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February 10, 2009

When a Hometown Becomes a Concentration Camp - The 2nd Part of Bernard's Story

Image Source: http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/othercamps/plaszow/Plaszow%20Memorial.jpg

ENG 340 Students,

The film cited below is the second part of the Bernard Offen trilogy. The entry to the first part of his story can be found by clicking HERE.

My Hometown Concentration Camp: A Walk in the Krakow Ghetto and Plaszow Camp. Dir. Bernard Offen. Perf. Bernard Offen. DVD. www.Bernardoffen.org, 1997. 23 minutes.

You might also be interested to see this clip of another project by Bernard:

See you in our next meeting.

Dr. Hobbs


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

To read additional English-Blog entries on the subject of Film, please click HERE.

Posted by lhobbs at February 10, 2009 02:16 PM

Readers' Comments:

February 24, 2007

ENG 121 Students,

Today in class I screened the majority of the 23 minute DVD film clip: My Hometown Concentration Camp: Walk in the Krakow Ghetto and Plaszow Camp which was directed and performed by Bernard Offen in 1997. It is from a trilogy of three films based on his experiences as a Holocaust survivor.

As you watched the documentary, I asked you to take notes in your journal appropriate to the followng questions about Bernard's film and Dawid's journals.

(1) From whose point-of-view is Bernard’s story being told? Why is this important? How would it be different if told from say, the third person perspective? Weaker, stronger?

(2) Is Bernard’s investment in his narrative an objective one or a subjective one? Depending on your answer, does this make his message weaker or stronger? Explain your argument.

(3) How many connections can you make (so far) about Bernard’s testimony and Dawid’s from The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak? Consider such obvious things as age, gender, location, ethnicity, language, etc. and anything else you might notice.

(4) What are the key differences between the two testimonies? For example, consider the style or genre of both pieces. Also, reflect on the individual fates of Dawid versus Bernard. How is the passage of time an important factor in a written or filmed testimony?

Outside-of-Class Writing Assignment:

This weekend, from your notes, flesh out a cogent response to two of these questions in your journal. Choose either [#1 & #3] or [#2 & #4]. After you have your response the way you want it, please submit it digitally to www.turnitin.com AND our class forum here: www.english-blog.com. This online assignment will be due by class time Monday. Be prepared to discuss your answers in a future class meeting. NOTE: Today’s working SAs are excused from the assignment (and quiz) but should give some thought to the questions anyway.

Outside-of-Class Reading Assignment:

Don’t forget to read the texts listed from our regular itinerary: From the Coursepack: “Plot and Structure” (69). Be prepared to discuss the differences between plot and structure.

Also read pages 144-178 from Notebook 3 of The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak.

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.

To learn more about Bernard's story and trilogy of films about his experiences, please feel free to visit his own website at: http://www.bernardoffen.org

Brooke D.
Dr. Lee Hobbs
ENG 121
24 February 2007

Survivors of the Holocaust

In Friday’s class meeting we watched a short documentary on a Holocaust survivor named Bernard, it was called “My Hometown Concentration Camp, Walk in the Krakow Ghetto and the Plaszow Camp.” We are also reading The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak who also was apart of the Holocaust. In class we were asked to take notes an answer two questions for homework. I will be answering questions one and three.

Bernard’s documentary is being told in the first person point of view by him his self. It is important to be told from first point of view because Bernard is the only one that would be able to tell us exactly what went on and exactly how he felt. This documentary would be different if it was being told in the third person point of view because firstly it would be weaker and secondly Bernard wouldn’t actually be apart of the documentary he would be telling the story through characters and would only get to express his feelings through them, and it wouldn’t have quite as much meaning as it does being told through the first point of view.

From watching this documentary and reading the diary I have found a few connections between the two. They are both kind of around the same age when they are experiencing the Holocaust, they both living in the Ghetto, except Bernard’s was the fourth or fifth largest compared to LODZ as he stated in the documentary. They were both males, and both from Poland. Bernard and Dawid both got separated from their families during the Holocaust but eventually got reunited with at least one person from their original family. They also both worked jobs, it was important for them to work. These are some of the connections I made between the two, and of course the best was that they both survived the Holocaust.

Until next class,

Brooke D.

