Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Holocaust survivor siblings reunite 65 years later

Holocaust survivor siblings reunite 65 years later
By Allyn Fisher-Ilan

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - "This is my sister, my darling baby sister," said Simon Glasberg through tears as he hugged Hilda Shlick, 75, who he had not seen for 65 years since their family split up in a bid to flee the Nazi Holocaust.

The two were hosted on Monday by Israel's Yad Vashem, a national memorial in Jerusalem to the six million Jews slain in World War II, just days after Glasberg, 81, flew in from Canada to meet a sister he was sure had died during the war.

Shlick's Israeli grandchildren had tracked Glasberg down through the Internet, after coming across their grandmother's name in Yad Vashem's database of Holocaust victims in mid-June.

Besides finding each other, brother and sister were also surprised to learn as a result that two other brothers and a sister survived the Holocaust, more than each had thought, though one sister and a niece had apparently perished.

"My sister, I've waited 65 years for this kiss," Glasberg, a retired furrier said, meeting Shlick, a former hairdresser, at Yad Vashem's Hall of Names, whose walls are lined with black files listing the details of millions of Holocaust victims.

"I am very happy to see you," the delicate-framed Shlick said, her words translated from Russian by a grandson.

While it is rare for sibling survivors to take so long to find each other, many Holocaust survivors take years to locate relatives scattered around the globe since fleeing Nazi Europe.

Many couldn't even begin to search for relatives until the Soviet bloc began to crumble in 1989.

The Glasbergs split up in 1941 when the Nazis invaded their native Romania. Shlick fled their hometown Chernowitz with an older sister to the Soviet Union and changed her name. Later she married and became Hilda Shlick.


Shlick later moved with a sister to Estonia, then a part of the Soviet Union, and in 1998, to Israel. The sister, Bertha, died after the war.

Glasberg remained in Romania during the war with three brothers and their parents. All survived a Nazi camp.

They moved to Canada after a brief stay in Israel where Simon Glasberg and a brother fought in the 1948 Independence War. Glasberg never knew what happened to any of his sisters, and Shlick feared all her brothers and parents had perished.

That was until last June, when her grandson, David Shlick, looked at the Yad Vashem database put online two years ago, and found her name -- listed erroneously as a war victim.

It took him some weeks to track down the uncle in Canada who had made that entry. The uncle had since died. But two of his brothers, including Glasberg, were still alive, Shlick discovered, and his grandmother hadn't been aware.

Plans for a reunion were partly delayed by Israel's month-long war with Hizbollah guerrillas in Lebanon that ended on August 14. One brother was too ill to make the trip, but Glasberg finally arrived last Friday.

Their first meeting was in private. "I couldn't even talk, after 65 years, what could I say?" Glasberg said.

For Shlick, the reunion contained two surprises, since she also learned through him that their parents had survived the war and lived into their 90s, but died about two decades ago.

Now she dreams of visiting their gravesites in Montreal.

"This is a very unique and exciting moment," Avner Shalev, the chairman of Yad Vashem said, welcoming the reunited siblings. "A grandson has searched the Web and linked up two parts of a family that didn't know each other still existed."