Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Auschwitz survivor using Facebook, Twitter to search for his twin

Menachem Bodner's birth name was Elias Gottesmann.

Auschwitz survivor using Facebook, Twitter to search for his twin


Menachem Bodner's birth name was Elias Gottesmann. He was held in Auschwitz during World War II, where he and his twin brother were victims of Dr. Josef Mengele, known for his obsession and gruesome experimentation with twins.

When the 4-year-old Bodner was liberated from the camp, he was separated from his brother. Now, 68 years later, Bodner has enlisted the help of a professional genealogist, Ayana KimRon, to track down Jeno Gottesmann. Red Cross records indicate that a boy with Jeno's "A-7734" tattoo was treated at a hospital near Bodner's camp just two weeks after the liberation. But, eventually, the trail goes cold. So, KimRon turned to the Internet for help.

In early March, after months of dead-end trails and fruitless posts within the Jewish and genealogical communities online, KimRon decided the campaign needed a broader audience. She created a Facebook page titled “A7734,” posted a black-and-white shot of a young boy and a caption with his tattoo number, and asked for any clues into his whereabouts. Within 24 hours it had gone viral, and a within a week, the photo has had 23,000 shares, 1.13 million views, and hundreds of comments from readers offering resources, prayers, and words of encouragement. Other twins pledged to help. Amateur etymologists traced their names. One man even attempted to age the photo into what Jeno (known by his nickname Jolli) might look like now.

Bodner has, with the help of KimRon, been reunited with numerous members of his extended family. This summer, Bodner will travel back to Auschwitz with some of his family members and KimRon. It will be the first time he's returned since just a few weeks after the liberation.

Learn more about Bodner's life and the search for his brother over at The Daily Beast. [The Daily Beast]

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