Survivor Story

Ava Kadishson Schieber

Ava Kadishson Schieber, Holocaust survivor, is an artist,  poet, and philosopher.
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At a Glance

Survivor Story

Language

English — US

Subject

  • History
  • The Holocaust

Born in Novi Sad near Belgrade, Yugoslavia, Ava Schieber’s parent’s were Jewish. Her father changed his name to receive a commission in the Austro-Hungarian army during the First World War. The family moved to Belgrade in 1940 where they prospered until the Nazi’s arrived. The family made a decision to go against Nazi decrees and not register as Jews. Instead, they chose to separate and go into hiding. Ava's mother had converted from Catholicism and still retained her baptismal certificate enabling her to live more openly. Her father went to Hungary and her sister stayed with her non-Jewish Serbian fiancé.

In 1941, then fifteen-year -old Ava was sent into hiding on a Serbian farm 12 miles outside of Belgrade owned by relatives of her sister's fiancé. She was forced to make an abrupt transition from an urban, school-focused life to the arduous life of a rural farm hand. For four years she pretended to be deaf and mute. Her family background and understanding of the dangerous situation she was in, combined with her courage to master physical challenges, enabled her to use every available resource for both physical and emotional survival. Ava continued to create art despite her dire circumstances. In fact, one of her watercolors from that time hangs in the U.S. Holocaust Museum. She also continued her studies by reading a set of large German encyclopedias she carried into hiding.

After the war Ava discovered her father and sister had been killed. Kadishson Schieber reunited with her mother and lived with her in Yugoslavia for four years. During that time, Ava won a scholarship to attend Zvezda Film Institute in Belgrade to learn to be a theater set designer. Living under the communist regime proved untenable. She and her mother emigrated to Israel in 1949. She married Yitzek Kadishson and worked with him at the Cameri Theatre, an improv theatre in Tel Aviv of which he was one of the original founders. She also began to paint and collect artifacts. Ava and Yitzek had three children-Rafi Kadishson, Benjamin Kadishson and Shira Kadishson Yannay. She also has 10 grandchildren. After Yitzek's death in the early 80s, Ava began to exhibit her art in the United States. In 1985 Ava married Chicagoan Nathan Schieber and settled in the city where she continues to live today.

Besides telling stories about her life, Kadishson Schieber instills in students that education and information are the greatest weapons against intolerance. Ava is an artist, a poet, a philosopher and a wonderful spirit.

Explore Videos

Hear Ava Kadishson Schieber speak about her life and in the following videos.

Ava Kadishson Schieber, Holocaust Survivor, Shares Her Story with Facing History Students

Holocaust survivor, artist, poet, Ava Kadishson Schieber speaks to students about how she survived the war by leaving her family and hiding on a farm. She answers students’ questions about her survival, her faith, and her education.

Explore Photographs

Learn more about Ava Kadishson Schieber’s life through this collection of personal photographs. 

Ava Kadishson Schieber ( age 11) on Summer Vacation

Ava (age 11) on summer vacation in Slovakia in Lake Blede

Credit:
Image courtesy of Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Ava Kadishson Schieber and Her Mother

Holocaust survivor, Ava Kadishson Schieber, walks dogs next to her mother.

Credit:
Image courtesy of Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Ava Kadishson Schieber and Friend

Holocaust survivor, Ava Kadishson Schieber (age 11), walks dogs alongside her friend.

Credit:
Image courtesy of Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Ava Kadishson Schieber and Nathan

Holocaust survivor survivor Ava Kadishson Schieber and husband.

Credit:
Image courtesy of Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Ava Kadishson Schieber and Yitzek Kadishson

Holocaust survivor Ava Kadishson Schieber and her first husband Yitzek Kadishson.

Credit:
Image courtesy of Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Ava Kadishson Schieber

Holocaust survivor Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Credit:
Image courtesy of Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Ava Kadishson Schieber Age 12 or 13

Holocaust survivor Ava Kadishson Schieber at age 12 or 13.

Credit:
Image courtesy of Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Ava Kadishson Schieber At Work

Holocaust survivor Ava Kadishson Schieber at work in Israel.

Credit:
Image courtesy of Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Ava Kadishson Schieber in Israel

Holocaust survivor Ava Kadishson Schieber in Israel.

Credit:
Image courtesy of Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Ava Kadishson Schieber in Israel

Holocaust survivor Ava Kadishson Schieber in Israel.

Credit:
Image courtesy of Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Explore Photographs

Learn more about Ava Kadishson Schieber’s life through this collection of personal photographs. 

Ava Kadishson Schieber in Israel

Holocaust survivor Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Credit:
Image courtesy of Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Ava Kadishson Schieber in Israel

Holocaust survivor Ava Kadishson Schieber in Israel.

Credit:
Image courtesy of Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Ava Kadishson Schieber and Her Family

Holocaust survivor Ava Kadishson Schieber with her family c.1937.

Credit:
Image courtesy of Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Ava Kadishson Schieber with the Mayor of Tel Aviv Shlomo Lahat

Holocaust survivor Ava Kadishson Schieber and Shlomo Lahat, Mayor of Tel Aviv.

Credit:
Image courtesy of Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Ava Kadishson Schieber, Her Mother and Her Sister Suzanne

Holocaust survivor Ava Kadishson Schieber, her sister Suzanne, and her mother.

Credit:
Image courtesy of Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Hermine Herschel

Photograph of Hermine Herschel, grandmother of Holocaust survivor Ava Kadishson Schieber. Herschel was deported to Auschwitz.

Credit:
Image courtesy of Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Ava Kadishson Schieber's Sister Suzanne

Photograph of Suzanne, the sister of Holocaust survivor Ava Kadishson Schieber, at age 15 or 16.

Credit:
Image courtesy of Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Ava Kadishson Schieber's Student Identity Card Case

Ava Kadishson Schieber's student identity card case, 1939.

Credit:
Image courtesy of Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Ava Kadishson Schieber's Student Identity Card

Ava Kadishson Schieber's student identity card, 1939.

Credit:
Image courtesy of Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Ava Kadishson Schieber's Work Identity Card

Ava Kadishson Schieber's work identity card, 1946-1949.

Credit:
Image courtesy of Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Explore Photographs

Learn more about Ava Kadishson Schieber’s life through this collection of personal photographs. 

Watercolor of Birds-Ava Kadishson Schieber

Holocaust survivor Ava Kadishson Schieber's work identity card, 1946-1949.

Credit:
Image courtesy of Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Ava Kadishson Schieber's Yemenite Jewelry Exhibit

Watercolor of birds painted by Holocaust survivor Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Credit:
Image courtesy of Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Ava Kadishson Schieber's Yemenite Jewelry Exhibit

Ava was both an accomplished artist and a collector of art and artifacts.

Credit:
Image courtesy of Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Ava Kadishson Schieber, her Mother, and Sister, Suzanne

Holocaust survivor Ava Kadishson Schieber, her mother and sister, Suzanne c. 1930.

Credit:
Image courtesy of Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Yemenite Jewelry from Ava Kadishson Schieber's Collection

Piece of Yemenite jewelry from the collection of Ava Kadishson Schieber.

Credit:
Image courtesy of Ava Kadishson Schieber.
There is not one challenging memory — life is challenging all the time, and I appreciate the challenge because, as long as I can meet the challenge face to face, I am alive.  
— Ava Kadishshon Schieber , January 2013

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