Holocaust Survivors Reunite in Florida after a Labor Camp Friendship Broke Down some 80 Years ago

These two holocaust survivors got reunited unexpectedly at a dinner in South Florida, some 80 years after they spent time in a prison in Poland together.

The men, Jack Waksal and Sam Ron went to dinner on a Sunday hosted by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. 

Ron was one of the honorary chairs. When he spoke at the podium, he mentioned his real name is Shmuel Rakowski-this name was immediately recognized by Waksal. 

Waksal said that when he saw Sam, it was like he was looking at his brother. 

They used to push coal to the oven to make heat for power. The two were prisoners at the Pionki labor camp, both teenagers at the time.

So Much Cold, Hunger, Bad Conditions &  Hard Work

According to Ron, the time they spent in the prisoners’ camp involved a lot of cold weather, hunger, hard work, and poor conditions. Hundreds of people lost their lives and it wasn’t uncommon to wake up and see that the person next to you is cold. 

So, finding someone who went exactly through what you went through has a special significance. 

Waksal emphasizes that it’s really difficult to explain what both of them went through. And, there aren’t many more survivors alive; there are only a few.

Cold War Chronology

Ron also described the fear they constantly felt from the random choosing of people who were sent off to the Auschwitz concentration camp. And, one time, he had no food for more than two weeks. So, the prisoners resorted to eating the bark off of trees.

On some days, Waksal noted, he spent 24 hours on his feet or risked being shot at and hauled wheelbarrows with coal. 

He eventually fled to the forest. 

Both men lived in South Florida for decades and never got to meet each other. Ron is 98-years-old and he lives in Boca Raton whereas the 97-year-old Waksal lives in Bal Harbour. 

The Two Men Who Shared the Same Difficult Life as Nazi Prisoners Shared Their Struggles Online

CBS 4 organized a Zoom call between the two men and they shared their stories from back then. The Southeast Regional Director of the museum, Robert Tanen, notes that this is why their work is so important. 

It’s beautiful to see that these connections are still happening today, so many years after. 

Both men survived the terrible period and opened up their businesses, raised families, and enjoy a happy life to this day. And, they’re forever connected because they went through the same hardship together.

According to Ron, they worked and suffered together. It was an emotional reunion and he hopes they stay in touch.