Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Irene Sobel - September 8, 1998

Positive Interaction with Natives in Soviet Union

Do you have any sense this was a--these were very exotic places--that they were very exciting to be in?

Well, the only thing that--of the exo...I mean, the thing of the exotic that I experienced, when my father was still alive he had a, a job for one of the wealthier farmers to do some carpentry for the man. When the project was finished, he brought me over the last day there to the thing. And I saw the inside. There were no furniture but benches against the wall. They were like flat beds and covered with beautiful oriental rugs. There were rugs on the wall. The women were, the women of the house, and there were some other, were dressed with their face covered wearing their muslins, wearing those long colorful dresses. Apparently this was viewed as a festivity when the job was done. In the middle of the room in the cement floor was a ditch. In it were some coals of fire and over it was a square, like a parson's table and it--we set around this table. And my feet were resting on a bar and that still--and they had all kinds of wonderful foods that I have never seen before. And this whole surrounding was so exotic. Talking about...

What a wonderful experience. So you went with your father to this place.

Oh, it was marvelous. And I don't know my sister didn't come, whatever. I remember I went with my father, yeah. And some food, some sweets that I remember, a lot of honey, there must be something what we call here baklava, but I didn't know the name for it. And that was--another thing exotic that I aware, watching how people are dressed. The women in their long, dark dresses wearing, carrying those huge baskets on their heads, just supported by some rolled up uh, rag and walking very gracefully without holding it and I was very fascinated. I tried, but I couldn't hold it on my head. Uh, so I was aware, quite aware of a very different culture and was aware of the very different relationship between men and women than what I knew existed in our homes in the European culture.

And there must have been, so there was some interaction between...

Very little.

...the émigrés and, well, your father at least.

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