Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Irene Sobel - September 8, 1998

Returning to Warsaw After the War

That would be interesting to know. The Jewish neighborhood--you lived in a Jewish neighborhood...


...even though there were some non-Jews. Did this become the area where the ghetto eventually...

Yes, yes.


The only visit--I went to Poland after, the only time I went back to Poland after I left it in uh, 1950 was about uh, seven years ago. Uh, I went with a group of individuals from the medical field to really observe and get to know the medical systems in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. So I was not alone when I went to Warsaw, I was with a group of people. And it was a mistake to go back there because I needed to be alone. It was an enormously powerful experience. Whatever neighborhood I knew and remembered, they were all gone. Everything was leveled and everything was destroyed. Strangely, I was in Warsaw after the war. I was a delegate from the Jewish Youth Organization to come to Warsaw where--I lived then in Krakow--for the unveiling of the memorial to the Jewish uh, fallen heroes. Somehow is it, I am sure the stage of life that I was at, I was maybe fifteen years old or whatever, I don't recall being so emotionally overpowered as I was coming back now as an adult from the perspective of my years and understanding. Then to me it was--I can't even tell you, it was a sadness, it was a big event, it was a kind of a recognition, but the impact of all that didn't hit me as it hit me when I returned. Uh...

What year had you returned after the war, right after the war?

Right after the war I lived in Krakow, I lived in Krakow five years. The war ended in '45 and I came, I was uh, lived in a orphanage during the, for a few years in the former Soviet Union, and came with the orphanage to Krakow.

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