For over a year, Jack Waksal and Sam Ron performed back-breaking work, side-by-side at the Pionki forced labor camp in Poland during the Holocaust. 1940-1942 the men were under the thumb of Nazis After the war, neither man knew what came of the other or even whether they’d survived.
Both men immigrated to the US and both lived for a number of years in Ohio and eventually retired to South Florida, but until earlier this week the men had not seen each other in 79 years. While at a benefit event in Boca Raton for the US Holocaust Memorial Musieum, Waksal recognized his old friend from across the room. “He jumped off the seat and came running over to my seat and says ‘You’re my brother,’ I was very emotional, I’m normally not a very emotional guy,” Ron recalls.
The two friends sat down to catch up after all the years. Waksal escaped from Pionki and spent six months in the forest in the middle of winter. Ron was relocated to another camp and eventually freed by American liberators. Both men say they’ve had blessed lives in the US, getting revenge on Hitler by being successful and having children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
The men found out that they only live about 40 miles from one another and plan to see a lot more of each other now that they’ve reconnected.