Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Irene Sobel - September 8, 1998

Mother Moves to Orphanage

To get the antibiotic.

To get the antibiotic. I don't remember if she got it or not. But when she came back he was dead. Not only was he dead, but he was buried in some communal grave and she never saw him. They apparently were afraid of leaving the bodies. So she came there. All she knew is that his name was on the list, that he died. She tried to get some work in the orphanage where we were. Uh, she was not able to or she didn't want to get any compensation, nothing, just, just to be with us and to get some food. When we eventually relocated to that other orphanage, they did accept her. And it wasn't so much--I guess it was more a kind of a compassion thing. I don't know if any of those workers were paid at all. It was, there were a lot of adults hanging around there. She was given a large crib as her bed in a room where there are a lot of boys, teenage boys.

Your mother slept in a crib.

My mother slept in a crib. And she helped out in whatever she could. It wasn't an official job and there were no pay, but she wanted to be with us. And I was glad to have her there, it was a great comfort. But thereafter she became very ill. She had some gynecological problems. Apparently a very large cyst on her uterus and she was hemorrhaging all the time. And she was extremely embarrassed being in this large room with boys and hemorrhaging to the point that it was dripping on the floor. There were no, nothing disposable that would absorb the blood and she could get rid of it. So she had some rags that she used the rags. And I had to go to the river to wash them. I felt horrible doing it. Horrible. At one time I even, when I pulled them out I vomited. I myself at that point must have been twelve years old. Uh, I knew that she had no other choice. But I would close my eyes when I first saw that blood flow and did whatever I could. And I felt embarrassed for her because they were making fun of her.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn