Holocaust archive gives one man some answers
January 28, 2013
Wilhelm Thiem is 72 years old, but he has not be able to celebrate his birthday his whole life. When he was just 2, he was abducted by Nazis in Poland, and he has spent the rest of his life wondering what his real name was or what happened to his family, and now he is finally getting some answers, according to NBC News.
The retired entrepreneur didn't even know his real birth date. He was raised by a foster parent in northern Germany, who eventually adopted him and gave him her maiden name. When he was 12 years old, he found out that the mother he grew up with was not actually his mother, but she didn't have the answers he wanted to know about his birth family. Then, Thiem came across a news article about the International Tracing Service, which maintains an achieve of files of more than 17.5 million victims of the Holocaust.
"At first the ITS researchers told me that they could not find any documents with my name on them," Thiem recalled. "But then they contacted the Red Cross in Poland and in the end, there were some leads."
After a few months, the organization was finally able to find out that Thiem was born in Lodz, Poland, and his birth name was Zbigniew Wilhelm Katmierczak. He finally got his birth certificate.
"It was a very emotional moment," Thiem told the media outlet. "Both my wife and I could not hold back tears."
Now, Thiem and his wife are planning a trip to where he was born in hopes of learning more information about his family, and hopefully meet some of his long lost relatives.