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March 02, 2006

Writing Students and the Holocaust: Reviewing "Process B-7815"

Source: http://www.zchor.org/auschwitz/picskomski/KOMSKI20.JPG


As several of you might know, I lived as an expatriate for many years overseas, primarily in post-Communist Europe, teaching, doing research and operating new businesses after the Berlin Wall came down in East Germany.

I made many good friends there including Mr. Bernard Offen - a survivor of the Holocaust - who has dedicated much of his life to giving, sharing, educating and promoting peace. I had the opportunity to learn a lot from Bernard and . . .

. . . I'd like to recommend the last film in his Holocaust Trilogy: A Cracow Ghetto Survivor. If you’d like to see the first two in this series of independent film (the other two are shorter in length), I have made them available at IUP's Stapleton Library. Just go and ask for them to watch them there.

Who is Bernard Offen? Bernard is a Holocaust survivor - or, as he would describe himself: "a person who survived the Holocaust" - and a former prisoner of five concentration camps in Nazi occupied Europe during WWII. In Process B-7815, Bernard tells his story in the final part of his Holocaust trilogy: A Cracow Ghetto Survivor.

From his own website, Bernard informs us that he was born in 1929 in Poland Krakow-Podgorze, which later became the Krakow Ghetto. He survived five camps - Plaszow, Julag, Mauthausen, Auschwitz-Birkenau (tattoo #B-7815), and Dachau-Kaufering camps, before these camps were liberated by the Allies.*

For over ten years, Bernard has spent each summer teaching in Poland about his personal experiences and what Jewish life was like before the war. In his family, over 50 people were murdered and only three survived: Bernard and his two older brothers. By sharing his story with people through his "Journey of Witnessing and Healing", Bernard hopes to create "Second Generation Witnesses." He says:

You don't have to be a survivor or Jewish. It's for all the wounded who want to understand the power of good & evil and want to create goodness in the world. Our pilgrimages will be followed by discussions, sharing and processing in order to create a deeper sense of connection and healing. It is about a "process of self confrontation and healing."

*Source: http://bernardoffen.org

Bernard Offen

Process B-7815: My Auschwitz Tattoo Number. Dirs. Bernard Offen, Hendrik John. Perf. Bernard Offen. Music. Herwig Strobl, Bernard Offen. Cinematography. Hendrik John. DVD. www.Bernardoffen.org, 1999. 99 minutes.

For more information about Bernard's work, please visit the following links:

Wall, Alexandra J. "Survivor Dedicated to Educating Poles about Camps." The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California. Friday, 19 April 2002. 1 March 2006. http://www.jewishsf.com/content/2-0-/module/displaystory/story_id/18086/edition_id/361/format/html/displaystory.html.

Offen, Bernard. "Surviving the Holocaust." Online recorded interview. 3 May 2005. 1 March 2006 http://www.radio4all.net/pub/archive/09.01.05/curious@pacific.net/1197-1-20050429-OFFEN_BERNARD_3-30-05.mp3.

I recently gave a screening of Process B-7815 to my College writing class and asked them to comment on the following questions:

1. Why is this film titled a “process?” What process is Bernard talking about? Explain.

2. How does Bernard use examples to tell his story? Could he have used different examples and still made his thesis work? What if he didn’t use them at all?

3. How would you describe this documentary: As a descriptive-narrative documentary, an examples documentary, or a process documentary? Maybe some combination? Be sure you explain your answer by defending it with it good arguments.

If you have seen Process B-7815 and would like to review it, please do so in the comment box below.


Dr. Hobbs

“Like that self-begotten bird / In the Arabian woods embost, / That no second knows nor third, / And lay ere while a holocaust.” - John Milton (1608-1674)

*Read more English-Blog Film Reviews HERE!


To see other English-Blog entries on the subject of Holocaust Studies, please click HERE

Posted by lhobbs at March 2, 2006 01:10 AM

Readers' Comments:


The film B-7815 was about an older man that was telling his story about his survival through the Holocaust. The older gentleman’s purpose for telling is story was that he thought that soon all of the Holocaust survivors will be goon and no one will be able to tell a good story except for history books. The genre of this film was told through a story of the World War II time. The man is telling his story through his point of view, which makes it a little scary and dark knowing that at such a young age someone had to go through such horrible misery. The film seemed to have been recorded a few years back by looking at the picture quality. Although the Holocaust victim told his story in Poland on tours that he gave that took tourist where he had lived and some of the places he found himself hiding during the time of the German rage. My reaction to this film so far is complete shock. I have always been interested in the Holocaust and learning more about it. I have done a lot of research during my junior year of high school for a required research paper. I absolutely think that so far the film is doing a great job by getting the feeling and emotion across of how the Holocaust victims felt and went through.


Posted by: Liz L. at March 2, 2006 06:40 PM

Professor Hobbs,

“ProcessB-7815” Bernard off Trilogy- Holocaust: Trilogy a Holocaust a Cracow Ghetto.

Bernard has lived in the United States for fifty years. Connection of humanity he is a citizen of the world. He likes a song that describes Jewish children going to a rabbi to learn. Bernard started singing the song. For the past eight years he kept returning back to the place he was born to teach. He is Jewish in his family fifty family members were killed only three survived. Him and his two brothers were the only survivor's. He went back to reflect and to see what he learned from his experience. Time is passing soon the generation that lived the holocaust will be gone and only history will remain.

