Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Irene Sobel - September 8, 1998

Conditions at the Orphanage

Without shoes.

Without shoes. And I remember taking off my socks because I didn't want them to be wet when I came back. Going on the snow with my bare feet and I was in this bathroom and standing and, and crying and trying to rush back and my feet were hurting and I would come back to the room running and my sister wiped my feet with a blanket and rubbed them and put on my socks. And my frostbitten feet from the time that we were in the no man's zone, those sores reappeared during the wintertime. Uh, the place was not heated and we all sat wrapped up in whatever we had. I remember one time, and it's strange how something can stick in my mind, when I felt that I tasted a food I have never in my mind thought would be so wonderful. There must have been periodic shipments of some food items that were distributed. And we were given on a piece of paper or something a little spoonful of a little pile that I didn't know what it was, and I tasted it and it sounded like food for the kings, peanut butter. A spoon of peanut butter. This was the first time I had peanut butter. I have tried since to recapture that wonderful taste of peanut butter, but I've been able to think, it just tasted so marvelous.

You mean when you have peanut butter now it doesn't bring that...

No, absolutely, absolutely not. The only other time when peanut butter sounded wonderful, about three years ago, two and a half years ago, I was at an International Conference of Jewish Women in Kiev. The food was lousy, very lousy. Those who have been, traveled before to that part of the world had with them instant soup, cans of tuna. I did not come prepared. And one woman whom I befriended had a jar of peanut butter and she invite--and the bread was good, hardy dark bread. And she says, "Irene, come to my room, bring some bread and we are going to have bread and peanut butter." This is the second time peanut butter tasted great. Not as good as then in the orphanage, but it tasted pretty good. Other than that I don't eat peanut butter. But uh, I think there were some, that there was some support through UNRRA, the...

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