Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Irene Sobel - September 8, 1998


Did they speak Yiddish?

No, they spoke Polish.


But among themself, there was something they didn't want us to understand, they spoke Yiddish.

So they knew how to speak Yiddish.

Oh yes, my mother--as a matter of fact, I know or, a childhood friend of mine--not childhood from Warsaw but from the years in the former Soviet Union--kept on men...saying to me o...I mean would mention to me over and over that my mother spoke the most beautiful Yiddish she ever heard, a very literary Yiddish.

Now you said that they had a lot of non-Jewish friends.


Did they experience any anti-Semitism at all? Did you?

I am sure not with the friends, because they were their friends.

No, no, but they must have had some interaction.

They, they--I had not heard. I had not. Being in the Jewish community as a child or living in a Jewish area, I had not experienced any anti-Semitism. The anti-Semitism that I indirectly heard of is my father's inability to get any work contracts, my father's inability to get a job. And when he, towards--somehow, not too long before the war, a year or so, he was able to get some kind of a governmental contract on the wooden part of tents that they were apparently using for military and that was extremely--they considered it a victory unheard of, and all their friends were cheering, a Jew getting--and that was a very minor thing. So I just heard, those are the things that indirectly. I came across this anti-Semitism in Poland after the war, in person.

After. You went to public school though?

Before the war I didn't go to, I was in kindergarten. It was a public kindergarten, and I, and I, yes, and I started first grade. It was public, but it was in a Jewish neighborhood and probably most of the children were Jewish, so I didn't--and I think the teachers were Jewish too. So it, so, you know, you kind of lived in your own enclave in Poland, but in the small Jewish community. And the non-Jews were kind of, a really, a great minority in that area.

Okay, so until later when you think that it changed. Was your father a veteran?

Of the war?

Did he fight in the First World War?

I don't think so, or I had never heard anything about it, yeah. I know his brother was--he had a younger brother and he was in the army because the picture, the only picture that I had of him is in a military uniform.

In a Polish uniform.

In a Polish military uniform.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn