Ann Jacobson was born in Berlin, Germany. Her father lost his job because he was Jewish and the family moved to Vienna, Austria. In 1938, Adolph Hitler’s reign reached into Austria and again Jacobson and her family were ostracized. By a twist of fate, and as Jacobson says “a miracle of God,” her family escaped to America in 1939. After a brief stay in New York, the family settled in Kansas City.
As a young woman, she scrubbed floors and washed dishes to pay her tuition at the University of Kansas City. She married and taught German at the University of Kansas and at the University of Missouri. She gave birth to three children and earned a master’s degree in Social Work.
By anyone’s standards, Jacobson had already accomplished a great deal by the time she relocated to Naples in 1990. Since arriving in Naples 20 years ago, Jacobson has founded the Holocaust Museum of Southwest Florida and served as president of the Jewish Federation of Collier County. She also established the Center for Judaic Holocaust and Human Rights Studies at Florida Gulf Coast University. “We need to learn from history. I want the Holocaust history to be taught,” says Jacobson.
Learning from history is what the Holocaust Museum of Southwest Florida is all about. In the past 10 years, the museum has educated 27,000 school children and countless more adult visitors. “We need to learn from history, so we don’t repeat the same things,” says Jacobson. In explaining her legacy she adds, “I guess I’ve been a spokesperson in some ways for minorities, and women have certainly been the minority in many cases. It’s all part of equality and having our rights and having our voice heard.”