Oral History

Sophie Turner-Zaretsky describes how her teddy bear came into her possession

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, I had a small teddy bear in my possession, which I have donated to the, to the Museum. And I am, there are two, two possible ways that I might have gotten the bear, I don't actually recollect a hundred percent. One of them may have been that it was bought for me, either for my birthday or Christmas. In the town that we lived, Busko, there was a shop which sold toys and I remember always looking at the toys, particularly at Christmas time, and longing for different things. And the other scenario may be that I got it after the war, just after the war, which would have been in 1945 or maybe in '46. My mother bought, at that time the Germans were fleeing out of Poland because we were liberated I think in January of, of '45, I'm not exactly sure. We were on the Russian-German front. We were liberated by the Russians and the front went forwards and backwards a little bit. The Germans left, they came back, they left. This I remember very vividly. And as the Germans fled they became, they were extremely impoverished so they sold things. And my mother went to a town called Szczecin where there was a German community. I'm not sure why, but she came back with a doll, and I really hadn't had a good doll in all these years, just a small rag doll-- which had blue eyes, which moved, and arms and legs that moved and it was about this high. And it may be that she also brought the teddy bear at that time. I did play with the doll a lot because it was something huggable. The bear was so tiny, that I think it stayed in very good condition for many years because I'm not sure that I played with it that much, although it has arms and legs that move as well. So it was a good quality bear.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection

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