Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Samuel Offen - December 27, 1981


Granite works.

Granite work, stone quarry. We, we uh, spent there a few months. Working conditions were unbelievable. Again, we work in this stone and granite quarry. Very little food, very little rest. We had several close calls with death, too many, too numerous to mention. But there was one way we were able to survive and the reason was this. Since I was a furrier I knew how to sew by hand, how to handle a needle and thread, how to sew, how to make a little tailoring. In the camp I met some Austrian--they were either Quakers or were objectors. They objected to carrying arms. They were German nationals, Austrians, of course, but they're just a Ger...they're German citizens. They were conscientious war objectors. They would not go to war, they would not carry arms. The Germans, they turned them into concentration camp, the same thing as us. Except they had better living conditions. They lived in a barrack like we did, but in a separate barrack from us. They were allowed food parcels from home. One of them befriended me. But, of course, they did not have to work in the stone quarry. They were like uh, carpenters, tailors. One of them befriended me and we got to talk. And he told-- since, you know, he was like a German national, he told my uh, uh, my commanding uh, officer from my uh, from my, from, from my group that he needs me, he wants me to help him in his tailoring thing. That he is fixing uniforms for the Germans, that he needs me. That I'm skillful, that he needs me. So they tell him, okay, so let him go and work for you. So this, I worked in a warm barrack. Not my brother, but, but I did. I had it a little bit easier. I used to get extra food rations from him because they used to get extra food, food there, extra food from, from home. In fact, they were even reading me--their sons were in the German armies. And they were fighting the Russians on the Russian front. And sometimes they would read me letters, they were telling me how bad it was in the German Army in the Russian front. How the Russians were getting closer to German, how the Germans going to lose the war eventually and they were very happy about it. And they were really nice people, they were very friendly to me. And because of that, because I was able to work in that warmer bar...warm barrack and I was able to get a little extra food and I was able to get a little extra food to take it back to the barrack to, to help my brother too, my brother Nat, we were able to survive because of the little extra food that we had. And out of the original transport of 270 people that went to Gusen from Mauthausen in either August or September of 1944 until we were sent back to Mauthausen in March of '45, which was a few months. Out of the 270 original prisoners, only my brother Nat and I and two or three other men survived. The rest of them all perished through hard labor and executions. As another way of, I don't know, again luck played a very important role.

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