Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

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

Anti-Semitism in Kyrgyzstan

Did you ever talk to anybody about it? Did anyone ever ask you, are you Jewish?

No, well, they knew I was Jewish, and mind you, you know, I don't look very much like a Jew. My eyes are blue, my nose is small, you know, but. I, I remember I was walking down the street, that was the only time I really encountered uh, that, that kind of uh, behavior. I don't know where I got tiny little blue beads and I was wearing a little necklace on my neck. And a few little girls were walking down the street and one of them came over and she said to me Judovka, which means J...Jew. And she tore the little necklace off my neck, yes. Uh, but that was the only time really that I encountered uh, an unpleasant, uh...

And what happened when you came home and told your parents about that? Or didn't you?

Oh, it's nothing, forget it. That's all. Wh...who are you going to argue with? You don't start an argument. You're a stranger in that land. You're glad that they give you a little corner to, to hide in, you know.

And did anyone ever mention Zionism or Palestine?

No, we didn't talk about that. You don't--I don't remember, I don't remember ever talking about it. I do remember that my daddy organized a um, a minyan, which is uh, uh, ten people to pray with.


And on the holidays they rented a room next door.

A shtiebel.

A room you know, a little shtiebel. And they prayed there. Um, uh, they, they prayed there on Rosh Hashanah and on Passover baked our own matzo. My brother was the one who was watching them, they shouldn't burn. But we baked our own matzos 'cause you couldn't get matzos. And um, but my, my father, they prayed there. And uh, we observed the holidays. And people knew that we are Jewish, I mean, you know.

And they respected that.

Yes, yes. We didn't have any problem. And, uh...

What about from the officials, from the Kommissars or the police, or...

I don't remember that there were problems. Not in Kyrgyzstan. And my dad was friends with them. He made for, for everyone suits, to bribe them. Bribery's very, very in, in Russia.


I'm sure, yes. In those days. That's why we could get out from Russia in 1945 actually because my dad had connections. And uh, he had made this gorgeous suit for one of the doctors. And he gave my mom a note saying that she's very ill and she has to change the climate. And this is how we got out. Because you know, you couldn't get out in 1945. You really couldn't leave Russia in those days.

And you decided--he decided that it would be best to go to Germany.

No, no, we didn't go to Germany. Um, my, my, my father and mother decided we have to get out from Russia. I mean, it, it had--we had to go home and see who survived, who is there. So, like I said, he, he, he was friendly with the Kommissar and he was friendly with the doctor and he made them all suits and bribed them all and they gave him permission to leave. And in 1945 uh, the war was over in May?

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