Come take this giant leap with me
Into the other world..the other place
And trace the eclipse of humanity.
Where children burned while mankind stood by,
And the universe has yet to learn why
...Has yet to learn why.
- Sonia Weitz, from her poem, "For Yom Ha'Shoah"
Sonia Weitz passed away on June 23, 2010. We mourn the loss of our longtime friend. She was a Holocaust survivor, a poet, and an inspiration to so many teachers and students. We will miss her beauty, grace, and kindness. Her poetry is read in Facing History classrooms across the world. Below is a link to the eulogy by Rabbi David Klatzker of Temple Ner Tamid, Peabody, Massachusetts.
Sonia Schreiber Weitz was born in 1928 in Krakow, Poland, where she lived a "modest but comfortable" life in the Jewish section of the city. Her mother, Adela Finder Schreiber, was a dedicated housewife and her father, Janek (Jacob) Schreiber, was a middle-class businessman who owned a small leather goods shop. Sonia was only eleven when the Germans invaded Poland.
In 1941, Sonia and her family were forced to enter the Kraków ghetto. Her mother was taken from the ghetto and sent to the Belzec death camp, where she was killed. In 1943, Sonia, her older sister Blanca, and their father, were sent to Plaszów, a slave labor camp south of Kraków. Though she still had Blanca at her side, Sonia was separated from her father in the camp. In December, 1944, the two sisters were transferred to Auschwitz. They would never see their father again. Sonia and Blanca were forced to march across Poland and Germany to Bergen-Belsen. They were transported in cattle cars to Venusberg and ultimately, Mauthausen, where after years of suffering, they were liberated in May of 1945 by American troops. Having Blanca by her side throughout the horrific experiences of the Holocaust was crucial to Sonia's survival. Blanca would ultimately serve as a role model and mother figure in Sonia's life.
Sonia and Blanca are the only two surviving members of her entire family. For three years Sonia lived in displaced persons camps across Austria. It is during this period that Sonia wrote many of the poems found in I Promised I Would Tell, her poetic memoir of her experiences in the Holocaust. She moved to Peabody, Massachusetts in 1948 with Blanca and Blanca's husband, Norbert. Sonia later married Dr. Mark Weitz and raised a family. Always an activist, she founded the Holocaust Center Boston North with Harriet Tarnor Wacks in 1981. Today, Sonia touches thousands of students through her book and her speaking engagements. I Promised I Would Tell is used in classrooms all over the world, from the U.S. to China and Pakistan. She has begun a new initiative, the Holocaust Legacy Partners project, so that survivor testimony will never be lost.
- I Promised I Would Tell. In this powerful Holocaust memoir, Sonia Weitz tells her story through poetry and testimony. Her words give life to the millions of children, men and women who were murdered in Europe because they were Jews. The book is available for purchase or free download from Facing History and Ourselves' website.
- The Holocaust Center: Boston North Inc. is located in Peabody, Massachusetts, and directed by Harriet Wacks and Sonia Weitz. The Center strives to document and to preserve history; to reduce hatred, prejudice, ignorance and indifference through education; and to prevent future tragedies through the study of the universal lessons of this period.
- Additional poems by Sonia Weitz. Sonia's poetry has touched the hearts of thousands of students and educators around the world.
- Present Memories. Sonia Weitz is one of six survivors of the Holocaust profiled in this 55-minute film. A transcript of Sonia's clip is also available.
Each individual who survived the Holocaust has a unique story based on his or her own set of circumstances. The following video clips introduce us to Sonia Weitz, a remarkable author, poet and survivor of the Holocaust. Thousands of Facing History and Ourselves teachers and students have had the honor of hearing Sonia's story.