Jack Polak, survivor who founded Anne Frank Center USA, dies at 102

Jack Polak, a Holocaust survivor who helped found the Anne Frank Center USA in New York, has died at 102.

Polak, who toured the country to talk about his experiences in the Holocaust, died Jan. 9.

The Anne Frank Center USA was founded in 1977 as a consolidation of the Anne Frank Foundation. Polak served as the center’s president and chairman for many years. In 1992 he was knighted by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands for his work.

Polak was born in Amsterdam to an Orthodox Jewish family. In 1943, in his early 30s, he was deported to the Westerbork concentration camp before being sent to the Bergen-Belsen camp in northern Germany. He was freed after 14 months by the conquering Soviet army and returned to Amsterdam.

Polak and the woman who would become his second wife, Ina, released a book based on their correspondence while in Westerbork and Bergen-Belsen. “Steal a Pencil for Me” was later the subject of a documentary film and an opera.

In 1951, he and Ina moved to the United States, settling in the New York suburb of Eastchester. Polak worked as a tax consultant in addition to speaking widely about his Holocaust experiences. — jta