Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Nathan, Bernard, and Samuel Offen - September 3, 1987


Okay, I think we'll begin. Could you--starting with Sam--just tell me your names and where you were born, please.

SO: Okay, my name is Sam Offen. I was born in Kraków, Poland, August 7th, 1921, which makes me 66-years-old.

NO: Uh, I am Nathan Offen. I was born in Kraków, December the 15th, 1922. This makes me--next December, I be 65.

BO: I was born the same place because these guys are my br...my brothers. So uh, but, up to a month ago, I thought I was uh, born on, uh March 7th, 1931. But a month--two months ago I found out that I was born on April 17th, 1929. So Im two years older than I was 2 months ago, so...

SO: This makes us closer.

BO: Thats true.

Uh, now this...

SO: Not only in age.

Briefly, can you tell me what--during the war um, where were you during the war?

SO: Well, uh, I spent, uh, the beginning of the war, when the Nazis came into Kraków, I spent in first labor camps, eventually it was the ghetto in Kraków, then it was concentration camp Płaszów which was outside of Kraków. And salt mine Wieliczka, not too far away from Kraków. And then I was sent to Mauthausen and Gusen in Austria, where I was liberated.

NO: When the war broke out in 1939, when the German mar...marched into Kraków, uh, soon after that, uh, they were holding Jews uh, to do manual labor, and uh, and beating up and just at will grabbing us from the streets and uh, and uh, whatever they wanted to do with us they were doing--physical abusing and so forth.

Were you also then in a labor camp?

NO: Oh sure I was. I was uh, at first I was uh, first they took me from the--before they built the ghetto, they took me to a place, oh, about thirty miles outside Kraków to a, to ah uh, to a uh, quarry--rock quarry. And I had to uh, sit and break with this sledgehammer rock--granite rock. And I worked there a few months. This was my first time that I was away from home and uh, I, I really cried myself at night, to bed. And then I came back home and they uh, they start forming the ghetto, and then they shipped us from the ghetto--they liquidated the ghetto. From the ghetto they took to Wieliczka. I was with Sam in Wieliczka; that's a salt mine thats a few miles outside of Kraków. And from Wieliczka uh, at that time the Russians were advancing, and the German moved us out to uh, uh, back to Płaszów and from Płaszów they shipped us to Mauthausen. And I spend the rest of the war to the liberation in Mauthausen.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn