Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

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


You worked in Gusen?

NO: Mauthausen and Gusen I. Both--they are, they are both adjoining together.

So you were together...

NO: Yes.

...most of the war.

NO: Most.

What about you, Bernie?

BO: Well uh, as I recall uh, the Germans uh, marched in and uh, on the first day I remember that being a young kid, I, I dont think I was as frightened. I think it was more excitement than anything. Uh, I marched out in the street and there was a curfew and I didnt know it uh, to see the soldiers marching uh, down the street. And I was fired on the first day; I mean they shot at me. Ah, and uh, that was the introduction kind of to uh, for me. Uh, then the ghetto, again uh, we were still together, uh, the whole family was still together. Uh, grandmother was still there. Uh, and gradually uh, parts of the family starting disappearing. Uh, I think it was grandma that disappeared first, was it not? Was it?

SO: Yeah, grandma with some of our aunts...

BO: Yeah.

SO: ...and the children--cousins--little cousins, started to disappear.

BO: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And uh, then uh, I went uh, into labor gangs--different labor gangs, then uh, Sam and Nat went too. I went usually with my father. And uh, and some of the labor involved clearing streets of ice and snow and wor...working in the uh, military warehouses and stuff like that. But uh, then uh, then the ghetto started and uh, we were confined behind these walls that they built and posted guards and uh, the troops around the ghetto and policemen. Then the ghetto was reduced in size after they uh, uh, um, deported a lot of people. And uh, we moved into the smaller ghetto. And uh, I was sometimes uh, went out of the ghetto, smuggle in some food. And on one of those trips out of the ghetto, its is when uh, my mother and sister uh, uh, disappeared. Uh, and thats all I ever heard uh, that they just disappeared and never, never saw them again. Uh, by that time uh, Nathan and uh, and Sam were already in uh, some camp, apparently it was Płaszów--no Wieliczka. It was Wieliczka?

SO: No, no it wasn't. No. We were not--we were still together then.

BO: Ah-ha. Uh, so...

SO: That was in the ghetto.

BO: Yeah, okay. And then...

SO: We just, we worked outside of the ghetto, not all, and we worked outside of the ghetto.

BO: I see, I see.

SO: And then when we came, what happened that they, when we came in that was uh, uh...October 28th, 1942. Thats when the Germans uh, deported, I dont remember how many thousands of uh, Jews from the ghetto to uh, Treblinka, or Majdanek, or Bełźec.

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