Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Samuel Offen - December 27, 1981

Thoughts on Palestine

But when you were a teenager um, what kinds of plans did you think about for the, for the future for yourself?

Well, I had a lot of friends. I was--in 1935, I finished compulsory, eight years of Polish schooling, education by the way, in Poland was compulsive. Uh, when I finished I was fourteen years old. I was very short in stature. I was the smallest boy. By the way, we only--school was segregated by boys and girls, sexes were segregated. I was the smallest boy in my class, always. Uh, when I was fourteen years of age, most of my friends went to work. They got somehow good jobs or different kind of jobs. I found it extremely hard to find a job because of my size. I was fourteen years old, I looked like I was ten years old or maybe even younger and nobody would hire me. We also had a conflict in the family. Since I was the oldest one they wanted me to continue going to school. I didn't know if my parents could afford it or not, but somehow I'm sure maybe the family would help, they would send me to school. My father and my mother--my parents wanted me to continue going to school and to become a dentist. I don't know why they picked that thing, they wanted me to become at least a dentist. I didn't want to. Maybe not necessarily, at that time I didn't understand, maybe not because of financial reasons, but all my friends were working, they were independent, they were making money and I was the only one among all our friends that had to depend on my parents for a handout and I know they could hardly afford it. We used to go out together uh, movies here, wherever we used to go. I couldn't afford to go. I--many times I had to stay home. So I just sort of like rebelled. I said, "No, I want to go and find a job. I don't want to go to school." So there is no...so I--so we compromised somehow, my parents didn't want ??? I continued with my education. I went for one year to a technical kind of a school, like a higher education school for one more year and I could become eventually, with uh, we thought maybe eventually I would go to college or what they used to call gymnasium. But, of course, I didn't. Eventually, through my father, I found a job. And it was only because my father's, father's friend was a furrier. He owned his own fur shop. So he decided or he ag...rather he agreed, to take me as an apprentice. So that's how I eventually got into work and started making a little money, what I always wanted to do.

Y...there were no thoughts about going to Palestine, no, no Zionist aspirations.

Uh, not really. And du...once I started working then it was already '36...'37...'38. I used to go like Saturday afternoon. At that time I was already older and my father couldn't very well stop me from--as long as I had fulfilled my duty, Saturday morning gone to shul with him, had a festive Sabbath dinner. And Saturday afternoon our friends used to go out to go Krakow, go to town and attend all kinds of meetings from different organizations. But I really was--I can't say that anyone interested in more than others. Although all kinds of, of, of, of organizations advocating for training, to going to Palestine eventually. But I really wasn't--I can't say that I was that interested in any one of them. I--first of all, we were very close family. I had absolutely no thoughts of leaving my family. That was the main reason. Not that I wasn't interested in Zionism or other, or whatever it was. But I just was not interested in leaving my family.

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