Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

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



From Kharkov?

Yes, we are traveling now and trains are just not to be had. It's impossible. And we got stuck on one station, I don't remember which one. I do not remember names because you know, you don't talk about names that often. You just travel and, and even if you talk about it, you just, you forget. I forget, you know. I was little. I--it wasn't that important to me, I guess. One, one station we got stuck, we just couldn't get a train. And we figured that if we are inside the station you couldn't find a spot to sit or lay down or anything. So we were outside on the, um...


On the platform where the trains arrive. And we were on the steps, but steps are not close, right open. And that particular night it was pouring rain. I'll never forget it. My daddy unbuttoned his coat and a whole night he was sitting over us, like, spreading his hands with his coat and covering us kids and my mom so we wouldn't get wet. A whole night he was sitting like this. It was pouring, the whole night. This is how he kept us dry.

When did you hear what had happened to the Jews of your...

Not until we got into Chelm our hometown. Um, although we already knew a little bit on the way because we traveled from one train to the other, from one city to the other in this--when we got into Poland we stopped in one station and we got off the train and we had to change trains. And my father bought some food. And during the travel we had--oh God, we had a very tough time because we, we lost my father because he had got down to buy something and the train took off. And he met us in the next station. It was a terrible thing by the time we saw him again we just, we were beside ourselves. But here we are in Poland already, very close to Poland, I think. And we stopped in a station, we had to change trains. And in that particular station, my father went and he bought some food. I don't know whether it was a conductor or just a man that he bought food from. I think he bought hot potatoes or something. The man said, "Any train that arrives, get on it and leave, 'cause otherwise you will not survive here."

Do you remember the name of the town?


Was it Kielce?

I don't remember. I would have to ask my brother or my sister. You know, they're older, they remember the names, I do not. And we got on the train, I don't know. It--the first train that came we got on it because otherwise they would have killed us. That was a, a group of Polacks that got together and decided to kill Jews.

Did you know that there were pogroms going on in Poland?

Yes, that was our first encounter, we realized that they're trying to get rid of the Jews, to kill the ones that were left over.

So you'd heard then about...

We already.

...the camps and the shooting?

Yeah, we already knew that things were terrible. And we traveled um, until we got to Chelm. And needless to say we found a horrible situation. Uh, my parents started to look for their relatives and there was no one left. My mom went to um, people she knew, people that we lived in their house um, many years before. And the woman told my mother that her father was killed in the street. They bashed his head open. And his wife was crazy, she just cracked up. So they killed her in the street too. Um, and at that point they found out that everybody was killed and dead and there was no one that survived. It was a terrible thing. Um, we found a place, I think it was like an attic. We stayed in that attic for I don't know how long. And my dad tried to find work, because you need money, you need food. Uh, we figured we'll continue on our journey, except what happened, I got sick. And I had scarlet fever. Um, what happened, I would--we lived up in an attic and I didn't feel good. My throat was hurting, but I could see there was a lot of trouble. My mom cried all the time. She lost all her family. My dad was very depressed. He lost everybody. So--and there wasn't anyone to be found except a few Jews that had just come back from Russia or from concentration camps and they started telling my parents what happened. So I, I was afraid to say anything, that I didn't feel good. So I went to my brother Harry, the one that is so sick now, he was my favorite. I could you know, confide in him. And I picked up my sh...sleeve off of my arm and I said to him, I says--in Yiddish of course--I says, "Look at the rash I have on my hand, do you think something's wrong with me?" And he looked, he says, "Did you tell daddy?" I says, "No, don't tell him," you know. He says, "No, we have to tell." So he showed it to my dad, he says, "Daddy look." In the evening dad came back. Oh it was nothing. It was like maybe noon or afternoon. And he showed it to my dad and my dad looked at me and he opened my shirt and he looked at me and he grabbed me and I've never seen anyone run so fast like my father ran with me in his arms.

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