Family separated by Holocaust reunites in Jerusalem

By sheer chance, members of a Jewish family separated during the Holocaust have been reunited.

A brother and sister, Israelis who thought their entire extended family had been murdered in the Holocaust, met their newly discovered first cousins for the first time on Tuesday at Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

The cousins, descendants of Holocaust survivors, discovered each other by chance through the efforts of the Reference and Information Services Department in the Yad Vashem Archives Division, thanks to a chanced-upon Page of Testimony found on Yad Vashem’s Central Database of Shoah Victms’ Names as well as on other documentation on the International Tracing Service (ITS) database.

While the descendants met for the first time, the Holocaust survivors themselves, unfortunately, had passed away without ever finding out the true fate of their loved ones.

The story goes back to pre-World War II Poland.

Nisan Band was born in Warsaw in 1912. He had five sisters. In 1939, he fled to the USSR, where he remained until his death in 1983. Throughout the years, Nisan was sure that his entire family had been murdered in the Holocaust.

His children, Fania and Gennadi, immigrated to Israel with their families in the 1990s.

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Earlier this year, Fania searched Yad Vashem’s Central Database of Holocaust Victims’ Names and found Page of Testimony that Symcha Bornstein had filed in memory of Fania’s father. Symcha wrote that he was Band’s brother-in-law.

Last week, Fania and her son came to Yad Vashem to find out who had mistakenly commemorated Band. Sima Velkovich, of the Reference and Information Services Department, conducted a search of Pages of Testimony as well as the ITS database, where she discovered that Band’s sister, Jenta Borenstein (née Band), had also sought refuge in the Soviet Union during the Holocaust and survived.

In September 1948, Jenta immigrated to Israel with her husband Symcha and their four children – Hercz-Lejb, Abram and Rivka, who were born in Warsaw, and Hana, who was born in Siberia.

Velkovich’s investigation revealed that Borenstein’s two daughters, Rivka and Hana, now live in Israel.

Rivka and Chana met with their first cousins, Fania and Gennadi, as well as Fania’s two sons, Evgeni and Pavel, reuniting the family in Jerusalem for the first time in seven decades.

“I urge families who will be gathering shortly for the holiday of Chanuka to check and make sure that their loved ones who were murdered in the Holocaust are remembered and recorded in Yad Vashem’s Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names, and submit Pages of Testimony for those victims whose names are not yet recorded,” Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev said.

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To date, Yad Vashem has identified over two-thirds of the Jews murdered during the Holocaust. The names of 4.6 million Shoah victims are recorded on the Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names – available online in English, Hebrew, Russian, Spanish and German.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News