After a lifetime of believing that most of her immediate family had perished in the Holocaust, 75-year-old Hilda Shlick (née Glasberg) was reunited with her brother Simon Glasberg in 2006 on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. The drama of the survivors ’ heartfelt reunion began to unfold after Hilda’s grandchildren searched Yad Vashem’s Central Database of Shoah Victims Names’ in an effort to piece together the puzzle of their family’s fate.
A family discussion revealed to Benny and David Shlick that their grandmother Hilda’s maiden name was, in fact, Glasberg. Curious about their family’s history, they headed straight to their computer and conducted a search of the online Names Database, which then contained some 3.1 million names and brief biographies of Holocaust victims.
When they entered the name Hilda Glasberg, Benny and David were amazed to discover that somebody named Karol Weiner had submitted a Page of Testimony in her name, claiming to be her older brother. After exhaustive searches, they tracked down Karol’s son, Dr. Eric Weiner, who told them that his father had passed away in 1999, the year he submitted the Page of Testimony. More shocking to learn was Hilda’s parents and four brothers had in fact survived the Holocaust.
The Glasberg family—parents Henia and Benzion Glasberg, sisters Bertha, Hilda and Pepi, and brothers Karol, Eddie, Mark and Simon—was separated when the Nazis invaded their home town of Chernowitz, Romania in 1941. Hilda escaped to Uzbekistan with her older sister Bertha, who posed as Hilda’s mother, while the others stayed in Romania, finding refuge in a basement. That was the last the Glasberg family knew of their whereabouts, until the recent reunion. Simon recounted his parents’ pain searching for their daughters in vain after the war throughout Europe and Israel, and their grief when they ultimately concluded they had not survived. “We looked and looked and couldn’t find them,” related a tearful Glasberg at an emotional press conference at Yad Vashem. “My parents used to cry whenever they remembered them.”
“We started gradually explaining to Grandma that it was possible to find family members through the Internet,” David continued. “We didn’t want to overwhelm her. She said she didn’t believe there was any hope for her family, because she had already looked for them many years ago. A few days later we told her what we had discovered, and that two of her brothers were now living in Canada.” Hilda, who moved to Israel from Estonia in 1998, says she is finding it difficult to digest the idea: “I never imagined that something like this could happen. I am overjoyed that after so many years I now find out that most of my family survived,” she says.
Her brother Simon, who traveled to Israel for the reunion, could hardly contain himself after learning that his beloved sister Hilda, whom he had last seen as a young girl, was still alive. “Of course, I cried, the whole world cried,” Glasberg related. “I waited 65 years to give her a kiss. I recognized her immediately. I couldn’t stop kissing her. I am so happy that I have finally found the sister I loved.” Hilda hopes to travel to Canada soon to visit her parents’ and brothers’ graves and to see her other brother, Mark, who is too ill to travel.
Accompanying Hilda and Simon on a tour of the Hall of Names, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev called upon the public to take advantage of the High-Holiday season, to delve into their family histories and check whether they have submitted Pages of Testimony for relatives killed during the Holocaust. Even as Simon Glasberg basked in the joy of seeing his sister again, he cautioned those in attendance to remember the victims of the Shoah. “We survivors, Hilda and I, call on younger generations of Jews never to forget us.”