Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Irene Sobel - September 8, 1998

Live on the Communal Farm


No, not the individual grain but it's like in a stalk, whatever. We would go scoop them in the fields, then by hand pull out the individual grains and, and grind them with a stone and my mother would cook that. There were periods of time when we lived only on, on boiled onions. They became aware that somewhere in another village, farm, onions were available, so they went and bought onions. And for a long time we just, were water and onions. My mother would go into the fields to see, to pick vegetation leaves and boil them first to see if they are poisonous, and ate them herself. And since she didn't die, she fed them to us. Uh, we were all sick of malaria. And I remember this horrible feeling of my whole body violently shaking and no matter what amount of coverage was put on me I was extremely cold. And then we walked around yellow, totally yellow from malaria. At one my parents were able to obtain some uh, Quinine tablets, which was used for malaria. But it was a reoccurring condition. Uh, and there seemed to have been no solution. We had no land, no means of, of supporting, no work available. This is a time when, again, and I thought that my parents took my sister and me to an orphanage so that we can survive, that it was a, their own initiative, but my sister told me thereafter that again some Polish organizations were going from village to village and collecting the children. And were convincing the parents, they should let the children go to an orphanage where, where they're more likely to survive the starvation. Because food somehow they felt will be more available, that there will be some governmental assistance to the orphanages. And there were in the region, I understand, a few orphanages, not just the one to which my sister and I went. And they took us. And my parents agreed that they should do everything they could to help us survive. Shucks, I still--so many years and I still become emotional when I talk about it. Again, we went, a whole load of kids from the area went into a wagon with some horses and they pulled, they took us to that small village. A very large room with two lines of boards, of platforms, low platforms, one against each other, wooden platforms. On one side of the platform were boys, on the other side were girls. We each got a blanket and slept on the boards. Food was very scarce there too. But more than what was available in the village where my parents lived.

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