Sable, Rochelle (Grynspan)
Dlugosiodle (Poland), Siberia
Mrs. Rochelle Grynspan Sable was born in Dlugosiodle, Poland in 1925. She lived with her parents, Chana and Yitzhak and three older brothers, Mendel, Yaacov and Schmuel.
The children began public school at the age of seven. Her mother brought a teacher from Krakow to teach her. All education stopped when the Germans came. Their town was equally divided, two thousand Poles and two thousand Jews.
Mrs. Sable’s father had a hardware store in the building where they lived, near the Town Square. He sold supplies for the farmers which he bought in Warsaw. Her paternal grandfather lived with them when his wife died.
Mrs. Sable loved the Sabbath, the great meal with chicken soup and the singing. The men in the family went to the synagogue. Both Yiddish and Polish were spoken in the house because Hebrew was just for the prayers.
She was a good student. Once a young boy called her a dirty Jew and she responded by saying “I have three brothers and I’ll tell them to give it to you.”
The Germans entered on motorcycles on September 3, 1939. The Grynspan store was shut and only one bakery remained open because the Germans wanted fresh bread. Mrs. Sable found the soldiers uniforms scary and they were frightened.
The Germans told all Jews to come to the Town Square, where they said they didn’t want any Jews there and everyone had only two hours to leave town. Mrs. Sable’s mother told the children to dress in their warmest clothes. A German was sent to watch them and Mrs. Sable’s mother said “God, where are you?” Her father suggested they go to the home of a Gentile farmer, who was a friend. None of the Poles in town would speak to them. The farmer said they could stay one night only or he’d be killed.
The following morning, they began walking and met up with the Russian Army. They were told to become Russian citizens and were shipped to Siberia. Mrs. Sable made bricks and her hands became badly blistered. The KGB told her to fill her quota. Her youngest brother was in jail because he took extra food. Her mother, in jail as well, told her to bring a scarf to cover her head. Her father was on a work farm for eighteen months.
Mrs. Sable was in Siberia from the age of sixteen until twenty-one when General Sikorsky made an agreement with the Poles to let the Jews go. Her parents decided that she should stay. Her grandfather died and they buried him by a tree.
In 1945, Mrs. Sable’s parents left for Kiev and later, she and her youngest brother joined them. She became a bookkeeper and stayed for eighteen months. She attended the opera and learned a lot before being sent back to Poland, bypassing their hometown. They wrote to an aunt in New York and an uncle in Costa Rica. The aunt failed to get them out, but their Costa Rica relatives succeeded. They went to Paris for passports.
The family began working in Costa Rica and she learned Spanish. The Jews there were very wealthy. Her mother opened a restaurant and a fabric store as well. She had many friends. Mrs. Sable’s parents and brothers died there.
Mrs. Sable came to the United States in 1948 as a tourist. Her oldest brother went to Israel illegally. He met a rabbi’s daughter and they went to Costa Rica as well. Mrs. Sable came to Detroit to stay with a cousin. She wasn’t allowed to work, but could attend night school where she learned English. Three months later, immigration said she could stay an additional three months.
Mrs. Sable has now been married sixty-two years. She met her husband when a man, who was her mother’s cousin, came to the door and said “I have a son for you.” The son proposed two weeks later. Six months later, her mother got a Visa and came to the United States to make her wedding.
Mrs. Sable has three children: two doctors and a nurse, Randee, Nanette and Steven, but they all live out of town. She began working with the Russian people arriving in Detroit and began speaking about the Holocaust for organizations.
Date: July 31, 2012
Interviewer: Miriam Cohen
Length: 1 hour and 15 minutes