March 12, 2013 at 6:19 PM ET
A Holocaust survivor who was just four years old when he was liberated from Auschwitz has spent the last 67 years wondering what happened to his other half.
Menachem B. (he has asked to keep his last name private) was able to emigrate to Israel and build a life there after he was released from the Nazi camp in 1945, but he always knew something was missing — his twin, Jolli. Now 72 and retired, Menachem has teamed up with geneaologist Ayana KimRon to find the long-lost brother he barely remembers.
KimRon first learned about Menachem through a geneaology forum she’s a member of, when she came across a post entitled “Looking for my twin brother.” Written by a friend of Menachem, the post piqued KimRon’s interest. She wrote back.
“When I heard his story I knew right then and there that he lost a portion of his birth identity in Auschwitz,” she told TODAY.com.
It is common for children who were displaced during the Holocaust to have forgotten their original names and hometowns, so KimRon knew it might be a challenge to find Menachem’s long-lost twin. Still, she was up for the task.
“How can I not help a Holocaust survivor who walks through life with such questions and hopes? Wasn't Auschwitz enough of hell for him?” she asked herself.
At first, she tried more conventional approaches to help track down the missing brother, but nothing panned out. Rather than give up, she turned to the Internet.
She created a Facebook page entitled “A-7734,” the number that the Nazis assigned to Jolli (pronounced “Yoli”) and tattooed on his arm. She posted a photo of Jolli at age four as well as all the information she had, hoping it would lead her to the missing twin.
“Looking for Jolli - child survivor A7734 from Auschwitz, 4.5 years old at liberation," she wrote. "Born in 1940. Clues lead to possible adoption by a Christian family, then to the USA. Whatever name and location, his tattooed number is A7734. And his brother still hopes to meet him. Please help us by spreading the word.”
She also shared on the Facebook page that Menachem and Jolli were used as guinea pigs in experiments by Nazi doctor Dr. Josef Mengele, though Menachem was so young that he doesn't remember what was done to him.
Soon, KimRon's promise to help a man learn about his past became a viral media sensation.
She posted the photo of Jolli on March 2, and it has now been shared more than 38,000 times. KimRon says she has gotten supportive emails and Facebook messages from more than 38,000 people in 19 languages, from as far away as South America, Africa, and Australia.
She’s hoping that among those tens of thousands is one person who can solve the puzzle. “All we need is one grandchild of Jolli on Facebook," she said.
Though she hasn't located him yet, when she is able to track down Jolli — and Kimron is confident that’s a when, not an if — she promises to update the Facebook page with the news.