He hopes to have a second generation witnesses. He showed his apartment where six of them lived. His parents and his four siblings. For a Jewish person to get married they had to have money. He thought they were mighty rich even though they didn't have much things. They had no running water, electric or toilets in the apartment. They had other family members in the apartment building and all around the city. The Nazi's were coming after young children and older adults. Bernard was told to hide. He was scared because he heard shooting. His family members started to disappear. His mom, sister, and father had special passes. He was to young to work all he could do was hid if he was told to or he would been killed. He talked about a church he was afraid to walk by a church, this was because it was such a frightening symbol for him and all other Jewish. He had to watch walking by a church on a holiday, this was because of the priest Catholics. They were Jewish and the Catholic priests thought they were Christ killers. They would beat the Jew's up, throw things at them, or curs at them when they walked by. Prestiges were caused by the churches. This was because the Jew's dressed different from them. The ghetto's were made smaller. They moved to apartment #5. He was thrown into the ghetto. There were secrete passages to get out. His parent's and sister would look out for Nazi's Bernard would then be told when the coast was clear and he would leave to go looking for food. One day when he was retuning back from his escape he couldn't get back in the ghetto, This was because the German's were all around it and also inside it. He heard shooting going off inside the building. Once he got back inside his dad wasn't the same. This was because his father and his mother were picked up. Monument was made for the 70,000 Jews in that certain areas. And in the whole place there were 200,000 Jews. His uncle was in a small concentration camp after the evacuation of the ghetto's. They were marched to the camp and then later the kids were told to get in the middle. Bernard overheard the Nazi's talking saying the kids would be shot and killed. Him and some other kids jumped out of the back of the truck bed. Shooting occurred then. He was able to make it to the cometary. He waited for his uncle . His uncle came and pretended he was working. Bernard asked him what he could do. His uncle didn't know what to do. His uncle said he could go with him. Bernard hid in the Uercin Camp for two weeks. The one who were sick went to the sick hall and they were killed. His uncle hid him in the rafters while he went to work. Bernard slept with his uncle at nights. Bernard caught typhus and his uncle some how got him medicine. Bernard somehow survived. After a few month the concentration camp was shut down and he returned to the camp he escaped from and was reunited with his father. The camp was in a cometary. Destroying the Jewish cemetery to form the camp. Building 207 and 208 were killing spots they killed thousands and thousands of people there. Bernard was put to work to take the dead from one place to another. He saw the Germans kill the little babies by picking them up by there feet and smashing them. After taking the people that were dead the people who had that job was put in a big hole and were shot at. Bernard hid under the dead bodies to survive. That night when the coast was clear he climbed out of the whole and washed the blood off and got clean clothes from someone he didn't know who they were. The German's were asking for volunteers to go to another camp were there was better food. His uncle agreed to go. Bernard heard that the ones that volunteered to go were taken to the execution beds. Bernard thought to himself he would not be capable of doing such a thing but then he came top the conclusion that anyone can be capable of ding it if they were put under the right circumstances. Bernard hopes we can examine our life today, our work, our families, our money. What ever we do today people will suffer from what we do later on in life. The were transported from Krupple to Mud house's that were 500 kilometers away. They were on a train for three to four days. After a few days him and his father were sent to Austrige there his father was murdered. 1981 world gathering for holocaust survivor's. This was the first time he returned to his birth place. It took him ten years after that to return and again and from that time on he returned to Poland every summer. This is what happened so far in the video.

Jennifer G.

Posted by: Jennifer G. at March 3, 2006 12:47 PM

Professor Hobbs,

Books to films, Books pay more attention to details this is because they have to draw the readers in. The detail is what makes the book interesting and what keeps the reader interested. Films don't need to pay that close attention to details because you are capable of seeing it first hand and books you are not.
The film ProcessB-7815 was told by Barnard a survivor of the Holocaust . He explained to us in great detail about his years dealing with the German's and the concentration camps. I would label this film as a descriptive narrative documentary, and example documentary, and a process documentary. This film had a combination of all three. First off the reason why I considered this a descriptive narrative, is because it was telling a story of his struggle through the holocaust, what he saw and what he lived through. This story was told first hand. He paid close detail to events and places where he was taken to and what he saw. It gave you a big picture of what life was like for Jew's back then. The reason why I also, considered this an example documentary is because he took people to places and at those particular places he would tell you what was there and try to explain to you exactly what it felt like and the mood at those places by giving you events that you could connect to, so you could try to feel what it was like for Jew's back then. You will never fully feel the pain and the exact mood that was in those places only the ones that lived through it first hand can. Also, the reason why I would say this is a process documentary is because, he took you from the place he lived before the Holocaust started and took you step by step from place to place where he went during the whole horrific time that German's were controlling them. He took you from day one to the very last day of
the German control over all the Jews. It gave you a real sense of what life was like for each and every Jewish person through one individuals eyes. How he was able to survive and how he was able to go on living after the whole horrific event took place and what he is doing now in life.

