Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Emerich Grinbaum - October 3, 2000 & January 8, 2001

Reasons for Surviving

And he survived Auschwitz.

Auschwitz, we survived. Uh, you know, the, the reason we survived--shall I tell now or later?

Sure, whatever, that's fine.

You know, you know the story that we arrived Auschwitz where they--from the ghettos. We were taken in May. Probably we were taken eighteen or nineteen of May uh, from the ghetto, so we arrived three days later approximately, 22nd--23rd of, of May 1944. And uh, we uh, my mother had a sister with two smaller children. I was at that time fourteen, my brother was only twelve, almost thirteen. And the other, the--and my aunt had two children uh, six and eleven, I guess. So when we got out from the ca...from the uh, train, which is not a train. We called it, we called it wagon, wagon, the, the cattle, cattle...

Cattle cars, yeah.

So they immediately separated men and women you know, immediately you leave. And we went with my--we were tall relatively--we went with my father. My mother got out and he took one of the boy of her sister, you know. So the sister took one of the small boy--of her son and my bro...my mother took and that was her fate. So when we, when the selection was, where Mengele and whoever was there you know, mothers with small children, they were sent straight directly to the gas chamber. If she wouldn't have taken the hand of the, of the child--one of the chil...uh, child, she might have gone--she was healthy and young, she might have gone to work and she might have been survive. So we, we didn't know at that time, but we learned later. And we were with my father and uh, we were tall and didn't ask questions, so they sent us to work. Being in Auschwitz se...only several--six or seven days uh, my father was always asking the old uh, Häftlinge, and Häftlinge means the prisoners you know uh, how to stay together. They were Polish Jews. They were not allowed to talk to us. They were organizing. But one of the guy was you know, he says that you have to--because he asked father how old are we, me and my brother--fourteen? You have to tell much more. So we didn't have documents.

On the platform this was?

No later on when we were--after, you know. On the platform also try, but the platform didn't say. But on the platform we just, they let us go to the--and then later on, next day or two days later they separated the children who are below-- under sixteen. We didn't know at that time. But, so I told that I was born, when they wrote it down next day the documents, we didn't have documents, they ask me. I told them I was born in 1927, three years older. So I was at that time allegedly seventeen. My brother was--he told that he's sixteen. So--and even--so uh, he gave a false--so uh, and we could stay together with the grownups with my father.

Someone came to the barracks and asked for children?

No everybody. No, no n...n...they--those who went to work like we and uh, and tho...and then, the documents showed that you know, sixteen they took away to the, to the children barracks.

Did someone come and ask you how old you were?

Yes, because they put uh, put the dot. They, they made, made the dot, they asked me how old, when were you were born the next day.

This was when you were already in the barracks.

In the barracks, right. Next day or the third day, I don't remember. And then we were lucky to stay with my father, father. Those who, who told that they are-- despite the fact they might be working, but they were taken to the children block you know, block, the--and they--very few uh, survived those. Very few. Mostly they didn't survive.

Let's, if we could, let's go back to, to um...

Yes. Mm-hm.

...to uh, Munkacs uh, uh, again.


© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn