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Holocaust Survivors Discovered Over 500 Relatives

Alex Kafri believed he and his sister were the only ones left from their family until recently

02.08.17 | 15:14
Kukla Family Reunion in London
Alex Kafri, a 71 year old Israeli always believed that he and his sister were the sole remnants of their family that was wiped out in the Holocaust. Their mother told them a lot about her siblings that were killed in the Holocaust and even had them participate in memorial activities for them. Their father who came to Israel way before the Holocaust on the other hand, was stone silent about it. He refused to talk about family members. Alex and his sister understood that he too must have suffered the great loss of his entire family.

Ten years ago Alex decided to research the fate of his father’s family. His sole piece of information was that his father’s name was David Kafri, Hebraized from “Kukla” his original family name.

The day before Yom HaShoah- Holocaust Remembrance Day this year, Alex found a Facebook page with post from someone named Kukla. That man wrote that he was helped by a genealogy website called My Heritage to find relatives. It comes out Alex is literally part of a sizeable tribe! Alex replied to the post saying “I’m also from the Kukla Family and I’m looking for relatives.”

That same night he already got responses from Aliza Godfrey from Seattle and Ian Levine from London who both called him up. They’re both in charge of the ‘Kukla Family Tree on the MyHeritage website. Their short conversations told Alex that without a doubt he has hundreds of known living relatives.

“I waited for this moment all my life; they shared information about my uncle, my father’s brother and they even sent me a picture from my grandparents wedding,” Alex said.

The genealogical research for the Kukla family began over 20 years ago and it included information about 10 brothers that had hundreds of descendants. They even recently had a reunion of 500 relatives that came from 15 different countries. Alex Kafri came to this reunion and called it “a very special experience.”
Kukla Family Portrait Facebook cover photo
So why did Alex’s father David (Kukla) Kafri refuse to talk of his family? “My guess is that my father didn’t want to talk about his family because it
was torturous to his conscious that he couldn’t help his parents escape from the Holocaust. To my knowledge he had a guilty conscious about their fate because he abandoned them,” says Alex. “My father came to Israel in 1920 at age 20. He was one of the organizers of a group of Lithuanian pioneers named “Achva”. They went between settlements and helped establish the land from building water towers to putting up dairy barns. According to the information I read about the group, I understood that the parents of these young pioneers were adamantly against their Aliya to Israel as it disrupted their studies. It’s logical to say perhaps my father also went without his parent’s consent and there were actually incidents where parents in Lithuania sat ‘Shiva’ (in mourning as if they were dead) for their children that went to Israel under those circumstances. It’s possible that it also hurt him having to leave his parents on bad terms before their bitter end. Today I regret that I wasn’t more stubborn in bringing up this topic, clarifying and gathering more information about the family.”