Family Card - Person Sheet
Family Card - Person Sheet
NameDavid Franz SCHOENBRUN 110,658
Birth15 Mar 1915661
Death23 May 1988, New York, NY, USA661
MotherLucy (Lucie) CASSIRER (1887-1944)
Birth6 Jul 1915661
Death26 Jan 1996, New York, NY, USA661
Marriage23 Sep 1938, New York, NY, USA661
ChildrenLucy (1947-)
Notes for David Franz SCHOENBRUN
David Schoenbrun's experiences of his grandfather Moritz were somewhat mixed. Moritz would summon him, as his first born grandchild, to sit on his lap and recite the family tree of the Cassirer family while munching on Limburger cheese. They spoke German, Moritz went through this ritual in an austere manner and David explained to his daughter, Lucy, that that was the beginning of his romance with French culture and language. As an adult, David was a great linguist who spoke French without an accent managed to forget most of his German and what he spoke of the language was tainted with a recognizable French accent.

Moritz was very proud of his intellectual grandson, David, and so he saw to it that David's school papers, on from an early age, were sent back to Germany for comments, including comments from friends of Einstein. Achievement and recognition were values and goals that Moritz did transmit to David, if not the love of German culture.

David Schoenbrun became a French teacher in New York before the war. He had a passion for French culture since he was a child. He spoke German at home as a mother tongue till he was five. When the depression hit hard, David completed his studies to become a teacher of French in record time so that he could put food on the family table. David was 19 and taught 17 and18-year-old high school students. David's father, Max, was hardly home: no one was buying jewellery when food had become the first concern. However the winds of war were gathering in Europe.

David’s cousin Heiner Cassirer (the son of Dr Kurt Cassirer) left Germany and joined him in New York and they worked together in deciphering Nazi propaganda that had infiltrated the editorials of American journalists sympathetic to Hitler! Heiner's German and David's English and knowledge of America led to a partnership that was able to unearth whole sentences in American journals lifted word for word from Hitler's propaganda. Heiner wrote about this in his memoirs. This collaboration was Heiner's first step into journalism. During the war he worked as a soldier in the U.S. intelligence services attached to the French resistance movement headed by DeGaulle and after the war he joined Edward R. Morrow's first radio and then television news team and became Paris bureau chief for CBS News for close to 20 years.

During the war David worked as a soldier in the U.S. intelligence services attached to the French resistance movement headed by DeGaulle and after the war he joined Edward R. Morrow's first radio and then television news team and became Paris bureau chief for CBS News for close to 20 years.

Dr. Henry R. Cassirer or Heiner as he was known to David also joined CBS News and worked with Edward R. Morrow during the war in London. Later Heiner was an editor at CBS News in New York before making his career with UNESCO in Paris.  He was a specialist in the use of television and radio for mass education setting up programs for Third World newly independent countries where he travelled extensively . Heiner's interest in education followed in the tradition of his uncle Paul Geheeb who founded the "Odenwaldschule" a radical departure from traditional German education, a fascinating experiment in modern progressive education that seems modern even today. His first wife, Marta, a Budapest-born psychologist was married to Heiner throughout Heiner's 20 year career at UNESCO in Paris. They adopted a German-American, non- Jewish war orphan, Vivien called Steffie who grew up in Paris quadrilingual speaking French and English but also Hungarian and German before learning Hebrew in Israel . When Heiner divorced Marta she immigrated to Israel with her daughter who now lives in New Jersey in the U.S. married to an Israeli. Heiner remarried and lived in Switzerland. He did not keep up contact with David Schoenbrun after the divorce as Marta did who came to visit in New York and in Budapest where she spoke of her work as a psychologist in Israel working with the problems of  Kibbutz society. 

David Schoenbrun wrote many books on France, DeGaulle, the Resistance, Vietnam, Israel, television and his memoirs together with his wife Dorothy. He would have liked to write about the Cassirer family but that did not come about since he would have wanted to do this in collaboration with Heiner who grew up in Germany and knew so much more about the family there. However, Heiner refused and completed his memoirs which do not include much about the Cassirer family beyond his own childhood experiences. Eventually David left CBS, became a professor at the New School for Social Research in Manhattan, and lectured regularly on Israel and world affairs .

David did achieve many awards, as a soldier from the French: The Croix de Guerre and the order of the "Légion d'Honneur" then the order of " Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur" and a top French literary prize: "les Palmes Académiques" for his many books on France, French history and contemporary affairs. He worked his whole life to better Franco-American relations  which was recognized by the French who considered him an American ambassador to France in deeds if not in title. He was regularly asked to come on French television and French Canadian television to explain American policy to the French public and of course as Paris correspondent he was explaining the French to the American public. 660
Last Modified 8 Apr 2007Created 24 Jul 2023 by Jim Falk