NEW YORK (May. 14)
Albert Brokman has been engaged in a lonely but tireless crusade for the past 31 years searching for his brother whom he last saw in 1943 in Auschwitz. “In all these years I never gave up hope of seeing him again alive and well.” Brokman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. A year ago his hopes were buoyed when he spotted a picture in Hadassah Magazine of a group of Jewish arrivals in Cyprus sometime around 1947.
There, amidst a number of Jews shown with British soldiers behind a barbed wire enclosure was a young man “who I know. I know, is my brother. His nose, his eyes, his chin…everything about him is the same as my brother’s.” he said pulling out of a portfolio a group of pictures showing his family before the tragic event of the Nazi occupation of Poland. “I know he’s alive and I want, I must find him. But where is he?” Brokman asked. Sitting in the editorial office of the JTA he unfolded the story that began 31 years ago.
Albert, or Abus, as he was known before he came to the United States in 1946, was born April 2,1927 in Zawiercie, a small town in Poland. His brother. Malus. was born Sept. 1, 1929. Their father, who was a tailor, is retired and now resides in Miami, is named Ben Zion. Their mother who is dead, was named Hela and her maiden name was Moskowitz. In 1943 Abus and Malus were taken by the Nazis from Zawiercie to Auschwitz.
“On Aug. 28, 1943, after two months in the camp my brother and I were separated.” Brokman recalled. “I was told to go on one line and he to another. That was the last time I saw him.” Brokman was transferred to another camp in Germany near Breslau and in 1945 was liberated by the allied forces from the Nordhausen camp. He came to New York on July 15, 1946 and moved to New Rochelle in 1961.
DIDN’T KNOW WHERE TO FIND HIM
Brokman, who is in the jewelry business, said he searched for his brother after the war but didn’t know where to begin looking for him. “Many of the former residents of Zawiercie who were liberated from the Nazi camps returned to the town,” he noted. “Some went elsewhere. But my brother didn’t return and no one I knew could tell me anything about his whereabouts.”
Last May, Brokman’s wife, Gloria, who is a member of Hadassah in New Rochelle, brought home the magazine. “There, on page 19, was this group photograph and there in the middle of the picture…” He immediately contacted Hadassah magazine to try to put a tracer on the photograph but no one there knew when it was taken or by whom. It was just a random photograph pulled from the Zionist archives to go with a story by Erika Oyserman, a free-lance Israeli writer, about Jewish refugees from Europe who made their way to Cyprus in the late 1940 and subsequently came to Israel.
In the spring of 1948 there were 53.000 Jewish refugees in Cyprus before the British terminated their mandate in Palestine. By Feb. 1949 the Cyprus camps were liquidated and the refugees went to Palestine. Brokman said that after seeing the photograph he also contacted the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem and was told that every effort would be made to help him locate his brother. “That was last Aug.” he said ruefully. “Two months later. as you know, war broke out and I haven’t heard from the Agency since. The war and its aftermath has kept them pretty busy these past few months with many, so many problems.”
EXPERTS CONFIRM IDENTITY OF BROTHER
Brokman said that in order to determine objectively whether or not the young man in the photograph was his brother he sought the aid of several artists and photographic experts who compared the features of that person with those in photographs taken of Malus when he was a youngster. “In each case the artist and the photographic expert automatically picked out the young man in the Cyprus camp photo after examining the earlier photo. They confirmed my own views that the features were identical.”
Brokman was asked if he could possibly imagine where his brother could be. “He might be on a kibbutz or working in some factory or even have his own business.” he answered. “He might have changed his name and maybe that’s where the difficulty lies. I can only hope that if he or someone who knew us both in the distant past, learns of my search we can be reunited. I and my father live in hope and we will continue in our quest to find him.” If nothing else. Brokman smiled, “we now know that he managed to escape from the tragedy that befell so many of the Jewish people.” At the moment hope and relentless efforts are the two ingredients at the disposal of Brokman and his father.