Graf-Stevenson, Sonja


Chess Master Sonja Graf-Stevenson was born in Munich Susanna Graf, daughter of Volga German parents Joseph Graf and Susanna Zimmermann, on 16 December 1908.  She won the Women’s World Sub-Champion and was a two-time winner of U.S. Women’s Chess Championships. 

In 1939, Sonja Graf traveled to Buenos Aires to play on the German team for the 8th Chess Olympiad. As a result of her outspoken defiance of Hitler's government, she was taken off the list of German participants and played under "Libre" ("free" in Spanish) flag. During this tournament, the Nazis invaded Poland.  For her own safety, she and several other participants decided to remain in Argentina following the tournament.

She married merchant Vernon Stevenson and settled in Southern California.  At this point, she began playing under the name of Sonja Graf-Stevenson.  She died 6 March 1965 in New York City.

Her Volga German ancestors come from the colony of Liebental.


- Sonja Graf (

Volga Colonies: