Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Irene Sobel - September 8, 1998

Getting Permission to Leave Labor Camp

Were there other Jews there?

Oh yes, mostly.

Did they feel the same way, most of them Jews?

Yes, most of them. Uh, all that I knew of felt the same way, a great fear and a great hate, hatred to the Communist uh, system.

And what word, if any, of the war came to...

I'm sorry what, what?

What word of the war? Did any news of the war come in?

You know, I am not sure whether a lot of came during that time. I was not aware of that much. We knew that there was a war and we knew that the reason the Russians put us in jail or in labor camp is that they viewed us as the enemy. They referred to us as the--a dangerous element. All those who left Poland were the dangerous element. So we knew that and this is why we were in, in labor camps. But I am not so sure to what extent they knew what was going on in, in Poland. They do--in '42 when the Polish government in exile developed friendly relationships with the Soviet Union, we knew about it very well because this the time where we had the freedom to leave.

In '42.

Yes, in 1942. What was the--I'm trying to strain to remember, my sister told me the name of the, the army, the Polish, uh...

Armia Krajowa.

...uh, Anderson, Anders...whatever his army, anyway it was the Polish government in exile.

In exile, they were in England.

Yes, they developed friendly relationships or whatever agreement with the uh, Soviet Union. And at that time we were allowed to leave Siberia.

So they gave you permission to leave, it wasn't an escape necessarily.

No, they gave us permission to leave. They said, "You are no longer required to be in the labor camp."

And had you heard about the invasion of the Soviet Union in July of '41?

Yes, yes, we knew of the invasion. And we heard of the, we heard of the battles that were, were not, first in--on Leningrad the great battles. We heard about that. And we heard a lot about the horrible Germans.

What did you hear?

Well, that they want to invade, they want to invade Motherland, the Soviet Union.


That there are great he...Russian heroes who will struggle and they will protect us and that Stalin will lead them to victory and that the Germans were butchers and all that kind of stuff.

Nothing about Jews?

No. Not in ???. Uh, I have...

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