Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

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

Goeth II

SO: And I remember one day, for some reason it was my turn to work at the detail right near the disinfection barrack, and uh, I just sort of thought that the end of me was going to come because theres nothing I can do. I have to go, you know, and work there. And sure enough, through the corner of my eyes, I see Goeth, our commander, walking up towards me with his two dogs and thats just like on command, he liked sicced the dogs. "Jude," Jew, and the dogs just grabbed me and started tearing me apart. And I dont know, Im not that brave, or whatever happened to me then, I just stood calmly and continued working with my pick or shovel, whatever--I was just, just, just, just doing, keeping busy, and unlike other prisoners before, I did not fall down. And after maybe a minute or two, which seemed like eternity, he just liked that I didnt fall down, or whatever, he just told the dogs to stop it. The dogs stopped and he walked away with them. So I think I was one of--maybe one of the first ones or the first one that he did not kill after they encountered the dogs. In fact, I have a, a--some even, some marks by, by, from these dogs--that uh, I still bear the scars to this, to this day. Later of course, I went up to the camp into the hospital, and somebody just put some things on me, a doctor or whoever it was, and of course, thats one of the close encounters that I had. One of many, many lucky encounters. You know, uh, we are sitting here, we're three brothers that survived Nazi concentration camp. I think there are very few families that had three brothers survive. We survived by God only knows how. But we are here to tell the story now. Of course, we are recalling our story--this is like now 45 years later or so. Certain details well never forget, certain things that happened. Certain little details of dates we might overlap. Now we had a big family. We must have had 50 or 60 cousins and uncles and grandparents. We never could count everybody and we were the only lucky three ones--three brothers that survived. Now, like Nat was mentioning before, just as the, just as the war broke out in 1939, and the Polish Army ran away, and there was no law or order, there was a lot of looting going on. This is lucky for us we went to that uh, mill. We got some flour. Or to some other, you know to uh, uh, I think it was a chocolate factory that we took a box of chocolate, cigarettes, and we stored that food, and we had that food. Now for a few days--soon as the Germans came in, we are not allowed to go out of the, of our house. It was like, uh, martial law. For Jews especially. For a few days or weeks, I dont remember. But luckily for us, we had a little food to eat, to sustain us because we didnt have refrigerators or freezers stocked full of food that we could survive for this, we had nothing. We had just day-to-day food. That was the custom at that point. Uh, so theres no way that--people have asked me, "How, how did you survive?" People told me. I had somebody tell me that, "You were just like slaves in the United States." I think we were a lot worse than slaves. Slaves were at least--they were persecuted but they were allowed to live.

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