A Westlake Village teen’s fundraising campaign took a Holocaust survivor and his wife to Israel for the first time.
17-year-old Drew Principe, raised around $15,000 to send Henry Oster, an 89-year-old Holocaust survivor to Israel so that the latter could get to meet his only living relative.
It all started when Oster came to Viewpoint High School in Calabasas, CA to give a speech. When he learned that Oster never had the opportunity to visit Israel, Principe gifted him a bracelet he had purchased in Israel when he visited the country at the age of 14 years. A Jewish prayer called The Shema was stamped on it.
Henry Oster had a checkered life. He was a Cologne resident in 1933 when the Nazis came to power. From that point, for 12 years, his life became all about survival. His family and friends all perished in the Holocaust. His father was the first to die under abysmal conditions. Oster hid his mother from the Gestapo in a Lodz, Poland ghetto. They took shelter in the attic. He narrowly escaped being shot by a firing squad within an Auschwitz concentration camp. Oster's mother was killed in Auschwitz.
Oster's teenage years shaped his life afterward. After spending a few months inside Buchenwald concentration camp, where he made some life-long friendships, he saw his friends die by strafing of bullets and bombs by a British bomber. Oster himself almost starved to death prior to getting liberated by the 3rd U.S. Army under the command of General Patton.
Oster first went to Paris after the end of the Second World War. He then immigrated to the United States, with zero money, and with almost no educational qualifications. He rejoined the formal schooling system and became an optometrist.
Oster was visibly emotional after Principe gave him the bracelet. It had an enormous effect on his psyche. The duo met a few times after that. Principe had an idea about taking Oster on a vacation to Israel, an idea to which his mother agreed. The Principes subsequently began a fundraising campaign, which took in enough money to enable Oster, his wife, and the Principe family to Israel. Activities conducted during the trip included Oster doing his bar mitzvah at last. He also met his sole relative, a cousin who survived the Nazi carnage by hiding.
— Cheryll Bratz (@SeaTeaAndMe) June 20, 2017