Sonia Lombrowski (nee Lazowski) was born on October 25, 1917, to a wealthy family in Dvoretz, Poland. She lived with her parents, Eliezer and Chayka, and four siblings: Motil, Yaakov, Heshel, and Yehoshua.
When the war broke out in 1939, Sonia was twenty-two years old. She was married to Israel Szumanski, and the couple had a son. Her brothers also had families of their own, except for Yehoshua, who was in the Kletk Yeshiva learning Torah before the war.
As the persecution of Jews intensified under German occupation, Sonia and Israel decided to join the partisans and fight back. They left their son with Sonia’s mother, believing it would be safer. They planned to return for him later.
Sonia and her husband were among the first fifty members of the Bielski Brigade, an all-Jewish partisan unit operating in the nearby forests. Israel served in the Kalinin unit while Sonia was part of the family camp. One day when Israel’s unit was on a mission, they were cut off and encountered Germans. He was killed in the ensuing battle. Sonia was left alone; the Nazis had killed her young son and her entire family. Sonia tended to her sick father-in-law, Menachem Szumanski, who eventually died of illness in the woods.
Sonia dedicated herself to the partisan cause and was a vital member of the Bielski Brigade. She served as a nurse, tending to the wounded and the ill. In the partisans, Sonia met her future husband, Benjamin Lombrowski, who was born January 10, 1916, in the small village of Deretchin, Poland.
After the war, Sonia and Benjamin returned to her original house in Dvoretz and forced the new “owners” to make payment for it; an incredible feat considering that most Jews who returned home were killed or threatened by the new “owners.” They gave Sonia fifty zlotys which she never spent and are still with the family.
Benjamin and Sonia moved to a Displaced Persons camp in Bari, Italy, where they were married in 1946. Benjamin wanted to immigrate to Israel and help fight for its Independence. However, Sonia had seen enough death and wanted to live in peace.
In 1949, the couple immigrated to the United States and settled in Brooklyn, New York, where they raised their son, Steven, who was born in 1953. Sonia and Benjamin stayed very close with other partisans who Steven grew-up believing were his blood relatives. Sonia and Benjamin were highly involved in their community and taught their family to be proud of their Jewish identity.
Sonia passed away in 1990. She is survived by her son Steven Lombrowski, two grandchildren, Brian and Melissa, and four great-grandchildren: Benjamin, Chana Kayla, Lucy, and Margo. Sonia and Benjamin’s granddaughter Melissa lives in Israel and named her son Benjamin in honor of her grandfather. He will one day serve in the Israeli Army, where his great-grandfather had hoped to serve himself.