Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

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

Mauthausen II

NO: But as long as they were Germans they would receive packages from home and everything. But sometimes we had access to them. And one of them was a very fine gentleman and Sam made for him a cap. A head and a cap and something, he fixed his pants and he gave him some bread. And I recalled we had bread and then we had, we managed to get some salt. You see, they didnt give us any salt. And without salt, you cannot live. If they give us this soup and for months without salt, you just couldnt eat no matter how bad it is, how bad it is. And that, that soup was uh something ersatz soup. I dont know what you call it. It was like a...


NO: Imitation. It was like wallpaper. The paste for the wallpaper. It looked exactly that color and no salt. Once we managed to get some salt from the German. He gave us some salt. And we, I was sleeping and guarding it. Sam was sleeping so I was guarding this. When Sam was sleeping I was guarding it. And we man...the Russian, we had some Russian prisoners with us living, they managed to steal that salt from us. Anyhow, and that bread is hard, hard to believe how I and Sam survived. Sam didnt tell you, but I can tell you why we survived. Because we cared about each other. And we wanted...we just helped each other. We were, the crumbs of the bread, when they fell off, off the bread. When it fell off from the piece of bread that we had, we were counting those crumbs of bread and we were sharing it. Counting it and sharing it. Not wanting to take the crumbs, we were just sharing those crumbs of bread also. And then this helped us a lot uh, with, with those German prisoners that they gave us a piece of bread once in awhile. That Sam was able, like I was saying before, make something for them. And we every day marched through the, marched, marched to this, to this Steinbruch. Steinbruch is the quarry. Backs, we had to carry on our backs and march, marched, and carry on our backs the injured or the dead ones we had to bring them back into the camp because they were count, counting us. We went through the guard was counting how many went out and how many came back. So we had to have a head count. We had to bring back the dead ones.

Is this the quarry that had all the steps? That you had to walk up the steps?

NO: Yes. This was in Mauthausen-Gusen I.

Spanish steps.

NO: Yes. Yes. Yes. We would work down in the quarries and on top the guards were with their machine guns, with everything. If they didnt like somebody, they would just shoot him down. They saw you didnt work hard or you didnt break enough rocks or anything. Just the, just the idea to work in winter in a quarry. Lift up without gloves, without anything. To lift up a rock and throw it into the, into the lorry. It was something. Anyhow, then the last few weeks before the liberation, we were weak and dead and uh, uh, we were just dying. The Germans didnt feed us. They threw once in awhile, one slice of stale bread. It was all green. And we didnt go to work anymore. Cause we didn't, couldnt move or anything, they let us rot. We were laying in beds, three tiers up and I remember, we, we kept a dead, a dead, a dead person in our, in our bank.

NO: We just stick out the arm of him and they throw us a bread because how many, how many people there were and how many hands they saw they threw so many slices of bread.

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