Sonja Jaslowitz was born in a small village in Romania on the 6 April 1927. Her parents, Lotte and Adolf, were well-educated German-speaking Jews. Sonja had one brother, Hörst, who later became known as Harry. Harry was sent to study in England in the late 1930s.
Following the start of the Second World War, Sonja, Lotte, and Adolf were deported from their home in Czernowitz to a concentration camp in Transnistria. In total, they were sent through two camps and a ghetto before being released in 1944.
Throughout this awful experience, Sonja expressed herself through poems and other creations. One example of this can be seen in her description of the conditions of the Tiraspol Ghetto, in a poem of the same name:
'We’re giving you one last chance If you have a lot of money Empty your pockets Don’t tell anyone Otherwise you’ll be sorry As soon as we took the money from our pockets The matter was resolved The poor guy who had nothing Will be sent in your place And that’s how things worked'
Sonja, Lotte and Adolf were released from the ghetto sometime between 17-19 March 1944, and from there travelled to Bucharest. Tragically, Sonja was killed by a British bombing raid on the 7 May 1944, just one month after her seventeenth birthday. Shortly after, her father Adolf contracted tuberculosis and also passed away. Lotte travelled to England alone and re-joined Sonja’s brother Harry, where he had trained as a doctor.
A full account of Sonja’s tragic, powerful, and compelling story – with further examples of her poetry and other creations – can be found via the PDF link.
Sonja’s story features as part of The Holocaust Explained, a website run by The Wiener Holocaust Library, which aims to teach schoolchildren about the Holocaust.
We hope that by sharing Sonja’s story her character and legacy will live on, educating children across the world about the Holocaust and the Second World War, which so cruelly took her life.
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