The touching moment when the Holocaust survivor’s child was reunited to her aunts, whom she hadn’t known existed before she used an online DNA database.
Clare Reay (52) was born in England to Eva. Her mother knew nothing about Clare except that she spent some time in Israel after World War II and was later adopted by a British couple.
Clare (from Newcastle) was surprised to discover her extraordinary maternal family history when she was presented with a MyHeritage kit – an Israel-based online genealogical platform.
Eva, who died in 2014, was born in a concentration camp to Dora, a Jewish teenager who had been sent to Auschwitz and Lublin-Majdanek concentration camps with her parents. She separated from her baby at one point. However, it isn’t known why.
While Eva was eventually adopted and raised in the UK, Dora settled in the US, where she married had two more daughters, Jean, now 74, and Dena, 73, and spent her life searching for the daughter she had lost.
Clare stated that her mother did not know any details about her biological parents and was still unsure of the age of her mother when they separated. Clare also explained that Clare had never seen a birth record and didn’t know of her birth date.
After discovering their DNA Heritage site, the aunts of a Auschwitz survivor’s daughter were surprised to discover that she was adopted in Britain by her British relatives. Jean, Clare, and Dena
Left: Dora and Eva in the early forties believed to be in Warsaw right: Eva and Clare in the early 60s in London
Clare is pictured with Eva, her mother and her father just before Clare’s mother died in 2014.
It was uncanny that Eva, Jean, and Dena knew they were related after they looked at photos. Below is Dora and below is Eva, her daughter
“She remembered the Israeli orphanage, and she recalled many events. But her memories of her biological mom were absent.”
Jean and Dena promised Jean their mother that, before she died, they would help her find her child.
It was remarkable that this happened early in 2020, when Dena got a notice from MyHeritage letting her know she had a niece who lived in the UK.
Clare said that Clare initially believed the statement. “Then, I asked Dena about the circumstances that led to her sister and mother being separated.
“She said that somehow, they had become separated while in concentration camps. Then she sent me a photograph of her mother. I was certain in my heart that it was my mother.
“I felt overwhelmed by joy and excitement at finding my mother’s family, but also sad that she wasn’t there for such an amazing discovery.”
Clare learned from her aunts that Clare’s grandmother was born at Warsaw in 1927.
Eva, as a child after she was taken to the UK with her adoptive mom.
Dora Mortkowitz was born in Warsaw in 1927. Her parents sent her to Auschwitz and Lublin Majdanek with the Ghetto at the beginning of World War II.
Eva was born in 1944, at the age of just 14 years.
Unfortunately, Eva was not able to know her birth date or whereabouts.
Mother and daughter separated at some point. Dora is seen holding her baby girl in one of the photos that survived.
Eva was liberated from the concentration camp. He was taken to an Israeli orphanage.
Clare stated that she doesn’t recall anything about the Holocaust, and we don’t know much about it.
MyHeritage researcher Nitay Elboym managed to track down my mother’s identity. My mother was listed on the Marseille-Israel passenger list in February 1948 as Chava Lesman. This allows us to know when and how she arrived.
Eva (pictured), had no memory of her time in a concentration camp, and did not know the year she was born.
Eva spent ora her entire life looking for Eva. Jean and Dena (pictured), promised their mother that they would not stop seeking out Eva. They have fulfilled that promise, and it is amazing. Eva was sadly taken from us in February 2014. Dena and Jean were then able, through video calling, to be reunited with their niece.
Eva was adopted by a British couple as a baby and raised in London. Clare was her first child. Vivienne later became her second.
Her mother, who lived on the other shore of the Atlantic was not known to her. She had also built her own life.
Clare completed her MyHeritage DNA testing in April 2020. The worlds collided.
“It was a birthday present, so it wasn’t something I hadn’t considered,” she said. However, after reading the instructions, I became interested in learning more about my maternal lineage.
“I was given a breakdown about our ethnicity, which I found really fascinating and didn’t think much more.”
Clare entered her data in the system, which triggered Dena’s alert. Dena had taken a MyHeritage test.
Clare said that Dena first contacted me through MyHeritage.com. She told me that she received an automatic email from My Heritage informing her that she was her niece.
“She was thrilled to discover the truth, and she is a warm, loving, person. She made me feel like a member of her family from the moment we began communicating.
“Jean, who was a little more reserved and skeptical at first (a lot like me), but when we began talking and sharing photos and information, she and I knew that there was no doubt about our familial connection.
Clare could not visit because of the US’s closing its borders to Europe, UK and Canada due to Covid-19. The trio developed a close relationship through video chats.
Clare said: ‘Since finding each other we have had regular zooms with Jean, Dean, myself and my sister Vivienne, which has been brilliant as it’s given us the opportunity to get to know each other and swap memories and stories of my Mum and their Mum.
“My aunts paint a wonderful picture of Dora growing up, with her personality, her traits. There are many striking similarities between Dora (my mother) and Dora. We often feel like we’re talking about one person.
Clare had booked her September flight in March. The family received a terrible blow shortly after.
Clare Reay (52), from Newcastle received a MyHeritage DNA kit as a birthday gift from her son, in 202. She later learned that she has two aunts, and they met last month.
Dena stated that Dena was left with Stage 4 lung cancer after Dena suffered a heart attack at work. I requested a visa exemption from the US Embassy. They refused. Next, I sought the assistance of my local MP, who appealed their decision.
“I spent months trying to contact every organization relevant to my situation for help, but to no avail”
Clare was unable to fly on September 9th due to cancellations so she had to rebook twice, before finally getting out of the country in November.
Clare added: “The surprise wasn’t what I had hoped for, their reactions were fantastic and it made us all feel so happy to finally see one another.” We felt as if we had known each other for all of our lives. Jean may have felt a little shocked for a time.
‘Jean and John (Jean’s husband) and Dena gave us two fantastic weeks, we learned so much about their lives and their upbringing with Dora.
“We had a fantastic Thanksgiving with all our family members and friends. Then we went to see the sights and spent as much time as we could with them.
Eva lived before World War II, and the family hopes that they will learn more.
She said, “I know so many more things now than I imagined.”
“My maternal side was always an end. Without a name, my mother had zero chance of finding information on her family.