Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

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


What are some of the vivid memories?

Uh, the vivid memories are like when we were already in Siberia and my cousin was sick with uh, dysentery. And I can see her now sitting--her brother made--she couldn't walk already--and my cousin, her brother made a little wagon with four wheels and she was sitting in it and we were pulling her. And I can see her now sitting in that little wagon. This is a vivid memory in my head. Guess what? We didn't think she would survive. You know what saved her life? Burned bread.

Burned bread?

Yes. Dysentery is like--you know what dysentery.

Yeah, yeah.

It's so--the coal in the burnt bread constipated her.


And once it constipated her...

Like charcoal.

Charcoal. So this is something that uh, it's, it's really in my mind. I came up with that idea because I had diarrhea and my mom put the bread on top of the stove and burned it and gave it to me to eat and it stopped. So when I saw my cousin being so sick and they thought she was going to die. I told my mom about it. I says, "Mom, do you remember when you gave me that bread and it helped me?" So my mother and my aunt started burning the bread and giving it to my cousin Miriam--that was her name--unfortunately she died already. And lo and behold, she started feeling better. Because there were no medicine. There were doctors there--they were arrested just like we were--but there was no medicine.

Do you think you saved your cousin's life?

I think it helped. Uh, you had to improvise. You had to... And it was lucky that I remembered. But I remembered because, you know, I was very sick with that, whatever I had eaten, as a little girl. And suddenly you know, I could see that she was--and everybody was talking that she has terrible diarrhea and she's going to die if something isn't done and the doctors couldn't come up with anything. And I said to my mother, I says, "Mom you know what? Remember that? You gave me this bread and, and it really helped." She says, "Oh yeah." I says, "Well, why, why don't you try with Miriam?" And sure enough, my--you know, there wasn't much bread, but everybody gave away their own, to just you know, to burn it. You, you had--you didn't have a toaster by the way . So you, you put it on top of the s...that little uh, stove, you know. And it, it burned it pretty good, you know. And she started eating it. It helped. She lived uh, to be sixty-two, I think. Unfortunately she had a bad heart and she died in Israel. She left a beautiful family so. She was a wonderful person.

Um, the train stops. Okay, what happens when the doors opened in the train?

Uh, now I don't remember when the train stopped. There is a period of my life that I don't remember at all. I don't... I remember getting on the train. I do not remember getting off. I do not remember getting on the boat. I do not remember getting off the boat. That's when we got to the, to the place that we lived for fourteen months, which was called Sibirak. The area that they transported us. It wasn't far from China by the way.

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