Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

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

The Ghetto

NO: Oh, and then we, we--they issued ration cards and uh, we used to have to line up all night sometimes to get a bread from the bakery. And they used to come down around with dogs, and those dogs were trained. If they said--the German point like he said to kill--he said "Jew, Jude," the German just grabbed you--that dog just grabbed you, bit you. I remember my mother was bitten once. We all--the whole family was lining up for loaf of bread, because we were hoping that one of us could get a bread. Thats why we had to line up--all of us to line up, so that we had something to eat. And now should I continue, or should I let them go? And--beg pardon?

Theyll interrupt if they really want to.

NO: All right, so I, I--then they--there--we were for some time in the ghetto, then they decided to make the ghetto smaller and liquidate. So they were grabbing people at night. They came at night, the Jewish police with the Germans, and they grab them. They had lists made up already and who was going to be first, going to the transport. And they were, they were grabbing those people and taking them to a certain place. And I, I recall that uh, they grabbed my mother and my sister, my--mine sister, and they were lining them up and this was taking them down to Plac Zgody. This was on the Jozefinska, on the Jozefinska. And the--I wanted to go over and say goodbye to my mother, and I hugged my mother and wanted to kiss my sister, and the German came over and he just hit me with his butt of the gun. He hit me in the mouth. He knocked out my teeth from both sides, that time. And this was the last time that I saw my mother.

Did you know that this was happening?

SO: I did not, I was working outside of the ghetto that day. I had a job working for the Nazi war machine repairing their tanks and ammunition outside of the ghetto. And in a way I was lucky that I did have that job because I could go out, you know, come back and get sometimes little extra food or something. And that day I was out. But I knew something terrible was going to happen because I could tell that the streets outside of the ghetto were lined with extra SS guards, and uh, trucks, and machine guns. And I--and this happened before. We had previous experiences where they were going--where they were making these uh--where they were taking people out of the ghetto and sending them to supposed labor camps. But, but also at the same time they were so brutal. They were not just taking people out and lining them up and setting them outside of the ghetto. They were killing people right in front of us in the streets--shooting them, or beating them to death. Uh, but fortunately, I did not witness my mother and sister leaving, as Nat did. Nat was in the ghetto that day, I wasnt. I was outside. I found that out at night when I met Nat and our father, found Bernie. Because we lived together--all of us lived in one room in the ghetto--in the second ghetto, which was made smaller because by simply--by reducing the population of the original ghetto, the Germans just forced us to move into a smaller ghetto uh, by deporting people. They had deportations all of the time. So, one of these deportations this is when my mother and sister were deported. I know Bernie, what do you...

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