Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

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

Pre-War Life

Do you remember anything about life in Chelm before the war?

Well, very little because I was really very young. Um, I remember going to the park. I remember the room I lived in. We lived in one room. It was my mom, my dad, my sister, my brother--they're older than I am, I was the youngest. Um, I remember that we lived across from a cemetery and, uh.

The Jewish cemetery.



Not a Jewish cemetery. A Gentile cemetery. And because I was so little, the tree seemed to be so big at that time, um...

Were you a religious family?

Yes. Very religious, my father was very religious. He was a tailor.

Beard and peyes?


Beard and peyes?

No, no, no!

Not that religious.

Not that kind of religious, no.

Modern Orthodox.

Kind of, yes. He was tall, very handsome. Uh, clean shaven. Uh, always wore a yarmulke. And because we lived in one room only--there wasn't too much room, he would sit on the table and work.

What did he do?

Uh, he was a tailor.

Oh, I see.

And when you work uh, with a needle--when you didn't use the machine and you had to finish out the suit, the pants, whatever, he would climb on the table, he would fold it like and he would sit on the table and work uh, so there'll be enough room for us kids to move around.

And your mother?

My mom was a housewife. She was a very good cook and a very clean woman. Very, very organized, because she had to be.

For one room.

One room.

Tell me again, you had how many siblings?

I had, at that time, my sister Cil, she was the oldest. My brother Harry was the second born and I was the third, um...

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