Benjamin Jacobs was born Berek Jakubowicz to a Jewish family in the village of Dobra, Poland. He had completed a year of dental school when Nazi Germany invaded his country in World War II. He was sent to five different concentration camps, including Auschwitz. His rudimentary dentistry skills and a few tools made him useful to SS officers as well as camp inmates and helped saved his life. He was also forced to work on the assembly of V1 and V2 rockets in Buchenwald and Dora-Mittelbau. He also survived the Royal Air Force attack in May 1945 on three ships in the Bay of Lubeck carrying survivors of the Neuengamme concentration camp. Both his parents and his sister perished in the Holocaust. After the war, he met and married his wife Elise in Germany, and the two emigrated to the USA in 1950, settling in Brookline, Massachusetts. He ran his own television and appliance store until
1968, when he tried out various other occupations, becoming
a stockbroker, a real estate broker, and advertising executive in short succession .
He began speaking at high schools in the Boston
area about his experiences during the Holocaust, and then took his talks to universities.
He recorded his story as part of a project at Yale University, and participated in the Shoah Project, the effort headed by filmmaker
Steven Spielberg in the 1990s to preserve survivor
stories. In 1994, he published his memoir, The Dentist of Auschwitz. With Eugene Pool, he wrote a book about the RAF attack, The 100-Year Secret: Britain's Hidden World War II Massacre, published in 2004.