While all people are destined to go through some kind of hardship in their lifetimes, few things could compare to the terror of war. Even though the genocide of Jews during World War II is one of the most heartwrenching tragedies in human history, some ties that were torn apart by the terrors of war are being mended as history unfolds, and gaining a brighter future. While the family of Eliahu Pietruszka was torn apart by the Holocaust and left Eliahu believing he was the sole family member who survived, it turns out that his little brother managed to escape as well, and even found a way to leave a testimony for his elder brother, so the family ties could be reconnected even after his passing.
Eliahu Pietruszka thought he lost all his family, but was able to reunite with his nephew almost 80 years later with the help of an online database
When Eliahu fled Poland back in 1939, he didn’t expect to see his parents or younger brothers ever again and thought they’d be killed. That turned out to be true for three of them, who were taken from Warsaw Ghetto and killed in a concentration camp. But one of his little brothers, Volf, managed to escape. They even corresponded for a little while, until Volf was sent to a Siberian work camp and the connection was cut away.
Pietruszka was only 24 when he fled from Poland to Russia in 1939, leaving behind his parents and younger twin brothers
Eliahu then convinced himself his brother was no longer alive. While still grieving after the end of the war, Eliahu got married and moved away to Israel with the perspective of starting a family of his own. Little did he know then that Volf was actually alive. After mourning the family he lost as well, Volf raised a family of his own and led a simple life as a construction worker until passing away in 2011. Before his passing, he left a testimony for his older brother on an online database of Holocaust victims, called Yad Vashem.
Luckily, one of the twins, Volf, managed to escape and even corresponded with Pietruszka until he was sent to a Siberian work camp
But the story didn’t end there. About two years ago, Eliahu’s grandson Shakhar Smorodinsky got an email from his cousin in Canada, who has been digging into their genealogy on the Yad Vashem database. She discovered Volf’s testimony and found out that even though Volf himself has passed away, his 66-year-old son Alexandre was alive and well.
After losing the connection, Pietruszka was convinced he’d lost all his family
It took only a couple of days for Shakhar to arrange for Volf’s son to come to visit his grandfather in his nursing home in Israel. Within seconds after seeing his nephew for the first time ever, the 102-year-old Eliahu took him into his arms, saying “I haven’t slept in two nights waiting for you,” and added that he looked exactly like his father. “Now you have a big family here in Israel,” said Eliahu crying.
While Volf actually died in 2011, he left a testimony on an online database, which allowed their relatives to connect the dots and arrange for Eliahu Pietruszka to reunite with his long lost nephew
Since there are not many Holocaust survivors left, the press was excited about the possibility to be present. One journalist who was present at the reunion but wished to remain anonymous said that this tearful reunion touched her so much, the memory of it will linger with her forever. “After all, it’s not every day you get to see such a remarkable reminder of how strong human spirit really is,” she said.