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Oral history interview with Jack Reuben

Oral History | Accession Number: 1998.A.0053 | RG Number: RG-50.106.0094

Jack Ruben was born Yaakov Ruben on December 8, 1921 in Cincinnati, Ohio and after six months the family moved to LA. He was the only child to Joseph and Sarah Basha Ruben who came from Russia and were not religious. His mother was a garment worker and his father sold fruits and vegetables in a horse and cart in the local area. Due to an eye condition, Jack went to a health camp for a year. Jack's father left the family in 1927 and since lost track of him. Jack was placed in foster homes until the 11th grade and would visit his mother on the weekends. He graduated from high school and worked his way through UCLA by working part-time. In summer of '43 Jack volunteered for the Air Corps and was sent to Pomona College for nine months to study meteorology. He was not picked to be a meteorology officer so joined the infantry and was selected to be a coding clerk. He went to several camps and was shipped to Le Havre. His division had little information of the overall war and no details of concentration camps. From there he was part of the effort to form a bridge over the Moselle and next in a major assault at the Rhine River. Jack was in the Division furthest east in Germany which took many German prisoners as they quickly drove east. His company going east and meeting a surrendering German battalion who were permitted to march on their own. His company formed perimeters around villages and often stayed overnight in a civilian's home. They went through a rural area and saw dead prisoners and dead horses along the road without understanding the situation. They reached Ohrdruf Concentration Camp and saw a few emaciated prisoners leaving and many dead bodies piled up or laying on the ground. Jack did not realize it was a concentration camp at the time or that others existed until later when he returned to the US. The Army newspaper did not publish such information. From there, they went to the Czech border for 3 months which they guarded until VE Day. Then Jack was relocated to a relocation camp near Paris until Christmas '45 when he was shipped home and arrived in NY on New Year's Day '46. He was discharged and married a second time as his first wife was killed in an auto accident. Subsequently, he received a BA in economics, MA in family counseling and PhD in psychology and has practiced 10 years in the field. He has four children. Jack still does not understand how the crimes in the concentration camps could have been performed by fellow human beings.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Jack Reuben
Nancy Alper
interview:  1998 February 23
2 sound cassettes (74 min.).
Record last modified: 2023-11-16 08:12:24
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