Childhood of Sonja (Susanna) Graf -
the solutions to (nearly) all open questions.
By the stubborn research work of Alfred Schattmann of Munich nearly all
"the riddles" of Sonja Graf’s youth seem to be solved.
(> Letter by the Munich
Municipal Archives to Mr. Schattmann.)
The family of Josef Graf (born 23.07.1869) lived originally in Liebenthal,
a small village in the Volga region near the large city Samara (which
was Kuybishev in the Sovietunion).
His parents were farmers (Johannes Graf and Barbara née Paul -
all good old German names).
His "wife" Susanna Zimmermann (born 08.05.1876) in Rownoje (German:
Seelmann), near Samara. Her parents were Friedrich Zimmermann and Anna,
née Kolsing, also good old German names, Mr. Zimmermann was a salesman.
The couple stayed in Munich from September 1906 on - but the first child,
Maria was also born in the Bavarian capital on 29.11.1900.
May be the "family" had moved back to Russia - to the seaport
of Taganrog sited at the Asow Sea (part of the Black Sea).
There two children were born:
Oskar Melchior (19.01.1906)
The fourth child, the next son, called Alex, was born in Germany again
(07.09.1907), in a city near Munich named Dachau. He emigrated to Australia
Susanna (Sonja) Graf was born in 16.12.1908 - the "family" then
lived in Ainmillerstr. No. 22
Three children were younger than Susanna:
Helene (28.02.1910) - this is "Hella", mentioned in "Yo
Soy Susann" on page 19, she died on 29.01.1930.
Artur Wolfgang (07.10.1912)
The very numerous family moved to Elisabethstr. 45 (III floor) in January
The profession of the father is given as artist (painter) and priest (roman-catholics),
later on as "magnetopath".
In 19.09.1919 the father (and the family) was repatronized as German citizens
and the Grafs married in 19.04.1920 - with 8 children, the eldest 20 years
The father died in 09.10.1935 in Munich, nothing is known till now about
the fate of Susanna's mother.
Susanna (Sonja) Graf’s register
card is highly interesting.
Her profession is given as "Kindermädchen" (= nanny) and
"Kunstgewerblerin" (= craftswoman).
At the best is that later on her profession is given as "Schachmeisterin"
= woman chessmaster.
10.12.1926 to 12.09.1927 she stayed in a so-called "Fürsorgeheim"
- which is a kind of "boarding-school for growing-ups" -
not a Lyceum as she reported in her second book.
From end of 1927 to end of 1929 she left Munich to Kirchschönbach
- which is in Lower Franconia - South Germany - maybe also a kind
of "boarding school", run by nuns.
Sonja had lost the civil right to swear at the court - that is mentioned
on the registry card - so she must have committed a crime. (Maybe
From 01.11.1929-05.03.1931 she lived again in Munich with her parents
There were 3 other addresses given:
From 05.03.-03.09.1931, then from 01.09.1931-29.05.1933.
She left to the Netherlands, but came back to Munich from 06.12.1933
to 17.03.1934 - when she left for Amsterdam.
The last note is that she has got a passport from the German embassy
in London, valid till 20.09.1941.
Photo from the collection of
Ken Calitri (Chess Guru),
Lawrence Totaro's site
Good explanations about the Volga Germans on: