The 102-year-old Eliahu Pietruszka went through the lobby of his retirement home towards a stranger he never met and collapsed into him for an embrace.
Then, he kissed the visitor’s cheeks and began blurting out Russian greetings-a language he hasn’t spoken in decades.
Several days earlier, this Holocaust survivor who escaped from Poland at the start of WW2 and believed his entire family was gone, learned that his younger brother survived too and that he had a son-the 66-year-old Alexandre.
Emotional Encounter of Grandfather & Nephew Who never Met before
This emotional encounter was enabled by the Holocaust memorial’s comprehensive online database of Holocaust victims by Israel’s Yad Vashem- a potent genealogy tool which has already reunited hundreds of relatives.
The 102-year-old survivor said that he was very happy that there’s at least one remnant from his brother- his son. After so many years, he’s been given the privilege to meet him.
Pietruszka was 24 when he escaped from Warsaw in 1939 and headed to the Soviet Union. He left behind his parents and twin brothers that were 9 years younger.
His parents and one of the brothers were deported from the Warsaw Ghetto and killed in a Nazi camp, but the other brother escaped.
They briefly corresponded before his brother was sent to a Siberian work camp where Eliahu assumed he had died.
He married in Russia and since he thought he was without family, he went to Israel in 1949 to begin a new life.
Family Reunites after Decades
Decades later, Shakhar Smorodinsky, got an email from a cousin in Canada who was working on her family tree.
She said she uncovered a Yad Vashem testimony page filled out in 2005 by Volf Pietruszka for his older brother Eliahu whom he thought had died.
Volf survived and settled in an industrial city in the Ural Mountains.
Smorodinsky found his address and reached out to find out that Volf who worked as a construction worker died in 20111 and that he had a child, Alexandre, who still lived there.
After a Skype chat, Alexandre decided to come and see the uncle he thought was dead. When they met, the two hugged each other tightly and spoke in Russian while examining their similar facial features.
Alexandre was trying to hold back his tears and was shaking his head in disbelief.