Sonnino, Piera 1922-1999
Sonnino, Piera 1922-1999
Born 1922, in Genoa, Italy; died 1999, in Genoa, Italy; married; children: two. Religion: Jewish.
Deported to Auschwitz, 1944; incarcerated in Nazi concentration camps of Bergen-Belsen and Braunschweig; after release, spent five years in rehabilitation centers and sanitariums; returned to Genoa, Italy, 1950.
Questo è stato: Una famiglia italiana nei lager, with a foreword by Enrico Deaglio and an epilogue by Giacomo Papi, Il Saggiatore (Milan, Italy), 2004, translation by Ann Goldstein published as This Has Happened: An Italian Family in Auschwitz, with a foreword by David Denby and an afterword by Maria Doria Russell, Palgrave Macmillan (New York, NY), 2006.
Holocaust survivor Piera Sonnino is the author of This Has Happened: An Italian Family in Auschwitz, "a moving account of a family caught up in the Shoah," observed a critic in Kirkus Reviews. Born in 1922 in Genoa, Italy, Sonnino grew up in a lower-class Jewish family. When the Germans arrived in Italy in 1943, Sonnino fled to safety with her parents, three brothers, and two sisters, finding refuge in mountain villages. They were betrayed, arrested by Fascist police, and deported to Auschwitz, a Nazi concentration camp, in 1944. Sonnino, who was later moved to the Braunschweig and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps, was the only member of her family to survive incarceration. Her parents and two of her brothers were executed in the gas chambers at Auschwitz, and she witnessed the death of one of her sisters at Braunschweig. After her release in 1945, Sonnino spent five years in rehabilitation centers and sanitariums before returning to Genoa. She later married and raised two children.
In 1960 Sonnino penned an account of her wartime experiences for her children and kept the manuscript in a red leather binder. After Sonnino's death in 1999, her daughters released the work to an Italian newspaper, and it first appeared in book form in 2004. This Has Happened, a translated version of Sonnino's memoir that appeared in 2006, received sterling reviews. Writing in Entertainment Weekly, Gilbert Cruz called the work "concise, restrained, and tightly written, a look from the inside of the Holocaust out." The Kirkus Reviews contributor deemed it "an important contribution to Holocaust literature." In the words of Booklist critic George Cohen, This Has Happened "is a valuable find and a crucial document from the history of the Holocaust."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Sonnino, Piera, Questo è stato: Una famiglia italiana nei lager, Il Saggiatore (Milan, Italy), 2004, translation by Ann Goldstein published as This Has Happened: An Italian Family in Auschwitz, Palgrave Macmillan (New York, NY), 2006.
Booklist, October 1, 2006, George Cohen, review of This Has Happened, p. 23.
Entertainment Weekly, November 17, 2006, Gilbert Cruz, "Acts of Remembrance," review of This Has Happened, p. 134.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2006, review of This Has Happened, p. 830.
Publishers Weekly, September 4, 2006, review of This Has Happened, p. 51.