Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Samuel Offen - December 27, 1981


Were the--were members of the Kahal rabbis or were they...

No. They were laymen.

...usually Orthodox?

No, on the contrary. They were, they were laymen like my father and others. But I, I think they were usually, either people maybe a little better educated--some with college degrees or wealthier people. I don't ever remember poor shoemakers or tailors being members of the thing. For the simple reason that, I remember during election they used to come around and pick you up, they used to rent a fleet of cars or, or wagons with uh, horse, horse, horse-drawn wagons and used to pick anybody up that wanted to go and vote. Used to distributed cigarettes or some such things, a little candy or goodies. Come and vote. Vote for me, vote for me, vote for me. They used to drag you along and take you along. So that was an issue, that was like introduction to politics practically. And that was also discussed. Who's going to run, who should be elected, who shouldn't. Oh I heard that this guy is uh, not so good or some or religious people would say, "Well, he goes to shul, but he doesn't daven too much, he just sits there." Others would say, "Oh he doesn't even go to shul, why should he be elected." It was all like a--actually we lived in a big city, but we lived like in a suburb, like one end of, of, of the city.


Podgórze. It was called Podgórze, which was a suburb of Krakow. It was across the Vistula river. Out, compared like Detroit--Windsor. Although it was all one town, but it was across the river. So we'd like, we had our own Kahal and Krakow itself had a, one, a bigger one. See our's was like, more like, it was a big city, but it had small town politics.

Um, did--was there ever any discussion of the Bundists or the Zionists or the Agudah...


...or the Communists?

I don't remember that particular thing, I know I don't remember. But I know I personally was interested in these things when I became a teenager. Because again, most of my friends were interested. Some belonged to Bund, some belonged to uh, uh, ??? some belonged to a, a strong Zionist organization like the A...Akiva, I think it was one of them. All kings of Zionist organization. Most of them belonged to Zionist organizations, but some were like, more like, some more like rebellious type and they belonged to the Bund.

No Communists represented.

Um, no. No, I don't re...although Poland did not have good relations with Russia. In fact they had very poor relations because of they're communists. In fact Russia was always an enemy of Poland. And communism was, was, was uh, looked down on. In fact, communism was illegal in Poland. It was a crime against the state to belong to the Communist organization. In fact, I remember my mother's cousin's son, which was a distant cousin of mine, he was a few years older than I was. And I did not understand it too well what he did, but I remember he was an outspoken communist. And he was constantly in hiding for some reason because he lived with different relatives. The police was always or most of the time, after him because they knew he was a known Communist. So he, like, always lived underground. But I don't remember too much about him. His name even escapes me. But I knew the parents real well. I didn't know him that w...well, I knew him, occasionally he used to come to family gatherings. But I didn't know him. Don't, don't recall. But that was interesting about being a Communist you had to live underground.

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