The last time Jack Waksal and Sam Ron saw each other was nearly 80 years ago. The young Jewish men were forced to shovel coal at the Pionki labor camp in German-occupied Poland.

Sam and Jack were both born in small towns in Poland in the 1920s. After the German invasion of Poland, Sam (Shmuel Rakowski) and his family lived in the Krakow ghetto. Several of his family members worked in Oskar Schindler’s factory.

Jack (Yitzhak Waksal) experienced Nazi persecution in his hometown and was eventually sent to a nearby labor camp. He was later sent to Pionki, where he met Sam. There they faced starvation and back-breaking labor. Jack escaped Pionki. Sam was transferred to another camp and was liberated by US troops after surviving a forced march from Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Neither knew what happened to the other.

Last week at a Museum event in South Florida, Sam shared his survival story. Jack recognized Sam’s name and became emotional. “He jumped out from his seat and came running over to me,” Sam said. “He started hugging me and said, ‘You are my brother!’”

“We were so close,” Jack said. “He was always with me.”

Source: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Photo: Jacqueline-Marie Photography