Not only did the Holocaust result in an estimated 6 million deaths, it also left millions of surviving family members in the dark about what happened to their loved ones after the end of the Second World War.
For a 102-year-old Polish man who fled Warsaw at the beginning of WWII, he thought he was the only survivor in his family.
Eliahu Pietruszka was only 24-years-old when he fled his country in 1939 and headed to the Soviet Union. He left behind his parents and younger twin brothers Volf and Zelig. Eliahu briefly spoke with Volf before he sent by the Russians to a Siberian work camp, and he knew that his parents and Zelig were killed in a concentration camp.
“In my heart, I thought he was no longer alive,” Eliahu said.
Under the impression that he had no family left, he left Russia and migrated to Israel in 1949.
However, the eldest brother had no idea that Volf escaped...
Eliahu's grandson, Shakhar Smorodinsky, received an email from his cousin who was working on her family tree, telling him that she had uncovered something remarkable.
Shakhar did more research in his cousin's discovery and found that Volf settled in a mountainous region in Russia as a construction worker, but had died in 2011. However, he had one child, Alexandre, who still lives in an industrial city in the Ural Mountains.
Overjoyed by the discovery of a living relative, Smorodinsky and Alexandre briefly chatted on Skype, where Alexandre decided he wanted to meet his uncle for the first time.
Eliahu couldn't sleep for two nights as he waited for the arrival of the nephew he never knew he had.
“You are a copy of your father,” Eliahu remarked, as his body shook from happiness, when he first set eyes on his nephew on November 16, 2017.
“It’s a miracle. I never thought this would happen,” said 66-year-old Alexandre, a retired construction worker.
This discovery and emotional meeting was made possible by Yad Vasham, a project that began in 1954 to gather and commemorate the names of millions of Holocaust victims.
"I feel like we are touching a piece of history," Debbie Berman, a Yad Vashem official at the reunion, said.
“I am overjoyed,” Eliahu said. “This shows it is never too late. People can always find what they are looking for if they try hard enough. I succeeded.”
[Source: National Post]