While Dora Rapaport was able to escape the Holocaust and imprisonment in Auschwitz with her life, she didn’t know what became of her oldest daughter Eva.
The 2-year-old was taken away from her in the concentration camps where several of her family members died in the gas chambers.
Still, she never gave up hope that Eva was alive somewhere in the world. After she was liberated in 1945, she moved to Austria where she met her future husband in a displaced person camp.
Dora went on two have two more daughters Dena Morris and Jean Gearhart, but she never forgot Eva and tried over the years to locate her.
She would travel to orphanages in Germany and begged caretakers to let her walk around to search for her daughter.
Dora was unable to find her lost daughter and asked her daughters on her deathbed in 1996 to continue looking for her.
“She spent her whole life looking for this child,” said Morris told The Washington Post.
The sisters upheld their promise and searched through death records and went to the Red Cross for help only with their sister’s name.
A name their lost sister might not even know.
They kept coming up empty-handed until they decided to take a DNA test.
The results showed a niece in England named Clare.
They were so shocked that they had to call DNA company MyHeritage to confirm the results.
The MyHertigate Research team found records that show that Eva left Marseille on a ship called the Kirnia that brought her to Israel in 1948.
Clare then sent a photo of her mother and that erased any doubt Dena and Jean had.
They could immediately tell that the woman in the photo was their sister.
“It’s insane because Clare’s mother looks identical to Mum. Everything from the color that they colored their hair to their build, their appearance, the look on their face… it is exactly the same,” Dena told MyHeritage.
They learned that Eva too had spent her life searching for her birth family but grew up believing she was an orphan.
Apparently, a couple had put her on a boat to Israel where Eva lived in an orphanage for eight years until she was adopted by a family who moved to England where she grew up.
Unfortunately Dena and Jean never got to meet their sister Eva who died in 2014.
“This is all so amazing that I’m just not sure how to feel,” Dena told MyHeritage. “I’m just in disbelief at this point, mainly because this has been such a lifelong struggle.” She says it’s a bittersweet experience because they have lived all these years thinking that they had no family. “They both were so tortured over it that I just wish it could have happened years ago, where they both could have had some peace of mind.”
Still, the sisters are very happy to have their niece in their life.
“I’m hoping that they’re both in heaven, their souls together,” Dena said. “And they know.”