10/12/2018
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Finding 'lost' family members - DNA case study

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Pauline Ocimek took a DNA test and thanks to a DNA match, was contacted by a Polish cousin, leading to her find the Polish family her father had lost during World War Two.

Pauline spoke to Family Tree about her research journey, during which she went from being part of a family of five, to discovering dozens of relatives in Poland and meeting the family her father thought he had lost forever. From the age of around ten, Pauline was aware that her dad was Polish and that he had been separated from his family during the Second World War. But what she was unaware of was that his relatives back in Poland had been trying to find him, with her father’s mother sending thousands of letters to the Red Cross in the hope of locating her missing son.

Family memories

As a young girl Pauline was aware that her father Stanislaw had come to Kirkcaldy in the 1940s, met a local girl (Pauline's mother) and settled in Scotland. She recalls her father always carrying around a photo of his little sister back in Poland, but during Stanislaw's lifetime the family were sadly never able to find his Polish family, despite years of searching. Stanislaw had been forced to join the German army during the war and lost contact with his beloved family.

After her father’s death, Pauline believed it was unlikely she would ever solve the puzzle of his past. But one day she came across MyHeritage, and decided to type in her family name and her grandparents’ names. Immediately, she got a Smart Match™ to two MyHeritage users in Poland.

The DNA journey begins

Within minutes Pauline was in touch with her father's family and she and her new-found cousin soon worked out the connection. It turned out that the house where Stanislaw had grown up had been destroyed during the war and so any communications to that residence were not delivered. The family may have presumed that Stanislaw was dead but he was always in their minds, and in fact he and his mother actually died within weeks of each other – Stanislaw in January 1989 and his mother in May of that year.

In the summer of 2014, Pauline traveled to Poland with her husband David and she was taken meet her cousin Christina who was living in the same house that her father grew up in.

Since that initial contact, Pauline has visited Poland twice more, meeting her father’s sister, the little girl in the photo, before she passed away. The link was further reinforced when it turned out that Pauline had been named after Stanislaw’s mother Paulina. Pauline was able to welcome one of her father’s brothers to Scotland in 2017 and helped him to place a marble plaque engraved in Polish at her father’s grave.

Despite years of research, Pauline has been unable to find out why her father went to Scotland in World War II, and the work that he might have carried out. If anyone is able to help they are invited to email MyHeritage to be put in touch with Pauline.

To find out more about the MyHeritage DNA test, visit their website.

 

Discover more about what DNA could do for your family history at the DNA hub of Family Tree Live.

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