Sonia Glazer

As Interviewed by Jonathan Sadun, March 6, 2011
"On September 1, 1939, the Russians walked into our city."
Sonia Glazer

Introductory Profile: About Sonia Glazer

In 1939, Germany and Russia signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, which divided up Poland and many other European countries between the two. Soon after, they invaded Poland, the USSR from the east and Germany from the west. World War II had started. Nazi Germany ruthlessly slaughtered millions of people, especially Jews. Anti-Semitism was rising rapidly. The Russians slaughtered tens of thousands of army officers and imprisoned factory owners. Even more citizens were deported to Siberia. My grandmother, Sonia Glazer, was one of these deportees. In this interview, she tells of her childhood experiences with anti-Semitism and her deportation to Siberia, in what is now northern Kazakhstan.

My grandmother was born as Zofia Tarasiejska in Wilno, Poland in 1931. In 1939, her father was imprisoned for supposedly exploiting workers. She, her mother, sister, and aunt were deported to Siberia. They spent five years there, during which time they were joined by her father. However, her sister, Esther, died. At the end of the war, the USSR returned all of the deportees to Poland. There, her family lived for a couple of years before escaping the anti-Semitism by moving to Belgium. Here she learned her fourth language, French, and finished her education, getting a PhD in chemistry. Later, she moved to the US, where she got a job researching at a hospital in Massachusetts. A coworker and friend, Norma Glazer, introduced her to her future husband, Allan Glazer, on a blind date. Sonia and Allan lived for many years in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, having three children, all of whom now have three children themselves.

My grandfather died in 1991. Today, my grandmother teaches chemistry at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. She is a very active woman, especially for her age. She enjoys hiking and skiing and travels quite often. My grandmother enjoys often visiting her children and grandchildren, and always keeps in touch. Although practicing Jewish traditions and rituals is a very important part of her life, she is not a very religious or spiritual person. She takes a very practical and scientific view on life. She has clearly made a strong point of remembering these stories, as I only had to ask a few questions to get her started on the whole story.