Surviving Reality

Apr 9, 2023


Courtesy of Genesis Javier

Holocaust survivor David Schaecter smiles with freshman Genesis Javier after his presentation.

During his time at the hospital, Schaecter never found another survivor in his family.

For two and a half years, he had an index card with his information on a billboard in Prague, as did countless other survivors in search of their families. Finally, after checking back on the billboard every weekend, he was informed that one of his cousins, Naftali had tried to contact him. That same year, she decided to move to Israel and partake in the Israeli War of Independence in May 1948, where she was soon killed, leaving Schaecter on his own again.

In December 1949, wanting to start a new life, Schaecter moved from Prague to Ireland and with help from political leaders, he was smuggled to Northern Ireland, Scotland and finally England. Soon after, he was informed of an opportunity to be an exchange student, sheltered by an American family who was willing to take him in. Aboard the RMS Queen Elizabeth, Schaecter was bound for the United States.

Upon arrival in New York on Jan. 2, 1950, he was pleasantly surprised to finally be treated like a human of worth by a worker named Maria Fleming. She informed Schaecter of his acceptance into the University of Colorado, a state that would closely resemble his home in Czechoslovakia.

Schaecter would stay with his host family in Denver, Colo. for two years, before transferring to the University of California Los Angeles. There, he received an industrial engineering degree and married his first wife Marvis. They moved all across the country starting from San Fransisco to Seattle and eventually Miami. Years after her death in 2005, Schaecter decided to continue onwards and marry his second and current wife Sydney. This is where his story with Gables would begin.

“Each time I hear David’s story I am moved by his strength and optimism. It motivates my students to overcome adversity in a positive way and live life to the fullest,” Ms. Leal said.

Already having a piece of the Cavalier family in his own, through his own children, grandchildren and wife, Schaecter continues to be a memorable figure in Gables, sharing his indelible experiences with World Religion and Holocaust Studies, taught by Ms. Leal. Having presented four times in previous years, Ms. Leal schedules Schaecter to share his story with her class, a tradition that will continue for as long as possible. Students who get the opportunity to listen to his story share empathy toward him and all other Jewish people who experienced the Holocaust.

“He keeps telling his story even though it is painful for him so that others can learn from an eye witness. David was only an 11-year old boy when he was taken away from his home and everything he had known.  It seems that when he shares his experience with students, they try to imagine how they would feel if they were placed in such a situation.  He seems to have a significant impact on most of the students who hear his presentation,” Schaecter’s wife Sydney Carpel said.

Throughout his storytelling, Schaecter mentions his sorrow for all the children killed during the Holocaust, all while staying motivated to educate and raise awareness among the younger generations. Ending his presentation, Schaecter expressed his joy in seeing all the young faces of Gables, the future people of the world and the hope in humanity.

Take 20, 40, 50 seconds, take an hour, take a day, and try and reflect on that million and a half children, what they could have accomplished, what they could have contributed to the humanities, to the world of art, to the world of music, to the world of medicine, had they been given a chance to live. And they are no more. And this is one of the things that for the longest time has tormented me,

— Schaecter

“What all those survivors saw… I want it to be a way of life for us to remember. I am always trying to convince someone else to remember,” Schaecter said.

Despite all the terrible things humans have done to Schaecter, he never gave up and persevered until the end, resulting in his survival. He did not just stop there; always carrying his past experiences, his presentations enlighten students as well as raise their grasp of the growing antisemitism. Schaecter serves as an inspiration, not only to Gables but to anyone who hears his story.

Leave a Comment
Donate to CavsConnect

Your donation will support the student journalists of Coral Gables Senior High School. Your contribution will help us cover our annual website hosting costs.

About the Contributor
Photo of Avril Donner
Avril Donner, CavsConnect Staff Writer

Avril Donner, a freshman in the International Baccalaureate program, is pumped to start her first year in CavsConnect as a staff writer. She strives to...

CavsConnect • Copyright 2024 • FLEX WordPress Theme by SNOLog in

Donate to CavsConnect

Comments (0)

The CavsConnect staff encourages comments and conversation on all of our content. We reserve the right to remove comments that are vulgar, rude, hurtful, or unrelated to the topic.
All CavsConnect Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *