Jaap Polak was born in Amsterdam. He cherishes recollections of his loving parents. His father was very much involved in the Zionist movement in the Netherlands, and the Polak children were raised in a Zionist spirit. Jaap didn't go into hiding, although he had the opportunity to do so. He felt that as a strong young man he would be able to get through the work camps.
He was married when the war broke out, but in Westerbork he met his current wife, Ina, whom he married after the war. Together they published the book "Steal a pencil for me" about the love letters they wrote each other in Westerbork and Bergen-Belsen. Almost all of Jaap's relatives from father's side perished, and not more than three uncles and aunts from mother's side survived the Second World War. Jaap's parents were killed in Sobibor, his eldest sister perished in Bergen-Belsen. Jaap gives lectures on the Shoah for young audiences.