93 Year-Old Holocaust Survivor Returns To Auschwitz: David Schaecter Joins FIDF For Exclusive Mission To Poland And Israel
April 20, 2023
“We all had one thing in common and that was death,” said Miami resident David Schaecter, recalling his unfathomable experience as an 11-year-old at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Now, at 93, the Miami resident will take an emotional trip back to where his entire family was murdered during an exclusive “Holocaust to Independence” mission, hosted by Friends of the IDF (FIDF), from Wednesday, April 19th, 2023 - Thursday, April 27th, 2023 on the 75th Anniversary of the establishment of the State Of Israel. This time, Schaecter will be entering the gates of Auschwitz with protectors of the Jewish people, a delegation of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Officers.
“Upon witnessing my mother and sisters walk towards an open pit in the ground, I asked my brother, ‘why?’ He replied, ‘the world is standing still and doesn’t care,’” said Schaecter. “I feel that I must continue to share my story with others in order to make them understand the enormity of the Holocaust. We must continue to fight Anti-Semitism so that atrocities against the Jewish people stop once and for all."
Schaecter, accompanied by fellow Holocaust Survivor Ben Midler, will join more than 80 Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) supporters from across the country, alongside a delegation of IDF soldiers, as they embark on an incredible nine-day journey of remembrance and renewal, in Poland and Israel. “From Holocaust to Independence” will bring Jewish history to life, from its darkest moments to the most triumphant, culminating in Israel’s 75th Independence Day.
The Mission is part of FIDF’s Witnesses in Uniform Program, which offers soldiers a first-hand look at the unfathomable horrors of the Holocaust, leading to a new, profound understanding of their Jewish identity and heritage.
One of the founders of the Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach and The March Of The Living, Schaecter has made it his life’s mission to keep the memories of the six million Jews murdered alive. As the number of survivors continues to dwindle, Schaecter says, he considers his extraordinary vigor a gift that allows him to continue telling his story to a new generation of young people. "I look in their eyes and tell them three things: No. 1, they need to hear me; No. 2, they need to understand and No. 3, the most important, I need them to be my mouthpiece when I am no longer here.” A film was produced in 2018 about his life, “A Call To Remember: The David Schaecter Story” and recently, hours of his story were recorded for an interactive exhibit slated to open in a museum in Boston in 2025.
Schaecter was born in Czechoslovakia in 1929 in the Tokai Mountains area close to the Czech/Hungarian border. In April 1940, his father was taken to Auschwitz and a year later, he and the rest of his family were also sent to Auschwitz. All 105 members of his family perished. He arrived in the United States in January 1950 at the age of 20 and registered at the University Of Colorado in Boulder. He later transferred to UCLA and graduated with a Degree in Industrial Engineering. A British-American family hired him to develop and grow two different branches of their business. They eventually transferred him to Miami in 1956. After two years in Miami, Schaecter started his own company and found great success. He has been married to his second wife, Sydney, since 2005. He has two adult children, five adult grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
The upcoming mission will begin in Krakow, Poland and participants will visit the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, where more than one million people were systematically starved, tortured and murdered between 1941-1945. They will visit the Zbylitowska Gora Village and Buczyna Forest to retrace the steps where more than 800 children were executed by the Nazis, and continue to the Kupa Synagogue, the Jewish Quarter in the Old City Of Krakow and on to the Krakow Jewish Ghetto.
The group will then fly to Israel where they will have the opportunity to attend the National Memorial Ceremony dedicated to fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism at the Kotel with state officials including Israel’s President and the IDF Chief of Staff. The group will visit IDF bases, meet soldiers serving on Israel’s front lines and commanders in elite units, commemorate Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror and to celebrate Israel’s 75th Independence Day with those who ensure Israel’s safety and its future existence.
“During this historic mission on Israel’s 75th Anniversary, we’ll celebrate the story of Jewish courage – from near annihilation to the triumph of establishing the State Of Israel," said Steve Weil CEO Of FIDF. “When we march tall and proud through the gates of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Camps, together with Holocaust Survivors, FIDF supporters and Israeli officers in uniform, gratefully flying the Israeli flag, we will send a clear message: We are here, we will never forget and we will do whatever we must do to protect our country and our people to guarantee – Never Again.”
Friends Of The Israel Defense Forces (FIDF)
FIDF was established in 1981 by a group of Holocaust Survivors as a 501(C)(3) Not-For-Profit Organization with the mission of transforming the lives of the young men and women of the IDF who protect Israel and Jews worldwide through empowering educational, financial, well-being and cultural initiatives. With 24 chapters throughout the United States, FIDF proudly supports soldiers before, during and after their service, as well as families of fallen soldiers and wounded veterans, reinforcing the vital bond between the communities in the United States and the soldiers of the IDF. For more information, please visit: www.fidf.org