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A Stranger's Gift: Family Photos from Before the Holocaust

Blanche Fixler survived the Holocaust because her aunt sent her to an orphanage when she was 6 as the Nazis invaded Europe during World War II.

Her mother, grandmother and two older siblings were murdered with 450,000 other Jews in the Belzec extermination camp in Poland, and her father ended up at a labor camp in Siberia.

She moved to the United States after the war, and assumed all of her family mementos were long gone, especially since her family’s apartment in Krakow was ransacked by the Nazis during the German occupation.

Fixler, now 86 and living in New York, always wished she had photos from her earliest years of life.

Then in August, she received a phone call that stunned her: Someone had found two group photos that showed her as a little girl in France. One of the photos, taken just after the war ended, included her aunt and two cousins.

“It meant more than you could imagine,” said Fixler, who as a child was named Bronia Bruenner.

The call came from Daniel Patt, a software engineer for Google and the founder of a website called From Numbers to Names, which uses artificial intelligence to find old photographs of loved ones and relatives lost during the Holocaust.

“It was incredible that he took it upon himself to do this kind thing,” she said, adding that he hand-delivered the photos to her in New York in October.

Patt’s website has links to archives that contain about 500,000 photos from museums such as Yad Vashem — the World Holocaust Remembrance Center and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Anyone can upload a photo of a Holocaust victim or survivor to the site, and it will compare the photo to its archives.

Read entire article at Washington Post