Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

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

Punishment in Birkenau

You did tell me that what you used to think about sometimes was that it would be better not to wake up in the morning.

Yeah, that eh, in Birkenau it was, you always said oh, hope that you don't wake up would be--this would be wonderful. That we--even though you know what's happening to you, just fade out. But, didn't happen.

At age--you were sixteen when you were in, in Birkenau?

In, in Birkenau? I was about, yeah, fifteen, sixteen.

Um, you had already seen lots of people hung--shot?



Yeah. I was working, I think it was in Buna. Some boys, somebody came out, Kapo, with a shovel, over their heads. It's like--killed them with instant.

When that happened, what, what did you do? I mean did you look? Did you ignore it?

No eh, you had to work. If they came in, maybe somebody didn't work at that moment, you just would do it.

And you saw it.

Yeah, I saw it right next, not far from me.

And you just, and you just kept on working.

You just kept, you kept working, nervous, when you saw what happened, you thought maybe it's going be next--you. But it did, most of the time you saw when they came in, you saw somebody at the time not doing the work what he's supposed to do. That was it.

I get the feeling that, that now, that bothers you. That you did that.

Oh sure.

Can you tell me why?

Why? I guess uh, I guess going through a hell like this, you can't get out of it. It's impossible to be like healed that you should forget everything, you should. You, like you can start--okay, we came to this country, we--wonderful country, we feel good concept, but something missing. Something missing. You have no, you have no family and you went through hell. You, you, your nervous system is, is not the way it should be. Everything you think bothers you--everything you hear something going wrong it bothers you. It's, I think that's from that...

From that experience.


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