Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Samuel Biegun - February 13, 1983

Life in Siberia II

So all together you were in that small village for the whole war.

The whole during the war. And we struggled because it was cold, uh, seven people in one room about let's say fourteen by fourteen. We were sleeping and it was a dining room, a living room and everything there in the kitchen. We used to get up sometimes the water was frozen. We didn't have no, no plumbing or nothing in the house. So we used to go across the street, you know, it was a, a well and we drink the water. But overnight the water was freezing, complete ice. Luckily we had a down, you know, uh, bedspread and everything. We took it from--we brought it home. So that's, uh...

You eventually got your own apartment, your, your family had their own apartment.

Call it apartment.

Well, room.

Like a little log cabin with one room. Seven people--six, seven people slept in there. The old people slept upstairs in a--on, on top of the oven. It was a big oven, you know, like a loft--old people. My grandfather was about ninety-five when he died in '45, just before the war ended. And the grandma--my mother's mother--she was eighty-four, eighty-five and when she heard the news after the war that all the children, the grandchildren--so probably seventy people that got killed, she got a stroke and she died right away. She couldn't take it.

Do you remember the name of this town that lived in--this little village?

Yeah, it's Airtau. Here I'll spell this.

I don't even have a pencil, you can spell it.

Wife: ???

That's close enough.

A-i-r-t-a-u.

It's a Kazhak, Kazhak name.

It's a Kazhak name.

Yeah. Kazhak...Kazakhstan. So that's the uh, it's northern, in the southern Kazakhstan it's a warm climate, you know. But in northern it's like Siberia, very cold.

Wife: Would you like a drink or something? Coffee or Pepsi or something?

Is this, is this done?

Wife: No, he does it--later on he takes out what's good and what's not good.

Oh yeah?

Do you...

Wife: ???


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