Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Irene Sobel - September 8, 1998

Sharing Story II

After Naomi was killed, I experienced an enormous estrangement from the world around me. I kind of felt--and you know I'm writing a book about it and so some of the things that I'm telling you will appear in my book. What you see on my desk is all the manuscript. I felt like a Martian. Lonely and estranged from everyone around me and it reached a point that it wasn't just estranged from people who have not lost a child, who don't understand what it is like for me. But from all the others. Suddenly I felt, "What do they know about me? What do they know about my life? How can they understand who I am? How do they know about the world that I lived, that became a part of me?" And I had a great need to find people with whom I can share some common modalities, a past that they would understand who I am, not just who they see, but all the layers in me, who I am. I also started thinking a lot about my mother. Kind of the chain of mother-daughter. Somehow my mother surfaced and I hadn't thought about her very often. I can't tell you logically how this came about. that I was willing to talk about my past. My son Danny, in Ann Arbor, met this woman, I think uh, in a bookstore or somewhere. And she mentioned to him that she was interviewing--that she was a interviewer for the Shoah Foundation. And he said, "Maybe my mother would like to tell her story." She called me up and I, without thinking, said, "Yes".

So he knew there was a story to tell.

Oh, my son knew about my life. I mean, he knew that I was born in Poland, he knew that I lived through the war in the Soviet Union. That much he knew. And uh, but I never went into any details.

Right, right.

Does it--would I have reacted the same if this woman would have called me when Naomi was alive? I don't know, I can't tell you. I--after Naomi's death I had a need to get "in touch" with my roots.

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