Dr. Jacob Eisenbach interviews with the Daily Iowan on Thursday, Apr. 27, 2017 at the UI College of Dentistry. Dr. Eisenbach, a Holocaust survivor from Lodz, Poland, and '55 graduate of the College of Dentistry, retired from full-time dentistry after 60 years. (The Daily Iowan/Olivia Sun)
Dr. Jacob Eisenbach interviews with the Daily Iowan on Thursday, Apr. 27, 2017 at the UI College of Dentistry. Dr. Eisenbach, a Holocaust survivor from Lodz, Poland, and '55 graduate of the College of Dentistry, retired from full-time dentistry after 60 years. (The Daily Iowan/Olivia Sun)

Holocaust survivor remains optimistic

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Madeleine Neal | madeleine-neal@uiowa.edu

Jacob Eisenbach, a Holocaust survivor who graduated from the University of Iowa College of Dentistry in 1955, said certain aspects of modern-day political climates concern him.

“I’m concerned about the North Korean President, Kim Jong-un, who has threated to turn [on] the United States and terrorize [it] to ashes,” he said. “It reminds me of the behavior of Hitler before World War II.”

Despite being well-educated, he said, many Germans were bystanders to Hitler’s reign.

“We cannot stand by and do nothing about the North Korean president,” he said.

When it comes to domestic relations with North Korea, Eisenbach said he believes it is important for Kim to know the United States does not want war. He discussed drafting an agreement with North Korea, similar to Germany’s non-aggression pact with Stalin, which Hitler broke in 1941.

“One of the greatest mistakes [Hitler] made was not to listen to his top generals and politicians [when]they advised him not to break the non-aggression pact with Stalin,” he said.

In addition to Hitler breaking the non-aggression pact, Eisenbach also said the other big mistake was declaring war against the United States.

“[Hitler] did not realize what The United States was capable of doing,” he said.

Eisenbach said he does not believe that Kim thinks he can win against the United States.

“There have been many haters and warmongers, “ he said, “but eventually they were defeated — including Hitler.”

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Domestically, he said, there has been talks about the rise of hate crimes.

“Hate is a complicated problem,” he said. “In many cases, it’s been going on for decades and centuries — but before we can start talking about hatred, we have to realize what is causing hatred.”

Those who hate, he said, are hurting themselves more than those they hate — it is the hatred that leads to genocides and wars.

“Children should be taught not to hate from an early age,” he said.

Following a speech, which Eisenbach gave in Iowa, a young German man approached Eisenbach and told him how ashamed he was of what his people had done.

“[I told him] one of the greatest achievements of a human being is to turn an enemy into a friend,” he said.

The German people today, he said, are not the same German people under the Nazi regime.

“They have a tremendous economy,” he said. “And they are very helpful to refugees and very helpful to the state of Israel.”

Eisenbach said he would like to see President Trump and his administration form a coalition against genocide.

Despite the atrocities of his youth, Eisenbach said, he remains optimistic about humanity and its future.

“I often get asked the question, ‘Did you lose faith in humanity?’ ” he said. “I tell them the story of the king of Denmark.”

Legend says the former king of Denmark insisted that he, his family, and all Danes wear the Star of David when Hitler imposed the order on Denmark’s Jews.

“[How can I lose faith] when such great humanitarians have been walking the surface of our planet?” he said.

Eisenbach said he is often questioned about seeking vengeance.

“My revenge is that I’m alive, I’m 94, and thank God, in good health,” he said. “And that I live in the greatest country that ever existed in the history of mankind.”