Chaim Motzen was intrigued when he read about a pendant excavated at a Nazi death camp with a possible link to Anne Frank. Engraved with "mazel tov"—"good luck" in Hebrew—the little charm belonged to Karoline Cohn, a 14-year-old Jewish girl killed at Sobibor. Motzen, an amateur genealogist, set out to find Karoline's family and discovered several branches, from the US and Israel to Nicaragua and Japan, the Times of Israel and Time report. On Monday, more than 30 of those relatives will meet in Germany to dedicate a stolpersteine, or "stumbling stone," a brass memorial plaque at Karoline's last known address in Frankfurt. Many of the girl's family members have never met, and some had no idea they lost relatives in the Holocaust. "We had this person who was completely forgotten," Motzen tells the Times.
"Through this pendant people are learning about each other and their history, and about Karoline," he says. Motzen's first clue about Karoline's roots came when he dug up testimony online that her mother's cousin had given to Yad Vashem in 1978, per Time. From there, he found the grandchildren of her uncle. When he phoned Mandy Eisemann, 46, the daughter of Karoline's first cousin, in Maryland, she cried. Then she phoned her dad, Barry Eisemann, 72, whose own father escaped the Nazis but kept mum about the family history. "He kept it from me to protect me," he tells Time. "The emotions he experienced then, I'm feeling now." Barry Eisemann is "excited, but a little nervous" about meeting newly found relatives at the reunion. But he adds, "I think this is what Karoline would have wanted." (A letter buried at Auschwitz was finally published.)