Celia Feldman

"Do not hate; we are all G-d's people."

Name at birth
Cecila Feldman
Date of birth
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
Chelm, until age 12
Name of father, occupation
Pinchos Feldman, Tailor
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Brandla Raif
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Parents, me, Zvi, Esther, and Ray
How many in entire extended family?
Many aunts, uncles, and cousins
Who survived the Holocaust?
My immediate family, but I also have relatives in Israel and Johannesburg
In September, 1939 on Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year), the Germans bombed my city.  My father was a tailor who was out delivering clothes.  When he did not return home, I went out to look for him and found him twenty to thirty blocks away.  He was in shock and would not take my hand, so I had to push him home.  That evening, a Polish soldier came to the house and told my family to leave immediately. We walked to a customer’s home out in the country.  I had to knock on the window for a long time until we were allowed in. My family stayed a couple of days and then traveled at night until we reached the Bug River. The conditions there were terrible with so many people trying to find a place to sleep. There was no food or water.

The Russians informed us that we were being sent to Siberia. We were crowded in railroad cars, then transferred to old boats, and abandoned in the woods of Siberia, again with no food or water, nor was there heat in the old military barracks where we stayed.  Eventually a kitchen was built so that we could get one meal a day of bread and water.  My family lived in Siberia until the end of the war when I was 15. 

Although we were warned not to go, my mother wanted to go back to Chelm. When we arrived, we were met with terrible anti-Semitism but had to stay for a year because a sister was sick with scarlet fever. We went to a Jewish agency which settled us in Vienna at the Rothschild Hotel.

My first son was 15 months when we arrived in Detroit in 1949. My second son was born in 1950. I was hired as a cashier in a clothing store in Detroit where the owners treated me like family. I worked hard and brought over my parents and my siblings. I was a single mother who raised two successful sons.
Where were you in the Former Soviet Union?
My family fled across the Bug River to other side to Russia. We were sent to Siberia where we spent the rest of the war.
Where did you go after being liberated?
Back home (Chelm)
When did you come to the United States?
Where did you settle?
How is it that you came to Michigan?
I had relatives in Detroit
Occupation after the war
Harold, retired colonel; Robert, Jewish historical agency professional
Three: Sara, Matthew, and Nate
What do you think helped you to survive?
I had to do what I had to do.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
Do not hate; we are all G-d's people.
Charles Silow
Interview date:

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