Family shattered by Holocaust pieces together sibling reunion
Simon Glasberg and sister Hilda Shlick at the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem yesterday. (Emilio Morenatti/ Associated Press)
JERUSALEM -- Hilda Shlick thought she lost nearly all her family in the Holocaust -- until her Internet-savvy grandsons located her 81-year-old brother in Canada.
``After 65 years, I have found the sister who I love," Simon Glasberg said yesterday in heavily accented English, his eyes filling with tears. ``I can't stop kissing her."
Using the database of Holocaust victims at Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial, two of Shlick's grandchildren, Benny and David, began unearthing a mystery spanning six decades and three continents.
While improved technology in recent years has made the task of tracking Holocaust survivors easier, as each year passes fewer and fewer survivors remain.
Scanning the database, the grandsons, both in their 20s, discovered an entry erroneously stating their grandmother had perished half a century earlier. That entry led them to other surviving relatives, who eventually brought about the siblings' emotional reunion Friday.
When Glasberg, who lives near Ottawa, saw his gray-haired little sister for the first time, he recognized her immediately, he said.
``I felt I couldn't talk. I just cried," he said. ``You don't understand, 65 years . . . " His voice trailed off.
Shlick, 75, said she too was overwhelmed by the discovery.
``For 65 years, I lived thinking I had no family besides one sister," she said.
Since Friday's reunion, the family bond has been reestablished, with the two siblings playfully joking and reminiscing in a hearty mixture of Russian and Yiddish. Their large families have quickly become close.
The last time the two saw each other was in 1941, when the Glasberg family of Chernowitz, Romania, was separated after the Nazis invaded.
Hilda, then 10, escaped to Uzbekistan with her older sister Bertha. The rest of the family -- parents Henia and Benzion, and brothers Simon, Mark, Karol, and Eddie -- stayed in Romania, finding refuge in a basement. The fate of one sister, Pepi, remains unknown. She is presumed to have been killed by the Nazis.
Glasberg, his brothers, and parents immigrated to Canada after the war. Shlick and her sister moved to Estonia, where Bertha died in 1970. In 1998, Shlick immigrated to Israel. During a family conversation this summer, her grandsons learned her maiden name was Glasberg, and they began to investigate her past.
They logged onto the Yad Vashem website and found a page of testimony submitted in 1999 by her brother Karol, of Montreal, who wrote about his sister Hilda, who ``perished in the Shoah."
Karol died that same year, but Shlick's grandsons were able to track down his son, who filled in the picture of what happened to the divided family.
The new extended family will share the Jewish New Year together this weekend, catching up on a half-century of history.