Speed Reads

It wasn't all bad

Holocaust survivor, 102, meets nephew he never knew he had

Eliahu Pietruszka spent 70 years thinking every member of his immediate family died during the Holocaust. Two weeks ago, he learned that not only did his younger brother survive, but he had one son, and that son wanted nothing more than to meet his uncle in person.

Pietruszka, 102, was 24 when he fled Poland in 1939. His parents and younger brother Zelig were sent to the Warsaw Ghetto and later died in a concentration camp, but Zelig's twin, Volf, was able to escape. Eliahu and Volf briefly communicated before Volf was sent to a Siberian work camp by the Russians, and Eliahu always assumed his brother died there. Believing his entire family had perished, Eliahu moved to Israel in 1949, married, had children, and became a microbiologist.

Two weeks ago, a Canadian woman working on her family tree sent Eliahu's grandson a note, saying she found online a testimony written by a man named Volf Pietruszka. Yad Vashem, a Holocaust memorial, maintains a database filled with the names of those who perished in the Holocaust, and Volf had filled out a testimony for Eliahu, thinking he had died. Volf had survived the Holocaust, moved to the Ural Mountains, and had one son, Alexandre Pietruszka, now 66.

Eliahu's grandson found an address for Volf, which led to him connecting with Alexandre. Volf died in 2011, and wanting to waste no time, Alexandre packed his bags and flew to Israel to meet his uncle last Thursday. It was an emotional moment for Eliahu, meeting the only link to the family he thought he lost so long ago. "It makes me so happy that at least one remnant remains from my brother, and that is his son," he told The Associated Press. "After so many years, I have been granted the privilege to meet him." Alexandre said it was "a miracle" that he found his uncle. "I never thought this would happen."