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 ended up going to high school. Now in England at 11, you took an examination called...it was called the eleven plus, to determine what kind of a high school you were going to go to. And since I had only just arrived in England I really couldn't take it, but they decided that they would give me a chance to go to the grammar school, which was the school that prepared you for university, on a trial basis. And at that school there were prayers according to different religions. This was a public school, a regular school. So, I was put in the Jewish, with the Jewish girls, which was--met in the library. The rest of the school which was Protestant, met in the main, big room. I think it was the gym. And then there was a separate group, Catholics, a small group, also met in a separate room. So I went to the, to the Jewish, every morning there was prayers. It was a little factual stuff, a little prayers. And I still didn't feel comfortable. But at the end I ended up, it's so ironic, as the "senior Jewess." The senior Jewess was the one who led the program. So when I became a senior I became the one, of all people, to have to do the program. I had to rack my brains what to do. I did pretty well in high school. I applied myself. I mean there was not much else going on in my life so I studied and ended up getting into medical school and eventually coming here.