Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Irene Sobel - September 8, 1998

Childhood Before the War

Let's talk a little bit more about your childhood. A happy childhood?

Yes, I would say that my childhood was a very content and happy childhood. Uh, well, in our home, in our culture, there wasn't a lot of verbalizing about love and about emotions. But I felt very secure and I felt, there wasn't a question whether my parents loved me, I was well taken care of. Even in the summers--we, we had a small apartment in Warsaw, and during the summer, the last few years I remember my mother taking--renting together with a friend a cottage in, in the country and we spent the summers, my sister, my mother and I with friends in a little uh, small cottage rented. And my father would come periodically and bring baked good or cheeses and I didn't, that I didn't like the country butter, I said it smelled of cows. So I remember that. But I also remember they struggled financially. I recall one summer my father was selling ice cream. Walking around with a big pack on his shoulder of ice cream in that area where we spent the summer and selling ice cream because apparently uh, their financial situation was such that he needed to do that.

Were you there in the summer of '39, this cottage?

Yes, yes. We were in summer and I remember my father coming in the middle--before the summer was over, to bring us in a rush to pack everything up and bring us home. I couldn't understand what was going on. There was a lot of intensity between him and my mother talking intensely of this and that. And we packed and left. Did I hear a word "war"? I am not sure. But I knew that something, that something catastrophic is going on the way I watched them interact, the way we packed in a hurry and took the first train back to, to Warsaw.

Did you have a radio?

Yes, we had a radio. Do I remember anything, no, I didn't. But uh, they apparently were quite aware and he didn't want us to stay out the whole summer and he took us home.

So this would have been the end of August.

This would have been yes, something in August.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn