Sonia Schreiber Weitz Papers
Scope and Contents
This collection spans much of Sonia Weitz’s life, beginning with family photos taken prior to World War II and ending with news coverage of her death in 2010. The collection contains folders of correspondence, personal documents, news coverage, and poems and edited manuscripts. Also included in the collection are a group of Sonia’s personal photo albums, photos taken during her time at Displaced Persons camps, and speaking engagements she attended later in life. Also included are framed photos belonging to Sonia. Items of interest in the collection include handwritten poems, some in the original Polish; Sonia’s last poem, written shortly before her death in 2010; postcards commemorating the first anniversary of the liberation of Mauthausen; and dozens of Yad Vashem testimony documents submitted by Sonia.
Within the collection is an assortment of photos, including family photos, re-acquired after World War II. The oldest photo dates to around 1899 and is of Sonia’s grandmother and three of her children, including Sonia’s mother, Adela Finder. There are many photos taken between 1945 and 1950 that show Sonia, Blanca and Norbert in Displaced Persons camps and shortly after their arrival in America.
The correspondence series includes letters to and from Cardinal Bernard Law, anti-semitic hate mail, letters to the editor and communication for event planning and Sonia’s attempts at tracking down family photos and death certificates.
The documents series includes items such as her G.E.D, marriage license, notebooks and immigration forms.
The collection houses around forty-three years of news coverage, ranging from a 1967 trip to Israel with her family, her trip to Auschwitz with Cardinal Bernard Law, book tour lectures and performances of I Promise I Would Tell, as well as awards and honors received.
This collection would be beneficial for interests in Holocaust and Genocide studies, Polish studies, Poetry and Literature, Theater, World War II, and Judaic studies.
- 1899 - 2010
- Weitz, Sonia Schreiber (Person)
Biographical / Historical
Sonia Schreiber Weitz was born on August 27, 1928 in Kraków, Poland. Sonia, her older sister Blanca and their parents, Adela Finder Schreiber and Janek (Jacob/Jakub) Schreiber, lived in the Jewish section of Kraków, where Janek owned a small leather goods shop.
In 1941, the Schreiber family was relocated to the Kraków ghetto by German forces and Adela was taken to Belzec death camp, where she was killed. In 1943, Sonia and Blanca were removed from the ghetto and sent to Plaszów slave labor camp. Their father and Blanca’s husband, Norbert Borell, were sent to Mauthausen concentration camp, where their father was killed.
In December 1944, Blanca and Sonia were moved to Auschwitz, where they were forced on a death march to Bergen-Belsen and later taken by cattle car to Venus-Berg. The sisters were again moved, this time to Mauthausen, where they were liberated in May 1945. Sonia and Blanca survived five concentration camps and, out of an extended family of eighty-four, they were the only survivors of the Holocaust.
Following liberation, Sonia and Blanca were reunited with Norbert. The three lived in Displaced Persons camps until 1948 when they immigrated to America, settling in Peabody, Massachusetts with the assistance of Norbert’s uncle, Harry White. Sonia became a United States citizen a year later. On September 7, 1950, Sonia married Dr. Mark Weitz. The couple had three children, Don and twins Sandy and Andi.
After raising her children, Sonia focused on writing and activism. In 1981, she co-founded the Holocaust Center Boston North with Harriet Tarnor Wacks and later created the Holocaust Legacy Partners, which recorded and preserved the testimony of Holocaust survivors. In 1986, in an attempt to mend Boston’s Catholic-Jewish relations, she accompanied Cardinal Bernard Law on a trip to Auschwitz and her childhood home in Krakow.
Sonia’s aptitude for writing stemmed from her time in concentration and Displaced Persons camps, where she mentally penned many of the poems that appear in I Promised I Would Tell, which was published in 1993. Following the release of her book, she began offering lectures at area schools and touring the country, sharing her story. I Promise I Would Tell was later adapted into a play, which was performed at high schools and colleges across Massachusetts. In 2002, Sonia was appointed by President George W. Bush to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Over the next seven years, Sonia received many awards, including recognition by Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick.
Sonia Weitz died of cancer on June 23, 2010. She was 81.
6 Cubic Feet
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Part of the Salem State University Archives and Special Collections Repository
352 Lafayette St.
Salem MA 01970 United States