Yad Vashem’s Shoah Victims’ Names Recovery Project Pages of Testimony record biographical information about each individual as a person and not just a number that died in the Holocaust.
The project’s website states, “Since 1955, Yad Vashem has been fulfilling its mandate to preserve the memory of Holocaust victims by collecting their names, the ultimate representation of a person’s identity…. This is a race against time, before those who remember them are no longer with us.” In a particularly emotional example, the database offered a family much more than names or even answers. It led to a family reunion that has gone viral.
The race against time came to a stop for Hagit Weinstein Mikanovsky after using of the Yad Vashem database. She spent hours searching the database as she filled in her family tree. Mikanovsky realized she was related to Eliahu and Volf Pietruszka. Conflicting information arose, however. In 2005, Volf filled out a page of testimony for his older brother, Eliahu. He believed that Eliahu was dead. Eliahu, in fact, had survived the Holocaust. At the start of World War II, he fled Poland at the age of 24.
He was a survivor, but never saw his twin brothers, Volf and Zelig, or parents again. Eliahu thought they had all died at work and death camps. This assumption was only true of his parents and Zelig, though. Volf escaped from a Siberian work camp. Eliahu ended up getting married and moved to Israel in 1949. He now lives in a retirement home at the age of 102.
Such a display of genuine emotion is rare. This is a warming video!