Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Samuel Offen - December 27, 1981

Transport to Mauthausen

Did they put you on cattle cars?

On cattle cars. And a long journey took place. We did not know where we were going. The date was August the 7th, 1944. I remember the date so vividly because the same as my birthday. I, I quote--celebrated--unquote my birthday in the cattle car without food, without water. People were dying of lack of air, of starvation, of thirst. It was a few days journey.

What were the sanitary conditions?

No, there were no sanitary conditions. You just did whatever you had to do wherever you were. You just had your square foot or two, whatever you were, you couldn't move around. The four of us were still together though, next to each other, whatever you had. Occasionally Germans would throw in a few loaves of bread or something through the window while they're riding. On every car, on every roof there was a Nazi with a submachine gun. There was not even an attempt to escape because there was no way of escaping. Not only that because uh, there was no way of escaping. There was no way, we had no tools to even open up the cattle car and get out. There was no way. And we didn't know, know, know, know where we're going. Eventually after a few days of riding and there were bodies next to us, some people died, there was nothing that you could do for them. Eventually trains stopped. It stopped several times for whatever reason. Eventually after a long stop we heard a command, they opened up the car, to get out. We wound up in Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. And again, we went through, as many times before, we have to strip off all our clothing and go through so-called shower. Shower and it was called Entlausung, it simply meant to just, disinfection, de...be, to be deloused in disinfection. But this happened many times before, it was a f...it was just a cover up for gas chamber. You just went through, sometimes you didn't know if you're going to go through it or not. Because sometimes you went through it, you're supposed to go to be disinfected and instead you were just executed right in there.

Did you know about gas chambers?

Oh yes, by that time we knew about gas chambers and about extermination camps and about Auschwitz. At that time we all knew already what was happening. But we just--there was nothing that we could do about it.

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