Jack and Oskar

An obituary in the Los Angeles Times brings us an extraordinary story of identical twins separated at birth. Jack Yufe passed away Monday at age 82. Jack and his identical twin Oskar Stohr were separated in infancy and grew up to lead lives that were in total opposition. It was a real-life version of The Parent Trap, without the humor.

Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on Jan. 16, 1933, they were 6 months old when their parents split up.

Oskar went to Germany with his Catholic mother, Elizabeth, and grew up as the Nazis rose to power. Like his fellow students, he greeted the school principal with “Heil, Hitler,” and was warned by his grandmother to never let on that his father, Joseph, was Jewish. As an act of survival, Oskar joined the Hitler Youth movement.

Years later, he confessed that he had dreamed that he shot down his twin in an aerial dogfight. Jack had a similar nightmare about killing Oskar with a bayonet.

For Jack, however, the war was a distant threat, experienced mainly through newsreels he saw growing up in Trinidad with their father. His childhood was difficult in other ways.

“As a white, red-headed boy in a predominantly black and Indian culture, he stood out a lot and was beat up a lot,” said his son, Kenneth. “He was constantly having to prove himself.” Luckily, he was highly competitive and and excelled athletically.

Jack knew he was Jewish but didn’t feel the weight of that identity until he was 15 and was sent to Venezuela to live with an aunt who had been in Dachau and was the only European relative on his father’s side to survive the Holocaust.

Jack went to Israel as a teenager and joined the Israeli Navy. The twins finally met each other in 1954. It was awkward and they didn’t reunite again for 25 years. But the similarities between the two, who had been separated for their entire lives, was uncanny. Read the whole story at the L.A. Times. -via Fark

You can see a segment on Jack and Oskar from a documentary on twin studies at YouTube.

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