Jennifer Giuliani

Posted by: Jennifer G at March 4, 2006 06:15 PM

Professor Hobbs,

Bernard Offen’s film, “Process B-7815,” takes the audience through one man’s experience during the Holocaust. Getting a first-hand account of the horrors of this time allows a person to feel as if they were experiencing what Mr. Offen experienced. The film takes the audience to many different places that Mr. Offen has been before, during, and after the Holocaust. He is able to make his documentary very memorable by bringing the audience right into the events that took place during his life. He is also able to make his film a very emotional experience by describing how his many family members were taken from him, and how he watched people be murdered. He also brought the audience to the concentration camps he and thousands of other people were forced to reside in. He mentioned how the grass at the camps looks so green and peaceful now that the war has been over for many decades, but he says that there was no grass there in the past. The prisoners in the camp would have eaten it.

There are many different types of processes described and explained during the film. One of the main processes is Mr. Offen’s journey from his home in Poland to the many concentration camps he was brought to and his escape from the camps. He also talks about his time in America and the Gulf War, when he was reunited with his brothers, and he ends where he is today, still healing from everything he experienced during his life.

Mr. Offen uses many examples to help describe what he went through. Some examples he used were what happened at the concentration camps. He told the audience about going either left or right, not knowing which way was better, and the jobs that prisoners of the camp were forced to do. He even mentioned all of the people that helped him survive. He calls them his “angels.” Any examples from his experience would be just as effective as the ones he used. If he did not use any examples at all, the audience would probably not fully understand what he and many other people went through.

“Process B-7815” is a process, descriptive-narrative, and examples documentary all in one. He describes his travels, describes what he went through, and uses many examples to do so. All of these factors together helped to make Mr. Offen’s documentary very effective.

Ali L.

Posted by: Ali L. at March 5, 2006 01:37 PM

Professor Hobbs,

Bernard Offen’s Video, “Process B-7815: My Auschwitz Tattoo Number,” is a moving and insightful documentary not only about the Holocaust, but also into the human mind. Bernard takes the viewer on a remarkable journey through the most difficult years of his life and some of the most negative in human history. In 1929 Bernard was born in Poland and suffered great persecution for his Jewish beliefs during the Nazi rule in Germany. He ended up in five different concentration camps, including Auschwitz, where he saw thousands of people mocked and murdered until Americans liberated the camps towards the end of World War II. Bernard and his two brothers were the only surviving relatives in a family with over 50 members. He describes the harsh reality of what happened to his family and the psychological barriers he had to cross to become the man he is today. Even now the memories and the pain weigh heavy on his heart. Perhaps the most insightful piece of the film is when he says that the human mind is so easy to corrupt that even the most just of men can do the things the Nazis did under the right circumstances. Bernard says now what we (referring to the human race) need to do is figure out what we believe in. If we have nothing to value what’s keeping us from repeating this same history again and again? Bernard now lives in the United States and is very active in politics and making sure people know what happened in Germany. He spends his summers taking trips back to the places where he has suffered the most to teach them what life was like for the Jews and exactly what happened so that this tragedy would never be forgotten. He says that what’s past is past and there is noting we can do about it, but what’s important is that these events are never repeated in the future.

What was the most interesting about this documentary was it’s informative twist at the end. It leaves the viewer with more than just a description of how brutal the concentration camps were and more than just the emotional process that a holocaust survivor has to go though. At the end it puts the focus on the viewer himself and leaves him with a feeling to need to take action. It makes the viewer think of things he may be overlooking in the world right now that are morally wrong or repetitions of the past. Bernard gives the example of nuclear weapons, they keep us safe, but they kill millions. The end of the documentary asks the simple question: Why haven’t we learned anything from our mistakes? The answer is left up for the viewer to decide.

Sam H.

Posted by: Sam H. at March 5, 2006 05:45 PM

Professor Hobbs,

Process B-7815 is a terrifying and enlightening documentary film highlighting Bernard Offen’s traumatizing survival experience through the Holocaust of World War II. While the film refrains from presenting any vivid or extreme visuals, the occurrences described by the author are surreal and grotesque. Process B-7815 follows Bernard on his journey of healing and understanding as he revisits the hallmark locations of his tragic past and tries to pass on his insufferable experience to others so that they may remember. He goes on to say that his goal is to never allow the Holocaust—and the senseless deaths of millions—to be forgotten or, worse yet, repeated. Mr. Offen asks that people analyze their lives and situations; they may realize something terrible they’ve all missed.

Bernard labeled his film as a documentary about a process. The genocide of the Jews in Europe during the Second World War was a deadly process on a monumental scale. Uncountable numbers of people were systematically exterminated using a variety of different procedures. As the war continued, new and more lethal methods of killing were developed to increase the capacity of executions and more swiftly kill off the Jewish “vermin”. Bernard was both extremely fortunate and ill-fated to survive through many of these processes of despair and death. Many helped him to be the anomaly and escape each violent reality alive; his “angels”, as he calls them. It may not be outwardly apparent, but hidden behind the bloodshed of the Holocaust was indeed a sinister progression. It was a process.

