Sofia Z-4515 is a graphic novel that tells the real-life story of Sofia Taikon, a Polish Romani girl who survived Auschwitz-Birkenau and went to Sweden at the end of the Second World War as a refugee.
It was originally written in Swedish by Sofia herself in collaboration with Gunilla Lundgren and published in a bilingual edition (Swedish / Kaldarash Romani), with illustrations by Amanda Eriksson, in 2005. It has also been translated into English and Romanian.
The story is told by the words of the elderly Sofia and reflects her memories of confusion, powerlessness and humiliation as a child in the Auschwitz-Birkenau and Ravensbrück concentration camps. At the same time, it recounts the acts of kindness and solidarity she experienced.
The book refers to contemporary life and focuses not only on the war years but also on Sofia’s entire life – from her happy childhood years in a Romani family in Poland until her last years as a grandmother. It also raises the issues faced by many other Holocaust survivors – how to deal with the trauma and memories of dehumanisation and if and how one should recount her/his story of suffering and survival to others.
The book can be seen as a Romani parallel to the graphic novel Maus. A Survivor’s Tale (1991) by the American cartoonist Art Spiegelman.