Sophie Weisz

Sophie Weisz

Born: February 23, 1927

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: Sophie's father believed in a Jewish homeland and sent money to Palestine to plant trees and establish settlements there. When she was 10, she was sent to a school in nearby Oradea because their village had only elementary schools. She missed her family, but studied hard, and swam and ice skated for fun. Though they heard about the roundups of Jews after the Germans invaded Poland in 1939, they felt safe in Romania.

1940-44: Hungary annexed Sophie's region in 1940; by mid-1941 they'd joined the German forces. Her family was forced into the Oradea ghetto in May 1944, and then deported to Auschwitz. In August Sophie, her mother and sister 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; Sophie danced to the music of the ballet Coppelia in a costume fashioned from gauze and paper. She earned extra food for this, and shared it with her 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 immigrated to the United States.

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