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Sophie Weisz

Valea-lui-Mihai, Romania

Sophie was born to a prosperous Jewish family in a village near the Hungarian border known for its winemaking and carriage wheel industries. The village had many Jewish merchants. Her father owned a lumber yard. Sophie loved to dance in the large living room of their home as her older sister, Agnes, played the piano.

1933-39: My father believed in a Jewish homeland and sent money to Palestine to plant trees and establish settlements there. When I was 10, I was sent to a school in nearby Oradea because our village had only elementary schools. I missed my family, but studied hard, and swam and ice skated for fun. Though we heard about the roundups of Jews after the Germans invaded Poland in 1939, we felt safe in Romania.

1940-44: Hungary annexed our region in 1940; by mid-1941 they'd joined the German forces. We were forced into the Oradea ghetto in May 1944, and then deported to Auschwitz. In August my mother, sister and I were moved hundreds of miles north to Stutthof on the Baltic coast for forced labor. The prisoners were asked to entertain the German soldiers at Christmas; I danced to the music of the ballet Coppelia in a costume fashioned from gauze and paper. I earned extra food for this, and shared it with my sister Agnes.

Sophie and her sister escaped while on a forced march in February 1945. Her mother and father perished in the camps. In February 1949 Sophie emigrated to the United States.

 

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