From the Shtetl to America: Jacob Rassen's Lifetime Journey
Jacob Rassen's life (1905 - 1986) reflects much of the Jewish history of the twentieth century, from the last years of the Eastern European "shtetl" to modern America. His life was shaped by four wars: two "local" wars in Lithuania and the two World Wars.
As a young man, Jacob developed a passion for agronomy. He taught and wrote extensively. As an agronomist, he traveled to Denmark and Russia. He spent a year in Palestine, starting a school of agronomy in the early days of the "kibbutz" movement.
Jacob remained in Europe during World War II. He survived the Dvinsk and Riga ghettos, concentration camps and a year as a partisan fighter. His first wife and two children were killed in 1943 as the Dvinsk ghetto was liquidated.
In 1946, Jacob remarried and emigrated to the United States where he started a new life and family. He lived mostly in Massachusetts and spent his last year in San Francisco.
Jacob recorded a nine hour narrative in 1986. The transcript captures his gift for story telling, his passion for life and his remarkable tale of survival.