Lena, 85, and Victor, 73, were too choked up to speak when they first met each other after not having known of each other’s existence since the end of WWII. The meeting took place recently in Australia, where Lena has lived for years without knowing that her long-lost brother was alive.
The story began in 1945, when the chaotic situation in tha war led to the separation of the two siblings, who had been living in Rostov, Ukraine. In 1965, Victor turned to the Red Cross in Russia, asking for information on his missing family. Nothing turned up, but Victor did not give up.
In 2007, a woman named Liz Soda – the daughter of Lena – turned to the Central Tracing Service of the Red Cross in Germany, asking for information on the Bogdanovich family of Rostov. Here came the first break: She was told that though no documentation on the family had been found, a man named Victor had in the past made a similar query. Liz immediately understood that this was her lost uncle, and she began to search for him – but he had moved to Moscow and could not be found.
The story then moves to the German city of Bad Arolsen, site of the International Tracing Service (ITS) archives. Victims of Nazi persecutions and their families can search there through more than 50 million reference cards for over 17.5 million people, and related documents and reference files, to verify the fate of loved ones.
The story of the Bogdonavich search was raised at the annual ITS convention this year – and listening attentively were representatives of Magen David Adom’s tracing service. With the help of Yolenta Michaeolova of the Red Cross in Russia, MDA’s Susan Adel and Eli Starik began working on the case, and within days were able to locate Victor’s son living in Moscow. When they told him that his aunt and cousin were looking for his father, “He was so excited that he could barely speak,” Adel said.
When Victor himself heard the news, he immediately made contact with his sister in Australia – but once again, they were too emotional to know what to say. They agreed that Victor would fly to Australia, where the dramatic reunion was held after 64 years of separation.
Lena’s daughter Liz said afterwards, “Our story is typical of what happened to many families of that period. We are thrilled that my mother was able, with the help of Magen David Adom, to find her brother whom she thought she would never see again.”
MDA acknowledges that its tracing service is not well known, its director Boriah Kozokin says, “But we have been involved in finding lost persons for many years, with great success. Most of our work centers around those who have lost contact with family members during and after World War II.”