Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

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

Nursery School

So how did you pass your days?

Um, well uh, I would go with my mother to that nursery school. And I was there, I would help her. There was a little girl uh, she had a very sick 'cause she had a, an enormous, large head. And it was very tough to pull her dress off. I was the expert to pull the dress off her head. Um, I would play with the children. We would sing, you know. Uh, so I was with my mother. That was in the beginning. Uh, I did not go to school there. I was uh, too young. In Russia you start school when you're seven. Um, but you are in nursery school and kindergarten, but this was that kind of like combination kindergarten and nursery school, I think, because there were very little ones and there were bigger ones. And I was a, I was older than these children, but I think I went there because of my mother, yeah.

And was your mother trying to find out about your father all this time? Do you know?

Uh, yes. Uh, she tried, but uh, no one would say anything. Uh, um, finally she took it in her own hands. Uh, I thought I mentioned...

You did.

...it to you. Uh, it's that...

The boat--a raft.

Oh, no, no, no. Um, uh, she wanted to know if my dad is, is alive and so she wrote, she had my brother--by then my brother wrote very well Russian--and she had my, my older brother, my brother Harry, she had him write a letter to Stalin asking uh, Stalin what happened to my dad uh, that, you know, she's a woman with four children, her husband was taken away suddenly and it's been so many months already. She doesn't know if--is he alive or not. And uh, in a way it was really very dangerous to do that because the um, uh, leader of the area was very upset with her. The, the uh, the head officer called her to his office and he said to her, he says, uh, "Don't you ever do that again because if you ever write again a letter to anyone, I'm going to take your children away. You'll never see them again in your life." Uh, but at that point we found out that my dad is alive because they asked uh, for his winter clothes. And so they called my mom and said, "Do you have any heavy, warm clothes for your husband?" She says, "Sure." "Well, we would like you to pack it up and bring it here so we can transport it to him."

And she knew for sure it was going to him.

Well, we hoped so. But it was a good sign because so far they never asked anything for him, so suddenly you know, they asking something for him. So this is already a good sign. And so um, my mom packed up all his winter clothes and she brought it to the uh, office and, uh. It turned out that when we saw our--my father again, he did receive everything.

About how long after he was taken away did this happen?

You mean...

When they asked for the clothes.

Uh, I would say about maybe six--seven months. Maybe six months, probably. Yeah, it was a long time.

So you were, were uncertain about his life at that time.

Oh we didn't know if my, my dad is alive. We didn't know anything about him.

[interruption in interview]

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn