Sample Clips

Sonia Klein

Sonia Klein (née Joskowicz) was born on June 16, 1925 in Warsaw, Poland. Her parents Itzack and Jospa Joskowicz, ran a family business selling fruit, vegetables, wood, and coal. Sonia was the oldest of three children; she had a sister and a brother. Before the war, she attended a public school and aspired to be a teacher.

When the war broke out in September 1939, Sonia’s family home was destroyed during the bombardment of Warsaw, and together with her parents and siblings she moved in with distant relatives until the ghetto was established in the city, in 1940. While in the ghetto, Sonia fell ill with typhoid. As rumors about deportations to Treblinka spread in early 1943, Itzack, together with other fellow ghetto inhabitants, built an underground bunker of 75-person capacity. When the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began on April 19, 1943, the Joskowicz family was hiding in the bunker. German tanks arrived to suppress the the revolt, and roundups of Jews began. The family was discovered by German soldiers, arrested, and deported to the Majdanek concentration camp. Sonia’s mother and 10-year old brother were separated from the rest of the family upon arrival, never to be seen again. Sonia and her sister soon parted with their father, transferred to Auschwitz II-Birkenau. Itzack remained in Majdanek and was murdered the next day. From Birkenau , Sonia and her sister were transferred to Auschwitz I, in October 1944, and in January 1945 they were taken to the Ravensbrück concentration camp in Germany. As the Allied armed forces drew near, they were transferred again, to the Taucha concentration camp and eventually taken out of the camp on a forced march. The prisoners were set free when the territory was liberated by the American army in April 1945.

In June 1945, Sonia married Joseph Klein; they had a son, Alan. The couple lived in Mittenwald in Bavaria and immigrated to the United States, in December 1949. They settled in Buffalo, New York, where Sonia worked in a catering business. The family moved to North Miami Beach, FL in the 1980s.

The interview was conducted on February 6, 1996 in North Miami Beach, FL, United States; interviewer: Bonnie Slavin; videographer: Abraham Olman.