Posted by: Brooke D. at February 24, 2007 02:42 PM

25 February 2007
Professor Hobbs-

Bernard Offen told his story of his experience in the Holocaust in the film “My Hometown Concentration Camp.” Bernard tells his own story in a first person point of view. He explains, with very much detail and emotion, how he participated in the events of the war. Bernard makes the story very personal and describes everything from his own perspective. This is very important since it creates a stronger impact on the viewer or listener. If it had been from a third person non-participant point of view, the reality of the situation would not be conveyed as effectively. By using the first person, Bernard creates an intimate feeling with the story and gives that first hand experience that makes everything seem greater and more tremendous than it would be had it been told in third person. Bernard and Dawid have very many similarities in their stories. Both are young males growing up through their adolescent in the Holocaust. Both are in their early teens when the happenings start and both are of the Jewish ethnicity. These two boys tells the horrors and struggles they went through as they were persecuted for being Jewish. Both males suffered and did not live an easy lifestyle as family and friends were made and lost throughout the horrible experience. Bernard and Dawid also both live in the ghettos and have similar experiences of hardships with working and food situations. The only major difference between the two would be that Bernard survives to tell the story in first person, and Dawid is not as lucky to make it through, but his story lives on through his journals.

Bettina Herold
ENGL121.003 Hum. Lit. MWF 1145-1245

Posted by: Bettina Herold at February 25, 2007 12:35 PM

Jenny Troutman
ENGL 121.003 Humanities Literature
Holocaust assignment

Professor Hobbs,

I was an SA today.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Posted by: Jenny Troutman at February 25, 2007 02:23 PM

Professor Hobbs,

After watching the film clip: My hometown Concentration Camp: Walk in the Krakow Ghetto and Plaszow Camp by Bernard Offen, I am choosing to answer questions 1 and 3 from the worksheet.

Question number one asks the question of whose point of view is Bernard’s story being told. This story is being told in the first-person point of view. It is important because this was something that somebody experienced in real life, it was not just a made up story. I feel that from being told in the first-person point of view, the story would completely change if it were to be told from say the third person perspective. From being told through the first person perspective, it makes the story sound more personal and real. You can almost in a sense feel and understand what he had went through from the ways in which he tells the story, something that would not be very likely if it were told through the third person perspective.

Question number three asks how many connections you can make about Bernard’s testimony and Dawid’s from The Diary of Dawid’s Sierakowiak. I found that although the two had quite some differences, they also had quite a few connections between the two. Both were young boys at the time that this all took place in which they both believed in the Jewish religion. Although they were not placed in the same location as one another, they both lived in the ghetto. But one of the major connections that I found there to be was that both seemed in my opinion to know a lot for their age and they both seemed very mature and to have a realistic grasp on life. It seemed that both men dealt very well with what was happening to them and did what they could to get by.

Lyndsay Krall

Posted by: Lyndsay Krall at February 25, 2007 02:37 PM

Professor Hobbs,

From watching the clip My Hometown Concentration Camp: Walk in the Krakow Ghetto and Plascow Camp and reading The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak I will be answering the questions to numbers one and three. In question one the story of Bernard is told in first person. This is important because it is a real life story about himself. And if a story is going to be told with emotion and feeling then I believe the writer should be the narrator. If the story was told through the third person perspective, I believe the film would be different. Because during his film he is talking and explaining to others the area where everything occurred. He toured around a group of people to different locations and explaining what went on. I believe the film would be weaker if it was told in third person, simply because the main purpose about the film is focused on Bernard.

For question three I have noticed a few similar connections between Bernard’s testimony and Dawid from The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak. First off they are both male and they were just a few years apart when they experienced the German invasion. They are both of Jewish ethnicity and they come from the same background. They both had multiple jobs during the holocaust. Bernard worked as a shoe factory and Dawid had multiple jobs such as tutoring and working in factories. They both spoke Hebrew since they were both Jewish. Overall, these two men had a few similar characteristics and they both shared the fear and starvation in the ghettos.

April H.

