Jaakov Fischler (born Hans Fischler, later Jacques,Fischler) is the son of Hermann (Zvi) Fischler (b. October 17, 1898) and Sabina Estlein Fischler (b. September 30, 1899). Hans was born in Lancut, Poland on August 1928 and the following month, his family moved to Liberec (Reichenberg) Czechoslovakia where Hermann owned a large fabric store. He has one brother, Alexandre, who is three years younger. The family had Czech passports with the "J" imposed on them. Hans attended public elementary school and spoke German at home. After Germany's annexation of the Sudentenland in 1938, the Fischlers moved to Prague where they lived as refugees. From there, they had planned to immigrate to Australia and even sent their entire luggage to France in advance of the voyage, but their papers did not arrive on time. However, Hans had met the son of the French Consul of Prague at a sports camp, and his father arranged for Hans and Alexandre to obtain French visas in 1939. Hermann therefore decided to send his two sons - then ages eight and eleven -- ahead to France to join some cousins. Hans and Alexandre attended school in Toulouse. Then, in May 1940 Germany invaded France. In 1943 when conditions worsened his relatives decided to hide the boys in a Catholic boarding school, called Pensionat St. Joseph run by the Order of St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle. Only the principal knew they were Jewish. He gave the brothers a separate room and allowed them to bathe in privacy. At the end of 1943, as the German presence became even pronounced, Hans' cousins decide to try and escape with Hans. They went by car to Perpignan near the Spanish border; Alexandre followed two weeks later. They then paid German soldiers who were going to Spain to bring back goods to sell on the black market to help them across the border. Spanish guards caught the cousins near the border and took them into custody. They were taken to Gerona, and Hans was placed in an orphanage where he was treated very well. The teachers were young Spanish students who were happy to practice their French. Most of the other children were Spanish Civil War orphans. The Spanish government cooperated with the Jewish organizations and in a few weeks they were set free. His cousins were sent to separate family prisons. Hans and Alexandre lived in Barcelona for a few months until they had the opportunity to sail to Palestine via Portugal. They arrived in Palestine in January 1944 on the Portuguese ship "Nyassa". After spending a few days in Athlit, they eventually were sent by Aliyat HaNoar to Mossad Ahava in Kiryat Bialik (near Haifa) for two years.
When Hans' parents saw that they could not immigrate to Australia, they returned to relatives living in the Soviet sector of Poland. However, as they were more afraid of the Soviets they crossed over to the German controlled zone. They hoped to reach Romania, but when they arrived in Kolomya (a town near the border), they were told that all Jews had to register. Sabina, who was ill, did not register, but her husband went as directed. He never returned. Sabina survived the war in hiding with a Christian family using the papers of someone who was deceased. After the war she searched for her children thinking they were in Toulouse. Finally someone in the French consulate in Krakow who had been in the French army with a cousin of theirs was able to locate the boys in Israel. Eventually she joined her sons in 1949.