1970 - 1970

Jack Schniper

Biography

Jack was born in a Ukrainian work camp on March 18, 1945. His mere existence is a miracle. Although he never knew the uncertainty and hardships his parents experienced, he lives with that legacy every day.

The story begins in Rowno, Poland where Jack’s father, Chaim, was born in 1906. The Nazis invaded in 1939 and anti-Jewish legislation resulted in Chaim’s expulsion from medical school. In 1941, 15,000 Jews of Rowno were killed. During one of these purges, Chaim lost his wife and two young daughters. He was left for dead but rescued by a Catholic family. Chaim fled Poland and eventually ended up in a work camp in Cherson, Ukraine.

Jack’s mother was also from Rowno, born in 1920. After the Germans invaded Rowno, Chana, her mother, and her sister with her year-old baby had to separate and go into different hiding places. Chana was hidden for a year by a Christian farmer. She lived in a pit in the ground, emerging only at night. She later learned her mother, sister, and little nephew and been captured and killed; she was the only survivor from her immediate family. Although the interim events are not known, Chana was in the Cherson work camp as well, where she met and married Chaim. Jack was born in the camp three months before the war ended. The young family was able to escape one night, ultimately ending up in Germany after the war. Jack’s brother, Abe, was born in Ulm, Germany, two years later. A third brother, Steve, was born in the U.S. in 1955.

The Schnipers came to Birmingham in 1950, sponsored by the Jewish community. Chaim and Chana loved America. They learned English in night school, but still spoke Yiddish at home. Chaim packed home furnishings in a warehouse, and with help from the Jewish community, opened Schniper’s Dry Goods. In 1955, the Schnipers became U.S. citizens.

Jack grew up working in the family business. He attended the University of Alabama, UAB, and Samford University and served in the Air National Guard. A retail man like his dad, Jack started his career at Blach’s Department Store while in school, and later became an independent wholesale representative.  He married his wife, Leigh, in 1969; they have three sons and two grandsons.

Chaim and Chana rarely discussed their past with their children. Jack says he survived only because of his parents. Their story is his story.

Darkness Into Life

Claritas est etiam processus dynamicus, qui sequitur mutationem consuetudium lectorum. Mirum est notare quam littera gothica, quam nunc putamus parum claram, anteposuerit litterarum formas humanitatis per seacula quarta decima et quinta decima. Eodem modo typi, qui nunc nobis videntur parum clari, fiant sollemnes in futurum.

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More Information

Name in US
Jack Schniper
Name at Birth
Jakob (Jacob) Schnipper
Married Name
Jack Schniper
Parents' Name
Date of Birth - Note
March 18, 1945
Country of Birth
Ukraine
City of Birth
Cherson
City of Birth, Alternate Names

Kherson

Sibling(s) Name(s)

Abraham (Abe) Schniper (Jessie)
Born April 19, 1947 Ulm, Germany

Steve Schniper (Ann)
Born 1955 Birmingham, AL

Spouse(s) Name(s)

Susan Leigh Thompson, “Leigh”
Married May 31, 1969 in Bristol, VA
(1946-2021)

Children's Names

Adam J. Schniper

Jordan D. Schniper

Matthew C. Schniper

Religious Identity (Prewar)
Jewish
Religious Identity (Postwar)
Jewish
Camp(s) / Year(s)

Born in a Nazi work camp

Hiding or Living under False Identity (Location/Year)
Escaped as an infant with his parents from a work camp
DP Camp(s) / Year(s)

Stuttgart, Germany (1945-1950)

Other Experiences

Family name used to be spelled Schnipper

Year / City / Ship to US
January 29, 1950 / New Orleans, LA / USAT General M.L. Hersey
Date Moved to Alabama
1950
Alabama City of Residence
Birmingham