A Holocaust survivor from Israel has been reunited with a Polish woman who helped save his life during World War II.
Michael Hochberg, 77, was reunited with Krystyna Jakubowska, 86, in New York City at JFK Airport 70 years after Krystyna and her family helped save Michael from the Germans.
In 1943, Krystyna’s family took Michael into their family when he was only 4 years old and hid the boy from the Nazis in their apartment.
The Jakubowski family were close friends with the Hochberg family and agreed to take care of Michael while his parents stayed behind in the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw, Poland.
Michael was smuggled out of the Warsaw ghetto by family friends to live with Jozef and Rozalia Jakubowski and their four children.
Krystyna’s family hid Michael for two years and made sure no one discovered that he was Jewish by telling people and the authorities that he was an orphaned relative. The Jakubowski family risked their own lives for hiding a Jewish boy in occupied Poland at the time. Krystyna would often have to pretend to be Michael’s older sister.
Krystyna said that the occupying German soldiers would often announce publicly that people who hid and protected Jews would face the death penalty.
Thanks to the Jakubowskis, Michael survived the German occupation, but his parents and grandparents were killed.
After the war, the Jakubowskis gave Michael to a Jewish orphanage, where he was eventually found and taken by one of his relatives who survived the war too.
Michael emigrated to Haifa, Israel in 1957, where he met and married his wife. Michael now has three sons and eight grandchildren.
Krystyna still lives in Warsaw, Poland. She has three children and five grandchildren.
Michael and Krystyna’s reunion in New York was made possible by the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous.
Michael and Krystyna were reunited for a short period of time back in 2006, after Hochberg traveled to Warsaw to find members of the Jakubowski family.
Stories like this remind us about the lessons of history and inform us that there were lots of people who, just like Oskar Schindler, risked their lives to save other people during the Holocaust, but whose heroic stories are still waiting to be told.
This story is also a lesson that it is never too late to search for and reunite with a friend, family member or other person that you have lost contact with over the years.