Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Samuel Offen - December 27, 1981

First Deportations

When did people start disappearing from the ghetto?

Well, eventually, after a few months, they ev...they made a smaller ghetto. The ghetto became smaller. They confined us to a smaller area. And then we had to move from our part of the, of, of, of--from our apartment house, a few blocks away--again within the ghetto area, within the new ghetto area, the new confined ghetto area. And we moved in with my mother's youngest sister who, who happened to live in that apartment within that new ghetto area. And we lived in one room. There were the two of them, they had no children yet. There was no other--it was a younger sister. They had married only a couple of years before then and they had no children. Plus the six of us, so we filled one room and the six--eight of us. And again it became tighter and tighter. And again the same thing. On occasion we, we were able to smuggle in some food, especially my youngest brother, Bernie.

Had your grandmother gone with you? She lived in the same building.

I am trying to--no. Prior to moving to the smaller ghetto--now I recall--my grandmother and most of our family, most of her daughters, her son, all the cousins, were deported. And because of these deportation from the larger ghetto, there were less people. And that's why they herded us into a smaller ghetto. So my grandmother and as I said, all the rest of the family, were all marched off someplace. Now we were told by the Germans that they taking them to a labor camp. Of course, we did, did not believe it. But yet at that time we had no evidence, we heard, but we had no evidence, that people that had disappearing would never be seen again. They were taken to death camps. But there was no concrete evidence as far as we knew then. They're just rumors.

Did you hear from them? The marchers were never to be heard from again.

Postcards, letters?

Nothing. There was no such thing. I mean, once you went to ca...once you disappeared, there was never any communication from anybody. And we never heard from them again. There was--I will never forget, they were ???, they had to walk, who knows how far they walked. They walked from the ghetto and we were standing on a street corner and they're waving to us and we just walked outside the ghetto and we've never seen them or heard from them again. We were lucky somehow. Our own immediate family, the, our, you know, our, the three brothers, my sister, my mother and father were still together. None of us were touched, it was like, like what they call the first transport. Actually, most of the people in that first transport were mostly older people and young children, with a mixture of, with a mixture of some middle age people who would supposedly help support, you know, the children of the elderly people. And that's how most of our family disappeared. They were the first transport leaving the ghetto.

So you moved with your...

Then eventua...we moved into--with, with our aunt. And again, of course, we had to go out to work everyday. A German transport would come and take us and we'd march someplace, wherever there was uh, work to be done. We'd go work everyday. My father uh, my mother, my, all, all of us. And at night we'd go back, they'd bring us back to the ghetto and we had an evening meal, whatever they, they would give us. But one good part of our working for the Germans--at that time it still was--that if we worked outside, even the coldest, bitter cold weather, we knew that we'd get a noontime meal. Some ho...hot soup or something they would give us. The Germans themselves did it at that field kitchen or something, something for us and give us a meal. That was one of the incentive to go to work. Whether you wanted or not, you had to go to work anyway, but it was one of the supposed good part the bowl of soup or whatever they gave us. At night we'd come home and mother would scrape up whatever we had that time to have a meal. And we lived like this with our aunt together for a few months in that smaller ghetto of Krakow.

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