Jakob Frenkiel grew up as one of seven sons of a cap maker in Gabin, Poland. His religious Jewish family lived in a one-room apartment near the synagogue. When the Germans reached the town in 1939, they set the synagogue and the homes around it on fire. Then they rounded up all the Jewish men in the marketplace.
In 1941, Jakob was sent to a labor camp with a group of men. A year later, they were sent to the concentration camp Auschwitz. When Jakob and his brother Chaim were lined up with children and old people, Jakob wondered what would happen to them. Another prisoner pointed to the chimneys. "Tomorrow the smoke will be from you," he told Jakob. The prisoner explained that if Jakob and his brother could get a number tattooed on their arms, they would be put to work instead of killed. Jakob and Chaim sneaked away and lined up with the men getting tattoos.
Jakob was imprisoned in Auschwitz for 17 months, then forced to march to camps in Germany. He was liberated in April, 1945, near Austria. Later that year, he emigrated to the United States.