The Holocaust forced countless families apart, and Eliahu Pietruszka was no exception.
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He was only 24 when he fled from Poland to Russia, and it didn’t take long for him to believe he would never see his relatives again. But thanks to an online database, he was able to reunite with his nephew almost 80 years later.
When Eliahu left Poland in 1939, he had to leave his parents and younger twin brothers behind. Three of them were deported from the Warsaw Ghetto and killed in a concentration camp, but his brother Volf managed to escape.
For a brief period of time, Eliahu and Volf corresponded, but when Volf was sent to a Siberian work camp, they lost touch. “In my heart, I thought he was no longer alive,” Eliahu said.
So when the war ended, Eliahu got married and moved to Israel to start a family of his own.
But Volf hadn’t died. He became a construction worker, raised a family, and mourned those he’d lost. Before he passed away in 2011, he wrote a testimony for his older brother on Yad Vashem, an online database of Holocaust victims.
About two years ago, Eliahu’s grandson, Shakhar Smorodinsky, received an email from his cousin in Canada. She’d been researching their genealogy on Yad Vashem when she discovered Volf’s piece. While Volf had died, his 66-year-old son was alive and well!
Within days, Shakhar had reached out to Alexandre and arranged for him to visit Eliahu in his nursing home in Israel. Since there are so few Holocaust survivors left in the world, they invited the press to document their meeting.
In a moving video, we can see the moment when Eliahu and Alexandre reunite at long last. They begin to weep as they fall into each other’s arms, and the 102-year-old tells his nephew, “I haven’t slept in two nights waiting for you.”
“You are a copy of your father,” he adds, bringing about a fresh onslaught of tears. “Now you have a big family here in Israel.”
The memory of this tearful reunion will linger in our hearts for years to come. What a stunning reminder that the human spirit has the strength and power to rise above the ugliest parts of our world.
Watch the emotional encounter in the video below, and share this story to spread the love.
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