forces were advancing, the prisoners were forced on a Death March in the winter of 1944. Jack and Volek managed to escape from open train cars, and fled into the Black Forest, where they spent three weeks trying to stay alive before they were liberated by French troops. Three weeks later, his brother Volek died from typhoid fever.

Jack, recuperating in Germany, heard that his brother, Marty, was alive, so he managed to push himself through the crowds trying to get onto a train and traveled back to his hometown, where the two were reunited.

In 1949, after several years in a sanatorium in Switzerland, where he recuperated from tuberculosis, and then Germany, where he established himself as a businessman, Jack emigrated to New York, where Marty and his bride, Dora Gutman Storch, soon joined him. Feeling uncomfortable in such a crowded city, Jack bought a car and, without knowing any English, drove thousands of miles to the West Coast and back in search of a place to settle down in his new country. When he arrived in Atlanta, he knew he would enjoy living in a city with such pleasant weather and where the people seemed friendly. He convinced Marty, who was still in New York, to move to Atlanta. Jack took over a restaurant and after several years sold it to his brother. Jack founded Metropolitan Home Improvement, which he ran with his wife, Jeanine, from 1959 to 1986.

In 1997, Jack was named an outstanding Georgia citizen by the Secretary of State of Georgia. Jack was also honored by Israel Bonds in New York City with a Survivors' New Life Medal for his commitment to Holocaust education. He was a founding member of the Greenfield Hebrew Academy and a supporter of The Epstein School.

Jack and Jeanine have a daughter, Dominique Levin, and two grandchildren. Jack passed away in October 2001.

Life and Survival in Europe

After we were spent so many days in the forest, which we lost a couple of guys, we were six that we escaped and out of the six, actually, three of us survived. And all the young people, which I was the leader from all of them, and finally I had to organize food in order to get by because we were starving. We were freezing and starving. And we spent either 21 or 22 days in the forest. And we dig some ditches with our feet and hand, and cover up ourselves with, was very little to cover, but we cuddled. And somehow we survived and when we survived by the French army, they treated us very well and they brought us back to humanity a little bit. But we still all wind up with sickness.

Finding Family

In 1945 I traveled around Germany and when I traveled around Germany, we came into a place not far from Frankfurt. And everybody had to write down his name, not write it down but actually spell it, his name. And there came a young boy he says, "You have a brother." And that shocked me, because we didn't expect nobody else to survive. And when, and this is after I lost my younger brother. And this was in July. July, yes, July or August, something like that. And he tells me I got a brother and I start asking him. I want to see if he is correct. So I ask him, "Is my brother's name Isaac? Is my ... John, is my...Frank," or whatever it was. And he said, "No." I, and I said, "Could his name be Motek, Yankel?" And he says, "Stop it. Motek. That's his name." And then I got all the signs that this is my brother. So when I got the signs it was about 8:30 at night. First thing I went to the train and I took a train to Poland. It took me ten days, because of all the bridges being bombed and you couldn't get too many trains. And if you had a train you had thousands of people there waiting and whoever had strength to get in got in, and if not, got left behind. So finally I came into my hometown and I met my brother.

Importance of Family

Well, let me put it this way. Being an optimist and loved life, even before I married. And I felt everything what I do, every day that goes by it's only for the betterment of life. I never believed of going backwards, and if there was a failure, I overlooked it. I continue on, because through my optimism I just don't let it get to me. And If Nature deals me out something that I can't help it, that's just too bad. But no, I feel that I'm very strongly making, made forward my life, adopting myself to the United States, to the laws as well as the system. And being married to my wife is, matter of fact, like a lifesaver, and inspirational and there's so much for words, especially also my mother-in-law, which I hope I made a good son-in-law. And life was looking just good and then we made forward steps by me selling the restaurant, and going into the construction business and having my wife next to me for some thirty odd years, almost forty years. It was a pleasure. And that's where we accumulate a little wealth. And we are happy 'til this day.

Jack Storch