Tag Archives: holocaust survivors

Photo by Pipe Yanguas

I prayed I would never see this again but never doubted it was possible | Opinion

By David Schaecter

November 5, 2023 at 4:30 a.m.

I survived the hell of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, but I survived alone.

I lost my mother, father, sisters, brother, aunts, uncles and cousins in the Holocaust. After the war, I was fortunate to prosper in this great land — the United States — and build a family with my wife and two children, five beautiful grandchildren and two beautiful great-grandchildren.

Yet, I am haunted by the fact that America’s heroism in World War II came too late for 105 members of my family, and 6 million other innocent Jewish people, including 1.5 million children — potential scientists, physicians, philosophers, artists, and loving family members whose lives were so cruelly denied to them.

It gives me tremendous pain to say that Hamas’ savage murder and kidnapping of hundreds of innocent Jewish grandparents, children, mothers, fathers and young adults celebrating freedom and peace, was a tragedy I prayed I would never see again, but never doubted was possible.

The barbarity of the Hamas attacks indeed reminds us that hatred of the Jewish people, and the infinite capacity for cruelty against our people, is a cancer that will never be eradicated, but must be recognized, protected against and crushed when it threatens.

It is a sobering fact that more Jews were killed on that Saturday — a Jewish holy day — than any other day since the Holocaust.

The Nazis and their collaborators slaughtered our people with a disgusting collection of political, economic and military power. How could it happen? How did it happen? But it did. That is why I have devoted my entire life to telling people the true history of what we experienced in the Shoah, and the unimaginable scope of our loss. So many of our fellow survivors are now gone, and I fear that our pain and the true history will be forgotten or corrupted by immoral, self-interested political and economic forces.

Today, after the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre, all people have witnessed, in real time, slaughter of the kind I somehow survived more than 80 years ago. More than 1,400 innocent Israeli people just living their everyday lives, gunned down, kidnapped, mutilated, raped, terrorized by evil monsters.  Parents, brothers, sisters, children, aunts, uncles and cousins traumatized by the murders, and the terror inflicted on the hostages now held by Hamas, and their desperate families.

We see the mainstream media slanting coverage to suggest moral equivalency between Hamas’ unspeakable atrocities against innocent Israelis and Israel’s right of self-defense — against terrorists who use Palestinian children as human shields and stockpile food, water and fuel for a war with Israel while starving the civilian population it governs, so Israel can be blamed. Israel follows the international law of warfare in attempting to avoid civilian casualties, while Hamas has intentionally butchered innocent Israelis and intentionally endangered innocent Palestinians.

Members of the echo chamber that blames Israel for Hamas’ brutal murders because of “occupation” never acknowledge that the Palestinian leaders have rejected repeated offers of statehood, choosing war and terror instead. These so-called progressives, including some Jewish people, that justify and rationalize the cold-blooded murder of Jews in the 21st Century, should be ashamed of their hypocrisy and cowardice.

I was born in what was then Czechoslovakia in 1929. I am now 94 years old. Along with Holocaust education, I have devoted every day of the last seven decades to building and supporting the state of Israel, our Jewish homeland. We cannot take our future security for granted. The Jewish people must always have the means and the will to defend and protect ourselves, and that means creating a society and government that are decades ahead of our adversaries in military and security preparation.

Though we must be responsible, we cannot do it all alone. I am grateful to President Joe Biden, and the bipartisan leaders and members of Congress, and other elected officials, who have stood squarely with Israel and already taken steps to support Israel with moral, intelligence and military support in her most dangerous moment in over 50 years.

But the onus is on us, the Jewish people, to support Israel financially and in the court of public opinion. I have faith that, unified in spirit and conscience, Israel and the Jewish people will learn from whatever lessons will be revealed from that Saturday’s incomprehensible, horrific catastrophe, a Shoah in its own right, and build an even stronger, prosperous, stable and just society.

David Schaecter, a Miami resident since 1955, is president of the Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA.

Gunshots and blood stains are seen on a door and walls of a house where civilians were killed days earlier in an attack by Hamas militants on this kibbutz near the border with Gaza, on October 10, 2023 in Kfar Aza, Israel. (Photo by Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

Gunshots and blood stains are seen on a door and walls of a house where civilians were killed days earlier in an attack by Hamas militants on this kibbutz near the border with Gaza, on October 10, 2023 in Kfar Aza, Israel. (Photo by Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

Link to original article in the Sun Sentinel

The Supreme Court of the United States in Washington DC, blanketed in sleet and snow

Our statement about today’s SCOTUS decisions against Holocaust survivors

HSF filed an amicus curiae brief in the case supporting the claimants, but the Court ruled – unanimously – in favor of Germany and Hungary and against the survivors and heirs.

Here is the HSF Statement issued today, which states that the focus must now turn to Congress to set definitive rules about accountability for Nazi looting in U.S. courts. 

