Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

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

Conditions on Train

What kind of trains?

Eh, trains.

Cattle cars?

Cattle cars. Thank you for helping out.

What was it like in the cattle car?

It tough. You slept on, on like, you know, like, it's like uh, shelves. Um, three rows and you slept on those. My daddy was quick and he got us the top shelf, next to a little window and so.

So it was air.

A little air and you could look out and see. So at--that, that happened in one night. I mean, everything happened that certain night. They just got us all on trains and that was it. We didn't know where we were going.

Was there any talk in your house about--well, this was 1939 still, I think?

I--it was the end of 1939.


Yeah, it was....

Had you heard any word from Chelm?

No, no we didn't know what was happening in Chelm.


I don't remember, no.

Were you frightened?

I think so. I don't quite remember whether I was frightened. I must have been, because it was terrible when I think of it, you know. Uh, my ma, with a tiny little baby that cried all the time. She was born actually in Russia, across the Bug already you know, so something went wrong. I don't know what went wrong. She was sick, the baby. Uh, no food. We had each other. We were up on, on that shelf all together.

Did you have any questions running through your head, you think?

You don't question anything during this time. There was no one to question. Your mom is burdened with the baby, your father's trying to watch his children, no one should get lost, you know. It's a very big commotion. People are running uh, from all directions. Soldiers are everywhere with guns.

Russian soldiers.

Yes, Russian soldiers. You don't ask questions, you just obey.

The reason I asked, a number of people who were probably a little older than you...


...frequently remember the same fear and terror now that they did, that they felt then.

Well, let me tell you what happened. September 11th...


...when I heard the news. The first thing I did is I went to my daughter. And my daughter's children go to Hillel, my grandchildren. And we listened to the news. First of all I was very, very frightened and concerned because my son lives in New York and he works not far away from those buildings.

He was okay?

Thanks God he's all right. I think he's three uh, three streets away. He saw the people flying in the air when the building exploded. It was terrible. So I had this fear for my son. And my grandchildren were at school, so that was something to worry about. So my daughter said, "Let's go to Hillel." And we went to Hillel to pick up my grandchildren. And I got there and I tell you I felt like 1939, when I was running.

Same feeling.

Yes, because the kids were crying and I was rushing and running too. Grabbing my grandchildren. And I'm saying, "Oh my God, it's just like when people running away from Poland."

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