In Troubled Times, A Song of Hope: Star Rises From War’s Ashes

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The touching new memoir Sonia's Song shows the complex, true story of one woman who triumphs over a childhood of tragedy and terror to sing the songs of hope and love worldwide.

"I lived many moments of this powerful tale. The sights, sounds, and smells were very real," wrote Tom Lantos after reading Sonia's Song.

At the age of seven, during Hitler’s rise to power, Sonia Korn-Grimani was officially declared an enemy of the German State. After a perilous escape to the Belgian border, she witnessed the chaos and carnage of the Battle of Belgium. She lived with her family in the shadows, fleeing and hiding from persecution until being placed in an orphanage. There she lived with more than 20 other Jewish children, all disguised as a Catholic orphans, and all kept near starvation by the corrupt proprietress.

Sonia forged triumph out from these tragedies with unshakable tenacity and beguiling charm, a life chronicled in the new book Sonia’s Song. She sang to the delight of audiences throughout the world, became an international sensation of radio and television, tutored French to a Queen, and was named a Chevalier by the French Government.

Sonia’s Song follows this remarkable woman’s transformation more completely than the earlier French and German editions of the book, starting from her childhood in Germany and Belgium in the 1930’s and 40’s, continuing post-war to Australia and Malaysia, and touching on her life in modern France and the Americas.

Steven Spielberg lauds Korn-Grimani for “granting future generations the opportunity to experience a personal connection with history… people will be able to see a face, hear a voice, and observe a life.”

“Sonia Korn-Grimani has told the story of courage and the incredible indomitable spirit of a mother who refused to have her children become victims,” said Congressman Tom Lantos about the European edition of the book in 1999. “As a Holocaust survivor, myself, I lived many moments of this powerful tale. The sights, sounds, and smells were very real.”

As current events demonstrate, morality and the fundamental convictions of individuals are severely tested by the chaos of war. At a tender age, as Sonia witnessed the horrific struggles of Jews, she was confronted with the complex philosophical question: is a person who saves lives while exploiting them praiseworthy? This dilemma is one of many in this compelling narrative, where innocence and evil constantly battle for control. Sonia’s Song is the complex, true story of one refugee’s success over all odds, and shows us how heroes may not always be what they seem.

Elie Wiesel writes, “Korn-Grimani describes not only suffering she had to endure, but how she succeeded in overcoming it…I am sure that Sonia’s Song will touch the hearts of many readers.”

Sonia’s Song, the poignant memoir by Sonia Korn-Grimani, is published by Clay Grouse Press.

Sonia’s Song
Sonia Korn-Grimani
ISBN-13 978-0-9845558-3-3
Published by Clay Grouse Press, 2012
189 pages

Available through
Print copy $19.95

About the Author
Sonia was born as Hitler began his rise to power and the world became increasingly horrific. A gifted child, by the age of seven, she had nonetheless been declared an enemy of the state. With her family they fled from Germany to Belgium to France, then back to Belgium and into hiding in Brussels. In a desperate act to keep her family alive, Sonia's mother then decided to hide her children in a Catholic orphanage under assumed identities. For over two years, Sonia, along with her brother Heini, and more than 20 other Jewish children, were all hidden in plain sight as Catholic orphans in a Belgian orphanage. Ironically called Le Joli Coin -- "The Pretty Spot", the orphanage, run by a dictatorial matron, who to all the world seemed like the model of civic decency, nevertheless exploited the children for her own profit.
In the postwar world, which seemed so new and free, was also loaded with paradox, since the few survivors of Sonia's family were refused citizenship status, and told that they must leave the country. She immigrated to Australia, where she lived among other refugee families, working several jobs at once and continuing her education. In Australia, Sonia worked in radio, television, and in film, making full use of both her linguistic and her musical talents. She organized interpreting and translating services for the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, began to travel the world, translating for the United Nations in the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
Her television and radio programs made her a sensation, and by the 1960s, she was called upon by the Queen of Malaysia to tutor her in French. While French tutor to the Queen of Malaysia, in Kuala Lumpur, Sonia continued to appear regularly on television and radio, singing, edifying viewers on classical music and speaking on women’s rights.

Sonia earned her doctorate in French literature and the teaching of foreign languages, and directed a multi-cultural language program at UNESCO. With her husband John, and their children Anthony and Renee, Sonia traveled and lived all over the world. She taught foreign languages at the university level, and performed frequently to the delight of audiences worldwide. In her album Cantos al Amor,Sonia sings in 16 languages.
In 1989, Dr. Korn-Grimani was knighted Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques, and in 1996 she was decorated Officier des Palmes Académiques.These decorations were awarded in recognition of her lifelong dedication to and promotion of French culture and language.
Sonia continues to sing regularly at UNESCO events in France, and is also frequently invited to share her Holocaust experiences as a guest speaker in high schools, universities, synagogues and churches.

Contact: Editor Yary Hluchan

Author: Sonia Korn-Grimani

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Yary Hluchan, Editor, Clay Grouse Press

Sonia Korn-Grimani, Author, Sonia's Song
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