In My Own Words with Claire Soria
Sunday, Jun 27 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pmFree
In 1940, Claire Soria was only 5 years old when the Germans invaded Belgium. She remembers watching the Nazi troops and tanks parading through the streets of Brussels a few days after her fifth birthday to replace the Belgian flags with the red, white, and black Nazi banners in their place.
Her parents had to stop going to work, were forbidden from some public places, and could only shop during certain hours. Though her youth shielded her from much of the discrimination adults experienced, she sensed a shift. Her kindergarten friends were afraid to be seen playing with a girl wearing a yellow star, but Claire didn’t understand the connection. Her parents soon realized the stars made it easier for people to report the Jews to the authorities and they knew they had to take action.
Fearing arrest, they asked their Catholic neighbors to shelter her. Claire’s mother found a Christian couple, Lambert and Lea Sabaux, willing to take Claire, and hide her from the Nazis. They were an elderly catholic couple who could pass Claire off as their granddaughter.
Claire’s close-knit relatives split up and hid among several non-Jewish households. They felt that dividing up gave them a better chance to survive. They did the best they could to sneak out to visit Claire. On her 6th birthday, Claire’s father gave her a sewing basket that he inscribed with the words, “to my daughter Clara on her birthday, your papa Nathan.” Claire still has this treasure and keeps all the letters she was sent to remember her family.
Sadly, one by one, her family members were captured and sent to Auschwitz where both her parents were killed.
The Sabauxes cherished Claire and raised her as their own. After the war, the law required Claire to live with her Aunt who would not allow her to see the “grandma and grandpa” she loved. Her aunt sent her away to summer camp to spend time with children her age, and then, at age 13, to the U.S. She didn’t speak English and was several years behind in school. Claire recalls those as some of her darkest days.
Claire eventually married and had three children. She has six grandkids and two great-grandchildren. Grandma’s piano lessons paid off. Claire followed in her footsteps and became a piano teacher.
Hear Claire share her story of survival live.