Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

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

Labor in Birkenau

So you were, you were in Birkenau and you were worried that there was no work.

Yeah. No work. Then they co...somebody eh, from the Gruppen SS came out, a German and he came out, we need for, for making, for making some...doing something, flowers, this was in there to make it look nice, inside flowers. And they called who's a gardener. I had learn in Poland I was eh, I was taught how to do farming and flowers and so I said, "Yes, I am a, I can do flowers." And I volunteered to do, I want to do something. So they took me to work and when I got that job of putting flowers in the ground. So I get double piece of butter and double portion of bread because of that. It was wonderful at that time in Birkenau to get a double portion. So I, I worked on the flowers for them and they liked it the way I did it. And then there was a lot of people--as I explained, there was a lot of other people didn't work. And they stepped on the flowers. So when they came out, the guy said, "What you doing, why didn't?" And they were, I think this was a, one of the civilians from us, I mean from the, the, he was a Kapos. Told you what to do. And he said, "Look what you have to do, watch it what they're doing." So he gave me a big stick and you have to hit him, hit him because they shouldn't go to step on. Nobody in the world would believe I took the stick and gave back that Kapo. I said, "Not me. I'm not going to hit anybody." And, and so I lost my double portion food and double bread. It's unbelievable. Because you feel like people are hungry they would do anything.


I couldn't, I couldn't take a stick and hitting the people there. I know what, what they're there for. So, I lost that wo...the job from work and doing with the flowers. And then I worked uh, on a different, unloading. I, they were looking for something to do but it wasn't, you could see there was no, this was not for people to work there. It was just waiting to be finished.

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