Sonia Orbuch, who survived the Holocaust as a teenager in Eastern Europe by joining a resistance group that was sabotaging the Nazis, has died in Northern California, a newspaper reported. She was 93.
Ms. Orbuch died Sept. 30 at her home in Corte Madera, The San Francisco Chronicle reported Saturday, quoting her son, Paul Orbuch, and a long-time friend, Fred Rosenbaum. No cause of death was given.
She was born Sarah Shainwald in the eastern Polish town of Luboml and was 16 when German forces took over the area in 1941 and began killing Jews, the newspaper reported. Her family fled to nearby forests and hid there for the winter.
By spring, they joined a group made up of Soviet soldiers and civilians who targeted Nazi troops by blowing up trains, ambushing convoys and sniping at outposts.
The group was reluctant to take in a Jewish family with no military skills, but the leaders were persuaded by Sonia’s uncle, who had been a scout in the Polish army and knew the region.
The group thought her original name sounded too Jewish, so she was renamed Sonia.
Sonia learned to tend to the wounded and also kept watch and went on raids. She always carried two grenades – one for the Nazis and one for herself. She did not want to be taken alive.
“Suddenly, I was not afraid of bombs – me, a girl who had been afraid of a fly,” she said later.
After the war, she married Isaak Orbuch and they moved to the United States. Her husband died in 1998.
Later in life, Ms. Orbuch became an author and lecturer. In 2009, she wrote her autobiography, Here, There Are No Sarahs.
“She deeply touched young people in particular, teens who were the same age as Sonia when she fled to the forest and fought back,” Mr. Rosenbaum, who was also Ms. Orbuch’s co-author, wrote in a eulogy.
Ms. Orbuch leaves a son, a daughter and a granddaughter, the Chronicle said.