As they fled Warsaw in the early stages of WWII and left their family behind, Nahum and Yaakov Korenblum seemed inseparable. But in 1944 the two brothers were recruited into the Red Army, and were dispatched into separate units. Despite their many efforts over the years to find each other, they never met again. A photograph recently discovered on Yad Vashem’s Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names has nevertheless helped the next generation of Korenblums find their way back into each other’s lives.
In 2006, Bracha Fleischmann (née Korenblum) from Kiryat Tivon, Israel, updated details on a Page of Testimony submitted by her mother in 1958 commemorating her father Yaakov's father, Tuvia Korenblum. After attaching a photograph of her grandfather Yaakov to the Page, Fleischmann decided to include a prewar photograph of the entire Korenblum family, in the hope that other family members might have indeed survived.
In October 2011, Igor Koramblyum (whose father's surname was distorted by Russian authorities) was conducting a search on the Names Database from his home in New York when he found the Page of Testimony submitted for Tuvia Korenblum, as well as the family photograph. He was surprised to notice that one of Tuvia's children bore a striking resemblance to his grandfather, Nahum. After confirming that the details documented on the Page of Testimony matched his family history, it was clear that he had found the family of his grandfather's long lost brother living in Israel.
A few weeks later, one of Nahum's three sons, Gennadiy Koramblyum, along with his son Yivgeny (who is also named Yaakov after his grandfather's “lost” brother), traveled to Israel for the wedding of one of their newly discovered relatives. The united family visited Yad Vashem to document the reunion story, complete commemoration efforts, and further investigate the fate of the Korenblum family during the Holocaust period.
Research revealed that after the war, the two brothers had both settled in Ukraine: Yaakov in Stanislovov, until he relocated to Israel in 1958; and Nahum in Kiev, where he lived until his emigration in 1991 to the United States. The Korenblum brothers both passed away over a decade ago without ever knowing that the other one had survived. "Since I was a little boy, my father always reminded me, 'I have another brother, he is somewhere,'" recalled Gennadiy. "After contacting our cousins, I couldn’t sleep for two nights. I went to my father’s grave and told him, ‘We have finally found him.’
"This means everything to me," said Rafi Korenblum, another of Yaakov’s children. "I am sure they are rejoicing 'upstairs' in heaven, seeing us all here together. A circle has been closed."
According to Cynthia Wroclawski, Manager of the Names Recovery Project, discoveries like these have recently become more frequent as Shoah survivors are more willing to share their stories, and the younger generation gains access to supplementary information via the Internet. "The lock is being opened by the next generations," she explains. "They have more intuition and more awareness. That's the power of the Database: we are passing on the torch of memory. For these families, some kind of healing process is finally taking place."