Archive/Sonia Merims

Tags: Russian Jewish Tarancón Nurse Hospital de S'agaró

Researcher: Keying Lin

Sonia Merims was born on September 6, 1900. She was an immigrant from Torntino, Russia, having studied nursing at Jewish Maternity Hospital Training School, and thereafter to be an X-ray technician at Hunter College. She was described as shy, being five feet four, with brown hair and eyes. She was naturalized on June 2, 1931 in the U.S. District Court at Brooklyn. Although her husband, a post office employee named Arthur Peer, warned her of the dangers of going to Spain, she left everything behind to help the efforts, just a month after she had gotten her U.S. passport in 1937. She served with the Medical Services in the Tarancón sector. Arriving in Spain on April 11, 1937, the hospital where she was working was bombed several times, and she eventually had her ribs broken by shrapnel. Even though she herself was injured, she helped out others who had lighter injuries than herself in the aftermath of the attack. She had to be sent to Paris to recuperate from her injuries for four months. While on a ship ride to join her in Spain, her husband died due to a heart attack on December 31st. They never got to reunite. In May the following year, she went back to Spain, being responsible for the Hospital de S'agaró until the end of the war in March of 1939. She was the only American nurse to be cited for bravery by the Loyalist government. Perhaps due to the fact that she participated in the Spanish efforts for freedom, which was linked to Communism, and her birthplace, Sonia’s name was listed in the hearings before the United States Senate Committee of the Judiciary on Soviet activities within the United States. She would later marry Alex Kolkin after the war had ended in 1968 in New York City. She died in California.


Sources

Klotts, Diana. “Tragedy Hits War Nurse, But She Plans to Aid Maimed.” The Jewish Transcript Newspaper Archive, The Jewish Transcript, jtn.stparchive.com/Archive/JTN/JTN04081938p06.php.

“Sonia Merims.” The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, alba-valb.org/volunteers/sonia-merims/.

Anton‐Solanas, Isabel, et al. “International Nurses to the Rescue: The Role and Contribution of the Nurses of the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War.” Japan Journal of Nursing Science, vol. 16, no. 2, 2018, pp. 103–114., doi:10.1111/jjns.12218.

“Scope of Soviet Activity in the U.S. Hearings before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee To Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws, Eighty-Fourth Congress, Second Session.” Scope of Soviet Activity in the U.S. Hearings before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee To Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws, Eighty-Fourth Congress, Second Session, U.S. G.P.O., 1957.

“Index to the Naturalization Petitions of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, 1865-1957.” NARA–Petitions for Naturalization, compiled 1865 - 199, Naturalization Index - NY Eastern Nov 1925-Dec 1957. [Online version, https://www.fold3.com/document/19518809/]

“MERIMS, Sonia.” SIDBRINT - University of Barcelona, sidbrint.ub.edu/ca/node/15167.


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