Irene Raab

"I hope the next generation will never experience such evil as the Holocaust, and I hope that everybody will live in harmony and peace no matter what race or religion they are."

Name at birth
Irene (Yocheved) Kochan
Date of birth
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
Rovno, Ukraine until 1941
Name of father, occupation
Idel (Yehuda) Kochan, Tailor
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Sara Chudler, Homemaker
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Parents and myself
How many in entire extended family?
My mother’s four brothers and our maternal grandmother.
Who survived the Holocaust?
Myself, mother and father
When the war started in 1941, they took my father and four uncles to the Russian Army. There was chaos, with people running away and hiding.   My grandmother would not leave.  She wanted to stay home until all her sons returned from the army. My mother and I escaped to a village, but my mother felt guilty that she left her mother behind.  She decided to go back while she left me with a Christian family. She wanted to persuade her mom to leave. When she got back to Rovno it was all leveled and nobody was left.  Since there was no transportation it took my mom four months to come back to get me. We went to Uzbekistan then, but I don’t know much about that time; I was too young.  I know we had to cross the Volga River and went by train.  We had very little to eat.  I remember rooting in garbage to look for watermelons peels.  
We stayed in Uzbekistan until 1945 and took a cattle car to Poland which took three weeks. When my father came back from the army he was able to find us by checking the lists of survivors which were posted on the walls and in newspapers. While we stayed in Poland my parents had two sons.  

In 1957 we all emigrated from Poland to Israel, we settled in Mabarat Bat Yam.  I went to live on Kibbutz Ma’anit near Netanya for six months.  I loved it. I worked picking oranges and did kitchen work. I went to Ulpan to learn Hebrew and also learned to be a hairdresser.  
I met my husband Alex in Israel and we got married in 1960, and then left for the United States in 1962.  I still have two brothers in Israel. When we got to Detroit, I worked for different hair salons and then at Borman Hall for sixteen years. Now I’ve been at Fleischman for 24 years.                    
Where did you go after being liberated?
Back to Poland, then Israel
When did you come to the United States?
Where did you settle?
Detroit, Michigan
How is it that you came to Michigan?
My husband had a cousin here.
Occupation after the war
When and where were you married?
November 22, 1960 in Israel (the day President Kennedy was shot)
Alex, Plumber
Miriam Fogelson, housewife Emil, accountant Leah, advertising
Four: Noah and Aaron Fogelson, Adam and Ben Raab
What do you think helped you to survive?
I was too young to think about it; I just lived. I thought that was how life was supposed to be.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
I hope the next generation will never experience such evil as the Holocaust, and I hope that everybody will live in harmony and peace no matter what race or religion they are.
Charles Silow
Interview date:

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