Access Points

Academic publications

Extent & Medium1.5 cm of textual records
Administrative/Biographical HistoryEric Sonner (birth name Eric Sonnenschein, b. 1916 in Šumperk, Moravia, Austrian Empire) and Rose Sonner (née Ruzena or Roszi Deutsch, b. 1917 in Veľká Bytča, Trencsén county, Kingdom of Hungary) were Ashkenazi Jews from what is now the Czech Republic; both lost their first spouses during the Holocaust. They married in 1947 and immigrated to Vancouver, via Gottenberg, New York and Toronto, in 1949.

Rose Sonner, who spent the bulk of the war in Terezín, did administrative work for the Jewish self-administration in the ghetto in Theresienstadt. Eric Sonner was enrolled in the Agriculture Program at a Prague university when Germany occupied Czechoslovakia in 1938–1939. In 1942, he was deported to the ghetto in Theresienstadt (Terezín), where he worked at a plot of land used to grow fruit and vegetables for the camp. Near the end of the war, Eric was transported from Terezín to Auschwitz, where he remained for five to six weeks, before being moved to Dachau Kaufering #11. He escaped during this move by jumping out of a train car, with other prisoners, and fleeing to nearby farmhouses, in April 1945.

After the war, Eric and Rose each returned to Prague, where they first met. They married March 12, 1947. Eric completed a doctorate in plant breeding and genetics during this period, producing a thesis examining the effects of polyploidy in cucumbers. The family immigrated to North America and settled in Vancouver, where Rose found work as a seamstress at a clothing store on Granville Street. Eric was hired by the University of British Columbia's Horticultural Department in 1949. The couple and their two daughters changed their family name to Sonner in 1955. A third daughter was born in 1957.

Rose Sonner died in 1971. Eric Sonner remarried in 1981 to Rita Edna Israels, who died in 2003. Eric Sonner died in 2009.
Scope & ContentFile contains contents of envelope mailed to Eric Sonnenschein in 1948. These include three photographs, coin envelopes and copies of the Annals of the Czechoslovak Academy of Agriculture.
Archival HistoryAccession 2012.002
RightsMaterials available for research and education purposes only. Permission to publish, copy or otherwise use these materials must be obtained from copyright holder.

Collection Contents

Fonds consists of vital statistics records, administrative documents, drawings, publications, educational certificates, academic papers, photographs, correspondence, letters of reference and audio-visual testimony relating to the life and work of Eric and Rose Sonner. Records detail the life events, career history, education, travels and emigration efforts of the family from the late 1940s until the mid-2000s. Collection is arranged in the following series: Terezín (1942–1945); Prague (1946–1949); Academic works (horticulture) (1947–1950); Correspondence and ephemera (1949–2000); Vital statistics records (Canada) (1949–2007); Eric Sonner testimony ([194-]–[before 2009]); and Photographs ([192-], 2016).