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Houston's Survivors
David Singer*
Born: David Schulsinger
April 17, 1920
Lechnitz, Romania
Died: October 6, 2008
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In the camp I worked in the kitchen. I used to peel potatoes and I used to steal a little bit of a peeled potato and I put it in my mouth and chewed it so that a Nazi wouldn’t see me. … Of course I had no pockets. I used to steal a little bit of the peel from the potato and put it in my shoe so that I had in the evening something to eat.”

David singer and his family were living in Bucharest, Romania when a coalition government of radical right-wing military officers, in collaboration with the fascist Iron Guard, seized power in September 1940. As the Iron Guard instigated a series of arbitrary attacks on the Jews, life grew increasingly treacherous for David, his brother Zoly, and his mother and grandmother. In 1941, David was arrested, falsely charged as a Communist sympathizer, and sent to a labor camp in Moldova where he and his fellow inmates were awakened at the crack of dawn to dig ditches. Exhausted and famished at the end of each long day, they returned to their filthy barracks where they slept on bare wooden planks. “Everybody had lice,” remembered David. “That was the entertainment before you went to sleep…picking lice.” Desperate, he managed to escape, but was captured and sent to another camp where conditions were even more horrific. After David’s second escape and recapture, Romanian authorities sent him to jail in Bucharest. Brutally beaten when he arrived, he was later permitted to live in relative peace. Packages of food from his mother, who remained free, sustained him.

Soviet troops entered Romania in August 1944, later releasing David from jail together with other “political prisoners.” Eager to escape the ruins of Bucharest, he set out for Palestine in 1946. But as his ship neared the coast, it was captured by the British Navy. “People were separated and there was a lot of screaming and hollering,” he said. “We were all put on three of their boats. And we left and nobody knew where we were going. And the next morning we landed on the island of Cyprus.” During this period, the British intercepted more than 90 percent of the ships carrying Jewish immigrants to Palestine. David languished in a British detention camp in Cyprus until the end of 1947, when he finally received permission to enter Palestine. He recalls that he barely had time to gain his bearings before being called on to fight in Israel’s War of Independence. He learned to speak Hebrew as he served alongside fellow Holocaust survivors and native born Israelis.

In 1950, David met his future wife, Thea Olejniczak. They married the following year, and their son, Dan, arrived in 1954. At the urging of Thea’s parents, who had recently come to the United States, David, Thea, and Dan moved to Houston in 1957. The family grew with the addition of Dorit and Kim. David established a career in the jewelry business, from which he retired in the early 1990s. “America was very good to me,” he reflected with gratitude.

Parents
Herman (Hillel) Schulsinger, d. 1926
Esther Stern Schulsinger, survived

Siblings
Zoly (b. Zoltan), survived

Name
Country of Origin
Concentration Camp
Year Immigrated to the U.S.
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