Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

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


In the 194...in 1943, the tide of the war turned. Was there ever any chance that your father was going to be taken into the army?

No, no, he, he wa...actually, he was kind of doing his part for the army. Um, they gave him a job as a tailor in a little factory like. He was the manager and the teacher. And he taught young girls how to sew. And they were making uniforms for the soldiers. So he did his part for the war. He worked very hard. But they liked him very much. My dad was very capable--a good tailor.

And your mother, was she doing anything?

No, my mom was home. She was not doing anything.

So now there are three children?

Now there four children.

Four children because another baby.

My brother Ray was born after my dad got out of the prison. My brother Ray was born in '43. Was a, not a simple matter, but there he was, a beautiful baby. Now he's six four and a handsome man.

Tell me again, your parents' names.

My father is Pinhaus Feldman and my mom Brindle Feldman.



And the names of your siblings.

Uh, my sister Cil uh, she's the oldest. Then comes my brother Harry. Then I was born. And then my brother Ray, he's the youngest. And he was born in Russia. Yeah.

You were there for three years.

Uh, altogether in Russia or in, in...


In Kyrgyzstan.

Well, you said '42 to '45.

We came in there in the end, in '42, and we were there until '45.

So two and a half years.

Almost three years, yes.

So this is where you got your formative education, right? You went to school.

Well, not much of an education. I went to school.

What was school like?

Uh, well, we learned. We, we learned a little bit, but mostly they gave you lunch there, so that was important. So you went. Uh, in the winter it was tough to go to school because we didn't have any shoes. It gets very cold and it snows and it's very cold. Um, but you go there because you play and you sing and you, you were the children.

W...what kind--what did you sing? Russian songs?

Uh, Russian songs, Polish songs. And uh, they taught us arithmetic. Um, a little bit of Polish, I don't remember much of it um.

You still speak Polish.

Oh yeah, I speak language, yeah.

How many languages do you speak?

Well, I speak Polish, I speak Russian, I speak Yiddish and Hebrew.

And English.

And English. Hebrew is my, in Hebrew I'm um, is my main language. I went to school and I...

So that's your primary language.

My primary language is really Hebrew 'cause uh, that language I really learned properly uh, when I g...when we came to Germany.

Did you talk about going to Palestine when you were in Kyrgyzstan?

No, no, we didn't know anything about Palestine. We didn't even know we'll get out of there because you, you couldn't get out of Russia at that time. They did not let out Jews or, or, or um, any people that were in Russia at that time and were not born in Russia, but were supposedly like uh, arrested or uh, could not go, leave Russia at all. But we, we left Russia because, you see my father got very involved in his work.


He worked, he was a manager in this factory, he produced uh, a lot of uh, outfits for the soldiers. And he was considered a ???, which means uh, a terrific worker. And uh, the people respected him in the community, the managers, the uh, the leaders, uh.

Did, did it ever occur to you that you were with criminals? That the other people who were sent to Siberia were criminals of one sort of another?

You mean when, when we were in Siberia?

In Siberia or in Kyrgyzstan.

Well, you see, nothing Kyrgyzstan. In Siberia we knew that the people that lived there were, uh...


...prisoners, yes.

Did that bother you?

Well you know, when you talk to the people and you find out why they were there, you know that they're not prisoners, you know that they wound up there for one reason or another that they did not deserve. So you know that the government is doing something wrong, but guess what, you can't do anything about it, right.

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