Betty and her best friend Ana Maria were almost inseparable. The nine-year-old girls were inseparable from each other, playing together at recess, eating lunch together, and giggling together up until the fatal day when they were torn apart from each other while in a close hug and desperately trying to hold on to each other…
It was the year 1939, and the families of the girls were evacuating Germany as the Nazi invasion signaled the beginning of the terrible World War II. The duo had been shocked to realize that they would never see each other again as they stood in the schoolyard of their Berlin school.
Both Betty Grebenschikoff and Ana Maria Wahrenberg spent the most of their 82 years living in fear that the other had passed away.
During all of these years, both parties had been looking for each other in an effort to determine what had actually happened. Due to the fact that they had previously changed their names, it was more difficult to find each other.
An indexer working for the charitable organization USC Shoah Foundation discovered that the stories of two different ladies had many similarities. This group records and stores audio and video testimonies of those who survived the Holocaust.
When everything finally came together, the parts were easily put into their proper places. The Shoah Foundation, the Florida Holocaust Museum, and the Interactive Jewish Museum of Chile collaborated to organize a get-together for the survivors of the Shoah.
At long last, on November 5th, when they were both 91 years old, Betty and Ana Maria were able to find each other and hug each other once again.
Betty said that she had the feeling of “coming home.” “I couldn’t get her out of my head.” Ana Mara shared the feelings, saying, “It was incredibly emotional. It was if we were never parted.”
In the end, the ladies and their families were able to meet one another for the first time in a hotel room. The terrible events in the past vanished completely.
Betty was one of the 20,000 European Jews who made Shanghai their permanent home. Ana Maria’s family eventually found themselves living in Santiago, Chile. The two women, who were both widows, stayed together for four days and spoke about their experiences and shared memories from the past.
“We’re not the girls we used to be when we were 9 for sure, but we continued laughing like we were little kids,” Betty said. “It was such a wonderful experience for the two of us.”
The ladies also exchanged meaningful presents with each other. Betty received from Ana Maria a gift consisting of a Barbie doll dressed in a traditional Chilean outfit, together with a framed portrait of Ana Maria and some jewelry.
Betty presented her longtime closest friend with a little sculpture in the form of a heart.
Betty said, “We both have the exact same thing now,” and she went on to say that she puts the doll and the picture on display in her bedroom. “It’s something that will help her remember me, and it will help me remember her.”
Even their adult children now get along. The two closest friends reconnecting made the Shoah Foundation staff very happy.
The fact that these two great ladies were reunited after losing each other is such a testimony to hope.
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