Posted by: April Hunsberger at February 25, 2007 03:28 PM

Professor Hobbs,

I chose to answer questions one and three. The point of view in the documentary “My Hometown Concentration Camp”, by Bernard Offen, is told in the first person. This is important in order to strengthen the story. A documentary is more meaningful when the person who actually experienced the situation is telling the story. It emphasizes the reality that so many people had to go through during this time. If the documentary was told in the third person it would not seem as realistic, or like it might not have even occurred. It would seem, to the reader, more like a tale passed on through generations, and would weaken the story.
Throughout the documentary, so far, I have noticed a couple of similarities between Bernard’s and Dawid Sierakowiak’s, from The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak, testimonies. Both of the narrators talk a little bit about how their lives were right before the war began. Dawid described his adventures at a boyscout camp and Bernard discussed his home life and how wonderful it was to live next to a chocolate factory. They both also talk about the disappearances and arrest of their family members and neighbors, and how they were taken away to another city. Each story also mentioned how the captured family members would write to tell their families in the ghetto that they were okay. Both of the narrators were very young at the start of the war. Dawid was 15 years and Bernard was 10 years. They also worked several jobs while in the ghetto to help support their family.

Stephanie Vrabel

Posted by: Stephanie Vrabel at February 25, 2007 05:01 PM

Steve Petrone
1. Bernard Offen's story is being told in first person point of view because Bernard is walking throughout the ghetto telling his own story. I think this makes his story a lot stronger because he adds personal experiences and emotion when he speaks. If the film was in a third person perspective, it would not be the same. When Bernard Offen talks about some of the everyday hardships he faced, it is amazing that he is still able to go back to the place of the ghetto and talk about it.

3. Bernard Offen's testimony and Dawid Sierakowiak's testimony are very similar. They were both young teenage polish boys who were seperated from their families when the nazis entered Poland. Although Bernard did reunite with his father making shoes in a factory. Another big difference in Offen's case is that he survived the Holocaust and Dawid Sierakowiak did not, except his journals.

Posted by: Steve Petrone at February 25, 2007 05:22 PM

Lorin Gdula

Learning About the Holocaust Through Journal and Memoir

Questions #1&3

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.

Bernard and Dawid were very similar. They both grew up with similar life styles and certain ways of survival. They both witnessed horrible things at such young ages. They both worked a lot and their families struggled with money and food. They both were away from their families a lot. In Bernard’s case, he felt that it was best to be in a camp because he felt that if he wasn’t he would be at a great risk of getting in trouble or becoming in danger. I think that is why Dawid works a lot to stay busy so that he doesn’t have to go work for the Germans. He wants to stay busy so that he doesn’t have to get into the mess that is taking place in the village.

Posted by: Lorin Gdula at February 25, 2007 06:07 PM


Professor Hobbs,

I chose to discuss questions 1&3 about My Hometown Concentration Camp. Walk in the Krakow Ghetto and Plaszow Camp by Bernard Offen.

Bernard Offen’s documentary was told in the first person point of view. Bernard discussed with others his personal experience during the Holocaust. I think this makes his documentary much more interesting because he has many personal memories of life in the camps. Bernard had brothers that also survived the Krakow ghetto, so he had their stories to share as well. A third person point of view would most likely be weaker because specific details are usually lost with this method; making it less accurate than Bernard’s personal accounts.

Bernard and Dawid Sierakowiak’s stories have similarities. Both of their experiences occurred in Poland. Bernard and Dawid were both teenagers at the time they were placed in ghettos. They were both experiencing many tragic incidences that an average eleven or fifteen year old would never have to live through, and so their perspectives on the war or life in general at the time may have been similar. In both stories, they discussed how many jobs they worked in order to survive. Bernard and Dawid also stated that many of their family members started gradually disappearing, and they remember receiving letters from families saying that they were okay, but this was just a Nazi tactic to keep people from knowing the truth. Bernard stated that by the time they had received the letters from loved ones they had already been killed. I found it interesting that Bernard and Dawid explained very similar experiences in their stories.

See you in class,

Jen N.
English 121.003 MWF 11:45-12:45

Posted by: Jen Naugle at February 25, 2007 06:31 PM

1) From who's point of view is Bernard's story being told? Why is it important? How would it be different if told from, say, the third person perspective? Weaker, stronger? The story is told from Bernard's point of view. It is told in first person. This makes the stroy stronger. If it was told by another person, the audience wouldn't have the same sympathy and it wouldn't be as powerful.

