Oral History

Sophie Turner-Zaretsky describes feeling different from other Polish children

Sophie was born Selma Schwarzwald to parents Daniel and Laura in the industrial city of Lvov, two years before Germany invaded Poland. Daniel was a successful businessman who exported timber and Laura had studied economics. The Germans occupied Lvov in 1941. After her father's disappearance on her fifth birthday in 1941, Sophie and her mother procured false names and papers and moved to a small town called Busko-Zdroj. They became practicing Catholics to hide their identities. Sophie gradually forgot that she was Jewish. It was not until after their liberation and move to London that Sophie learned the truth about her past.


I was a child like most of the other children except that my father was not around and I knew that something bad, actually I did know that something bad had happened to him because I remember the day before my fifth birthday when he didn't come home. And prior to that I remember also there had been a roundup in the building where we lived. It was in Lvov, before we left for Busko-Zdroj and I remember the Germans coming up the staircase with the loud boots and yelling. It was always very noisy. So, in Busko I did know that I was, I knew that I was different than the other children because I had no family, particularly I had no father. Although other children's fathers were also away and they were either fighting with the partisans or they had gone to Russia or they'd been killed by the Germans. However, I really couldn't raise any questions. I didn't ask any questions. I knew we shouldn't talk about it. I knew I shouldn't talk about the fact that I didn't have grandparents, which other children had. No family.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection

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