Born: July 14, 1930
Often known as Sanyi, Sandor was born to religious Jewish parents in a small city in Transylvania, a province that had been ruled by Hungary until 1918. During the 1930s his home city was renamed I.G. Duca in honor of a slain Romanian leader. The fourth of six children, Sandor was also known by his Hebrew name, Yitzhak. The Brauns knew Yiddish, Hungarian, Romanian and Hebrew.
1933-39: Before Sandor's fourth birthday, a babysitter took him on an outing into the forest. When she fell asleep he wandered away. Some Roma (Gypsies) found and took care of him. He loved their music; he wanted a violin of his own. Three days later they returned him to his distraught parents. For Sandor's next birthday he was given a small violin and began music lessons. He practiced whenever he could. His mother said he practiced too much.
1940-45: Deported by the Germans in May 1944 [to Auschwitz and then to Kochendorf], Sandor eventually ended up in Dachau, where an SS guard, promising extra food, entered his barracks with a violin, asking if anyone could play. Three people, including Sandor, volunteered. The first played well, but their work boss smashed his skull with an iron pipe. The second, too scared to play, was kicked to death. Then the violin was handed to Sandor. He paused as the work boss gripped his iron pipe. Without thinking, he played the "Blue Danube"; this pleased the SS guard. Sandor got the extra ration.
On April 29, 1945, Sandor was liberated in Dachau by American troops. In 1950 he immigrated to the United States, where he became a composer and a professional violinist.