Mr. Offen cites his own experiences while teaching others about the Holocaust. He strengthens his personal examples by bringing people to see the very facilities and camps where he and thousands of others were held to work and die. Often as he tells his stories, Bernard tries to place his listeners in his position by forcefully asking, “Do you understand?” Watching the film, his group can be seen reflecting upon the heartbreaking idea of losing everyone close to them. While Bernard doesn’t use very many external examples, his own personal ordeal is powerful enough to illustrate the shear terror of what the Holocaust was.

Process B-7815 conglomerates as both a process documentary and a descriptive narrative documentary, describing a life process in a structured style through compelling storytelling.


Posted by: Sean O. at March 5, 2006 08:38 PM

The film B-7815 is titled a process documentary film because Bernard is taking his audience through the processes he had to go through while trying to survive the Holocaust. Bernard explain step by step the actions and places he had to go during the Holocaust in order for his survival.
Bernard uses many examples on how to explain is terrifying and painful story. Bernard explained to his tour and to the audience watching this documentary how he had to hide from his countries police when the would come into his “ghetto”. Bernard also gave examples of how he had to flee from certain camp sites that he was placed in to avoid being murdered. Some of the other examples included how Bernard had to wait for uncle to come and take him away from his hiding spot and hide him in his camp and also how he had to go through many gruesome images of dead bodies being buried. Bernard also mentioned that he had witnessed many people being murdered while he hid on his uncles cabin of the camp.
I do not think that Bernard could have used any other of better examples to explain his story to viewers. His example gave his audience a very graphic image and was able to get his point across. If Bernard did not use any examples then his thesis of wanting to let people know about hoe it was for Holocaust victims would not have been a success.
I would describe this documentary as a descriptive-narrative. The reason I think this is because Bernard is telling his story of his experiences that he went through during the Holocaust with the world. Also,, while Bernard is telling this painful story he is describing things very vividly to the audience. By him giving some background information on his family and showing the audience where exactly he lived and how it was called the ghetto is describing. But in order for Bernard to describe his terrifying experiences during the Holocaust he has to tell his story of how he survived and how his loved ones were tragically taken out of his life forever. That is my reason for believing that this film documentary is a decriptive-narative.

Posted by: Liz Larry at March 5, 2006 10:46 PM

Professor Hobbs,

“Process B-7815” was a documentary about Bernard Offen’s survival of the Holocaust. Offen describes the many processes of the Holocaust, an extermination of Jews. Offen documents this footage to give viewers an idea of how the Holocaust was. He gives examples of people he saw, and the processes he underwent. Since Offen was a Jew, his point of view tended to be bias. He tried to make the situation seem sentimental, convincing the viewers that the event was inhumane.
The Holocaust took place in a number of different locations. Two of them were Auschwitz and Munich. The Holocaust began in 1933 and ended in 1945. During this time, it has been estimated that between five and seven million Jews were killed. These people were often brutally murdered by way of assault or gas chamber. Prisoners were beat to death by guards armed with various weapons, including guns. Prisoners were also shot on the spot for any reason, but the most common way of death was by gas chamber. The gas chamber was the most common killing method, because it killed a lot of people in a short amount of time. Bernard Offen was one of the lucky few who survived the Holocaust.
I feel that Bernard Offen effectively got his point across to the audience. He was attempting to get the crowd to sympathize with his feelings. I liked the film in general, because Offen made me feel as though I was in the Holocaust. The mood of the whole film was sorrowful. My emotions almost overcame me as pictures of the camps rolled. Offen did an excellent job of recreating the Holocaust.
Bernard Offen named this film, “Process B-7815” for a number of reasons. First of all the film is entitled, “Process B-7815” because Offen talks about the many processes that he underwent while in the Holocaust, and B-7815 was a tattoo that Offen was also his identification. The main process that was described in this film was how the Jews were killed by gas. The Jews were told that everything would be fine when they went into the showers. When they tried to turn the showers on, instead of water coming out, gas did. The dead corpses were put in an elevator, dragged to furnaces, and the ashes were poured into the rivers. This gruesome process was the contributor to over five million Jews.

Kashiff M.

Posted by: Kashiff M. at March 5, 2006 11:15 PM

Professor Hobbs,

Over sixty years ago, over two million people of a Jewish descent were sent through genocide. Thousands more were left with the physical and emotional scars that would haunt some of them for the rest of their lives. The film, Process B-7815, follows along with a survivor of the holocaust as he retells his personal experience of hardships and surviving a nightmare.

The movie takes viewers right along with the personal encounters that Mr. Bernard lived through as he faced the holocaust. Mr. Bernard created this documentary to allow future generations of the world to see what he had to live through. He hopes that after watching this film people will examine their lives and see what affect they bring to life.

The film is titled, Process B-7815 because it is dealing with the exact process of Mr. Bernard living through a holocaust. Mr. Bernard faced the holocaust everyday for several months or even years. But he not only had to go through a process while in the holocaust, he had to deal with the emotional damage that this life changing experience has left him with.

Through following Mr. Bernard, he used great examples of the hardships that he faced. Mr. Bernard explained how he went into hiding before the terror began. He showed where he hid. He showed the camps that he was forced to stay at. He went into great detail of the work he had to endure and how many days he had to see others being killed. He focused on how they suffered through terrible living arraignments. The film showed how hatred changed the lives of so many millions.

