War can bring many tragedies, one of the worst being separation of families. War tears apart families and ruins lives; it’s one of the most challenging parts of the human condition. For two twins who separated during the Second World War, though, they never gave up hope that one day they would meet up again.
George Skrzynecky, a 69-year-old Polish-American, was sure he would never find his family after being separated from them and his twin brother, Lucian. They spent nearly five decades apart, as the hardship of finding people from the post-war era was incredibly hard.
Elisabeth Jankowski was one of many people freed from labor camps after the end of the Second World War, and after a brief romance in 1946 she gave birth to Lucian and George before developing a debilitating, major heart condition the year later.
Her children were sent 150 miles south while she went into hospital and slowly degraded. The boys were then relocated to Katowice, Poland, then Rybnik and send into an orphanage. Thankfully, her condition began to slowly improve and Elisabeth began the hunt for her baby boys – turning to the Red Cross for help with family tracing.
Sadly, she was informed that they had gone through the Polish Red Cross and that as a single mother in a struggling condition, that she couldn’t bring them home. Adopted by different families, the twins were separated.
At 17, in 1965, George found out that he’d been adopted and that he had been split up from Lucian – something he’d never known. Beginning his own Red Cross family trace, the search proved to be fruitless and nothing came up – George, furious at his past being disclosed, moved to California, USA, to escape his Polish roots.
Various times he would try and find out more about his brother and his family via Red Cross links, but none ever worked. His brother, Lucian, meanwhile, grew up in Poland in a loving family with an adoptive mother who cared for him deeply.
Drafted into the Polish Army, he found out that he was adopted but never found out about his twin. Heading to his old orphanage as far ahead in time as 2014, he discovered that this deep feeling he had harboured throughout his life – that he had a twin brother – was in fact correct.
Beginning a new tracing case with the Polish Red Cross in a more modern era, some exciting and interesting information was found; that Lucian matched much of the information on record for a different file. The case was headed up by Lisa Ghali, who worked for the Red Cross reconnecting families.
The case that she found, of course, was that of George himself. Connecting the two men, they met up in Poland at Warsaw Airport and, as you can imagine, they had a very emotional introduction to one another after all that time away.
The two men enjoyed a special reunion, finally able to make up for all of that lost time. While both men are now in their senior years, it’s wonderful to know that they can enjoy what remains of life as two brothers who have so much time to make up for!
They even worked together to find out the origins of their father; a US soldier who had returned to the US prior to their birth. Despite the horrible nature of how the boys were separated, it was wonderful to know that they both – eventually – were able to make up for lost time and spend some much-needed family time together.