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  • Stories & Articles by Sonia

Articles and Stories by Sonia Pressman Fuentes

Sonia Pressman Fuentes

In honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, 2018, The Forward newspaper shared its readers' stories. This is Sonia's story.

Sonia Pressman Fuentes

Berlin, Germany to New York, New York

I was born in Berlin, Germany in 1928 to Polish Jewish parents, who came from a shtetl called Piltz, an hour’s drive from Krakow. My parents had lived in Germany for twenty years. My father ran a men’s clothing store, with a small factory in the rear. At the time of my birth, I had a brother named Hermann who was almost fourteen years my senior.

As soon as Adolf Hitler was named Reich Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933, Hermann saw the threat Hitler posed to German Jews and began importuning my father for us to leave Germany. The family did leave in the summer of 1933 and went to Antwerp, Belgium where we had some cousins. When we were unable to get permission to remain in Belgium legally and were threatened with deportation to Poland, we left Antwerp on the Red Star Line’s S.S. Westernland II for the U.S., arriving in New York City on May 1, 1934.

In the U.S., the family moved to the Catskill Mountains of New York State where my parents built and ran a 25-bungalo colony.

I became a lawyer, a feminist activist, a public speaker, and a writer. I was a co-founder of NOW (National Organization for Women) and the first woman attorney in the Office of the General Counsel at the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). I retired as an attorney with the federal government in 1993 but remain a feminist activist, speaker, and writer.

In 2011 and 2013, I returned to Antwerp as a guest of the city and the new Red Star Line Museum. I was the only surviving passenger who attended the festivities in connection with the Museum’s opening in Sept. 2013. One of the Museum’s six exhibits is about me.

This May I plan to travel to Washington, D.C. to attend the book launch of “Stories from Trailblazing Women Lawyers” by historian Jill Norgren. The book is about one hundred American women lawyers who changed the profession of law. I am one of those women.


©2018 Sonia Pressman Fuentes