Wolfgang Schaechter is the son of Alexander and Friederike (Wittes) Schaechter. He was born on October 16, 1935 in Iasi, Romania, where his father ran a textile factory. Wolfgang had no siblings. In 1939 Alexander moved his family to Cernauti, where he and his wife had grown up, in order to escape mounting economic and political pressures exerted by the increasingly dominant Iron Guard fascist movement in Iasi. When the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, Alexander was working as a textile engineer in Kiev, while his wife and son were living with his father in Cernauti. Unable to rejoin his family, Alexander remained in Kiev until he was relocated with his factory to Tashkent in the Soviet interior. He stayed there for the duration of the war. In Cernauti Wolfgang and his mother were forced to wear yellow stars, but were never subjected to deportation or forced to be without food and shelter. On Yom Kippur 1944 Alexander returned to Cernauti. He found passage home by offering himself as a cook on a train that was bringing back the faculty and equipment of the University of Odessa from central Asia, where it had been relocated during the war. Having spent four years in the Soviet Union, Alexander was determined to get his family out of Soviet controlled territory. Claiming Polish origin on the basis of his grandparents' place of birth, the family moved to Poland as part of the Russian national resettlement program. In late 1945 or early 1946 they left for the American zone in Austria, where they registered for visas to the United States. The Schaechters were among the first arrivals at the newly established displaced persons camp in Enns, and Alexander offered his considerable administrative skills to the American commander of the camp. His responsibilities ranged from greeting and housing new DPs to organizing supplies, equipment and setting up a driving school. When Enns was slated for closing in 1948, the Schaechters moved to Salzburg and then to Munich, where they remained until immigrating to the United States in December 1948.