Capitol Police defend the US Capitol building from encroachment by violent insurrectionists Wednesday. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Survivors Condemn Capitol Attack, Antisemitic Imagery of Insurrectionists

HSF-USA Statement on Riots at the United States Capitol
January 10, 2021 

As Holocaust survivors and descendants of survivors, we are profoundly saddened and angered by the violent attack on the United States Capitol and Congress to prevent our Nation’s sacred peaceful transition of power. It was an insurrection, an effort to overturn the people’s will in the November 3 election. For shame! We abhor the violence that threatens our ability to live together in the diverse, free, and democratic United States that we so deeply love.


It is also painful, in the year 2021, to see so many people brandishing symbols of anti-Semitism and racial bigotry, such as shirts glorifying the Holocaust, a gallows and noose, and the Confederate flag, as they attacked our Democracy. We appreciate President-Elect Biden’s clear denunciation of the anti-democratic riots, and his recognition of their anti-Semitic and racist elements.


 Dangerous anti-Semitic conspiracies once confined to dark corners of the internet are gaining traction in “respectable” quarters, without clear condemnation by all who call themselves leaders. We have previously spoken out about the painful rise of anti-Jewish rhetoric and violence including murders at religious gatherings in Pittsburgh, Poway, Monsey, and in Europe as well.


We, the remaining voices for six million Jews who were murdered because of the “normalization” of these tactics in Nazi Germany and Europe, are speaking out to sound the alarm loud and clear. The poisonous political rhetoric from government leaders and media designed to arouse hateful passions, fan the flames of anger and violence, must be condemned by our leaders at every level, and by all of us in our families, businesses, religious institutions, and communities.

As Holocaust survivors and descendants of survivors, we are profoundly saddened and angered by the violent attack on the United States Capitol and Congress to prevent our Nation's sacred peaceful transition of power. It was an insurrection, an effort to overturn the people's will i the Novemmber 3 election. For shame! We abhor the violence that threatens our ability to live together in the diverse, free, and democratic United States that we so deeply love.
From JewishMiami.org

HSF-USA Ally Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s Remarks on Holocaust Remembrance Day

A few weeks ago, our friend and recently retired Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, gave a magnificent speech to the leadership of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, in which she was very clear about the imperative for governmental and community leadership to be more responsive to Holocaust survivors rights, needs and interests.  She also spoke eloquently about the importance of steadfast support for the State of Israel in these perilous times.  The Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA is extremely grateful for Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen’s commitment to Holocaust survivors and the safety and security of the State of Israel.

Thank you,

David Schaecter, HSF-USA President

Ileana’s Zachor Speech PDF — April 11, 2019

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein speaking after deadly attack on California Synagogue

HSF Statement on San Diego Synagogue Attack

As Holocaust survivors and descendants of Holocaust survivors, we are outraged and saddened that, once again, a Jewish community was brazenly attacked during worship services on Shabbat, which was also the last day of Passover. We send our deepest condolences to all affected by this tragedy, and prayers of healing and for a full recovery — refuach shelayma — to all.

As Holocaust survivors and descendants of Holocaust survivors, we are outraged and saddened that, once again, a Jewish community was brazenly attacked during worship services on Shabbat, which was also the last day of Passover. As Holocaust survivors and descendants of Holocaust survivors, we are outraged and saddened that, once again, a Jewish community was brazenly attacked during worship services on Shabbat, which was also the last day of Passover.

Links:

“No One Should Be Gunned Down During Worship” — New York Times
“In the past 6 weeks, Churches, Mosques, a Synogogue have been attacked” — CNN
‘It Couldn’t Happen Here’ Is Proved Wrong, Again — the algemeiner
Holocaust memorial ceremony comes a day after shooting in California — Miami Herald

Holocaust Survivors Protest Against Allianz Insurance Company Golf Tournament In Boca Raton; Aerial Banner Draws Attention And Protester Arrested

On Sunday, February 7, Holocaust survivors, their children and grandchildren and many strong supporters demonstrated outside the Broken Sound Country Club in Boca Raton, Florida, protesting German insurance giant Allianz, A.G., which has refused to pay claims under their families’ paid-for Holocaust era insurance policies to this day.

Aerial Banner

Explaining an aerial banner that flew over the tournament informing attendees that “Allianz Owes Holocaust Survivors $2.5 Billion,”Jack Rubin, a survivor of Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps who demonstrated on Sunday, stated: “It lifted my heart to see that banner in the sky to voice what the survivors feel so deeply. Most survivors are too old and frail to stand on the street and protest, so we decided to get the plane.

How can Allianz’s leadership sleep at night, when they spend millions of dollars for public relations like a golf tournament while tens of thousands of survivors are living in poverty and suffering every day without the care they need. Most of the spectators don’t realize the harm Allianz has caused, but if they did we believe they would join our demands for justice.”

