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Speakers says Jews suffered after war

Jacobs says many nations turned Jewish refugees away

Author and Holocaust survivor Benjamin Jacobs said that, despite what history books say, not much sympathy was given to the European Jewish population before or after World War II.

Jacobs was sent to Auschwitz, one of the most well-known German death camps, in 1943. He said many countries did not try to help Jews after the war and would send them away by the boatful.

He said one headline in a newspaper read, "Save the Jews? Who wants them?" Jacobs said a ship with 930, mostly Jewish prisoners set sail for Cuba because the passengers had permits to leave. When the ship arrived, he said Cuban officials would not let them in because they had been warned not to accept them.

"The captain went from one port to another and begged them to take the Jews, and nobody would have them," Jacobs said.

He said that same ship had gone to an American port, but Franklin Roosevelt ordered that they were not allowed to disembark. The ship went to Canada and it was again denied.

Jacobs, who is the author of "The Dentist of Auschwitz: A Memoir," said the Allied nations also did things to the Jewish prisoners during and after the war that weren't good. A German ocean-liner he was on, which he called a "floating concentration camp," was bombed by the British Royal Air Force, killing many of the prisoners.

He said the Royal Air Force claimed that they didn't know prisoners were on board, but he believes otherwise. A fisherman rescued Jacobs after the ship was destroyed.

Jacobs said many miracles saved him during the war, and he now tries share what happened with as many young people as possible.

He talked about his time in Auschwitz, where he survived because a German prisoner referred him to a dental station and was ordered to remove gold fillings from dead prisoners.

"I became a dentist, and it was my chance to live," he said. "It was also very trying. It was the most difficult and most regretful thing I've done in my life, and I can never forget it."

He said that when he arrived in Auschwitz, the prisoners were separated in two lines, but both lines were led to showers.

Jacobs said he knew he would die from gas in those showers. He had held his breath to stave off the gas and was shocked when water actually came out of the showers.

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"When the first drops came down, I must have buckled," he said. "I couldn't any longer hold my breath. When I tasted water, it was like a resurrection. I will love water until the end of my days."

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