Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

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

Conditions in Siberia

What did you do every day in Siberia?

Well, I... I went to this kindergarten or nursery school, day care, whatever. I played with the children there, I helped out. My brother, my older brother went to school. He, he is a very bright man, was very bright student. Didn't have any shoes, so they sent a horse and buggy to take him to school. But didn't give him a p...a pair of shoes.

Who sent? The Soviets did?

Yes, because he was very bright. And he went to school to learn Russian.

With no shoes.

My sister was--I don't remember how old she was. Let's see that was '40. She must have been thirteen, fourteen years old. She worked.

In 1940.

Yeah. She was born 1926.

What kind of work was she doing?

I don't know what she did. She must have worked helping out in the office or someplace. She worked someplace, but I don't remember where. But she worked. She did something.

And what about you?

I--my job was to be with my mom in, in nursery school until she started going to work. She...

She couldn't get because...

She worked there but then she changed jobs, because this is a whole big story. You see my dad was arrested.

Again arrested.

You see, no. You see when, when he went to this, this meeting

Yeah. Oh, yeah.

and they demanded work, the men demanded work. Um, they said, "You cannot be here very choosy, you can't demand anything. You do what we tell you to." My uncle was a very hot-blooded person. He says, he says, "You don't want to give me work so I can support my family. I can't watch my children die, you might as well shoot me right here."


And this guy he says, "Oh, don't be such a smart aleck." He says, "are you starting something?" A word led to a word and they started fighting. And...

Physically fighting?

Physically fighting. And my father, of course his brother was fighting so he joined in the fight. And so they beat up my dad with the rifles, you know the... They beat him up and arrested him and sent him to jail to Novosibirsk.

It was in Novosibirsk.

They were in jail in Novosibirsk.


My father and my uncle.

So that's...


...the end. Novosibirsk is the end of the railroad.


That's as far as you can go.

Yes. And so what happened once they arrested my dad and my uncle, my mom realized that just playing around with the little children in the nursery school is not enough to support her children. So she went out to work at, at the, the riverside. Because they--you know, they were working with lumber. They would cut trees and send it down the river.

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