Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

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

Arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau

And then and you arrived in Birkenau in the day time.

Mm-hm, yeah, it was daytime.

When, when they opened the doors to the box car, do you remember what you thought or what you felt, what it, what it was like to you--suddenly, the doors are open, what did you see? What, what feelings did you have?

The feeling was that, that that's, that's it. You know, we had the feeling that we are going. Altogether feeling, that this is the end, that's the end of our, of our road.

But what was it like when the light came in? I mean it must have been dark in the car.

Yeah, the car was dark but there was some little opening, you know.

And then suddenly the doors open.

Yeah, that would be it.

What did you hear, what did you see?

A lot of noise. A lot of noise. Eh, German, you know, "Raus, raus, raus!" to get out of because you're packed and it's hard to get up and you--there's no room to get out. And with and with uh, with the dogs, you know.

What, what were your first impressions of the...

Impression was, the impression was that uh, that's, that's the end of it. That's the impression because we saw what was going on with SS standing and, and, and a lot of us as we selecting to go on one side or on the other side. So we knew that, we know that there's something going on with gas chambers.

Did you see the chimneys?

Chimneys, big chimneys.

What did you think the chimneys were about?

Chimneys uh, was uh, we knew that they were burning the corpse.

Was this?

Yeah, the smell was terrible. And at night, at night in the evening we saw mostly red sky from, from the smoke on the red--burning flesh.

You weren't with your brother at Birkenau? Not in the arrival.

No, no, in, in, in Birkenau I was not, my brother was in Buna, remember I told you.

Buna. So you arrived alone.

Yeah, I arrived alone at--in Blizyn.

Were you with any, was, did you have a friend, someone from...

My hometown? There were some few, yeah.

Did you talk to each other on the platform? Were there lots of people?

Yeah eh, the people on the eh, from the, from the, in the train, I mean that what we, we, cattle train like, called that, it uh, we talking about that, we knew, but whether, it was, we talking about--there was no talk about there's going to be out of it. We talked about another day or so and you'll be gone, you know. There was no talk about, about, of life. It was mostly of death.

Were there prisoners in uniforms on the platform? Do you remember seeing any?

Yeah, there were prisoners already, yeah, for helping out, for the--'cause they're helping other people pushing them where to, different directions, they helped out.

You didn't talk to any of them.

No, we didn't uh, didn't talk to them. But eh, no, in eh, eh, we from Blizyn, you see, we came already, men, so, there was. But other trains came with kids, children. It was terrible. Separating, taking the kids out of mothers' arms. Anyway--torn, torn away like, like it would be like a piece of bread. But at the time when we came we just were men from Blizyn.

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