Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Samuel Offen - December 27, 1981

Talk of Resistance

Was there ever at any point in Płaszów, in the ghetto, or in uh, Wie...Wielicka, is it?


Wielicka. Any talk of resistance?

Oh yes. There was not only talk, there was resistance. But not on a massive scale. Only on individual basis. I knew some friends of mine that were--that went to uh, fight the Germans with the partisans. Some of my friends who went to school with me died fighting the Germans with the partisans. There were some escapes from the Płaszów concentration camp. But unfortunately, in one way, there were not many escapes. On the other hand, fortunately, there weren't. For the simple reason that eventually we were formed like into groups, to groups of ten or twenty or thirty people. Had to watch for each other. If one of you escaped, they would execute the rest of them. So it was like a built-in protection for us. If, if you can call, call it so. That we had to be sure that none of us escaped.

Was there ever any expression of the sentiment that, enough of this, at least let's, let's kill some of them before they kill us?

There was. But it--most of it had no substance. We just like almost walking skeletons. There was no organized resistance, there was no movement. There was to...constant starvation. All you were interested was that uh, we didn't care if you died, so you died. But in the meantime maybe you can find a piece of bread some place. There was no, there was no organization there because there was no one really in power or there was no one able to do anything. There were people that were dying with a piece of bread in their hand because they were so sick they couldn't eat a piece of bread. There were people that were dying with a piece of bread, of starvation, because they were religious and they knew it was Yom Kippur and they were not supposed to eat. The people died for religious reason. They just would not, they would give occasionally--the Germans would give us um, a bowl of hot soup. Well, there may have been a piece of meat floating in there or something or who knows what it was. Those people would not eat it. They died knowingly that they will die. That's why there was no--at that time. Oh in the ghetto there was organized resistance. In fact, I almost joined the partisans in the ghetto. At the last minute, again, a friend of mine and I were talking about joining the partisans. I did not particularly look Jewish. I could have, I could have uh, handled myself for a little while as a, as a Pole. I had Polish education. My, my Polish was faultless. They would never know that I was not Polish, except they found out many people like me by a personal search. Circumcision was a dead give away. Polish people were not circumcised. Only Jews were. So my f...f...my friend and I were talking about joining the resistance. We said we're not going to go to the camp. But I don't remember whatever happened, the reason--oh yes, for some reason, again, before joining him--he did join the partisans eventually. And I do not know whatever happened to him. I never heard from him again. Whether he survived or not, I do not know. But I've never seen him again. For some reason, we could not get together at the appointed time where we were supposed to join the partisans away from Krakow someplace in the s...in the uh, countryside. So that's why, there was no--later on when there were mass executions, mass starvation, there was really no motive for us to just do it and some reason we just didn't even think about it. In fact, sometimes a merciful bullet was even better than continued starvation.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn