She was born in Rohatyn in 1904 - a bustling town in eastern Galicia under the Austro-Hungarian Empire - to a large, well established family of merchants.
She would be educated in the finest European universites, studying and later teaching German language and literature. She would leave all she loved - family and homeland - for Palestine in 1936.
I already knew quite a bit about Bronia's life from many years of research. But it was a nagging mystery to me why after emigrating in the 1950s to New York from Palestine (by then, Israel), would she at age 60 return to Israel? As far as I knew, she had no family and no friends still living there.
What pulled her back?
So, I contacted a friend who went to the Israeli National Archives to pull Bronia's probate file.
From Bronia's Last Will and Testament, I learn that she left all her personal possessions to a woman in Israel named Hana. No other individuals were named. No other assets remained other than what was in Bronia's apartment at the time of her death in 1992.
From this lead, I find Hana, aged 99. Sadly, she has advanced Alzheimer's, but Hana's daughter remembers my Bronia. And she knows why Hana was named as sole heir: Hana's older sister Lotte was Bronia's oldest and dearest friend.
1924 - 1926: Bronia is a student at the University of Lwow. Galicia is now under Polish rule.
Lotte is also a student.
They are both studying in the foreign language and literature department. They both concentrate on German.
A friendship that would last 65 years, begins.
So, through Dalia, Lotte's niece, I learn about Bronia and Lotte and their lives, their loves, and their friendship.
Lotte was born in 1905 in Tłuste, not far from Rohatyn, and the two women probably first met while students in Lwow. Being in the same department (Philology), they share classes. No doubt they also share memories of growing up in pre-War Galicia, and perhaps also, common friends back home.
After graduating from University of Lwow, Bronia heads to Vienna to "deepen her study of German language".
By 1929, Bronia has begun her graduate studies at the prestigious Jagiellonian University in Kraków.
The next year, Lotte follows.
Both are again together in the Philology Department.
Kraków to meet with the University archivist.
There are hundreds of pages of records for my Bronia in their files, and they include her handwritten graduate school application, her CV, her classes, her professors, and even post-graduate work applications and correspondence.
A snapshot of her life from 1929-31.
And, Lotte is there too.
A Directory was published by the University listing all the Jewish students attending in the inter-War period, 1918-1939.
Bronisława Hornówna of Rohatyn
And, an entry for Lotte:
Lotti Krämerówna of Tłuste
Kraków while graduate students.
I visit ul. Bozego Milosierdzia 4 and ul. Wolska 15 where my Bronia lived between 1929 and 1932.
Later, using google maps, I connect the distances between Bronia's house and Lotte's house. Never far from each other.
The University archive also has Bronia's 50-page master's thesis on the "Problems in the Dramas of Gerhardt Hauptmann”. It is written in German.
I feel Bronia here with me as I scan the fine, even, delicate penmanship written by her in 1931.
While Lotte finishes her graduate work, my Bronia accepts a job near her apartment as an apprentice teacher at A. Witkowskiego Gimnazjum, a Polish-German school for boys.
It remains a school even today, though co-ed.
1932-36: the complicated years.
I feel Bronia is happy because she is doing what she loves: working as a teacher at Marshal Jozef Piłsudzki school, located 50 kilometers from Kraków in the posh spa town of Busko-Zdroj.
But also sad because with Hitler's rise to power in 1933, Bronia (and Lotte) will soon thereafter choose to leave family and homeland forever.
During these years, there are big life events for both women.
Lotte marries a man surnamed Margulies whose father was born in Rohatyn, like Bronia.
Perhaps this is no coincidence.
Lotte then emigrates to Palestine.
In 1936, Bronia leaves for Palestine as well, marrying a childhood friend from Rohatyn, 10 years her junior. Jakub (or Kuba as he was affectionately known) had a sister married to Bronia's older brother David.
Kuba had been to Palestine and had returned to Rohatyn that year to convince his sister and her family to emigrate. It was no longer safe for Jews in Nazi Europe.
He could only convince Bronia to leave with him.
Bronia makes the difficult decision to leave with Kuba, relinquishing her job and her Polish nationality, leaving behind her Rohatyn family and friends, forever separating from her homeland.
Bronia would never return to Rohatyn.
And she would never again see the rest of her family who stayed in town. By 1943, they would all be killed in the Holocaust.
Within a year after arriving in Palestine, Bronia and Kuba divorce. They remain lifelong friends - in Israel and later in New York when Kuba is re-married and with a family.
In 1998, I speak to Kuba on the telephone. He is 84 years old. He cries throughout our long conversation confiding and insisting that he married my Bronia in 1936 out of love. I know that. And I love him for that.
He saved her life.
So, in Palestine life continues, for Bronia, for Lotte, and for Kuba.
Of this period, I know little of Bronia's life except that she never re-marries.
In 1955 she emigrates to America.
In April 1961, she obtains American citizenship and is living in New York City at 320 West 89th St.
Sometime after 1961, my Bronia returns to Israel where she lives until 1992. In the the last years of her life, a resident of the Vera Solomon Home for the Aged, she is withdrawn; sad; unable to make friends.
This is what Dalia remembers.
In October 2012, a package arrives from Dalia. It contains a silver-plated nut dish (with a broken handle) and a bookmark. Both had belonged to Bronia which Dalia's mother, Hana - sister to Lotte - had inherited. The bookmark was made by Bronia.
About a month later, a second package from Dalia arrives. It contains a delicate, sheer, black dress.
A perfect fit for me.
The dress had been made by Lotte for Bronia in the 1930s.
A black dress not very different from that worn by my Bronia in a 1932 photo.
Now I am your friend, too.
Bronia and Lotte: best friends in the 1920s.
Thank you, Dalia. 85 years later - you, a niece, me, a great-grand niece - we find each other.
And, through our discovery, we reconstruct the timeless and profound friendship of our Bronia and Lotte.