Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Irene Sobel - September 8, 1998

Being Isolated with Other Poles

You said you thought the adults knew.

Somehow I, you know, there wasn't much sharing with me...

With the children...

...with the children. But there was a constant conversation going on, on political thing, "What did the Russian do? What did the German do? And what will they do with us?" And there were constant speculations. And I am not sure but it seemed to me that some individuals had access to some news and to some radio. There were people in, in Samarkand that were more able to find out what's going on. And I wonder where there was some way of that information communicated from there.

Now Samarkand, this is all such a foreign experience to Jews from Warsaw, I would think. Must have seen, ex...and heard different kinds of people, languages.

Well, yes, the language, they didn't speak Russian, they spoke their native language. The Russians who were soldiers, yes. We didn't come in contact with them much.

With the natives.

With the natives. We had--we were so isolated that we did not. I didn't see too many. Towards the end uh, my father, I remember, went to do some work for one of the local people, some carpentry work. And he was telling about their homes. But I don't remember vividly. I do remember him taking me when we were in Asia to, to the home of the natives. Right in same area.


Pardon me?


I'm sorry?

Were they Muslim?

Yes. Yeah, but in Siberia we were very isolated. We were just with--the only individuals were there, just the Polish community. Were there some other Europeans? I am not aware of. But all, I know Polish was the prevalent language. We all spoke Polish.

Not Russian.

No. In school--oh, I learned Russian. In school they were taught Russian. But among ourselves we spoke Polish.

Did your parents ever speak Yiddish to each other?

Yes, they spoke Yiddish to each other. But to us they spoke Polish, yeah. They did speak Yiddish, both of them. I told you my mother had a beautiful language and I have a hunch that my father was more at ease in, in Yiddish than in Polish. He spoke with his mother Yiddish.

But not during the war.

Well, during the war she wasn't there. During the war they spoke to us Polish. But among themself at times they would speak Yiddish.

Was it that if they didn't want you to know something--they would speak Yiddish?

They would speak Yiddish. Or maybe when they were alone and intimate, I don't know. But I heard them speak Polish. And, and, and at that place people spoke Polish, not Yiddish--out of nowhere.

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