Gedächtnisallee 5
D-92696 Flossenbürg

+49 9603-90390-0

Jack Terry

Jakub Szabmacher

born March 10, 1930

  • Jakub Szabmacher at the age of five at the Tarbut school (private collection)

The Only Survivor in His Family

Jakub Szabmacher grew up in a family of modest means in the Polish town of Bełz´yce, near Lublin. His childhood ended with the German invasion in 1939. The Jewish population was starving and was constantly threatened by mass executions. During a selection, the thirteen-year-old survived by being grouped with the men. The roughly 850 women and children were massacred by the SS. His mother and sister were among the victims.

Jakub Szabmacher arrived at the Flossenbürg concentration camp in 1944 via the Budzyn´ work camp and the Wieliczka subcamp. Along with 800 other boys, he was housed in block 19, where the block elder arbitrarily beat and killed the inmates.

As a Jew, Jakub Szabmacher was especially vulnerable in the camp. In April 1945, an older inmate hid him in the tunnel between the laundry and prisoners’ kitchen. By these means, Jakub Szabmacher was spared the death march of the Jewish prisoners. Later, a Kapo helped him hide in the typhoid section of the sick bay until liberation.

Jakub Szabmacher (right, behind Major Gray, head of the American military administration in Flossenbürg) at the camp gate, early May 1945 (Netherlands Institute for War Documentation, Amsterdam)

Jakub Szabmacher was the only survivor in his family. An American soldier facilitated his emigration to the United States. He was adopted by the Terry family, and took their name. He married and had three children. Jack Terry initially worked as a geologist and later as a psychiatrist in New York.

Jack Terry as American soldier, 1956 (private collection)