This is the story of generational spiritual battles.
Interviewer: The first thing that I want to do and I can set my audio levels while you're doing this is just get your first and last name on tapes and the spelling of it.
Ester: It's Ester Herszkowicxz. H-E-R-S-Z-K-O-W-I-C-X-Z.
Interviewer: Great... Alright. Now, where you were born?
Answer: During World War I, my parents came as refugees to Warsaw. I was born there.
Interviewer: What was it like in Warsaw.
Answer: I didn't know any better so to me, it was normal. My father struggled to work, and we were poor, but I knew little of that. When I was older and the Germans came is when things changed. I was sheltered from most of the horrors that were happening all around, but I didn't need to know the details to know that what was happening was evil.
Interviewer: Is that when you were moved, um... deported?
Ester: I was sixteen years old when we were forced into the boxcar. We were told we were being resettled. The train stretched far beyond what my eyes could see. I don't know how long we were on the train. It made several stops, and each time it became more and more crowded. The smell... the smell was a mix of sweat, excrement and an odd smell I couldn't place at the time. I know now it was death. Although I don't recall seeing anyone that was dead, I can't say for sure that I didn't. There were so many who had resigned themselves to death that they appeared as corpses, living corpses with no hope. There have been times since where that foul stench struck a chord of fear in me so real and I found myself right back on that train. After what seemed like forever, the train stopped at what appeared to be a train station. We were told we had to be washed and disinfected before we could continue any further. At first I was relieved, but it didn't last long. I was separated from my parents and led through the station. It was then I knew we weren't at a train station, but that we had arrived at a dreadful place. I saw children younger than I, both boys and girls, being led into a building with a big red cross on it. Moments later I heard gunshots. I began looking around frantically to see where it was they were taking me. I cried for those little children. I cried for my parents. As darkness descended, I cried. Then it was as if God had removed a veil. I wondered if I had died on that train and if this was hell. I could feel the fear as it squeezed my chest. My knees became weak, but somehow I stood. I stood until God had shown me all I needed to see.
Interviewer: What did you see?
Ester: There were fences everywhere that kept me from seeing beyond into the rest of the camp. The fences were taller than a man, and woven through the fence were pine limbs. In between the pine limbs I could see what I at first thought were people, but then they were more like shadows that would dart between the fence and the buildings. I couldn't see them well. It was as if they were in my side vision and they would disappear when I turned my head. I caught a glimpse of one as it blended into the shadow of a guard who snapped his head in my direction. He started at me in a fast pace nearly running, but not. He was angry and yelling, "Judenschwein!"
Ester: It means Jew pig.
Interviewer: What happened next?
Ester: I don't know how long I was on the train, but I know when we arrived. It was August 2, 1943.
Interviewer: The day of the revolt?
Ester: Yes. There was a big explosion followed by many smaller explosions and chaos. After the explosion, I heard the eeriest scream I had ever heard. It seemed to drown out all other noises. It was a scream but not like any I have ever heard. It was one scream with many voices. The scream grew distant. As it did, the darkness lifted. I could see people running everywhere, guards and prisoners. I saw where someone had thrown a blanket over the top of the fence. I scrambled over and was free, but I never saw my parents again.
Interview with Ester