Just like any other lifelong friends would, two women spent days sipping wine and laughing together. No one would have thought that the last time they saw each other was on a schoolyard amid Nazi Germany’s reign.
Ilse and Anne Marie became friends at the age of 6 years old. They enjoyed taking part in ballet together and playing dress-up.
However, during this dark time in Germany, Jewish kids weren’t allowed to participate in activities other children would enjoy. That being said, the girls didn’t quite grasp why this was happening.
Betty Grebenshikoff and Ana María Wahrenberg.│Source: youtube.com/NBCNews
It was only when the infamous Kristallnacht (the night of broken glass) occurred in the late 1930s that the horrifying reality of their situation truly came to light.
Soon enough, Anne Marie became Ana María Wahrenberg while Ilse became Betty Grebenschikoff; names used to escape the country they once called home.
On Kristallnacht, Nazis ran rampant through the German nation. They obliterated stores owned by Jewish individuals and places of worship. They also arrested them simply for being Jewish. Grebenschikoff expressed:
“That night, I understood why my Aryan friends had turned against me, threw stones at me, and called me a dirty Jew.”
The last time the best friends saw each other was on a playground in 1939, when they hugged each other goodbye, both fleeing with their families to different parts of the globe.
Wahrenberg landed up in South America in Santiago, Chile, while Grebenschikoff and her family found their way to Shanghai, China.
They made up one of the 20,000 Jewish individuals who found themselves in this nation. Eventually, however, Grebenschikoff found her way to New Jersey in Florida, where she settled down.
Betty Grebenshikoff. │Source: youtube.com/Global News
They continuously searched for one another, although both Grebenschikoff and Wahrenberg assumed that the other was most likely dead.
However, Ita Gordon, who works for the USC Shoah Foundation as a cataloguer and indexer, managed to help the long-lost friends.
The indexer found the women’s stories and managed to put two and two together, ultimately allowing Grebenschikoff and Wahrenberg to reconnect after 80 long years.
Finally, both at 91 years olds and after speaking online, the two reunited in person at a Florida hotel on 5 November 2021, instantly clicking. Jennifer Grebenschikoff, who is the 70-year-old daughter to Grebenschikoff, said:
“All of us were just stunned to watch the two women connect so quickly and start laughing like they were still 9 years old.”
The two best friends spent four beautiful days together drinking wine, laughing, and shopping. They now keep in constant contact with one another – a testament to the enduring nature of friendship.