Eliahu Pietruszka was one of the lucky survivors who fled Poland when World War II began, when he was just 24 years old. The Holocaust survivor lived his entire life believing that his family was killed in the camps. At the age of 102, however, Eliahu was living out his final days in a nursing home when something completely unexpected happened. He discovered that someone in his family had survived.
His younger brother, Volf, who he believed died at the camps, actually didn’t pass away. In 2017, Eliahu’s grandson was looking at Holocaust victim records and discovered that Volf had survived. Volf, it turns out, thought Eliahu had died.
Volf, who had settled into a his life in the rural mountains of Russia became a construction worker and passed away in 2011. Sadly, Eliahu and Volf never had a reunion, but Eliahu had another surprising discovery… Volf had a son, Eliahu’s nephew!
His nephew flew from Russia to visit him just days later and it was an emotional reunion, to say the least. 66-year-old Alexandre and Eliahu were reunited with the help of Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial’s online database of Holocaust victims.
Eliahu described their meeting, saying: “It makes me so happy that at least one remnant remains from my brother, and that is his son. After so many years I have been granted the privilege to meet him.”
NBC News explains Eliahu’s history, noting: “Pietruszka was 24 when he fled Warsaw in 1939 as World War II erupted, heading to the Soviet Union and leaving behind his parents and twin brothers Volf and Zelig, who were nine years younger. His parents and Zelig were deported from the Warsaw Ghetto and killed in a Nazi death camp, but Volf also managed to escape. The brothers briefly corresponded before Volf was sent by the Russians to a Siberian work camp, where Pietruszka assumed he had died.”
“In my heart, I thought he was no longer alive,” Eliahu said. He got married and moved to Israel in 1949 to start a new family.
Eliahu’s grandson had received an email from a cousin in Canada who was working on a family tree and discovered a testimony from Volf for his brother, who he believed had died. The grandson tracked down an address and reached out, but found out Volf had passed away in 2011. His son, Alexandre, however, still lived at the address.
Eliahu was understandably overwhelmed by meeting his brother’s son, telling him, “You are a copy of your father. I haven’t slept in two nights waiting for you.”
Alexandre was also overcome with tremendous emotion, saying, “It’s a miracle. I never thought this would happen.”
Eliahu further noted: “I am overjoyed. This shows it is never too late. People can always find what they are looking for if they try hard enough. I succeeded.”
Those who viewed the reunion video found the moment to be so touching and emotional, with one person commenting: “To think that the Nazi regime that created the holocaust was such a devastation to humanity itself that people (families) are still separated till this very day in 2018!”