Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Esther Feldman Icikson - October 23 & 29, November 5 & 12, 2001

Jewish Community


So, this was one way that we got some nourishment. It was good. Um, that was a good part you know, that was kind of a nice part.

So you were living in this community.

We lived in the community and we were part of the community. We had neighbors--Jewish neighbors. We had non-Jewish neighbors. Um, everybody was very nice. Oh, I remember my uh, in, in the same yard where we lived, our neighbors had a boy, his name was Moishele. And we called him as a little boy, his name was Moishele, we called him. Ashender, the last name, oh my God. Actually they wound up in the United States. A father, a mother and a son.

Where are they now?

I think they live in New York, because my parents, I think, found them one time. Yeah, I think so.

And you kept in touch with them.

No, not really. But we le...while we were living there, we were neighbors. We were very close. You, you become very close, you, you become like family. Um, we had some people that, that were very close to us or hung around us because they were lonely. There was a woman, her name was Hannah, she would come and visit us all the time. She would celebrate with us the holidays. She was alone, she didn't have anyone, she would come and visit. She'd sleep on the floor with us, with me, my sister and my brother. We all slept on the floor. We um, it was, it was not really a bad time, you know what I mean because, uh...

You're safe.

We were safe, we had a little food to eat, we made friends. Uh, our own kind you know, uh, people from Poland. Um, Winekor was one family, they had a daughter--I don't remember her name. Maybe her name was Anita, I don't remember, but their, their last name was Winekor. There was a--one family that we befriended. Um, there were other people there. I had friends. I, I made friends, non-Jewish friends uh, girls that I would play with. Um, so it was not really a terrible time. But our aim was to get out of there. That was very important to get out of Russia and go back home.

To go back home.

Yeah. But we had to wait until the war was over, you see. We were there, we were in, in, in Ag...uh, in that place until the end of the war.


Mm-hm, until '45. The war was over in May, I think. It was a big celebration, I can remember. Oh my God, everybody was dancing in the street and screaming, um. Uh, really life was not very eventful at that time. Um, uh, my dad would go to work uh, always nervous because uh, you know, you have to be on guard not to do something wrong, God forbid, because they can send you back to jail or something. So you were always tense. We moved a couple of times during that time. All, we always moved.

In the same region.

The same region, the same street, up and down. Well, we started one end, we wound up at the other end. And then we moved back into the middle of the street. I think from that place--I don't remember the number--we moved away. We, we left. We went home, back to Poland. That was home to us at that time, Poland I mean. And um, it was, my brother went to school, I went to school uh, Polish school. They were teaching me Polish.


Yeah. And uh, my sister stayed home, she was already s...uh, maybe seventeen. She helped my mom. And uh, my mother had a baby--baby boy, was a big excitement. Uh, my parents managed to have a bris. My daddy found a mohel, it was very uh, uh, festive uh, occasion uh.

And there was another baby as well.

Well that, that was my sister that we lost her. Yeah, that was before. We lost her in Siberia. And um, we didn't have food, but we celebrated the birth of my brother. Uh, it was a gorgeous baby boy. I don't know how gorgeous he could have come out the way he did because my mom didn't have anything to eat. I told you the story. He ate--my mother ate only sugar beets. That's all we had at that time because he was born in March of '43 and it was terrible, we really didn't have any food to eat. And that's all she ate is sugar beets. But he came out gorgeous. Beautiful boy, beautiful baby. Um, so we, we--life went on, you know. Life had to go on and. My mom did all kind of things where we could survive and.

You, you said you had connections to the United States because your mother had lived here at one point?

Oh, no, my mother didn't.


Before--no be...um, before World War I my, my grandfather was in the United States and he came back because he didn't like the sweatshop. He was a tailor and he worked in sweatshop. Uh, back home where he was born in Poland on a farm, he was a free bird. In those days, my mom was telling us um, he would go and work in people's homes, you see. Somebody would hire him to come and make clothes for the family. So he was like, he would go and work and be free and sit i...i...in a kitchen or someplace and here he was in New York, he was, like, maybe on the seventeenth, eighteenth, twentieth floor locked up and he just couldn't take it. So he was here, I don't know how long, I don't, I don't remember what my mom was telling us. For a very short time and he came back to uh, Europe.

Did it ever occur to you that had he stayed there you...

My life would have been completely different, yes. But fate had it other uh, another plan for us, I guess, yeah. Um, he--his sister's husband, my grandfather's sister's husband was in the United States for fourteen years and he had taken his children here. So we had some connections with the United States, but not until we came back from Russia and we were in Germany did my mom really found that family. Yeah.

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