This film was a combination of a descriptive-narrative, an examples, and process documentary. This film took viewers deep into the life of a man that became part of the most terrifying nightmare that the world has bared witness to. Mr. Bernard used personal accounts as to how he miraculously survived the holocaust. This film was not only to show what Mr. Bernard encountered, it also showed how he went through processes. It described the process of Mr. Bernard going through the holocaust and surviving it. It also started to reflect on how he was recovering from the whole ordeal and how he has moved on in life.

Mr. Bernard chose to make this film to show that younger generations are going to be shaping what is left to come of the world.

Kelly J

Posted by: Kelly J at March 6, 2006 12:26 AM

Professor Hobbs,

The film Process B-7815 was the story of Bernard Offen’s experience of surviving the Holocaust. This documentary was extremely emotional and probably very difficult for Mr. Offen to compose, however, he has a purpose in making the documentary. His hope and dream was to make a second generation of witnesses.

The Holocaust was devastating not only to Mr. Offen and his family, fifty of his family members were killed, with only three surviving, but also to the entire Jewish population. Seventy thousand Jews were residing in the area of Poland that Bernard grew up in, and in the end, less than 200 were left, and this was only one small region there were many more. The Germans thought of Jewish persons as “Christ killers” and therefore that believed that it would be doing God’s work if they removed them from the Earth. They were treated as animals, and the Germans refused to refer to them as Poles, even thought they resided in Poland just like the rest of the Polish people. They were instead called Jews because the Germans refused to view them as persons.

After escaping capture many times, Bernard was eventually caught and sent to a concentration camp with his father, but escaped. He then had nowhere to go, so eventually voluntarily went to another camp with his uncle where conditions were somewhat improved. This camp closed a few months later, and Mr. Offen went to a new camp, where his father was. They were moved around to different camps, and eventually, Bernard’s father was killed. The men he was with at the protected him, and he was able to mentally place himself somewhere other than the camps. These two things lead to Bernard surviving the Holocaust. When the war was over, he was reunited with his brothers and they eventually moved to the United States, where he got married, had two sons and still resides today.

This film is a process because it discusses Mr. Offen’s steps to getting where he is in life today. It tells the process of overcoming being a victim of the Holocaust. In the beginning, he is in America. He then goes over seas and discusses the process of what happened to him, and then at the end of the film, he tells how he grew and became the person he is today in overcoming being a victim of the Holocaust.

Kelsey L.

Posted by: Kelsey L. at March 6, 2006 02:07 AM

Professor Hobbs,

I believe this film is titled a process because of several different factors. One of the processes in this film is the physical torment that he went through. Another process is the emotional challenges he faced. The other process would be the war and everything that came with it. He faced everyday wondering about if he will live and if he will ever see his family again. The lack of food was a physical challenge he had to face. I believe through the emotion he showed in his film all of these processes were a part of it.

The examples he used while they were visiting the concetration camps were very detailed and moving. The first person perspective made the whole situation come to life and people can feel that emotion. He gave very detailed accounts about the living conditions in the buildings. He described the fears of people and his own feelings. I do not believe who could of used any other examples other than his own account of the process. If he did not use the examples that he did this film would not have been as moving as it was for me.

I would say this film is a combination of all three forms of the documentary. This film is very much a documentary of his process in the concentration camps of WWII. He gives very detailed examples of the whole process of the war and his individual process going through all of the camps.

Thoryn S.

Posted by: Thoryn S. at March 6, 2006 02:52 AM

Professor Hobbs

Process B-7815, is a documentary on Bernard Offen’s Holocaust experience. The beginning of the movie introduces Offen in Middletown, California. Offen explains his past, growing up in Cracow, Poland with his family. He remembers what life was like before the Germans came, but it wasn’t the focus of the documentary. Offen tries to explain the horrific experiences he had seen and heard during the years of the Nazi progression. By explaining his story he hopes to enlighten people about his experience and allow them to see what the Holocaust victims experienced.

Although Bernard and his two older brothers survived the Holocaust, the rest of his family met their demise. Although Offen can’t take back the years of suffering this aggression imposed on him, he can spread his story. Offen’s dream is to create second generation witnesses. By telling his story he is allowing people to see the awful tragedy, and is preventing history from repeating itself.

Overall this film was very informative. As much as one may have already known about the holocaust, some of Offen’s stories are bound to shock. Offen made it clear that his mission is really to encourage people to stand up for what they believe in. “What we believe is what we create,” Offen states.

The film is entitled Process because Offen’s entire life has been a process of survival. From hiding in Cracow, to uncovering his feelings about the Holocaust; everything Offen has done has been for survival. Offen uses examples of the tragedies that happened to him to support his mission. By telling his story through examples that he has seen, people get a better understanding of his testimonial.

Offen’s documentary can be viewed as a Process essay, an Example essay, and a Descriptive/narrative essay. Although the documentary is set up as a process of his life, there are still descriptive and explanatory characteristics. By using all three essay types, Offen’s testimony is expressed on all levels. Offen uses examples of his life experiences, describing every instance with detail. He takes the viewer through his story from the beginning of his suffering to the struggle with healing.

Samantha V.

