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Eliahu Pietruszka, Alexandre Pietruszka

A 102-year-old Holocaust survivor was reunited with a newly discovered nephew



Days ago, 102-year-old Eliahu Pietruszka believed his entire family had perished in the Holocaust during World War II.

Then he met a nephew he never knew he had.

Pietruszka had fled Poland at the beginning of the war, when he was 24 years old. His parents and younger brothers, twins Volf and Zelig, were deported from the Warsaw ghetto to a concentration camp. All were killed in a concentration camp except for Volf, who managed to escape.

The brothers corresponded briefly before Volf was then sent by the Russians to a Siberian work camp. There, Pietruszka believed he had died.

But two weeks ago, a cousin reached out to his grandson, Shakhar Smorodinsky. She had found a Yad Vashem page for his grandfather, filled out in 2005 by Volf.

Yad Vashem is a center dedicated to identifying victims of the Holocaust, giving names to those who were no more than numbers to the Nazis.

Volf had passed away since creating the Yad Vashem record. But his 66-year-old son, Alexandre, was soon on his way from Russia to Israel to visit his uncle.

"It's a miracle. I never thought this would happen."

The two embraced, teary-eyed and overwhelmed, as Yad Vashem representatives and family surrounded them.

"This is one of the last opportunities that we will have to witness something like this," said Debbie Berman, a Yad Vashem official. "I feel like we are kind of touching a piece of history."

For Pietruszka, a retired microbiologist and great-grandfather of 10, the event was an unexpectedly wonderful epilogue to a tragic part of his life, a welcome answer to a question he never knew to ask.

"I am overjoyed," he said. "This shows it is never too late. People can always find what they are looking for if they try hard enough."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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