I am a holocaust survivor.

I am Bernard Offen, born in 1929 in Poland Krakow-Podgurze, which later became the Krakow Ghetto.

I survived five camps – Plaszow, Julag, Mauthausen, Auschwitz-Birkenau (tatoo # B-7815), and Dachau-Kaufering camps, before these camps were liberated by the Americans.

For the last seventeen years, I have spent each summer teaching about my personal experience and what Jewish life was like for us before the war.  In my family over 50 people were murdered and only three survived, my two older brothers and I.  Through sharing my story with people and my “Journey of Witnessing and Healing”, my dream and hope is to create a “Second Generation Whitnesses”.

Bernard Offen was born in 1929 in Krakow.  He survived the Krakow Ghetto and several Nazi concentration camps.
His parents, two brothers and one sister lived in the Podgórze  area of Krakow which in March 1941 became the Krakow Ghetto. His mother, Rochme Gittel Schiffer, and his sister Miriam were deported, probably to Belzec extermination camp , where they were murdered.

Jacob Offen: Murdered in Auschwitz, Poland

Gittel Shiffer Offen: Died in Belzec, Poland

Miriam Offen: Died in Belzec, Poland

Bernard survived the Nazi concentration camps of Plaszow, Julag, Mauthausen,  Auschwitz-Birkenau , and Dachau.  During this time he was separated first from his two brothers Sam and Natan and later also from his father who was murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau. After the war Bernard reunited with his two brothers.

In 1951 the Offen brothers decided to emigrate to the United States.   In 1981 Bernard returned to Poland for the first time since the war to confront the demons of his past. From 1991 on Bernard began to spend his summers in Krakow dealing with the past through what he calls the “process of healing”. He started taking people on tours of the former ghetto, Plaszow and Auschwitz-Birkenau. His experiences are documented in four movies.

Austrian Holocaust Memorial Servants

(Gedenkdieners) serving their Memorial Service in Krakow cooperate frequently with Bernard Offen and take part in his walks to the ghetto area and Plaszow camp.