Sophia Gill

"Never forget, don’t let history repeat itself."

Name at birth
Sophia Ann Weinberg
Date of birth
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
Kalisz, Poland
Name of father, occupation
Maurice Weinberg, Owned a lace factory
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Gustava Weinberg, Owned a seed store
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Parents, Stanley, and Sophia Weinberg
Who survived the Holocaust?
Sophia and Stanley Stanley stayed in Poland, changed his last name to a Polish sounding name, married a Gentile woman.
After the Nazi invasion of Poland, Sophia’s parents, Sophia, and her brother, Stanley were able to flee from Poland to Russia.  The family started heading eastward away from the Germans. They came to a labor camp in Siberia.  There was a nice man there who told them to stay there, that it was safe.  They did not listen however and headed to Uzbekistan. 
On the way, Stanley, Sophia’s brother left the family.  He left without saying a word.  After the war, they learned that Stanley that was living in Poland.  He had changed his name to a Polish sounding name and married a gentile Polish woman apparently later having two children.
On the family’s journey to Uzbekistan, Sophia’s father died of a urinary tract infection.  Later, her mother died of starvation, she was only 47 years old. Sophia dug the graves for her parents.  
Sophia herself weighed around 80 pounds at the time.  She was by herself, in her early 20’s.  
She managed to get to Tashkent, Uzbekistan where her aunt and uncle were living.  Her aunt was a dermatologist; her uncle was a gynecologist.  Sophia worked as a receptionist in her aunt’s office on weekends.  In Tashkent, she met her future husband, David Gill.  David was working at a leather factory and from the strong chemicals there, he developed a boil on his hand.  He went to see the dermatologist and met Sophia there.
During week, Sophia worked at a boy’s orphanage. She was responsible for 42 boys from the ages 3-14.  They were wild children found in the forest. There was much crying, many problems.   She was described as being everything to them.  She had to teach them how to use eating utensils, how to use a bathroom.  She was like a mother and a teacher to the boys.  After the war, the boys were all taken to a kibbutz in Israel.  
What DP Camp were you after the war?
In Ashvager by Kassel
Where did you go after being liberated?
Displaced Persons’ Camp (DP camp)
When did you come to the United States?
1949, David had a distant cousin living in Sioux City, Iowa who sponsored him. David got a job working as a butcher at the Swift Meat Company, Sophia got a job being a nurse’s aide for a visually impaired man, a Mr. Rosenthal, in exchange for free lodging. After a time, Mr. Gill was harassed by other workers, resenting that he was taking away an American job. He found a first cousin living in Detroit, who sponsored the family to come here. He worked for the Stallman Builders as a laborer. They saw that he could read a blueprint. He was trained to become a carpenter, and later he became a builder himself. He helped construct homes during the housing boom after WWII.
Occupation after the war
Nurse aide, homemaker
When and where were you married?
December 31, 1946
David Gill
Benjamin Gill, Gussie Isler
Danielle Gottsagen, Steven Gill, Aaron Isler, Mark Isler
What do you think helped you to survive?
Toughness and the will to survive
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
Never forget, don’t let history repeat itself.
Biography given by Gussie Isler, daughter
Interview date:

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