PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — At age 91, St. Petersburg resident Betty Grebenschikoff is living a life that’s been inspiring, tragic, but most of all resilient.

Escaping Nazi Germany with her family when she was just 9 years old, she’s never forgotten what, or more specifically who, she left behind.

The who was Anna Marie Wahrenberg. 

What You Need To Know

  • Betty Grebenschikoff and Anna Marie Wahrenberg were childhood friends in Germany

  • Recently reconnected after not seeing each other since before start of WW II

  • Florida Holocaust Museum

“She was my best friend in Germany, in Berlin from the age of six till we were nine,” Betty said. “We said goodbye to each other in the schoolyard

“My father took me there and her father brought her and we had a very difficult…well because we didn’t want to leave each other. We promised to keep in touch with each other forever. We didn’t.”

And life went on.

Meeting new people, making new friends, but Betty never forgot her first friend and spoke about Anna Marie over the years in her testimonials as a survivor. Betty assumed she was dead.

That is until last fall.

“Some wonderful person at the Shoah Foundation.”, Betty said, “She somehow by chance listened to a testimony given by someone in South America in Chile and that person was Anna Marie Wahrenberg.”

It was a one in a million chance connection Florida Holocaust museum officials say was more than 80 years in the making.

“It shows that not only the importance of testimony which is incredibly important but the importance of partnership of all of our organizations working together,” said Florida Holocaust Museum executive director Elizabeth Gelman, “The museum in Chile, the museum in Florida and the Shoah Foundation.”

Betty and Anna Marie have a standing virtual date every Sunday now, catching up on 80 years.

They plan to reunite in person in September. A reunion that something even as heinous as the Holocaust could not prevent.

“It’s the fulfilling of a dream. It’s a rainbow. It’s the end of the rainbow,” Betty said. “It’s a gift I can’t even tell you how wonderful it is. 

“I always had that feeling like I had lost something special and here I found it again.”