Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

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

Transport II

Did you remember these--did you know these three men from before?

SO: They were our friends, our personal friends.

From before the war?

NO: Yes.

SO: Oh yes, in fact, one of--yes. It's not so--for whatever reason, I mean they were, they were hanged, all three of them. We found out later, or that same day, or next day, whatever--they found out Germans went down with search dogs and they found them and they hanged them up right there. So that was one lucky way that we escaped. We did not hide with them. In fact, one of, one of the uh, our friends brother and two sisters survived and we just met them this past February in...

NO: Florida.

SO: Miami Beach. We had a Kraków reunion. Survivors from all over the world from Kraków had their world reunion in Miami Beach and we met his brother and his two sisters and we took them ,of course, and , you know, they knew about it, you know. We talked about it too. Thats how we remember. But then, of course, we went to the uh, the--we said about the cattle car, thats when we went from Wieliczka with the stopover in Płaszów, which luckily by some--by luck or whatever, Bernie and our father joined us in the cattle car. And we had like a journey in the cattle car for about three or four days all the way to Mauthausen in Austria.

Were you--were the two of you aware that Bernie and your father were in the, in the car?

SO: Yeah. Were together.

NO: Were all together.

SO: We were by coincidence.

BO: I don't recall it at all.

SO: Oh you don't recall?

NO: We went back together in one cattle car, yeah.

What was it like in the cattle car?

NO: We were traveling for so many days. There was no food, no nothing. People were drinking their own urine. And people--half of them--I dont remember the percentage, but uh, a big percentage just died down there. And we were just--who could get a breath of, of air? We were grasping for air. Maybe 50 percent of the people in, in, in the cattle train died, I mean, just from sheer uh, lack of food, and the heat. This was in summer. Must have been...

SO: It was in August. It was in August...

NO: Yes.

SO: Because I remember it was during my birthday. It was my 23rd birthday.

NO: It was--the heat was something. And they deliberately uh, we went through so many states, they put us on, on the railroad track, on the side for few days. To stand here for a few days. A couple days there, I dont know where we were traveling, till we got to, to eh, to...

SO: Mauthausen.

NO: Mauthausen. Then they...

Did you celebrate your birthday on the train?

SO: Well, if thats what you call, I mean, thats the reason I recall so vividly because that was my 23rd birthday. Thats why I remember it was hot, it was August. It was the 7th of August. Thats my birthday. In fact, this is when we came to Mauthausen, I mean, Mauthausen and were there together for a few days and this is where we were separated. The two of us, Nat and I, remained in Mauthausen and Bernie and my father went to Auschwitz. When, unfortunately, my father was perso...picked out personally by Mengele and sent to the gas chamber and he was only 49-years-old then. And Bernie, of course, remained in Auschwitz. He had his, you know, luck, his whatever, you know, that he survived there.

BO: What, what I remember, what I remember about that train trip was uh, of course the, the stench and the bodies around and uh, and I remember father being there all the time. I mean, you know, I had the connection with my father. And one particular day I remember that I was allowed to go out of the train and get a bucket of water into the car. I recall that.

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