Saul Dreier is a Holocaust survivor who thought he lost his entire family during the World War II murder of millions by the Nazi regime. After almost 70 years of thinking he was alone, he was able to locate his cousin thanks to the American Red Cross and its international family tracing services.
Dreier’s story is part of the Red Cross Stories effort in which people tell their own personal story about how the Red Cross was able to help them.
A resident of Coconut Creek, Florida, Dreier found his cousin, Lucy Weinberg, a resident of Montreal, Canada, after Red Cross caseworkers scoured records from the former Holocaust and War Victims Tracing Center and more than 180 Red Cross societies around the world for clues. Finally Weinberg was located in Montreal and the cousins were able to reunite after many years.
Each left Europe after the war thinking the other had died during the Holocaust. They settled in different countries, married, had children and led their lives. The two had grown up in Krakow, Poland, last seeing each other during World War II when their families were forced into a ghetto, then deported to concentration camps.
“I was held at Schindler’s camp and for many years believed I was the only survivor in our family,” Dreier said. “It was very hard.”
Dreier watched his mother get on a train that took her to a crematorium and his two brothers and sister also perished. He eventually was sent to the concentration camp at Plaszow, the same camp to which Weinberg and her mother were sent. Dreier was then sent to a concentration camp in Austria which was liberated by troops from the United States. He first traveled to Italy, and came to the United States in 1949 where he married and raised a family.
Some years later, he learned that his cousin may have also survived and was determined to find her. He worked with several Holocaust assistance groups but they couldn’t find his cousin. It was only when he asked the American Red Cross for help that the search was successful.
HOLOCAUST AND WAR VICTIMS TRACING So many years after World War II, the pain of being separated from family still affects many. The American Red Cross Holocaust and War Victims Tracing Center was closed in November 2012 but through its national Restoring Family Links program, the Red Cross continues to help residents of the United States search for information about loved ones missing since the Holocaust.
The tracing services are free of charge and utilize the worldwide network of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, the Magen David Adom in Israel, as well as museums, archives and international organizations to help find information about someone’s loved one.
HOW TO BEGIN YOUR SEARCH If someone is interested in trying to find a loved one, they can contact their local Red Cross chapter. These searches are complex and can take a year or more to find results. Information has been found in more than 79 percent of cases such as documentation outlining deportation to another country, or in some, confirmation of death. Some, like Saul Dreier, have been lucky to find their loved ones and reunite after so many years of separation.