Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Irene Sobel - September 8, 1998

Life in the No Man's Zone

Children, you mean.

Babies, babies. And they would put those dead babies at the feet of the Russian soldiers to ask to close the borders--to open the borders. Peasants from nearby areas would come and try to sell some food. And my mother would give away pieces of clothing for a loaf of bread. I remember uh, we had a, a, a down comforter. Well, they weren't like comforters we have here now tafted, they were like a huge mountain, it was down blanket. My mother took that down blanket, tied it with four stick--put it in the ground and this is, under it we slept to keep us from the cold, kind of elevated a little. This was our tent and our blanket. Of course, we wore our clothing. We were there for a few weeks and never took off our clothing. In the middle of the night I woke up and felt a, a man next to me, laying in this closing and I pushed him, "Go," pushed him. But I must have fallen asleep. When I woke up in the morning, the man was frozen dead. And all the dead they put at the feet of the Russian soldiers. My parents must have realized that we are not going to survive, that we are going to die there. There was no food and no beds. And my father somehow smuggled himself alone through the, through the border, went across the Soviet border--I don't know how--but he was able to escape without being noticed. Sometime later...

Can you stop before you go...


You woke up with this body next to you...


...the frozen body. What did you do?

I started screaming. I said, "Mom!" A group of people came, or my father then and took him away and they realized that the man was dead. He came to--looking for some warmth, looking for someone to, to warm up. Uh, there was such milling going on, the fires, people were looking for something and there was a food problem and--I don't know how many weeks we were there, but we were there a few weeks. Then my father came back with some kind of a piece of paper ???. Some kind of a document that he had falsified or something, I don't know what, asking showing the, the soldiers [telephone rings] I can let it ring or let the machine pick it up.

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