Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Irene Sobel - September 8, 1998

Hunger Stories

Was your father, was your family getting paid for working in the factory?

They were getting paid, I think, with some coupons, like food coupons that were redeemable in that store. But most of the things were rationed. I remember the rations. And in my book I'm mentioning a story that I told Naomi, my daughter, and she kept on asking, "Mommy tell me the bread story." I was telling her how I went, and I must have been about eight years old. How my mother sent me to the store to buy the family's rations of bread. And they would, they had them in huge loaves and they would put the loaf on the scale. And then at that time there was another little piece added to whatever weight we were entitled to. And they didn't have any papers or wrapping and I was holding that bread and that little piece with me--and I was extremely hungry. I was hungry most of the time. And I wanted so badly to eat that little piece of bread. And I was describing to Naomi how I was fighting and how I was pretending all kinds of thing that happening not to think about that bread and it was kind of--my saliva was generated and I kept on swallowing the saliva. And when I came home the first thing my mother did is gave me that piece of bread. So Naomi asked me, "How come that you didn't eat it if you were so hungry?" So I told her, "Well it was my mother's, it was for the whole family and it was my mother's job or it was her responsibility to divide it and to tell us when we could have it."

There must be dozens of such stories.

Yes, there was another story. During the war--and again I was about probably that age, maybe a little more, a little less--and my mother said to me, "Pretend that there's no war. What would you like for your present?" So I told her I would like a big loaf of bread and that I can eat of it as much as I want. And my mother started crying. I absolutely couldn't understand what I did to make her cry. So there were many, there were many hunger stories throughout the war. Also in--directly when we left Siberia.

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