Survivors' Stories

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”
Elie Wiesel

Sophie Vermes (Landsmann)

  • From: Hungary (Mezocsat)
  • Liberated from: Germany (Augsburg- Messerschmitt factory)
  • Deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau from: Hungary (Mezocsat)
  • Current Location: Canada (Toronto)

Brief Bio

I lived with my parents and my brother in Mezocsat, a small town 100 miles northeast of Budapest. My father, a bank manager, died in 1939. Germany invaded Hungary in 1944 and we were transported to Auschwitz where I was separated from my family. My mother was murdered shortly thereafter and we were sent briefly to Plaszow, outside Krakow, to perform hard labour. I was separated from my brother and sent to Augsburg to work in the Messerschmidt factory. We were liberated by American forces on May 1, 1945. I returned to Mezocsat and was reunited with my brother, then moved to Budapest to live with my aunt, my only surviving relative. I married my husband George, a physician, in December 1950 and was admitted to university, but was forced to leave when my brother escaped Hungary and settled in Argentina, putting me under suspicion. I was subsequently readmitted and completed my degree in economics. Life under Communism was extremely difficult, and my husband and I, together with our daughter Agnes, then aged 4, escaped to the west during the brief October 1956 uprising. Since 1957 we have lived in safety in Canada. The following year, my husband’s mother left Hungary and joined us in Toronto and my son Peter was born in 1960. My husband practiced medicine for many years, and passed away in February 2013. I have two grandchildren, Elizabeth and Lauren, and many friends among the Hungarian community in Toronto.

What does Auschwitz mean to you?

It destroyed my youth and it haunts me and has changed my life forever.

My message for future generations is…

Never again. Genocide must be eliminated from human experience.

Who will be accompanying you on this journey?

My daughter, Agnes Vermes who lives in Toronto and is married to a lawyer. Her daughter Elizabeth is an art teacher. Agnes is an architect who works for the Toronto transit authority.

* Does not want to be interviewed by the Press.