Oral History

Sophie Turner-Zaretsky describes what she would like people to think about when they see her teddy bear

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.


The bear is obviously something that I connect with my Polish past, which is a long time ago. But it resurfaces; particularly now with, with the opening of the Hidden Child exhibit, with this whole meeting I'm attending about that. With dealing with other people who went through this experience in Poland as well. So to say, what do I want people to think about, well, I guess it's to sum up what kind of sense can we make out of any of this that happened. And one of the most important things is that religion is really not important, it's important to have ethics and morals and live according to a code of behavior. But I was a Catholic, a practicing Catholic. I went to communion. I went to confession. Then, now I'm a Jew and I'm the same person. I mean what changed here?


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection

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