Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

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

Germans Invade

NO: And uh, the following morning the Germans were marching in, it was quiet. And everybody was curious. I run out of the street. And a German patrol on a motorbike, but this--had a motorbike with three wheels--on the side of it was sitting the German. One was driving, holding the, the, driving the motorbike, and the other one was, was in like a box and he was sitting with a machine gun. And we were in the doorway of our building, and he was pointing the machine gun, so we run, we run inside the house. He didnt want us. And then I saw the Germans marching in. They were on horses, every one about six-foot-two or six-foot. Superior people, tall, their feet on tall horses, their feet were practically touching the ground. It was such a psychological impact; they were such a superior race. And then I found out that they were bringing those horses and everything with trucks just before the cities where they marching in and just showing off all those, like a parade so people should see their superiority; how powerful they are; how big they are; how strong. I remember this made a terrific impact on me. Just--I was really scared that time. Well a few days later uh, they issued proclamation that the--I dont remember exactly, a few days or a few weeks later, that the Jews have to wear arm bands--a Star of David with the--on the--was it on the left side?

SO: Right arm.

NO: On the arm band. And then, and then we were already the chosen people. We were really chosen. We couldnt go out on the street without wearing that and they picked us up anytime they wanted, they were needing labor or beating us up. And especially, I saw the pious Jews with the beard, they just grabbed them and cut off their beards and rip...ripped, ripped out the beards with their hands, and taking pictures and having fun, and it, it, it was something unbelievable. That is hard to imagine for me now.

I guess it was a specific day uh, Bernie said that he had came home and, and they had taken people from your family--your sister Miriam and your mother--and Sam said you ran around trying to find them to see who else in the family was taken away, but it was too late.

SO: Of course.

They, they were gone already?

SO: They were gone.

What happened when you came home at that time?

NO: Well, this was, this was already--well we have to go a little further now, and then there was already, then there was--we were in the ghetto already, they formed the ghetto. People had to come and bring the 25 pounds of bundles, whatever they could carry on their backs. And they formed the ghetto, and the uh, with the, with the barbed wires and guards and everything in a certain area of Podgorze. And uh, and then, then, then they were liquidating the ghetto. We, we had the parents where my father worked in the shoe factory for the Germans uh, my mother was uh, I dont know what was, I dont remember.

SO: She worked for Madritsch, for the uniforms, uniforms for the Nazis.

NO: She worked in a uniform for the Nazis.

SO: And our sister, too. They both worked there.

NO: Yes, they both worked for the Nazis. Yes.

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