HSF Protester Arrested

In addition, we are deeply troubled to report that Dr. Jay Lieberman, the son of Holocaust survivors and son-in-law of our beloved colleague Ivar Segalowitz who recently passed away, was arrested by Boca Raton Police at the tournament with a banner about Allianz’s dishonored policies. According to Dr. Lieberman: “Most of my father’s family was murdered in Treblinka. My father-in-law Ivar Segalowitz was the sole survivor of a wealthy Lithuanian family. He survived Dachau, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Buchenwald, and served in the U.S. military after emigrating to this country.

Despite his mother, grandmother, aunt, and uncle’s names listed among German insurance holders, U.S. law barred him from going to court to reclaim his family legacy. Ivar’s daughter, Genie Lieberman, testified about Ivar in Congress before Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Ted Deutch in 2014. I bought a ticket to the event and was merely exercising my free speech rights to show how unfair it is that Allianz is prospering, but so many survivors are living in poverty.”

Historical Background About Allianz and Holocaust Era Policies
Allianz has refused to honor tens of thousands of insurance policies it had sold to Holocaust victims – demanding original policies, death certificates, and other documents no survivors could provide after the horrors of the expulsions, ghettos, killing fields, and death camps. Today those policies are worth over $2.5 billion.

It is historical fact that Allianz closely collaborated with the German Nazi regime, as its CEO Kurt Schmitt was Hitler’s second Minister of Economics. Allianz insured Reich factories, barracks, motor pools, ghettos, and death camps — including Auschwitz and Dachau – while Allianz was selling life insurance policies to Jewish families in Europe.

Instead of honoring its insurance policies, Allianz has cynically paid millions of dollars in a massive public relations effort for this golf tournament, sponsorship of Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, CNBC, MSNBC, Marketplace Morning Report, and “partnerships” with AAA, the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, and others.

Allianz was in secret talks to pay $300 million bid for naming rights to the new Meadowlands stadium in 2008 which were halted by the outrage of New York citizens after the negotiations were revealed.

Outrageously, Allianz continues to spend millions of dollars onWashington lobbyists to block our basic constitutional right to go to federal court to recover for paid up insurance policies of our families which are after all legal contracts our loved ones paid for in good faith.

What other Americans are denied these basic rights? Why is the Obama Administration, not helping us Holocaust survivors get our insurance money back, and instead slamming the doors of the courthouse in our face and supporting Allianz and other insurance profiteers such as Italy’s Generali against us?

Congress must enact legislation this session restoring our full legal rights as U.S. citizens to force these insurance companies to pay their bargained-for debts.

How can it be that the tragedy continues that half of the Holocaust survivors in the United States and worldwide live in poverty, unable to afford food, medicine, dental care, eyeglasses, hearing aids, and home care.

Germany is responsible to care for all survivors, but is forcing survivors to live in misery and protecting Allianz’s Holocaust profits at the same time.

For shame!

WE Holocaust survivors’ demand that Allianz and their affiliates:

  1. Publish the names of all Allianz and affiliates’ insurance policy holders between 1920 and 1945 on the internet.
  2. Publish all insurance records of Nazi German institutions including, the SS, concentration and death camp, and personnel and all other war related business between 1933 and 1945.
  3. Immediately cease any lobbying against Holocaust survivors and heirs to bring legal action in U.S. courts.
  4. Disgorge $2.5 billion, representing its unjust enrichment from unpaid insurance policies from the Holocaust, to be paid to beneficiaries and heirs and to fund social services for Holocaust survivors in need worldwide.

We believe we will receive justice from the American People now to stop these horrible tragedies now.

The sponsoring organizations of the protests were the Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA (www.hsf-usa.org), Shalom International (www.defendjerusalem.net), and NEXT GENERATIONS (www.nextgenerations.org), and Generations of the Shoah, International (www.genshoah.org).

For more information see this 2013 report by Huffington Post Live: huff.lv/VVInCv .

The Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA Executive Committee: 

Israel Arbeiter, Boston MA
Dena Axelrod, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Renee Firestone, Los Angeles, CA
Ella Frumkin, Los Angeles, CA
Nesse Godin, Washington D.C.
Jay Ipson, Richmond, VA
Louise Lawrence-Israels, Washington D.C.
Herbert Karliner, Miami Beach, FL
Annette Lantos, Washington, D.C.
David Mermelstein, Miami FL
Alex Moskovic, Hobe Sound, FL
Leo Rechter, Queens, NY
Jack Rubin, Boynton Beach, FL
David Schaecter, Miami, FL
Anita Schuster, Las Vegas NV
Agnes Vertes, Weston, CT
Esther Widman, Brooklyn NY

Photo – http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160208/330862
Photo – http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160208/330863

Press release