Saturday 19 October 2019

Reunited: Joy as cousins who thought each other dead in Holocaust reunited after 75 years

Tearful meeting: Morris Sana (85) greets Simon Mairowitz (85) after believing each other dead for the past 75 years. Photo: People
Tearful meeting: Morris Sana (85) greets Simon Mairowitz (85) after believing each other dead for the past 75 years. Photo: People

Leila Molana-Allen

Two Jewish cousins have had an emotional reunion 75 years after they fled Romania, each believing the other had been killed in the Holocaust.

Morris Sana (85) and Simon Mairowitz (87) grew up as close childhood friends in Romania, but when a fascist coup in 1940 allied the Romanian government with Nazi Germany, their families separately fled the country.

Both believed the other had died in Nazi concentration camps, until Mr Sana's daughter tracked down some of her relatives online and began communicating with them on Facebook.

After discovering the connection, Mr Mairowitz flew from his home in the UK to Israel, where Mr Sana now lives.

In an emotional video of the meeting in Tel Aviv, posted on Facebook by Mr Sana's granddaughter, Leetal Ofer, Mr Sana enters a hotel room and walks towards Mr Mairowitz. As he catches sight of his cousin, Mr Sana breaks into a tearful smile, holding his arms out.

"You can see me now, can't you?" says Mr Mairowitz, embracing Mr Sana as he begins to cry.

"Good to see you," sobs Mr Sana, barely able to speak through his tears.

"It's good to see you too," Mr Mairowitz responds, holding his cousin's face in his hands.

"Seventy-five years you waited," he continues. "It's a long time. But we've got each other now."

Their surrounding family members begin to cry as the two men hold on to each other before sitting down together as the video ends.

Their encounter is not unique. In 2018, Alice Gerstel and Simon Gronowski reunited in Los Angeles, having found each other alive 76 years after befriending each other while hiding in Nazi-occupied Belgium.

Up to 180,000 Romanian Jews were killed in pogroms following the Nazi takeover, and up to a further 420,000 Romanian Jews died in concentration camps in the final years of the war.

Irish Independent

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