Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

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

Conditions on Train

A box car?

A box car, yes. A big, like shelves, you know. Like ???. Not really. Big, big uh, shelves and, and people were laying on top of them. But uh, I think I mentioned to you already, we were like, I was in the corner on an upper shelf, our whole family was there. My daddy was swift and it was a good spot because, first of all, you were far away from all the people, you were away kind of in a little corner, and you were away from the little stove, and, and all the other things that were not pleasant.

So there was a stove in the car.

Yeah, a stove with a chimney that went out through the ceiling of the car.


And uh, you put in a little bit of wood, you need something to heat because it was very, very cold. Not only for the heating, but if you needed to make something to eat, whatever. I don't remember that we cooked, but we ate something, I don't know, we must have 'cause we traveled a long time.

And was there air by the window? Could you get air through the window or was it...

I--they must have been, I don't remember.

I mean, was it so...


...crowded that you needed...

A little air, yes.

...to breathe.

Yes, I think there was a little air. There wa...it was very crowded.

So you looked out this window and what did you see?

Um, I didn't see nothing during that night. I don't remember seeing anything. I must have fallen asleep because you know I was...


...five uh, yeah, and I was awoken from the middle of my sleep, so I must have fallen asleep again once my dad, my mother bedded me down there. Uh, But the next day I think, I remember already that um, we just saw little villages and uh, the next thing I knew we saw already snow and that kept on being higher and higher and higher and higher. I mean, the snow was just unreal. Yeah, the snow was unreal.

Where did you think you were going?

Uh, we really didn't know where we were going. Uh, we were just going.

And had anybody told your father why he was being--you and your family were being taken away?

No, they didn't say anything, um. They, they didn't say anything, there was no one to ask. Um, you were afraid to ask because what if you asked and somebody hits you for it...


...so you just kept quiet. But the rumor was that they--that we are arrested. No one knew why but, you know, the people would talk in the cars standing. I remember there was a pole in the middle of the car from the ceiling to the floor. I don't remember if it was a wooden pole or a metal pole. But it was a pole there. And people would hold onto it and stand in the middle and talk one to the other, talking, "What do you think? Where are we going?" Um, but I don't think anyone knew where we were going.

Were you frightened?

Um, I don't remember. I don't remember if I was frightened. You know, it's interesting that there are only certain things that are very vivid in my mind. Uh, things that really made a, a tremendous impression on me. And there are other things that I must have completely uh, ignored or covered up or just erased it from my mind. Because I know there are other things that happened to us that I just don't remember.

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