Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Irene Sobel - September 8, 1998


An interview with Irene Sobel (Miller), a Holocaust survivor, conducted by Dr. Sidney Bolkosky, Professor of History at the University of Michigan--Dearborn. Irene was born in Warsaw, Poland and lived with her parents and sister in a Jewish neighborhood of the city. The family was not religious but embraced the Jewish culture. After the Germans invaded Poland, her family decided to escape to Russia fearing they would be prosecuted for being Communist. After being denied entrance into Russia, Mr. Miller escaped over the border and came back with falsified documents to get the family across. After residing in Ignatki for a short time, Soviet transport trains picked the family up and shipped them east to a Communist work camp in Siberia. After being released from the camp, the family was transported to Tashkent where Irene's parents were forced to work on a collective farm and the girls were put into an orphanage. Mr. Miller became ill and died during a dysentery epidemic even though Mrs. Miller walked all night to try and get him antibiotics. After the war Irene and her family returned to Poland where Irene was put into a Krakow orphanage because her mother couldn't support her. Eventually Irene and her mother moved to Haifa, Israel where Irene met her husband, Howard Sobel, an American living in Israel. Irene then moved to Cleveland with her husband and had three children, later moving to Detroit. Irene went to school, obtaining graduate degrees, and achieved a successful professional career. Irene and her husband later divorced.

Link to Portraits of Honor Project

  1. Introduction
  2. Religion
  3. Warsaw Street Life
  4. Parent's Political Affiliation
  5. Memories of the Spanish Civil War
  6. Political Home Life
  7. Jewish Culture
  8. Anti-Semitism
  9. Dangers of Being Communist
  10. Returning to Warsaw After the War
  11. Fate of Extended Family
  12. Writing Poetry
  13. Hearing About Nazi Horrors
  14. Childhood Before the War
  15. Bombing of Warsaw
  16. Seeing Someone Be Killed
  17. Seeing German Soldiers
  18. Life During German Occupation
  19. Decision to Escape to Russia
  20. Preparing to Cross Border
  21. Being Left in the No Man's Zone
  22. Life in the No Man's Zone
  23. Escaping to Białystok
  24. Life in Ignatki
  25. Fate of Mother
  26. Mother Returns
  27. Being Transported East
  28. In Transport
  29. Arriving in Siberia
  30. Life in the Labor Camp
  31. Survival on the Tundra
  32. Food in the Labor Camp
  33. Hunger Stories
  34. Location of Labor Camp
  35. Being Prisoners
  36. Opinions of Stalin
  37. Getting Permission to Leave Labor Camp
  38. Being Isolated with Other Poles
  39. No Hint of Holocaust in Soviet Union
  40. Leaving the Labor Camp
  41. On the Train for Weeks
  42. Going to Tashkent
  43. Forced onto Collective Farm
  44. Live on the Communal Farm
  45. Moved into an Orphanage
  46. Conditions at the Orphanage
  47. Keeping Busy
  48. Father Becomes Ill
  49. Mother Moves to Orphanage
  50. Being Malnourished
  51. Mother Survives the War
  52. Moving into Krakow Orphanage
  53. Opportunities in Orphanage
  54. Exodus of Jews Back to Poland
  55. Knowledge of the KGB
  56. Being with other Jews in Orphanage
  57. Positive Interaction with Natives in Soviet Union
  58. Negative Interaction with the Natives of the Soviet Union
  59. Religion in Soviet Union
  60. Lack of Jewish Culture in Krakow Orphanage
  61. Living in Poland After the Holocaust
  62. Getting an American Pen Pal
  63. Help from Pen Pal's Family
  64. Arriving in Krakow
  65. Moving to Israel
  66. Meeting Her Husband
  67. Gaining an Interest in College
  68. Life in Israel
  69. Wanting to Move to America
  70. Adjusting to American Life
  71. Starting College
  72. Finishing Her Degree
  73. Trouble With Marriage
  74. Sharing Story
  75. Sharing Story II
  76. Feeling Lonely
  77. Does Not Feel Like a Survivor
  78. Proud of Son
  79. Memories
  80. Sympathy for Biafran Children
  81. Writing a Book
  82. Being Remarried
  83. Conclusion

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