Misha Defonseca always had an affinity with animals.
Her house was full of pet cats. Several wolf-themed clocks hung on her kitchen wall and her shelves were cluttered with wolf figurines.
So when she got up on stage at the Temple Beth Torah in Holliston, Massachusetts, on Holocaust Remembrance Day in 1989 or 1990 and told her extraordinary tale of survival, no one doubted her story.
Why would they? It was so unbelievable it had to be true.
“I was, like, mesmerised,” her neighbour Karen Schulman, who witnessed the speech, says in the new Netflix documentary, Misha and The Wolves.
“People never knew about her being a Holocaust survivor. I had tears in my eyes. She was hungry. She was cold. She was lonely. She wanted her parents. How did this person survive?”
Watch the trailer for Netflix's Misha and The Wolves. Post continues below.
Misha told the enraptured crowd she was just seven years old when her resistance-fighting parents were captured by the Nazis in Belgium in 1940 and deported to Germany. Like many 'hidden children' from that time, Misha was taken in by a local Catholic family, who changed her name to Monique De Wael and pretended she was one of their own.
One night, Misha's foster grandfather showed her a map and told the young girl her parents were in Germany, which was east of Belgium.
A few days later, Misha left her new home in Brussels with a compass, a knife, some food and some drinking water, and started walking east towards Germany. She was determined to find her parents.
Misha told the crowd gathered that day she spent years walking through the forest, alone, with only animals for company.
While millions of Jewish people were loaded onto trains and transported to concentration camps, Misha walked alone in the forest, dreaming of the day when she would finally be reunited with her parents.
When the walk became difficult, she told herself that she would find her parents alive at the end of her journey, after all, if she could survive this as a child, surely they would survive too?
One day, Misha was sitting on the forest floor, eating some food, when she felt someone watching her. She turned to see a large wolf, a short distance away, calmly surveying her.
The wolf came closer, and she gave it some food.
When she continued on her walk, the wolf came with her. Misha said it was soon joined by a whole pack of wolves, who calmly followed her on her journey and protected her.