“Congratulations, Dad — you have an aunt!” exclaimed Nurit Margalit to her astonished father Amir, after her search of Yad Vashem’s online Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names last Holocaust Remembrance Day revealed that her grandmother’s sister, thought to have perished in the Shoah, was in fact still alive.
Nurit originally visited the website to search for Pages of Testimony her late grandmother, Malka Margalit, had completed. Malka had died in a traffic accident in 1966 when Amir was just 12 years old, and all he could tell Nurit was that her grandmother had a number tattooed on her arm, and that Malka’s entire family had been murdered in the Holocaust. “I grew up with the knowledge that no-one of my father’s parents’ families had survived,” Nurit explained. “My grandparents were left alone in the world after the concentration camps. More than anything else, I was bothered by the lack of information about my grandmother — we didn’t even know her maiden name.”
Through her search, Nurit established that her grandmother had completed Pages of Testimony in 1955, and discovered Malka’s former surname (Blitz), her exact place of residence before the war, and the names of her close relatives. However, thanks to the Database’s retrieval capabilities, Nurit also discovered that another woman had completed Pages of Testimony for the same people her grandmother had sought to commemorate, and that the familial relationships stated by the two women were identical. The woman, Paula Eizenberg, had also mentioned the name of her sister on the Page of Testimony dedicated to her parents — Malka. “This was when it dawned on me that Paula Eizenberg was my grandmother’s sister,” Nurit explains. “I realized that each sister thought the other had perished, when in fact they lived just 17 kilometers away from each other.”
Despite the late hour, Amir Margalit immediately telephoned Paula and Moshe Eizenberg at their residence Kibbutz Nir David. “It was 11:30pm. I couldn’t calm down; I just had to find out if it was true. My aunt, who is now 84 years old, was very excited. We agreed to meet. I didn’t sleep the whole night.”
The moving reunion between the two families — at which three generations were present — took place on the kibbutz. “I lost my mother at the age of 12,” says Amir. “To find my mother’s big sister brought back my feelings as a child towards my mother. I’m so grateful to Yad Vashem, who made it possible for me to find this wonderful extended family.”