1970 - 2018

Sonja Adelberg Bromberg


Born on March 8, 1930, to Freda and Samuel Adelberg, Sonja had one sister, Helen, and an older brother who died as an infant.

Sonja’s memories of Nazi Germany are the lasting, emotional impressions of a young child. The cruel and evil expression of Adolf Hitler looking out into the crowd during a parade she watched at the age of seven. Bombs dropping, people screaming, and the terror of Nazis grabbing people out of their homes. To this day, Holocaust films evoke a deep, guttural pain for Sonja.

At the age of six, Sonja’s mother passed away. Her father hired a housekeeper to care for her and her eleven-year-old sister. When he caught the housekeeper stealing, Sonja’s father decided to take his daughters to stay with the nuns where he felt the girls would be safer, given the perils of Nazi Germany. Sonja remembers the kindness and love shown to all the children by the nuns. He later placed the girls in an orthodox Jewish orphanage.

“For my father to put us in the orphanage was love; he gave us away so we could be safe,” she says.

With applications completed for the girls’ visas, it was now a waiting game. Sonja and Helen finally obtained their visas through the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS). The girls traveled with ten other Jewish children on a voyage by sea that Sonja describes as an adventure. She was given a banana for the first time and “ate the whole thing, peeling and all.” After the fourteen-day journey, the girls arrived at Ellis Island on January 17, 1940, and were greeted by their paternal grandmother and several aunts. Sonja recalls what a delicious cook her grandmother was. Her favorite dishes were chicken and sponge cake.

When Sonja was sixteen, she was reunited with her father. He had left Germany earlier than his daughters on the ill-fated S.S. St. Louis bound for Cuba but was sent back to Belgium where he met and married a German woman. When the Nazis invaded Belgium, they escaped to France and were hidden by French patriots. He developed a heart condition due to poor nutrition and Sonja recalls that he was very sickly when she saw him in America.

Sonja married Hymen Bromberg and settled in Montgomery, Alabama. They were married for forty-seven years. Their only son died in 2004 at the age of forty-two.


Addendum: Sonja Bromberg passed away on October 26, 2018.

Darkness Into Life

Claritas est etiam processus dynamicus, qui sequitur mutationem consuetudium lectorum. Mirum est notare quam littera gothica, quam nunc putamus parum claram, anteposuerit litterarum formas humanitatis per seacula quarta decima et quinta decima. Eodem modo typi, qui nunc nobis videntur parum clari, fiant sollemnes in futurum.

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More Information

Name in US
Sonja Adelberg Bromberg
Name at Birth
Sonja Adelberg
Married Name
Sonja Adelberg Bromberg
Parents' Name

Freida (Freda) Prazatka and
Samuel Adelberg

Date of Birth - Note
March 11, 1930
Country of Birth
City of Birth
City of Birth, Alternate Names

Burg Bei Magdeburg

Sibling(s) Name(s)

Helen (Hella) Adelberg Schultz
(Born April 10, 1925)

Spouse(s) Name(s)

David Kolin
Married January 6, 1950 in Bronx, NY

Hymen Bromberg
(1916-2007 Montgomery)
Married 1960

Children's Names

David Barney Bromberg (Fabianne Tomaz)

Religious Identity (Prewar)
Jewish (non-observant)
Religious Identity (Postwar)
Hiding or Living under False Identity (Location/Year)
After their mother died in 1936, Sonja and her sister Helen were placed in a convent for safety and so their father could work
Other Experiences

Samuel Adelberg had owned 2 clothing stores, “Adelberg’s,” which were forced to close after Kristallnacht. He tried to come to the US, traveling on the SS St. Louis in May 1939. After being turned away in Cuba and the US, he returned to Brussels and then France, where he was hidden for four years

Year / City / Ship to US
January 17, 1940 / New York / SS Vulcania (sponsored by their paternal grandmother)
Date Moved to Alabama
Alabama City of Residence
Date of Death
October 26, 2018
City of Death
City of Burial / Cemetery
Montgomery / Greenwood Cemetery
Dates Lived in Alabama