3) How many connections can you make about Bernard's testimony and Dawid's from The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak? Both people were males. They were both Jewish. They both were taken from their homes and sent somwhere to be ruled by the Nazi's. Both were sent to Germany.

Posted by: Erin Rock at February 25, 2007 07:02 PM

Professor Hobbs,
I have chosen to respond to questions one and three from the video My Hometown Concentration Camp: Walk in the Krakow Ghetto and Plaszow Camp.
For question number one, Bernard’s story is being told from the first person point-of-view. He is telling stories that happened to him personally and that is why it is important. If the story were told from the third person point-of-view, it would be weaker, because his perspective has more feeling, is emotionally charged, and very sincere.
Question number three, connections between Bernard’s testimony and Dawid’s include: they both took place in a ghetto, both were young boys-Bernard was eleven years old, and Dawid was fifteen years old. Another odd similarity is that both boys documented their experiences. Not many young men who lived through the holocaust were able to document their experiences.
Thank you,
Jaime Hersh

Posted by: Jaime Hersh at February 25, 2007 08:00 PM

The point of view perspectives of both Offen’s and Dawid’s life stories are crucial for them in getting their point across. Their main strength in their respective stories comes from the fact that these are true stories which come from personal experience. If these two stories were told in from any other point of view would only take away from the compassion and sympathy which draws many readers to this style of writing.
Both Dawid and Bernard have similar stories which take place in two of the five largest ghettos in German occupied Poland. Both Lodz and Krakow are both located in the middle of the country, with Lodz being basically in the center and Krakow a little further south. So many of the soldiers they came across could have been trained by the same people. Both families of the authors were more or less killed through the ghetto processes. Both were forced to work in high labor industries were they stole food for themselves and their families. Both men were of Jewish decent, but only Mr. Offen was fortunate enough to survive the strenuous life of these death zones.

Posted by: Thomas Nolf at February 25, 2007 08:35 PM

Film Questions for My Hometown Concentration Camp Walk In The Krakow Ghetto and Plaszow Camp by Bernard Offen

1. Bernard Offen tells his story of life in the Jewish ghettoes through the first person point of view. This is important to the film because it is his life story. He lived it and through the use of first person he can really tell the true story to let his audience in to his life. If this were told in the third person point of view it would have been much weaker than if told in first person because then the audience wouldn’t get to relive his experience as well. Offen actually lived it and he is the only one who can tell his story. Another survivor could have told his story in third person, but it wouldn’t have been as real as his own story.

3. After viewing the portion of the film I saw in class I noticed a few connections between the film and Dawid’s diary. Both Offen and Dawid were Polish Jews who were placed in ghettoes in the cities in which they lived. Both are told in the first person point of view making both pieces very strong and help the audience/reader into the experience in which they lived. Both were also very young boys when the war began and they got placed in the ghettoes. Dawid was a few years older than Bernard Offen, but the fact that were both of young age made make their stories much more appealing to the audience/reader. Everyone can remember their life at their ages; therefore it lets the reader/audience connect more with the character.

Katie Kovac
English 121.003

Posted by: Katie Kovac at February 25, 2007 08:41 PM

Professor Hobbs,

My Hometown Concentration Camp Discussion

1.Bernard’s story is being told in the first person point of view. This is important because as he guides us on his tour throughout Poland, he is able to convey the feelings and emotions he felt as he lived and survived the war. If an outside person (third person point of view), not involved in the Holocaust, was giving the guided tour and telling the story of Bernard, it wouldn’t convey the same emotions of the tragedy tha Bernard was able to express through his own eyes.

3.There are many connections that I had noticed between Dawid’s Diary and Bernard’s Testimony. Both of them went through the war as young boys, Dawid, 15 and Bernard 11. They were both held in ghettos in Poland. Dawid was held in the Lodz ghetto, while Barnard was located in the Krakow ghetto. Both boys had to work during that time in various places doing various things such as teaching, and making shoes. They experienced death and starvation of their peers, and the need to help their families survive. There was one main difference between the two boys. Dawid’s life ended at the young age of nineteen. Bernard was a survivor, who lives his life in the U.S, never forgetting the horror that he experience in Krakow.

