Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Samuel Offen - December 27, 1981

Amon Goeth

Another time I remember our camp commander, commander, his name was Goeth--I think I mentioned before--was a very vicious man. He was the most vicious of them all, if this that's at all possible. He used to go out from his, from his house. He lived down near the gate of the camp, outside the camp. He had two vicious dogs, very vicious dogs walking with him. Also with a uh, whip in his hand, with two dogs and a gun. And he used to walk around the camp and again, for whatever reason, he would, he would just sick the dogs at the prisoners. For no reason, wherever he walked by, for whatever reason, he would just sick dogs, just or he just pointed out to one of the prisoners, says, he would say in German he would say "Jude!"-- meaning Jew--and the dog would just run right at you and the dogs used to just like tear you apart. And after you just started bleeding and stuff, you know, the dogs were getting more vicious and vicious, eventually he'd take out his gun and he would shoot you. And normally, dogs started tearing at you or something, you know, the person would just fall down and dog kept uh, dogs kept on tearing and tearing at you more and more and biting more and more and eventually he would just, I don't know, it was humanitarian gesture or something, whatever, it was the coup de grace, whatever it was, he would just shoot you in the head right there. And one detail that we took turns in working was not far from his house, from his appointed route. He--every after breakfast he would walk out of his walk and walk up the hill and walk out, walk around his camp and do this. And every and a lot of people died just working that particular de...detail, working that spot. And one day my turn came to work there. There was no way that I could get out of working there. That was my day to--so I thought I was going to be torn if I was working my detail. Working with a shovel by grading the road or something. Oh, but just, I was only one person, one person straightening out the road shoveling or something, working with the shovel, with a pick and shovel. And here I see, he starts walking up the hill with the dog and here my heart starts pounding, I said," Well, that's the end of me and that's going to be it." And as happened before, he walks by me, points the dog out to me, "Jude." the dog starts tearing at, at me. Tearing at my side. And I can just feel that it's--I can feel--in fact, I have, I still have marks on the side of my body--and dogs just tearing at my side. And for some reason, I don't know what happened to me. I was standing erect and continuously working with my pick or shovel, continued working and working and I--luckily I did not fall down, I kept working. And he stays there, stays there and for--I don't know what happened then--and then he sort of like snatch his whip, he says in German, "Go away!" to dogs. And dog immediately go, goes away. And he starts walking away. So I don't know if a miracle, whatever, happened to me, I must--if, if I was the first or what, the, the first time that I, that I even heard about it that he didn't shoot the prisoner. He let the dogs, you know, get away from the person. Again, I'm not that brave and I don't know what happened. How come I didn't fall down when the dogs were tearing away at my flesh like the other ones? But again, I think, it was just pure luck. There was no other way of surviving, by sheer luck. I went--later on I was lucky that I was able to get a job inside a barrack. I think I mentioned to you that I became an apprentice furrier. And later on when the camp was a little better organized, the Germans organized one, what they called a furriers' barrack. And they brought us skins to be made into coats for the German Army for the Russian front--for the cold Russian winters. We had to make fur coats for them, for the so...Russian soldiers. So they needed some people to work. And I happened to know the uh, the uh, director of the furriers' barrack. I knew him many years before from my fur trade year, so he took me in. And then I had it a little bit easier for a few months. I was able to work, instead of working in a stone quarry uh, working outside, I was able to work at my trade in a warm barrack. So I had it a little bit easier for a few months. Until 1944, some time in summer of 1944, early summer of 1944.

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