Ina J., a MyHeritage user from Germany, was determined to get to the bottom of the mystery that her own grandfather — who died when she was 10 — had been unable to solve in his lifetime. Separated from his brother during World War II, he tried his whole life to find out what happened to him and the rest of their family. Ina built a family tree on MyHeritage — and got a Smart Match that reunited the separated family at long last.
This is her story:
My paternal grandfather and great-grandfather were ethnic Germans born in Ukraine. They followed Catherine the Great’s invitation. However, when World War II broke out, my then 15-year-old grandfather and his 16-year-old brother were drafted by the Germans. While fleeing Ukraine, they were caught in Poland. During a battle, my grandfather and his brother were separated. My grandfather, injured by shrapnel in his leg, was found by the Americans and sent to the hospital. During a walk in the neighboring town he met and fell in love with my grandmother. They married and had 5 children.
He never found out what had happened to his family. The Red Cross searched for them for decades, without success. I grew up being told that they were probably transported to Siberia and that it was unlikely any of them survived.
This always bothered me a lot; I couldn’t believe that no one in the family had made it through the war. I knew that my grandfather had 6 siblings and I had a few of their names and the names of their parents. I also knew that there was a set of twins. So I started researching, and came across MyHeritage. I created my family tree and received a number of Smart Matches to another family tree that included the names I knew, along with dates of birth and even their place of birth in Ukraine. The number of siblings as well as their names and their parents matched. However, my grandfather was reported as “missing in WWII.” I immediately wrote to the family tree manager and we quickly realized that we were from the same family.
My newfound aunt contacted me by phone, and we arranged to meet for the first time. With the exception of one of my father’s cousins, who lives in Moscow, everyone lives fairly close by. Three of my grandfather’s sisters were actually still alive at the time and the similarities were striking. Unfortunately, my grandfather died many years ago and didn’t live to see any of this. Shortly after the first phone call, my father’s cousin received another letter from the Red Cross saying that my grandfather was still missing and that his brother had died in the battle. My grandfather was listed as an injured war veteran and registered with the civil authorities and social security, so we cannot explain these letters from the Red Cross, seeing as the brothers were looking for each other through this institution.
What is certain is that without MyHeritage we would all still be in the dark and have no idea what had happened to the family. So we were even able to find out where in Germany the family’s origins were. A huge burden was lifted from the shoulders of my aunts and uncles, and the family was finally able to reunite. Thank you for being here!
Many thanks to Ina for sharing her amazing story with us. We’re sure her grandfather would have been very proud.
If you’ve also made an incredible discovery on MyHeritage, we’d love to hear about it! Please send it to us via this form or email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Source: My Heritage