Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Irene Sobel - September 8, 1998

Being Left in the No Man's Zone

So he risked his life don't you think?

Pardon? Did he risk his life? I don't know. They apparently paid him well for it. He was well paid for it. It was a business, not a humanitarian gesture. We--he said "Wait, in the morning go this and that." We woke up in the morning and we were, we were next to a bush, kind of a tree area. We walked out, we were surrounded by thousands and thousands of people laying in the field uh, sitting, laying, mingling in the field. It was like a colony of ants.

Crawling? All running?

No, it was a no man's zone, so he didn't take us across the border. He left us in the no man's zone. And those were all people like us who tried to cross the border. The borders were closed. The Russians would not accept anyone and they didn't want to go back to Poland. So they found themself there. It was a--in Polish very severe winter. I don't know what months of the winter it was, but it was extremely cold. And people were making fires and they were continuously protesting to the man who--the Russians were guarding the borders to let them through. Uh, there were pe...

Were there German guards on one side and Russian guards on the other side?

I don't know if there were German guards, because the focus was the Russian side.

To get to the Russian side.

So I don't know. Uh, little children there, it was so cold that mother's would take little children to the fire to, to warm them. And quite a number of them died from smoke inhalation.

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