Posted by: Samantha V. at March 6, 2006 12:40 PM

Dear, Professor Hobbs,

After completing our process essays we viewed a film in class called process B-7815. In everything there is a process, and the documentary being titled the way it was, brought up the question, what process is Bernard referring to? Digging deep, our just viewing the film could give you the answer.

The process that Bernard was trying to get across to his viewers, was the process of his survival during the holocaust. The ups and downs, the trials and the tragedies were the examples used to get this across. The survival process started when he found himself in a death camp at young age. He was in this camp with his father, and they got separated. This was the start of the process and it has many causes and effects on Bernard’s life.

Next Bernard had to deal with avoiding Death. In the film he walked us through the process of killing people by the thousands. In his process of survival he had to avoid this. He had people at the camp helping hide. He even escaped from one camp and went to another where he could be safer. He went through many near death experience is trying to survive. He eventually made it through the holocaust obviously to tell his story. This made the process on going.

After realizing the Holocaust was over the process of rebuilding, his lifestyle had to change. He had to go through the rest of his life dealing with the trauma that comes with going through an experience like the one he went through. This started another process. He had kids that he wanted to be raised without the process of survival he had to endure.

Bernard’s film was an explanation of a tough process of survival. Many people in their life time won’t have to go through it as tough as he did. His story was a good story to be able to tough. He was an example of how in everything there is a process.

Posted by: P.Beckles at March 6, 2006 12:58 PM

Dear Professor Hobbs,

Bernard's story is a good example of a process. His story deals with the process of becoming B-7815. He used examples of how he lived before he was taken away up the events that followed. He described how the conditions were and what was happening all around him. The story is also the process of survival.

I would say this documentary was an process documentary. It used examples to describe a process to tell the story of the horrible events that happened during the Holocaust and his survival. He learned from what happened and is trying to teach people so this thing never happens again.

Brendan L.

Posted by: Brendan L at March 6, 2006 01:07 PM

Professor Hobbs,

Bernard Offen was a Holocaust survivor who made a very moving film about his personal experiences there. He titled the film, Process B-7815 which was his prison number. It’s one thing to just tell a story but it is another to actually take your audience back to where it all happened. This is something that a lot of Holocaust survivors might not be able to do but Bernard felt it was necessary in order to fully explain the process that he went through. As a young boy he went through the Holocaust not really knowing much, but as he went from one step in his process to the next, his eyes became opened. A process is defined as a series of actions, changes or functions that bring about a result and this film is appropriately titled because there were many abrupt changes and series of actions that occurred and changed the life of not only Bernard but everyone that was affiliated with his creed.

He started off as a young boy who lived a fairly normal life other than the poor conditions that he lived in. To him this was normal and he was content. As time went on, the world around him began to change and his process was slowly beginning to take shape. In what seemed like no time at all, he went from a close family community to mass chaos and living life in fear. Once at the concentration camps, things still didn’t slow down because managing to survive became a process all it itself. There were steps he had to take in order to make sure that he would be around the next day such as hiding in the rafters during the day after sneaking into a concentration camp. Now that his ordeal is all over he is still going through his process of healing.

I believe that his process will never be fully complete because what he experienced will be with him forever. I also believe that as bad as his experience was, he need not forget it because it is a learning experience that will shape the future. There aren’t many Holocaust survivors left and the ones that are, are slowly dying out of old age. We need more people like Bernard to come forth and speak of their process so that it will never be forgotten.

Adrianne E

Posted by: Adrianne E at March 6, 2006 01:31 PM

Dear Lee Hobbs,

The Documentary entitled Process B-7815 deals with the life of Bernard Offen and the struggles he endured before, during and after the Holocaust. This very personal film takes the viewer to different parts of the world including his birthplace in Cracow, Poland. Bernard takes a group of American tourists around his childhood home and onto the many concentration camps he once had to occupy. During this journey various emotions are awakened in Bernard. He is forced to remember the last longing look his father gave him right before his father was separated from him and killed in a gas chamber and then burned in the huge ovens. This long road finally takes him to fonder memories such as being rescued by American troops whom he called “his angels” and reuniting with his two older brothers in Italy a few months later.

However this isn’t the end of the documentary. Bernard lets us in on his inner thoughts. He tells the viewer about his struggle to fit into society and be normal. He tries to marry, have children and pretend like he is no longer a victim but a survivor. The only problem is that he realizes all the issues that are going on in the world and how he is against the use of nuclear weapons. To him they are like huge ovens aimed to destroy whole regions of the world. Ovens just like the ones used to kill 2000 Jews at one time during the holocaust. Ovens which he narrowly escaped at one time but was now forced face once again. Now Bernard is on a journey to tell his story and to create a second generation of witnesses. People who will know just how horrible this hate can be and people who will know that just about anyone can have the power to kill as long as the time is right. Bernard even admits that he himself is capable of this.

This film is entitled Process because his whole life was the process he had to go through in order to become the person who he is today. His goal in life now would never have come about, if he hadn’t gone through the holocaust and gained so many life experiences as a result of it. Examples are what made this documentary work. Without them the viewer would have been unable to see his horrific memories come to life. I would describe this narrative as a descriptive-narrative documentary and a process documentary. It was told in sequence of events through his life’s story.

-Emily S.

