Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Samuel Offen - December 27, 1981

German Occupation

How did Jews in Krakow feel about the German victory?

Very badly, very fearful, because of the advanced notice that we had of what the Germans were doing to the Jews. I mean, we, we, we knew uh, uh, what was going on. Of course, a lot of people did not believe it. Although we had evidence. There were a lot of Polish-born German nationals being returned and exiled back to Poland. A lot of people could not believe what was going on there. How could a civilized nation like Germany commit crimes like this? Of course, there was still, at those days there were not, although they had some concentration camps already, they were not, killings were not going on yet. So people were fearful, but if they uh, the general talk was that, so they will stay here for a few months, so they make us work hard and then they'll leave and we'll have our peace back. And that's what kept people going for awhile. That's--there was like, like, like a hope that that's what's going to happen. But, of course, as we all know now, things turned out quite differently.

Did anybody ever--in your family talk about leaving when the Germans came?

No, no. We had no way of leaving, we were, we had no ways or means of leaving. We're just like locked in along with uh, thousands--hundreds of thousands of other families. We were just locked into the system. We just couldn't go anywhere, you couldn't, couldn't leave.

Uh, did, did life begin to change right away, the daily routine things? Going to school uh, going to work, what kinds of things changed?

Oh it, life changed completely. Life, like a day before life was normal, I probably--I went to work a day or two and then life changed completely. After a, a couple days when Germans came in, right away marshal law was declared or a law to that effect. Nobody can--there were no--there was no public transportation. There was no uh, uh, well, there was uh, essential service continued, you know, water, sewers, electricity.

Was there curfew?

Telephone. There was a curfew. There was a curfew, yes. Definitely there was a curfew. And, of course, we couldn't go to work. There was no more work. I worked downtown. Uh, I walked to--I--many times I couldn't even afford to buy a ticket. Transportation was quite expensive. I worked downtown, so. And I lived in the suburbs, so it used to take me about uh, over a half hour to walk each way. And I used to walk fo...walk four times a day to work, because we used to come home for lunch and lunch was a big meal. So I had two hours for lunch, I used to come home and uh, have a big meal and then go back to work. But anyway, there, there was no more work, there was no, no jobs. You couldn't go outside of your immediate neighborhood. There were no--life took, there were no...well, if you had no food at home. And people started preparing a little bit with food, you know whatever food we had home, that's what we could eat. Stores were not open uh, bakeries were not baking, butchers were not--there was nothing available that you could go out and buy.

Was this just among Jews or was it all over Poland?

All over Poland, all over Krakow. There were not, not apply to Jews only, it applied to the general population.

When did you feel that the things, laws or restrictions were directed against uh, against Jews of Krakow?

Within a few days...

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