Sonia Kofczyk Mantelmacher

I came from a family of eight, one of only two family members to survive the Holocaust. I have traveled a path of pain. As a young child in the fifth grade, my life began to change. Because I was Jewish, children at school beat me up, and I never received the good grades I deserved from my teachers.

As the roundups began in my town, my mother, sisters and I waited, fearful for the future. My mother forced me to leave so I would not be captured. This was the last time that I saw my mother.

Eventually, I went to concentration camps where I suffered horribly. I witnessed young boys digging their own graves. I worked twelve-hour days and had to steal potatoes just to control my hunger. I was chased by guards with water hoses after working twelve-hour night shifts. Once after being accused of stealing a basket of coffee, I was beaten up and almost drowned in a shower and was shown where I would be hung.

On January 16, 1945, I was liberated by the Russian army. My troubles, however, were not over. I could not return to my old house, because I did not have parents and so was then sent to an orphanage. Thirteen years later, I came to the United States and worked in a tailor shop. In July 1966, I married Max Mantelmacher. I have three sons and two grandchildren. I hope people will learn from my terrible experiences and begin to accept everyone.

Biography from the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Project, Monroe Community College
Photograph by Louis Ouzer