Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

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

Conditions on River

Can she swim? Could she swim?


She couldn't swim.


And she got out of the water.

You see, it happened when we got stuck. And there were long buoys you know, and we would put in--not buoys, it's like tall sticks, what I, I don't know how to call them.

In the middle of the water. Yeah, like buoys.

Buoy. And you put it and you push yourself out of the trouble. And the, the, the son and the father that traveled with us, uh...


...they were pushing and the son, a kid got nervous and tossed that tall stick into the water, my mom wanted to grab it and she didn't, she fell over.

She fell out.


Is that how you moved down the river, with this long pole?

No, no. Whenever we got stuck, if we were in trouble.

Otherwise the current just...

Yeah. Otherwise the water carried us, yeah. We had oars and you know, yeah. And she got out of the water. I don't know how. I think it was just absolutely a miracle. She--once she got under the raft she felt the raft and she started holding onto the raft and uh, crawling up and up until she felt the edge of it and she came up.

Was this in the nighttime?

No it was...


...during the day, yeah. It was, I think, the most terrifying moment of our lives.

Do you sail?

Do I sail?

Do you go on boats?

Do we own boats?

Do you go on any boats?

Oh yeah, I do.

And when you go on a boat, do, do you have any kind of...

I'm not afraid. But you know what? Every time we go on the boat we have a platoon. Uh, if, if the family's together, I would say, it's better than the ???-- that's what you call it in Russian, ???.

How do you spell it?

I don't know how to spell ???.



When they do the transcripts they're going to ask me how to spell these things.

I don't know how, I can't tell you.

We'll get somebody who knows Russian.

Yeah, maybe somebody. So um, she got out. That was the most terrifying moment I think. And one more time was very frightening. It was a terrible storm and we, we parked. We hooked up to the raft. We stopped and we saw other people going down the river. My mom said, it was, you know, you holler one to the other. And my said, "Where are you going guys? It's terrible." And...

But you stayed on the raft even through this storm.

We stayed on the raft, but we stayed at the...

At the shore.

...at the shore. And the next day we saw these people just hanging on to poles because it tore them apart.

Let me ask you again. When you're in a boat situation, do these--does this flash back?

Uh, not really.

Not really.

No. I try to avoid these uh, these uh, things.

So I hear.

I'm fine. You have to think positive.

Is there anything that does touch off memories about this terrible time?

You know, I find when I'm with uh, people and we start talking about experience, I would suddenly come up with a certain experience I had and I would start talking about certain things that happened to me. But other than that...

So you need the stimulus of somebody else?

Yeah, if somebody starts uh, you know, if I, like, if I get together with my friends and they start talking about something and I say, "Oh wait a minute! I'll tell you of that story." And I'll start telling them the story. They say they like my stories. I don't know.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn