Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

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

Construction of Raft

Did she take the logs from where she was working?

Yes, yes, and she...

So she would go to work and then when she'd come home from work she'd drag these logs along.

Oh no, no, no. She hid 'em by the...

By the river.

...river. Of course. At a certain place she collected everything and she'd pile up everything, a little bit at a time. Yes. Until she had enough of everything. Once she had enough of everything she started building that raft whenever she had a chance. Don't forget, she worked the whole day. But she did it, she... My cousin Mayer, the one I mentioned to you that passed away uh, was very helpful.

This sounds amazing that she did this.

Oh yeah, it was, it was amazing. My cousin Mayer worked with my mother and one day unfortunately chopped off one of his fingers. And my mother had to take care of it. She, she, she did. She tore a piece of her dress and uh, uh, bandaged his finger and made sure that it, he doesn't bleed to death, the first thing. And then took him to the doctor. Um, he has his own story. Unfortunately he died, but he used to tell this story very affectionately towards my mother, how she took care of him. But they, they worked and worked and worked and built that raft. And one day it was right before Rosh Hashanah. It was in the fall, around this time, a little earlier actually. It was like maybe the end of September um, that my mother said we are going to leave and we packed up everything. And we carried everything down to the river. And we put it on that raft.

How large do you think the raft was?

The raft was pretty large. It, it took uh, let's see, how many people? My aunt was--four kids and herself, that's five. There were three of us and my mom is four, that's nine. Uh, there was a father and a son, eleven, and a couple. Thirteen people. We need the large size. Um, I'm trying to see. It might have been as large as this kitchen. A little more square.

Twenty by twenty, maybe.

Maybe, maybe. Something like that.

How about larger, even. Thirty.

Maybe--it, it might have--you know what, it was that, probably that large. Square a little bit more. It was a square.

And a pole, did she use some sort of pole to...

Well, we had uh, oars and we had poles to, to uh, maneuver ourselves if we got stuck or something to help ourselves, you know.

Where did she get the oars?

She, I don't know where she got them. I don't remember. We never talked about it. She had everything organized. We put our belongings on two sides on, you know, on two sides of the raft. And in the middle, on the two other sides um, there were the oars. And um, there was no cover, you know, we just--my mom pulled out the bedding and spread it on the raft. Um, so we would be warm, because it was very cold. And the only shelter you had was the boxes or the packages that we had you know, the belongings.

To break the wind.

To break the wind a little bit. I remember being all the time, under the, under the featherbed because it was very cold. Everybody tried to be under the featherbed unless you needed to do something, um.

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