Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Samuel Offen - December 27, 1981

German Occupation (Continued)

How did it change?

...of German invasion. Well, they started to distribute leaflets or put leaflets in placards on, on uh, all kinds of uh, public notice post--we had like public notice posts or uh, fences or telephone poles or whatever. Public notices that um, Jews are not allowed to uh, to, to, to leave--I don't remember if it was just homes or the immediate area...yes, some trucks patrolling your neighborhood announcing that Jews cannot leave the immediate area until further notice. And that little by little they put out notices that we have to, that the Germans occupying Poland now, we have to live under German laws. Um, at first they said that they're going to start forming labor camps, everybody has to work. Uh, those that will live within the law, nothing will happen to them. They will be fed, housed and little by little that's how it started. It was getting worse and worse. I remember uh, when we went out to, or when--and after, that we'll allowed to leave our houses and go within, within in, on our blocks, so German soldiers used to patrol the streets in numbers. Those, half a dozen of them especially I remember these young, cocky Nazi soldiers would walk by. They would see an older Jew. They would call--walk over to him. That was the first thing how it started. And I saw, I witnessed it myself, they were prepared for him, they had scissors. They would take out their scissors and cut off the older Jew's beard and their payes. Their sidelocks. You know cut-off, they would and they would gloat and laugh at him. And if somebody would uh, protest, they would beat him up and they would still cut off his beard. That's how, this was the first thing, bad thing. ??? but just beating up and cutting off beards. That was the first thing. Of course, synagogues, I don't remember they were closed off if nobody would dare go to a synagogue. So if religious Jews wanted to pray they prayed at home.

Armbands. Do you remember when the armbands started?

The armbands came--that was the next step. That was the next step. As I say, they started making laws little by little, one step at a time. We had to wear a, oh about a four, five inch armband on our left shoulder with a uh, insignia of the Mogen David or the uh, Jewish star. And it was compulsory. Now at that time, we could move around a little more freely yet, but with an armband. We could go to town, in other words. There was no ghetto formed yet. We could walk into town. There was no--oh, we were not allowed to use public transpor...they literally only started public transportation for Polish people, not for Jews. We were not, not allowed to use the streetcars or the trams or the busses. But we were allowed to walk into town. Because at that time people still had businesses downtown or someplace. They were allowed to go to businesses. You know, so they had to wear an armband or they would take us out to go to work, someplace to s...s...clean the street or later to remove the snow, chop the ice off the sidewalk. And uh, but you had to wear an armband constantly, outside the arm.

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