Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

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


SO: Now, we, of course, were not allowed to live. We were just--we were, we were deprived of our basic right to live. Thats what the Nazis did to us. And thats how lucky we survived. Now, I was--Nat and I were lucky we were in the camp towards the end together. Both of us were liberated at the same time and uh, May of--May 5th, 1945, by the American Army. And of course, our lives have changed since. There is a lot of things that we didnt do and I remember being so many times in a disinfection place that was suppose to get shower, but poison gas would come out of it. Lucky for me, I never encountered it. But I was--every time we went to that place, I was afraid maybe that will--poison gas will come out. So thats why I can remember that after the war, for the first, I dont know the few months or years, or something, I was always afraid to take a shower for that reason. I used to try to take a bath or something else. Thats how I was afraid of.

Are there other things that uh, that remind you of um, specific experiences in the war? Still sort of follow you around? Shower? Dogs?

SO: Well, I was afraid of, I was always afraid of big dogs. Im still afraid of big dogs. They uh, I also--to give you one idea what I, what I thought just before liberation, I remember that also we were talking, a few of us prisoners were talking, and we were, it was just making supposed plans. If by some chance, the war was coming at an end, we knew it was going to, whether we were going to live a few more days, we did not know. But, we just making plans. If, if by some miracle, if we are going to survive, what are you going to do for the rest of your lives. I remember one prisoner, one friend said Ill do, I know become a doctor, or a plumber, or a shoemaker or whatever, you know. And I remember, I recalled, and I remember we were just emaciated, were starved, we're just half-starved. And I remember my ambition, my great ambition was for the rest of my life, what Im going to do, so that I wont be hungry, Ill work in a kitchen restaurant for the rest of my life. That, Ill be satisfied with this. That was my big plan for the rest of my life. And look at what happened to me now. I think Ive changed a little, I've changed a little.

BO: Still cant keep you out of the kitchen.

Nat, what about you that, that, lets pause for a second here, okay?

NO: Sure.

[interruption in interview]

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