A film which premiered last week has revealed the heart-rending reunion of two brothers separated at Bergen-Belsen, with one also meeting his biological mother for the first time since he was a baby.
The two men, who grew up in Canada and Israel, were brought together by researchers after seven decades of silence from their mother, Aida, who refused to speak about what happened.
Aida, who lives in Canada, gave birth to Izak in the camp just after the war ended. Izak was adopted by an Israeli family in 1948, when he was three, but although he reunited with Aida when he was a teenager, she never told him who his father was – or that he had a brother in the camp.
That brother, called Shepsyl, followed his mother to Canada, changing his name to Shep on entry. It was only when Izak’s nephew contacted a heritage company that Shep was finally tracked down and reunited with Izak.
The film, called Aida’s Secrets, premiered in Toronto last week, and revealed the input of MyHeritage, which was approached for help in 2013, after Izak received some revelatory documents from the Bergen-Belsen archive.
“I can’t tell you what it means to finally meet my brother after 65 years,” said Shep, a visually-impaired Paralympic skier, cyclist, and marathon-runner who represented Canada.
“What’s even more amazing is fulfilling my lifelong dream of finding my birth mother. Finding her alive was the icing on the cake. It closes a circle for me and gives me peace of mind that I am not alone.”
The two brothers, now almost 70 years of age, met in Canada before meeting Aida, who is in a nursing home in Quebec.
Genealogists at MyHeritage, who traced Shep through from his daughter Melanie, tracked the emotional reunion after their search through archives at Bergen-Belson in Germany, Yad Vashem in Israel, as well as Canadian and Israeli vital records, and online family trees.
Lead researcher Laurence Harris said: “Seeing how meaningful the outcome was for the brothers and their families is the very best reward.”