Jack Lorch

Nashville, Tennessee

Born: Born: 1911 Dieburg Germany

Refugee: Dieburg, Germany

“I had no other chance…I had to do or die…it’s more [a matter] of survival.”

Jack did feel the effects of antisemitism after graduating from high school. Many of his friends were Gentiles, and they frequently went to each other’s houses. He began his studies at Frankfurt University in 1930, and began to sense a difference, “It was in the air.” After graduating from university in 1934, Jack began working at his uncle’s shirt factory in Duisburg, Germany. There, one of his Gentile roommates who had become a Nazi warned him of the necessity of leaving Germany; the Nazi was worried about Jack’s safety.

Jack found a second cousin who had been living in Staten Island, New York since the 1920’s, and he agreed to provide an affidavit of financial support. Jack then wrote to the American consul in Frankfurt, sending his medical report, the affidavit, and all of the necessary paperwork. The entire process took about six to nine months, and in 1938, Jack finally joined his cousin in New York. He became active in the garment industry, working in Natchez, Mississippi, and then returned to New York and started a shirt factory with two other men.

Jack’s parents were still in Dieburg, and they attempted to immigrate to Cuba on the Orinoco. This ship was sent back to Germany, and, strangely enough, it was ordered by Obersturmführer Heinrich Müller of the Berlin Gestapo that no “harsh forceful measures” should be taken against “these returnees.” Because of this protection by the very man who was later tasked with carrying out the Final Solution, Jack’s parents survived. Though his father was in Buchenwald for a short time, eventually his parents and his brothers, Erich and Joe, arrived in America. Jack lost his grandmother, whom he loved dearly, in the Holocaust, probably in Auschwitz. He also lost five or six uncles or aunts.

Jack moved for business reasons to Petersburg, Virginia, and then to Nashville, Tennessee, where there was a factory for sale in Liberty, Tennessee. When asked how he was able to come to America with nothing and succeed, Mr. Lorch said, “I had no other chance…I had to do or die…it’s more [a matter] of survival.”

In 1981, Jack returned to his hometown in Germany, and his school friends had a reception for him. The town’s population had grown from approximately 5,000 to 8,000 people, yet he said that very little else had changed. The Jewish population, however, was zero. In describing what it was like to return, Jack said, “Not good, but not bad either….with one eye you laugh and one eye you cry.”