Twins Raised Apart Remarkably Similar, Other Than the Tiny Detail That One Was a Nazi

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Portrait of Twin Boys
Photo: Dazzo/Masterfile/Corbis

Jack Yufe and Oskar Stohr were identical twins who were separated from each other as babies, when their parents divorced. The boys were raised apart and did not meet again until they were 21. 

Yufe died earlier this week, at the age of 82, and the Los Angeles Times details the striking similarities he shared with his twin brother, though there was that one exception: Yufe was raised Jewish in Trinidad, whereas Stohr grew up in Germany, where he joined up with the Nazi movement as a teenager. 

As adults, Yufe and Stohr were the first twins to join what would become the Minnesota Twin Family Study, a long-term research project that has studied thousands of twins since it began in 1989. Through these studies, scientists have made discoveries about personality, disease inheritability, and intelligence. Yufe and Stohr were of particular interest since their childhood environments were so different.  

And yet, when they met, the young men were mostly weirded out by how alike they were. “They were a great example of how twins, despite different environments, ended up being very much alike,” Nancy Segal, a scientist who studied Yufe and Stohr as part of the Minnesota research project, told the Times

To wit: When the brothers met at a train station in Germany in 1954, they showed up with matching mustaches, sports jackets, and receding hairlines. “We had identical clothes. I got mine in Israel and he got his in Germany. Exactly the same color, with two buttons,” Yufe once said in a BBC documentary. “I said, ‘Oskar, you are wearing the same shirt and same glasses. Why?’ He said to me, ‘Why are you wearing same thing that I am?’ We didn’t like the fact we looked so identical.”

Later, they discovered odder and much more specific similarities: They both had the same “explosively loud” sneeze, and neither man would use a toilet without flushing it first. But rather than being drawn together by how much they had in common, the brothers were often annoyed by each other and were fiercely competitive. (Once, they fought over who was better at washing a car window, Yufe’s son, Kenneth, told the Times.) “They had an extraordinary love-hate relationship,” Segal said. “They were repelled and fascinated by each other.” Ah, brotherly love.