Thank you,
Tina W

Posted by: Tina W at February 25, 2007 09:11 PM

Tatiana S. Mack
Professor Hobbs
English121 003
Questions 1&3

1.My Hometown Concentration Camp: Walk in the Krakow Ghetto and Plaszow Camp is told in the first person perspective. This is important because these are actual events that Bernard really experienced first hand. If it were told in the third person perspective, it probably would not be as effective. This is because the third person perspective does not have any emotional attachment to the events that took place.

2.There are some connections between Dawid, and Bernard's testimony. They were both in their teenage years when they were in these ghettos, and ironically they are both male. Dawid and Bernard are both Jewish. Being in the ghettos, they both were neglected healthy and hearty meals. So, they had to work just to earn money.

Posted by: Tatiana S. Mack at February 25, 2007 09:23 PM

Lauren Wozniak
Instructor Lee Hobbs
ENGL 121
February 26, 2007

Film Clip-My Hometown Concentration Camp

1. Bernard’s story is being told in first person point-of-view. This is important because, Bernard is able to participate in the action of the story. We the viewers are able to hear first hand what his experiences were and how they affected him personally. First person point-of-view is very important because it enables the viewer to feel the emotions Bernard is feeling. If Bernard’s story was told in third-person point-of-view, I believe the viewer would not fully be able to understand the trials and tribulations that Bernard has struggled through.

2. Bernard and Dawid are both very similar. Even though their stories take place in two different ghettos, they both experienced similar situations. Bernard just like Dawid, witnessed people being shot in the middle of the streets. Both of them also relied on their friends for support, work, money, and chocolate. Bernard stated that he would always cravechocolate, but without the help of all of his friends it was impossible to get the chocolate. Bernard and Dawid both had curfews and were both starved. Neither of them had enough money to buy food, and the food that they had was taken by the soldiers. Another big similarity between the two was that they both worked. Dawid wanted to work for money and Bernard snuck into a camp so he could work on shoes with his father. Finally, Dawid and Bernard both believed that things were hard, but ok. They never gave up and always looked for the light at the end of the tunnel.

Posted by: Lauren Wozniak at February 25, 2007 10:13 PM

Greg Crossland
Eng 121
Lee Hobbs

Bernard Offen

While viewing My hometown Concentration Camp: Walk in the Krakow Ghetto and Plaszow Camp, I found some similarities with Bernard Offen’s story and the story Dawid Sierakowiak. I am choosing to write about the first and third question as laid out for us in class.
Bernard’s story is told in first person point of view. This is important because it gives personality and emotion about a very sensitive subject. If the story were to be retold in third person by a narrator, I believe a lot of the emotion would be lost. When Bernard retells his struggles as a young child, you can see and hear the pain and sorrow in his facial features and speech patterns. This makes his testimony much stronger than if it was retold by someone who did not live this anguish filled life in the Krakow Ghetto.
I have found a few connections between Bernard Offen’s story and that of David Sierakowiak. They were both young male adolescents living in Poland when they were placed into ghettos by the Nazi regime. Both were placed into ghettos because of their religion of Judaism. They both went through tremendous tragedy and grief, while they were in these poverty stricken ghettos. Food and nutrition were hard to come by, which they expressed in each of their testimonies. Bernard explains how he quietly sabotaged boots that Nazi soldiers were to wear. Dawid also quietly joined a local resistance against the barbaric forces of Hitler. These children of the polish ghettos went through tremendous hardships at a very young and vulnerable age.
In conclusion, I would like to say that both of these touching stories have something to offer anyone who gives the time to examine them. Each of these individuals is undoubtedly different, but because of the circumstances of their lives, numerous connections can be made.

Posted by: Greg Crossland at February 25, 2007 10:35 PM

Shayne Schmidt
Instructor: Lee Hobbs
ENGL 121.003 Humanities Literature

I am choosing questions one and three to discuss.

The point of view form which the story is being told is from the first person. This is important because he discusses a first encounter of how ghetto life was. Bernard gives an example of how it was for better for your own survival to keep working. He tells us how he and his father work on the German boots making them so they would fall apart when in combat. All this information shows that if the story was told in the third person point of view that it would weaken because Bernard’s experience is beyond most of what everyone can tell.

