Auschwitz Survivor Using Facebook to Search for Twin

PHOTO: Menachem Bodner, 72, is pictured in the present (left) and as a 5-year-old after World War II (right).
Share
Copy

A 72-year-old Auschwitz survivor has taken his search for his twin brother to Facebook.

Menachem B., who wants to keep his last name private, last saw his brother 68 years ago when he was 4 years old. Menachem B.'s given name was Elias Gottesmann. He changed his name after surviving the concentration camp.

If his brother Jeno Gottesmann is alive, he could be anywhere with any name. The only definite link between the two is the "A7734" tattooed on their forearms from the concentration camp.

Memories from the time are few, but Menachem remembers that he had a twin brother. He also has a distinct memory of being outside playing in the yard and knowing his brother was asleep in bed when Nazi officers came to the house to take them. They lived in an area of Hungary that is now part of Ukraine.

Menachem, who now lives in Israel, recounted the memories to Ayana KimRon, the Israeli genealogist who is helping him look for his brother.

KimRon became involved in the case in May 2012, when she saw a posting on an online genealogical forum by one of Menachem's relatives. She was curious about the story and ended up speaking to Menachem.

"Meeting him face to face and seeing his reaction to the very little that I put in the conversation, I got hooked. I knew that if it's not me, nobody is going to do it," KimRon told ABCNews.com. "And then I got addicted, of course."

KimRon soon found out that Menachem and his brother Jeno, who went by the nickname Jolli, were transported to Auschwitz together in May 1944, a few months before their 4th birthdays.

Because they were twins, it is believed that they were subjected to "criminal medical experiments" that went on in Auschwitz laboratories, KimRon wrote on a Facebook page that she started for Menachem's search.

Records show that both brothers survived the war but were separated just days before liberation, according to KimRon. As the Germans fled Auschwitz, young Menachem found a man who was looking for his family and asked him to be his father.

In that moment, he made up a new name and told the man he didn't like the soldiers who hadn't saved his brother, he told KimRon. He moved to Israel with his new family and it was only later in life that his adoptive parents would tell him what he said about his brother, but he always had a feeling that his identical twin had survived.

"He sensed his brother, that he was alive somewhere," KimRon said.

"For the next 67 years he had a different name and no knowledge about his family," KimRon wrote on the Facebook page. "Now he knows. We also know that Jolli was very much alive at liberation. Maybe he too changed his name, maybe even changed his religion. The only definite link between them is the number tattooed on his arm -- A7734."

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: A candle illuminates a portrait of Chelsea Bruck at candlelight vigil in Frenchtown Township, Mich., Oct. 28, 2014.
Tom Hawley/The Monroe Evening News/AP Photo
PHOTO: Jason Carter, left, is pictured on Oct. 27, 2014 in Columbus, Ga. George P. Bush is pictured on Sept. 2, 2014 in Washington, D.C.
Jessica McGowan, Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Henry Winkler
Seth Poppel/Yearbook Library