Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

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

Pre-War Politics

Uh, when do you think you heard about um, what was happening in Germany before the war? Did--was there any talk in your house... Yeah, there were.

...about politics?

Oh we always read papers. Forward was our paper in the house. And uh, so we read what was going on in Germany, what, what happened to Jewish people. It was--I ass...before the 1938 yet, before they marched in Czecho...Sudetenland they took over the Czechoslovakian Sudetenland the Germans. We knew this was going on with the policies against the Jewish people. But we--a, a few weeks before the war we didn't believe that. Nobody could believe that uh, they would go in and just liquidate the Jewish people, like gas them or you know. Nobody could imagine something like that would happen to--could happen to pe...human being.

Did you know the war was coming? Did you think that there was going to be a war?

Eh, yeah, because we knew that Germans started in Czechoslovakia there's going to be a war because it didn't--we knew that we didn't. It was so powerful, build up this machinery and we read about it, how strong they are, that, that this was not just this, just Sudetenland because Czechoslovakia gave it to the Germans. It's not, this is going to be stopped. It--he's got appetite to take over a lot of, mo...many, many more countries in Europe. And then before, start, before the war with Poland it was terrible--just felt that if we gotten out, there's no place to go and, and we know what's coming to us. But we didn't, we knew it was going to be terrible but, cause he was, Hitler was against the Jews all the time for years, not just before the war. So we know it's coming, but nobody expected that we're not going to be, they're gonna, they're gonna kill us, you know. They're going to send us to labor camps, that they're going to liquidate the Jewish people, send them to gas chambers. No, nobody could realize something like this, could think that that's going to happen. But there was no way out, there was nowhere to go, nowhere--place to.

Anybody talk about Palestine? Were any of your family Zionists?

Eh, no there was no Z...ever, were not.

Was anybody, was there a Zionist movement in?

Oh yeah, the Zionist movement, Zionist groups, young groups, was always, but, eh.

But your family--what, stayed away from them?

Uh, I was young. And other and other brothers were busy at work and I don't think they. Yeah, my father be...belonged to Verein. You know, from Verein?.


For the workers, Verein.

Was he was Bundist?

No, not Bundist...

He was just...

...just eh, for--'cause he was working, a worker like that.

Um, so it was a skilled workers Verein? The shoe makers union maybe?

Yeah, I would say, yeah eh, could, like, he was, like somebody'd come in when, after his shoes made and do it, yeah. And uh, but mostly we uh, my father's business was eh, we, to...we went, we went to Warsaw. And from Warsaw we bought the best used shoes, you know, in the big city, in the province, my hometown, Ostrowiec. And then we sell in, in market. And I used to go on vac...on vacation time, there was before the war that, I was school, going still in school, before I w...so I was, I was able to go without, you know like if you go with your father you're allowed, you can go with your father. So--and then other time going my father to Warsaw and buying shoes. And...

Did you go to Lublin a lot, as well?

No. Lublin, I had, Lublin I had a cousin living from my mother's side. There was a cousin living in Lublin. But never went to Lublin, Lublin.

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