Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Irene Sobel - September 8, 1998

Getting an American Pen Pal

In Polish?

In Polish--books. I had no idea how it came about. A interest...another thing about events, interesting thing that happened, the orphanage in Poland was adopted by the organization in the United States called, I think, Jews of Krakow. Periodically we would get those huge shipments. All the clothes that we had came from the United States, hand-me-downs. We would get those huge boxes and I would uh, as the president would be in charge of organizing the unpacking. It was an excited thing and periodic we would find a candy bar even thrown in among the clothes. But the thing that came of it, interesting, one time a delegation came from the United States. Uh, among them was a press re...a journalist or something, a photographer, and they interviewed me as the president of the children's government and they took pictures of us and so on. Apparently a article about me, about the orphanage and about me and my picture or whatever came out in some periodical in the States.

In the States.

The way I knew it is, I got a letter from the States and uh, it happened to be in Yiddish. And by then I knew how to read Yiddish. A letter from a girl about my age who read that article and wanted to become a pen pal with me.

The letter was in what language?

Yiddish, in Yiddish. And she wanted to become a pen pal with me. We started corresponding. After awhile her parents started sending me, her mother was very involved in some Jewish organizations and she would send me second-hand, those clothes which I was, felt, was delighted. She wanted, apparently she didn't realize that I had a mother because I was in the orphanage and there, and her family wanted to adopt me.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn