Surviving Auschwitz and being liberated at age 4 and 1/2, Menachem Bodner was lucky to be alive. Now, at age 73, he discovered just a few months ago that he has an identical twin who survived the concentration camp alongside of him and he has decided to try and track him down.
On January 27, 1945 Auschwitz was liberated. Being so young, Menachem remembers few details.“I was in the camp. A man came in who was looking for his wife and daughter,” he recalls. “I stood before him and asked if he would be my father. He picked me up in his hands and took me out of the camp.”
Photo courtesy of Flickr user: Jorge González
His adoptive father named him Menachem Bodner, changing it from his original name Eli Gottesman. Over the years his father searched for his adoptive son’s birth family, but to no avail. After a number of false hopes and leads he gave up trying and even started to doubt if any of it was even true.
Then last year he was urged by his grandchildren to try one more time. He posted the only clues he had on the internet, a photo of him at age 5 and then a picture that he believed was his family because it was in his pocket the day he was liberated from the camp. Genealogist Ayana KimRon responded to his post, taking one look at the family photo and knowing it was not his.
Bodner began to lose even more hope as he had no recollection of how he was separated from his brother due to the chaos that ensued when the camp was liberated and then the photo of his family turned out not to be his. KimRon then used Bodner’s Auschwitz ID number: A 7733, to try and find his identical twin: A 7734. She checked the numbers against official Auschwitz records now archived at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem as found that indeed it was all true.
The search has now turned to social media to try and find Bodner’s twin, Jeno. The Facebook page: A 7734, has been viewed over a million times! Many nurses have contacted the family saying they have seen the number, but so far Jeno has not been located.
Just last year, Menachem returned to his home village in Ukraine where he met his neighbors. They remember his family and that him and his brother were always loud when they played outside. Hearing that, “I closed a circle,” he says. “It was just good to know that what I was dreaming was real and not my imagination.”
It is amazing that social media allows people to be able to connect like this. Even as a seasoned user, it still is able to shock me. It is no surprise that it was his grandchildren who pushed him to post the photos online, but now being on Facebook, the largest social media network in the world, the possibility of finding Jeno have greatly increased. The Facebook page has even become a place for others to share their stories of finding loved ones after the horrors of the Holocaust.
Asked what he would say to his brother, his answer is, “I’m sorry that I did not start looking for him sooner. There were so many years that I was afraid of even touching the subject.” Bodner’s search is both a joyful and painful experience as h and his twin were separated so young, but he is committed to finishing the search with a successful ending.
Feature image courtesy of Flickr user: Keri J