Advertisement feature by MyHeritage
The horrific events of the Holocaust tore apart countless families, many of whom were never reunited. One of these families was that of Gedalya and Miriam Sura Ehrenberg, a father and daughter separated during the war who spent the rest of their lives trying to find each other. Tragically, they didn’t succeed during their lifetimes.
But thanks to MyHeritage DNA, the story didn’t end there.
80 years after Gedalya said goodbye to his daughter for the last time, their descendants have finally found each other. This story was originally featured in The Jerusalem Post Magazine on 15 January 2021.
‘Keep my daughter safe for me’
Before the war, Gedalya and his family lived in the little Polish town of Zakrzówek. Sensing the danger that was to come, Gedalya took his baby daughter, just three years old, to Aleksander Paprota — a Polish gentile he knew. Gedalya handed his daughter and a large sum of money to Aleksander and asked him to keep her safe for him. He promised to come back for her after the war if he survived.
Then, the Nazis invaded and Gedalya and his family were sent to the concentration camps. His wife and three other children perished at Auschwitz, and he lost two of his brothers. All that remained of his family was his other brother, Abraham, who survived alongside him in Dachau… and the hope that somehow, in all the madness, Aleksander had made good on his promise and kept Miriam Sura safe.
After Gedalya was liberated, he returned to his hometown to search for Aleksander and Miriam Sura. To his dismay, Miriam Sura was nowhere to be found. Aleksander, fearing that the rumors in the small town would reveal the truth about Miriam Sura’s identity, had sent her to Warsaw with a female trader — and there her tracks had disappeared.
Gedalya and his brother Abraham immigrated to the United States and began to build a new life there — but Gedalya never let go of his search for Miriam Sura. He regularly traveled back to Poland and searched far and wide, riding the trains and talking to strangers to gather clues about his daughter’s fate. He remarried, but his second wife was unable to bear children because of the horrors the Nazis inflicted on her.
Sadly, in 1969, Gedalya died without any children by his side.
Meanwhile in Poland
The details of what happened after Miriam Sura was sent to Warsaw are fuzzy, but what the family has been able to piece together goes like this: at the Łuków station on the way to Warsaw, German soldiers boarded the train, and the woman accompanying Miriam Sura became terrified of being caught helping a Jewish child. She scribbled a note that read, ‘My name is Marysia Dobrzynska and I am unbaptized’, hung it around the girl’s neck, and left her to her fate. ‘Unbaptized’ was code for ‘Jewish’; the woman hoped that the hint would be understood easily by a Polish Catholic, but would go right past a secular German.
The story goes that a German officer found Miriam Sura and pointed a gun at her head, but when Miriam Sura got up and threw her arms around his neck, the soldier took pity on her. He handed her over to the station keeper, who transferred her to a local church orphanage. She was baptized and renamed Wanda Maria. A month later, she was adopted by a couple named Jan and Kazimiera Alejnik.
Wanda had no memory of these events, and the childhood she remembered was a happy one. Unfortunately, Jan and Kazimiera died within a few months of each other when Wanda was 12, but Wanda went to live with an aunt and grew up in the embrace of her loving, close-knit new family.
Wanda married and raised a family of her own in the city of Poznan. Though she was happy with her new family, she always wondered about her missing early childhood. Given the circumstances, she suspected that her background was Jewish, but had nothing else to go on. She even hired some private detectives and tried to search for clues about her origins. But in 2012, she passed away without ever learning the truth.
A MyHeritage DNA test connects the dots
Wanda’s daughter Ewa grew up knowing what little her mother had known about her background, and as an adult, felt drawn to the Jewish community in Poznan. Though her mother’s story was enough for the Poznan Jewish community to embrace her, she wanted to learn more, and decided to do a DNA test to see if it could reveal anything about her mother’s past.
And reveal it did. When Ewa’s results came in, a DNA Match with one Morris Ehrenberg from New Jersey popped up.