Posted by: Emily S. at March 6, 2006 01:38 PM

Professor Hobbs:

In the movie Process B-7815 by Bernard Offen, it was a documentary on his life and how he survived the holocaust. Offen suffered a lot while he was growing up. Many of the important people in his life disappeared, whether they were taken away or were murdered, during the time of the holocaust, because his family was Jewish. When the holocaust started, all of the Jewish families were moved into the ghetto, and Offen would always have to go into hiding because he did not have a certificate of work that his parents and sister did. One day he escaped to go get food, but when he came back, there were too many guards protecting the wall so he couldn’t get back. So he had to wait and go into hiding until he was able to find his uncle. In order to survive, Offen had to go with his uncle into concentration camp and there he also hid. At nights, he slept with his uncle and in the afternoons, while his uncle was working, he hid above the barracks and watched people get killed. Later he was reunited with his father when they were sent to a different concentration camp. As time grew on, both his uncle and his father was murdered so Offen had to learn to survive on his own, and it was rough for him. He had men who looked after him, though, which was what kept him alive.

Bernard Offen’s documentary would be considered a “process” because it is a process of how life was growing up during the holocaust. It is a process of how life was being a part of the holocaust. Offen was talking about the process that he went through while losing his loved ones, the process of fearing death, and the process of how and what he had to do in order to survive. Offen was very lucky and had escaped death on more than one occasion. He discussed this by telling what he did such as hiding or looking at a German Nazi Officer’s shoe instead of his face when called up. Offen also discussed the process in which he had to take in order for him to face his fear and go back to Germany where he experienced his childhood. When he finally did, it was many years after the time that it had happened.

Linda M.

Posted by: Linda M. at March 6, 2006 01:54 PM

Professor Hobbs,

In the film B-7815 the narrator, Bernard, takes his audience on an emotional journey through his experiences during the holocaust. Bernard, a survivor of the holocaust, is filmed taking groups of people to the place where he grew up during World War II. He explains to these people the things he saw and the hardships he and the rest of the Jewish people went through.

The time of the war created different processes that directly affected him. The organization of the Germans to do all of the hateful they did was a process. Also the Nazis following Hitler was a process. The way the Jewish people were being killed like they were a disease to the rest of the world, caused different processes for the Jewish community. They had to go through many processes of their emotions. They experienced and saw things that no person should have to. The traumatizing experience caused a life long emotional process for the people that survived the holocaust. Bernard shows that he is still continuing an emotional process because of his experiences.

Bernard lets his audience understand the story better through examples. He takes people in groups through the places where he actually experienced the time of the holocaust. The audience can actually see where the story takes place. He brings himself to go back and relive the experience in his head. This really helps the audience emotionally get into the story.

I would say that this film is both a descriptive narrative document and an examples document. It is certainly descriptive narrative, because the narrator goes into very much detail to tell a story. It is also an examples document because he uses examples to be descriptive.


Posted by: Cathy at March 6, 2006 02:03 PM

Professor Hobbs,

In life most people are faced with many obstacles that shape and define their personality. Some are worse than others. In Bernard Offen’s case, not much can beat the trials and tribulations in surviving the Holocaust.

Throughout this documentary, Offen described his survival tactics while he was in numerous different concentration camps. He was kicked out of some, escaped from some, and even grew to get used to some. Offen tried to make the audience feel what he was going through in his detailed descriptions. He spoke about the atrocious ways the Nazi’s treated the thousands of people in the concentration camps. Offen then went on to talk about the gas chambers. He explained that as many as two thousand people were killed at a time in these chambers, one of which he thinks was his father. Offen also felt strongly about the pits that the Nazi’s threw dead, or half dead, people into. His own brother had to help dump the bodies in the pit, but when he was done they tried to kill him, so he ended up going into the pit himself to survive.

In “Process B-7185,” Bernard Offen discussed the obstacles he overcame during the Holocaust. In Offen’s preadolescent years through his teens he defeated the Nazi’s, unlike the 50 other members of his family that were brutally murdered. This documentary is a process because he tells a story of his unique escapes and survival tactics throughout many years. Offen saw many people get murdered right in front of his eyes, yet somehow he and his two brothers survived the Holocaust. He went on using examples of the harder times when he did not think that he could outlive the terrible conditions of the concentration camps such as; staying on a top bunk with his pants tied at the bottom full of urine and feces. Offen also used examples to describe a time when he met up with his uncle. They stayed by each others sides for a period of time while his uncle’s friends all kept an eye on Bernard.

This documentary can be a combination of a descriptive-narrative and a process documentary. Offen describes the treacherous path he took in surviving the Holocaust from a personal perspective. Yet without the form of a process over the many years, this would not be as clear to the audience.

Angela H.

Posted by: Angela H. at March 6, 2006 02:08 PM

Hello Lee,

Oftentimes in life, each person around the world is faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. No matter the instance, the individual’s faith, strength, and mentality are tried. Although the levels of intensity of these tests vary from obstacle to obstacle, each in its own shapes a person and defines who they will forever be. In the film “Process B-7815”, Bernard Offen tells his story of survival in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. Unlike other victims, Offen snuck into the camps under the shield of his uncle. He did so to escape the harsh conditions of the ghetto and to save himself from death by Catholic soldiers. Offen was considered a minority at this time. He practices the Jewish faith, hence the reason he would have been killed by soldiers in the ghetto.

