Cousins, who survived the Holocaust, united after 70 years
Thirteen year-old Leon Schagrin made a promise to his father just before the Nazis shipped Leon’s entire family to Belzec for extermination. Leon promised to tell his family’s story as a cautionary tale to the world. Seventy years later Leon is keeping that promise in unexpected ways.
First, working with writer Stephen Shooster and editor Jim Boring, Leon’s story has been told in his biography, The Horse Adjutant. The International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen was an important resource in the research for the book. They provided key materials to confirm the specifics of the story and added depth to the research with original documents.
Recently a long lost cousin of Leon’s and fellow survivor of Auschwitz, Leo Adler, read “The Horse Adjutant” and was reunited with Leon. “This is the biggest, most important day of my life”, said Schagrin at their reunion. Leo is his only living close relative. The others were killed in the Holocaust.
Since Leon didn’t remember the last name of his cousin he could never look for him. The two were separated from each other in Auschwitz. They had both emigrated after the end of the Second World War and been living close by in South Florida for years. The story of their seventy-plus year separation was picked up by news agencies and newspapers around the world. “Slowly but surely Leon's promise to his father is being fulfilled”, said author Stephen Shooster.