Morris’s father, Isak, was Gedalya’s cousin. Ewa contacted Morris, and learned that her uncle Abraham had a son, Moshe — her own first cousin — who grew up in the United States and currently lives in Israel.
‘It was like a huge hole in our hearts started to heal,’ Joanna Pacek, Ewa’s 30-year-old daughter, told The Jerusalem Post. ‘Suddenly, we could connect the dots back to our past.’
Ewa and her brother Piotr plan to travel to Israel when the pandemic is over to meet their long-lost cousin.
Who knows what amazing stories you might discover in your MyHeritage DNA results? Order your own kit today, using the exclusive coupon code: MILITARYDNA
What makes MyHeritage DNA tests unique
First and foremost, you can trust that your DNA data is safe! We place a strong emphasis on privacy and security, and to date, are the only consumer DNA company to commit never to sell or transfer our users’ data to any third party.
MyHeritage has earned the trust of 92 million users worldwide, and the MyHeritage DNA test is the #1 DNA test in Europe.
With MyHeritage DNA you get access to a host of resources that will help you find new relatives:
Chromosome browser: MyHeritage’s One-to-many Chromosome Browser allows you to compare shared and triangulated segments of DNA with up to seven DNA matches at once. Using a color-coded schematic sketch of your chromosomes, you can see which segments you share with multiple DNA matches (also known as triangulated segments) and extrapolate insights that can help you better understand your relationships to your matches — and maybe even identify DNA segments associated with specific ancestors.
AutoClusters: The AutoClusters tool organizes your DNA matches into groups or ‘clusters’ of individuals who match each other as well as you. Using this tool, you can easily see who among your DNA matches is related to whom and therefore likely shares a common ancestor.
Theory of Family Relativity™: The Theory of Family Relativity™ feature analyzes all the family tree data and historical record data on MyHeritage to bring you plausible theories about how you might be related to your DNA matches. This feature can save you a ton of time and effort.
MyHeritage DNA also offers extremely useful filtering and sorting capabilities that help you sort through your matches and focus on the ones most important to you. On your DNA Matches page, you can filter your matches by a wide variety of criteria, such as which matches have a Theory of Family Relativity™, shared Smart Matches™, shared surnames or places, or a family tree; level of relationship; location; ethnicity; or Genetic Groups. You can also sort your matches by percentage of shared segments overall, largest shared segment, full name, or which matches were most recently added to MyHeritage.
Ethnicity Estimate from 2,114 genetic & geographic regions around the world
MyHeritage offers the highest-resolution ethnicity results on the market today with 2,114 genetic & geographic regions around the world.
MyHeritage’s DNA Ethnicity Estimates are a breakdown of your ethnic origins using the highest standard of DNA sequencing and matching technologies. Every DNA testing company will offer slightly different estimates based on their own research and data on the Founder populations.
Ethnicity Estimates are based on different pools of data. Overlap between populations that live near each other means that one DNA company may identify a certain sequence of DNA as belonging to one ethnic group, while another may associate it with a different, neighboring group. For example, someone from northern England may receive an Irish, Scottish, and Welsh result rather than English. The larger the pool of data from a given ethnicity, the more accurate it will be — and MyHeritage’s international reach gives our data an edge.
MyHeritage DNA results stay up to date
In terms of DNA matches, new users are purchasing DNA kits and uploading their data to our database all the time, so you are likely to have new DNA matches on MyHeritage on a regular basis.
In terms of ethnicity results, we are always working towards improving our models and giving you a clearer picture of your ethnic origins. In late 2020, we released a groundbreaking enhancement to our ethnicity estimates: Genetic Groups, which increased the resolution of our ethnicity breakdown to 2,114 geographic regions. More enhancements are forthcoming!
To give MyHeritage DNA a try for yourself, order your own kit today, using the exclusive coupon code: MILITARYDNA
This is an advertisement feature written by MyHeritage.