Throughout the film, Offen describes his time in the concentration camps. He shares with the audience the horrific conditions of the camp, as well as the locations in which horrible acts were taking place. He spoke of the gas chambers which he believes his father was killed in. In describing each building and what they were used for, the audience could be brought into the world that was a reality to Offen for so many years. They could be brought into a world full of emotional as well as physical struggle.

The film is titled “process” because when one experiences a devastating event, healing is not officially possible without finding closure. Offen attempts to find this closure by sharing his experiences in an attempt to create second generation witnesses. He creates these witnesses by leading a tour group through his hometown as well as the death camps. In sharing his experiences, he must go back to the source. He must retrace his life back to the ghetto and on to the concentration camps.

During this time, Offen tells the audience of how much pain he feels to be back again. He spoke of how he never wanted to return to Cracow, Poland (his hometown); though in doing so, he felt a sense of relief. Signs of sadness were very visible on his face when visiting certain sites of the camps. In the end, he realizes that although the visit was hard, he knows that it will only help him in the healing process. In this sense, it can be considered not only a process documentary, but an example documentary as well.

Missy Z

Posted by: Missy Z at March 6, 2006 02:09 PM

Note from Lee:

Due to the overwhelming response (and length) of these responses about the film "Process B-7815," I've decided to cut off the commentary for this entry. However, you may read the "sequel" to this blog entry and its ensuing commentary HERE!

Hope to see you there!

Posted by: Lee Hobbs at April 18, 2006 11:46 PM

These blogs cite the entry, "Writing Students and the Holocaust: Reviewing "Process B-7815"." :

» "What the Actors Were Saying" from: ESL Lesson Plan
I like to use movie scripts from popular films like Titanic, which are easily available in bi-lingual print, along with short film clips and on-line movie trailers. “We did watch movies in class, especially in high school, but the few times we did, t... [Read More]

Tracked on March 6, 2006 11:52 PM

» "English Teachers and Culture Shock" from: ESL School
For issues of culture shock, check out the film The Gods Must Be Crazy II and enjoy watching a New York attorney get her immersion in the Kalahari. I've watched it a dozen times, and it gets better each time. Movies such as this . . . [Read More]

Tracked on March 7, 2006 12:05 AM

» "Collisions over Social Issues in the Film "Crash"" from: [The] English-Blog [.com]
It took two full class periods to show this film in class. It's certainly violent, graphic and has something to offend almost everyone. But, at the same time, some really important social issues are first toyed with and then brought to the surface. I... [Read More]

Tracked on March 20, 2006 09:32 PM

» "Film Review: Dekalog, Osiem" from: [The] English-Blog [.com]
Looking for good narrative fiction that connects Poland and the Holocaust? This film by Kieślowski tackles the subject "Thou shalt not bear false witness." The ethics of lying to save oneself or one's family. When is it wrong to lie and when is it acceptable? Are ethical issues always so clearly black and white or can there be infinite shades of gray? Moral relativity, ... [Read More]

Tracked on April 10, 2006 09:32 AM

» "Rediscovering the Comparison Paper: Intolerance in Two Very Different Films" from: [The] English-Blog [.com]
The film "Process B-7185" by Bernard Offen and the academy award winning Hollywood production "Crash" elicited so many responses (see HERE and HERE) that I felt it deserved another devoted blog entry. This difference about this entry, however, is how ... [Read More]

Tracked on April 18, 2006 11:10 PM

» "Katrina and Popular Film: New Ways to Read Into the Horrific Aftermath" from: [The] English-Blog [.com]
The Holocaust and Katrina? The independent film about Hurricane Katrina, by filmmaker Creighton Hobbs, got such an overwhelming amout of remarks (read them at THIS ENTRY) I came to the conclusion that some of the more lengthy (and thought out) ones deserved a blog entry of their... [Read More]

Tracked on April 19, 2006 10:19 AM

» "Making Choices: The Road Theme Revisited" from: [The] English-Blog [.com]
If you follow current events in pop-culture, you can see choices all around us. Katie Couric has made her choice to leave one successful job--her morning show--to try on another as achor for CBS. In the same regard, meredith vieira chose to leave her... [Read More]

Tracked on April 20, 2006 08:24 PM

» "Structure versus Plot in Bernard Offen's *The Work*" from: [The] English-Blog [.com]
Define and identify the type of structure used in Bernard Offen's film/documentary *The Work* from 1983 shown in class today. How is the structure different from the plot? Write a few paragraphs explaining your answer on the English-blog comment box b... [Read More]

Tracked on February 26, 2007 01:56 PM

» "Learning about the Holocaust Through Journal and Memoir" from: [The] English-Blog [.com]
The movie is told by Bernard in first person point-of-view. It is important that the story is told by him, it just wouldn’t be the same. Like in The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak, these are dairies told from his point-of-view and you, as the reader, wouldn’t get the same out of the book if it was told by another person. I feel that Bernard’s movie would have been weaker if it wasn’t told by him. You realize what he has been through because he is actually telling you and showing you what he has been through . . . [Read More]

Tracked on February 26, 2007 02:01 PM

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