Sonia Warshawski was born in 1925 in eastern Poland. During her teenage years, she survived three death camps: Majdanek, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Bergen-Belsen. At Majdanek, through a peephole, she caught the last glimpse of her mother as her mother went to the gas chambers. Sonia was fifteen years old. One day at Auschwitz-Birkenau, to avoid being sent to the chambers, she hid in a pile of discarded prisoners’ clothes, holding her breath as guards poked the pile with their rifles. At Bergen-Belsen, as the British were liberating the camp in April 1945, she was shot through the shoulder. “I thought I was going to die,” she told me.
Today, at 93 years old, Sonia lives and works in Kansas City, running a tailor shop she opened with her husband some 38 years ago. She works six days a week.