The connections between both stories about their testimonies are that each of them knows what that they must do in order to stay alive just a little longer. Another connection is that both where in their teenager years during the time they spent in the ghetto. They both spent time in the ghetto trying to keep work in order so they where not sent off for deportation. They also both encounter Jews being murder and shot if they did not obey the Germans.

Posted by: Shayne Schmidt at February 25, 2007 11:31 PM

Dr. Professor Hobbs,
1. The story is being to by Bernard himself. It is important that the story is being told by Bernard because if it wasn't the story would be weak because it would be told by a spectator someone who did not go through the things Bernard actually experience.
3. The connections I made with both stories is both of these boys experienced a concentration camp. Both of these boys tried to rebel in a discrete manner so they would not be punished. Bernard rebelled by making the shoes wrong so when the soldiers would run their heels would break off their shoes. Dawid rebelled by saying things he didn't take any action.

Posted by: Melisa Parsons at February 26, 2007 12:03 AM

Professor Hobbs,
I did questions 1 and 3 on Bernard Offen’s My Home Concentration Camp: Walk in the Krakow Ghetto and Plaszow Camp.

1. This film is in first person. Bernard is telling his own story and I think if it were to be in the third person it would weaken this film. It is more personal and more heart felt than if it were to be told in the third person which makes the film stronger to me.
3. There are so many similarities with some differences. Some similarities are the language, the same fears of getting beat, starving, disease, and so much more. There were “sweeps” where they had Jews sign up for work and when they got there were made to write letters to their family saying they were fine when the truth was they were going to be murdered. Some differences are that Bernard was eleven years old when the Germans came. Also, Bernard and some of his family survived throughout the war. He was also right next to another ghetto to which he escaped to when he overheard a German saying that he and other kids his age were going to be killed. Eventually the ghetto he escaped to closed and he was transferred back to his original ghetto and was back with his family.

Posted by: Kristin Dudra at February 26, 2007 12:14 AM

Professor Hobbs,

I chose questions 2 and 4.
In the film, Bernard tells the story which makes it a very narrative documentary. He is telling the story from his experience and relaying the stories from his family to those on the tour. I feel that this makes his story very strong because its speaking from first hand experience. If it was told as "Bernard was smuggled into a camp" it might seem less realistic than "my uncle smuggled me into a camp".
In David's book, the story is told date by date, and very detail. While in Bernard's story he gives a summary and a very detailed description of the way Poland was back then. They both had a lot of jobs and responsibilities, Bernard had to make shoes and David was a tutor. They both had similar stories, but extremely different experiences.

-Nicole Novak

Posted by: Nicole Novak at February 26, 2007 08:16 AM

Rebecca Shenkle
Bernard Offen Movie Response
Bernard’s story is being told from his point of view, so first person. This is important because it gives the audience a really good perspective of what it was like to have lived through this war. I think this is probably the strongest perspective to tell a story like this in. If Bernard was just telling a story of some people he knew who went through the war, it would not be as effective because we would not be able to hear much about what it felt like to go through that terrible time.
I have made a few connections so far between Bernard’s film and “The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak”. One connection is that both people telling their story were males around the same age who both experienced the war first-hand. I believe Bernard was a little younger than Dawid, however. He was probably about ten or eleven when Dawid was around fifteen. I’m not sure exactly where Bernard said he was from, but I believe both people were in Poland during that time. One difference I found in the stories so far is that Dawid has not been to a concentration camp yet and Bernard was in a total of five concentration camps. This is interesting because both stories combined tell accounts of the holocaust from different points of view.

Posted by: Rebecca Shenkle at February 26, 2007 08:21 AM

Professor Hobbs,

I am writing about questions one and three.

This documentary is told in first person. It is important because he lived during this time and he is explaining what happened, and what he had to go through to still be alive today. This documentary would be much weaker if it was told from second person because they didn’t live though the holocaust. They can only talk about stories people told them. I don’t think it would be as meaningful.

There were a few connections I made about Bernard’s testimony and Dawid’s book. These were both males that were young teenagers at the time of the holocaust. Both of their families were placed in ghettos to live. It seems to me that they were both intelligent boys because Bernard’s managed to escape and live through this and the way Dawid writes, it shows that he uses a lot of thought.

Amber Dunmire

Posted by: Amber Dunmire at February 26, 2007 08:34 AM

Professor Hobbs,

I chose to respond to questions 1 and 3, writing about the point of view from which Mr. Bernard Offen gave related his experiences and what connections I have made between the stories of Dawid Sierakowiak and Bernard respectively.

While Bernard’s account was that of a summation of events given from the first person perspective, much like a painting: he experienced each day but gives a good overall picture of conditions with the largest or most significant events; Dawid’s first person perspective was given in the form of a daily snapshot of the Łódź ghetto: each picture details a small part of Dawid’s day without giving a big, overall scene. At the same time, Dawid and Bernard shared a significant amount. Both were born in Poland, Dawid in 1924 and Bernard in 1929. Bernard was born in Kraków and less than a single degree of latitude north (according to the maps and readings from wikipedia.org) is Łódź, where Dawid was born. Bernard definitely knew Polish and maybe some Yiddish or Hebrew, but he also spoke some German during the video so I assume that he learned German during or since the occupation. Dawid studied and used a great number of languages including Polish, Yiddish, Hebrew, German, Latin, English, and French.(Sierakowiak 9)

Bernard’s story begins in Kraków, Poland; he is giving a guided tour where he recounts the invasion by Nazi Germany in 1939. Bernard was ten years old at the time and at first things stay the same: people continue to work, children attend school and in Bernard’s case he and his friends look for scraps from the workers at a nearby chocolate factory. After a time, like in all the Nazi occupied spaces, the Jews were separated and contained within fenced or walled areas of the cities; the same thing happened in Dawid’s Łódź: the Jews were segregated and fenced off where they are easier to control. While many differences are evident, the largest one being the age difference, Dawid was old enough to work while Bernard was taken from the camp with the other children to be executed, many similarities remain. Essentially, they were both children at the outset of the war and during the occupation, they grew up during wartime and not only that, but they came of age during one of the most horrible events in human history.

My Hometown Concentration Camp: Walk in the Krakow Ghetto and Plaszow Camp. Dir. Bernard Offen. Perf. Bernard Offen. DVD. 1997. 23 min.

Sierakowiak, Dawid. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak. Alan Adelson, ed. Kamil Turowski, translator. Copyright: Jewish Heritage Project and Kamil Turowski, 1996. Oxford University Press, 1998.

Best Regards,
Justin Bleggi

Posted by: Justin Bleggi at February 26, 2007 09:01 AM

Bernard's documentary is clearly subjective...but that's OK. Nothing one ever really writes can be completely objective. Being a journalism major who has done a countless amount of interviews, I can attest to this. One chooses who he or she talks to, the questions he or she asks and what to write. While opinion might not be in it, the choice of words and sources always dilutes the objectivity. In Bernard's case, I think it doesn't matter if the story of the Holocaust or ghettos is told from an objective or subjective angle -- it's still moving no matter what. Facts cannot be denied by history. If anything, his personal experience and commentary make it more emotionally stronger. Also, it isn't sugar coated like some textbooks might make it.

The key difference between the book and the film clip we watched is perspective. Dawid was writing it as it happened. Bernard is reflecting on it. This passage of time might have enabled Bernard to forgive and to understand more. History has been analyzed and now Bernard can be a part of it. Dawid was living it in the present tense.

Posted by: Kendra Sledzinski at February 26, 2007 09:56 AM

Erika L. Knox
Instructor Lee Hobbs
ENGL 101.003 Humanities Literature
26 February 2007
The Holocaust through Journals

Dear Professor Hobbs,

The holocaust was a terrible event in our history. Most people cannot even begin to fathom what those tortured by the Nazi Regime were forced to endure. We are, however, given a small view of their hardships through books and commentary from those who were actually there. Both Bernard and Dawid give us a glimpse into their world. Their stories are told from their own point of view, a subjective view of their horrors. In many cases the subjectivity would interfere with the message. But, in this case I think that it empowers the message a great deal. Because they were actually there, and it was their lives, the message is made far more real in my opinion. They can tell specific details and anecdotes that an impartial text book could not display with such humility and raw honesty. Blood once pumped through their veins, and tears streamed through their eyes. Real people lived and died in the holocaust. That is a powerful message.
The film and the book are displayed in very different ways. Bernard’s message is conveyed through a brief film, and Dawid’s is shown far more in depth through his journals. A key difference would be the intent. Clearly Bernard was trying to share his story with the world. Dawid was writing because that is what he does. Also Bernard tells his story many years after the holocaust ended. Dawid writes as it happens.

