Allen Hall is a retired attorney, professor and Holocaust survivor. He gave presentations at Pensacola State College on Tuesday, November 12 and at the University of West Florida on Wednesday, November 13.
His family were living in Krakow when the Germans took over the City in 1939. He and his family walked from Krakow to Lvov to escape the German occupation. First they lived in his grandmother’s apartment, and then in their own apartment. Hall says his family lived a comfortable middle class lifestyle until 1941. They spent the following four years in constant hiding, in such places as an attic above a theater and a basement below a factory.
For two years, they lived two floors below the Nazi Air Force headquarters in Warsaw. The office was a two-room suite, where people worked in one room during the evenings, while the second room was allegedly his father’s private office and storeroom. The door between the rooms was kept locked. Hall and his mother spent most of their time inside the closet playing Cat’s Cradle with a string.
For four years, he and his mother did not leave the office. When the employees left for the night, they could leave the closet and kept several feet away from the window to avoid being seen. Hall says that his family’s main food source consisted of potato peelings from the garbage, which they compressed into patties.
His brother was born weighing just two pounds during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, which occurred in anticipation of the arrival of the Russian troops. In its aftermath, the Germans forced all of Warsaw’s residents to leave the city. Hall’s family took a Red Cross train and returned to their old neighborhood in Krakow, where they remained for the last four months of the war. They immigrated to the United States in 1947. Because his family went into hiding when Hall reached school age, he entered his first classroom at age eleven. He says that adjusting to his new life was not easy.
Hall lost his uncle, two aunts, his grandparents, and his mother’s entire family to the concentration camps. He gives presentations about his experience to remind people of the relevance of the Holocaust. He says that although tolerance has increased in this country, genocide is still a problem around the world and the US needs to remain vigilant.