Suzanne Coppel was born in Mannheim, Germany in 1933. Her father was a managing director in a shoe company and her mother a homemaker. Suzanne’s family was initially permitted to remain in the country due to his position and his father’s service to Germany in World War I. However, by 1935, the German SS soon demanded his dismissal. The family’s subsequent relocation to Milan, Italy was short-lived when all Jewish immigrants were asked to leave in 1938.
The family attempted to relocate to Holland, giving away most of their possessions along the way. However, facilitated by the advice of a doctor who had stopped to help an injured Suzanne, the family ultimately relocated to Caen, France. By 1939 Suzanne’s father had joined the French Army while her mother lived and worked in a hotel. When the German Army occupied the city, Suzanne had to pretend not to understand German and spoke in French, so the solders never uncovered her family’s origins. However, the increasingly dire situation soon forced the family to flee.
The family moved throughout France to avoid the authorities, relying on the kindness of strangers they met along the way who provided advice and refuge. Her father joined the French Resistance, and Suzanne did not see her family for months. When Suzanne’s mother was two months pregnant, the authorities apprehended her father. A police chief advised her mother to claim she was further along in her pregnancy, which secured her father’s release a few days later. Openly hunted, the family lived in hiding with the bare minimum until the Allied forces arrived. After the war, her father was discharged from the army as a decorated veteran and the family became French citizens.
Tired of war-town Europe, Suzanne’s family consented to her move to New York in 1949, where she met the love of her life, Warner Koppel. The two were married in 1954 in France. Suzanne’s father, her hero and mentor, passed away in 1997 at the age of 91. Her mother and sister, Annie, still reside in France. Suzanne and her husband Werner have two sons, Gary and Steven, and reside in Riverside, California.