--Erika Knox

Posted by: Erika Knox at February 26, 2007 10:00 AM

Gillenberger 1

Erika L.Gillenberger
Instructor Lee Hobbs
ENGL 101.025 College Writing
27 Feb 2007
In this particular movie Bernard’s story is being told in the first person point-of-view. This is important, because Bernard had actually experienced the ghetto growing up. Having Bernard talk about his experiences is more personal and a more detailed point of view of that ghetto. If his story was told in the third person point-of-view the story would be weaker. It would have less emotional to the story if some random person were to tell it. Bernard is able to give a more detailed experience of what happened there than an outsider.
In both Bernard’s testimony and David’s you come to fine similarities of both of there experiences in the ghetto. Both of these to people were both young during this time, not adults yet. Another common bond that they had was that they were both males. In the end they both were able to get there stories out and let the rest of the world know what happened, at least from there point-of-view.

Works Cited
Film Clip: My Hometown Concentration Camp: Walk in the Krakow Ghetto and Plaszow Camp. Dir. Bernard Offen. DVD. 1997. 23 min.

Posted by: Erika G. at February 26, 2007 10:07 AM

The film My Hometown Concentration Camp, by Bernard was told in the firs person perspective. This is important, due to the fact that it makes the story stronger. The story would have been different if told from the third person point of view. This is because, the person telling the story had never experiment any of the events he was telling. It basically be a restatement and a summary of someone else’s experiences. Having in told in the first person, listeners are able to truly know how the person felt; in the case Bernard when he was help in the concentration camp.
There are many connections on can make in relation to the Anne Franks experience. Both Bernard and Anne grew up as teens during the time of the holocaust. The major difference between the two however, is that Anne was hiding in the attic. As opposed to Bernard was actually living in the ghetto of the concentration camp.

Posted by: Sheryll Daugherty at February 26, 2007 10:13 AM

Professor Hobbs,
I was an SA 2-23-2006.

Carlos Gonzalez

Posted by: carlos gonzalez at February 26, 2007 10:20 AM

Dr. Hobbs,
I chose to do questions numbers 1 and 2 for the Offen documentary.

Bernard Offen’s story is told from a first person viewpoint. He leads his listeners through the history of what used to be his ghetto, his home, his way of life. His tone is reminiscent and strong, but underneath is the slightest hint of the past. However, Offen continues his first person monologue in an upbeat way that clearly shows he wants this memory of the past to be told. He remembers and relates to the listener the good (the smell of chocolates and candies wafting into his home from the factory behind it) and the bad (the bicyclists of the present who disrespectfully ride over the burial mounds).
If Offen had chosen to direct the documentary, but have another person narrate, creating a third person perspective of the events, the documentary would lose a vital point. It would be weakened because the importance of the first person account would no longer be there; instead it would be presented by a person who can only have half empathy for what he narrates. The third person was not a part of what Offen has gone through, merely a reader skimming over the lines of history. This third person point of view would drastically diminish the goal that Offen is after. For this instance, a personal, first person account holds so much more potency.
Offen’s participation in the story is a subjective one. He gives insight as to feelings (such as the delight in smelling that oh-so-delicious candy and racing to get it without being caught by the dog) that the objective narrator would not be able to capture. The objective narrator would only be able to describe what is going on like a “fly on the wall”. Giving only descriptions of events or places, such as “the building was filled with the smell of chocolate” while Offen as the subjective narrator can say something akin to “the chocolate smell was comforting and brought back memories of happier times”. The subjective view point allows the reader a closer look into what truly happened through the eyes of someone who was really there. The listener enters this person’s thoughts and does not simply watch as the person in question goes about their life. In other words, the subjective view brings the person into the story while the objective view only allows them to watch from afar.

Erin Knisley
Dr. Hobbs
ENGL 121.003 MWF

Posted by: Erin K. at February 26, 2007 11:09 AM


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