Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Joseph Gringlas - January 14 & 22, March 18, 1993

Relations with non-Jews

Did--your father was a shoemaker?

A shoemaker and we're, also we're selling shoes.

Did he have any non-Jewish customers?

Oh, we had a lot of non-Jewish customers. I wouldn't say all were, were bad, but, some were good, but mostly bad. You didn't see too many good ones because the, the other ones were so many, against the Jewish people. In--as I remember, in school, we went to school before the war

You went to public school?

Yeah, went to public school and I finished public school just 1939 when the war broke out.

What was it like in school?

In school it was terrible. It was just eh, you felt that, that you're not welcome there. You're just like, like you're not in your own country. Like you are somebody--a stranger. And after the, after finish school you were going home, the stones thrown at you. It's just unbelievable. Like, things like that in a country where you were born and raised.

Uh, did you got to cheder too?

Yeah, I went to cheder uh, that was right at market, cheder was close from home. And all the time when special Sundays--I'll never forget it, when every time I ever went out to cheder and especially even it was the winter time when the days were short and at night when it gets dark. So I, as soon I went out, I went out, I finished going home, walking home, I was hit. They came out from church and hit because you are a Jew, you know. And as a young boy I didn't know why, why does this happen to me? And that built up terrible feeling and like, scared, you know. Then your own country.

Did you discuss this with your--I mean was there any discussion about anti-Semitism in your house?

Oh, there was, oh yeah, always discussing.

Did you come home and say I was hit today?

Yeah, uh huh.

And what happened?

That would happen, what can you do? You gonna call the police? Gonna tell anything? If anything happen to you, you call the police, they would n...never showed up. But this is, you know, you got in--you got in building yourself that that's the way life is. You can't do anything about it. It's, you have to accept it, you live there in this country, this is the way it is.

Did you have any non-Jewish friends?

Oh yes, I had Jewi...non-Jewish friend. Quite a few. In school, you know, felt like that, those are the one which is close to you.

Did you play soccer?

Play--soccer was my--I was crazy about soccer.

So you made friends maybe playing soccer.

Yeah, playing soccer. But mostly in soccer playing we had, Jewish friends close we live together. I have a brother too. He's alive and still after the war. And we played, he's four years older than me. So we always played in the friends from cheder or school and get together after the school and we played soccer. This was my--I, I loved it very much.

With w...w...these non-Jewish friends, did you ever go to their houses or did they ever come to yours?

Eh, non-Jewish friends, the place where they lived, the landlord was, was, was non-Jewish, was gentile. So with the daughter, I remember her and we went to school. Now she was very, the parents were anti-Semitic terrible, we knew it. But she was not. And she even spoke Jewish like I--better than me. But she, some, they understood, they felt different. Why should they treat people differently than the parents, was they can tell, educate them how to, the Jews are and get them to be against Jewish people. There were some. They were nice.

But you felt the an...the hostility.

Oh yes, any place you went, yeah.

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