82 years ago, on a playground in Berlin, Betty Grebenschikoff and AnnaMarie Wahrenberg, both nine years old, said goodbye to each other for the last time.
The two of them were childhood best friends so it made it that much harder when they had to hug goodbye before each of their families would flee Nazi Germany.
They never knew if they would ever see each other again, but they never lost hope
Betty and her family ended up escaping to China, since it was the only country that accepted immigrants without visas. They lived there for the next 11 years, and Betty always wondered where her best friend AnnaMarie ended up or if her family even escaped Germany alive.
In the following years, Betty got married, had kids, and moved around the world. But even though 82 years went by, she never forgot about the Holocaust or her best friend.
“Every time I gave a talk, I always mentioned her name,” Betty told Fox 13 News. “I always said, ‘If anyone ever hears of AnnaMarie Wahrenberg, let me know.’ One day, a little girl stood up at one of my speeches and she must have been 10 or 11 years old. She said to me, ‘Don’t worry, if you don’t find your friend AnnaMarie again. When you go to Heaven, you’ll find her there.’ Isn’t that beautiful? It still gives me the chills that this child was so sensitive.”
Thanks to a researcher who pieced things together, Betty no longer had to wonder where her friend was.
Ita Gordon, a cataloguer of Holocaust survivor testimonies for the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation, listened to a speech by AnnaMarie about escaping Berlin in the 1930s. When Gordon later went searching for AnneMarie’s testimony, she landed upon a testimony that was given by Betty in 1997. In her testimony, she talked about AnnaMarie.
Gordon quickly realized that Betty’s testimony was linked to AnnaMarie’s.
It turns out that AnnaMarie had been searching for Betty as well, but was unable to find her due to her name being changed. Betty’s birth name was Ilse Kohn, and her named changed once she moved to the United States and got married.
Both of them had just assumed that the other was no longer living, but Gordon now knew that wasn’t the case and wanted to reunite them.
They initially reunited on a virtual Zoom call last March, but two weeks ago, the two 91-year-olds were finally able to see each other in person.
For the first time since they were nine years old, these two best friends could finally hug each other.
“It’s just so satisfying for me to know that there’s another whole family there that is now my family, too, and I’m hers,” Betty told Fox 13 News.
Betty and AnnaMarie talk every Sunday morning and are so grateful to have each other back in their lives again.
Watch their heartwarming story in the video below:Whizzco