The discovery of "two partially intact stone walls and other signs of habitation" within the Grotto piqued his team's interest. Locals told the team about a group of Ukrainian Jews that had lived in the caves, but whether there were any survivors remained a mystery. Nicola devoted the next decade of his life to figuring out the full story, until he finally "located six of the cave survivors, most of them members of the extended Stermer family."
In an interview with National Geographic Adventure, Nicola explained what made the cave dwellers' story so special. "The chance of a Jewish person surviving at all [in western Ukraine] was less than 5 percent. But what made this story different, and what is rarely seen in any Holocaust survival story, is how these families stayed virtually intact," Nicola is quoted as saying.
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