Passport to Reprieve

In the spring of 1939, seventeen-year-old Sonia looks forward to leaving her home in Tarnów, Poland, for the Sorbonne in Paris to study journalism. Meanwhile, her father is getting ready for a journey to Canada, hoping to settle the family there due to the antisemitism in Poland. By the fall, Sonia, her mother and her younger sister are caught in the grips of the Nazi regime, and Sonia’s father, in Canada, faces new urgency in his efforts to reunite the family. Forced into the Tarnów ghetto, Sonia takes charge of her family and desperately fights to avoid deportation by facing the Gestapo again and again, armed with exit visas sent from her father. The intensifying violence against Jews shatters any hope of escape until Sonia’s father, still in Canada, miraculously manages to become a citizen of Nicaragua and sends them passports. Will they be granted a reprieve before the final deportation?

Introduction by Natalia Aleksiun

At a Glance
Poland; Germany; Switzerland
Internment camp
False documents
Arrived in Canada in 1945

328 pages

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Photo of Sonia Caplan

About the author

Sonia Caplan (née Roskes) was born in Białystok, Poland, in 1922 and was raised in the city of Tarnów. In December 1944, after years in the Tarnów ghetto and the Liebenau internment camp in Germany, Sonia was released to Switzerland with her mother and sister, and they arrived in Canada in February 1945. In Montreal, Sonia reunited with family, married and raised three children while pursuing studies in literature, her lifelong passion. Sonia Caplan passed away in 1987.

Trembling with agitation and anxiety, I finally realized there were just three possibilities for us: one was to get permission from the Gestapo, by some miracle, to be exempt again; the other to be shot; and the third to be deported.