Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

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

Value of Work

Um, uh, I, I was struck last time we talked that you emphasized what the, what the value system under the Germans was. You either worked or you died. If you didn't work then you weren't worth, you weren't worthy of life somehow. Is that correct?

About the German people?

When you, when you lived, when the Germans came to Ostrowiec and then every, every subsequent...

Oh there was...

...experience. If you didn't work, you were done. Right? For example when you were in the...

Eh, before that--before, I mean right after uh, they came in, they took you to work to helping them cleaning the streets, snow eh, removal. For their own--for the military, something helping out. But they let you go. They, you can get--got back to home. They always took you. And they, they were always coming in looking for Jude. We had--sometimes we were hiding in closets. They were looking and some of the Poles gave up too, a lot of Jews. So those, but they took you to work that time was not, but you know that you're going to come back. And then later on we hear that they're taking groups away to labor camps. Before that big things, that big--sending to Auschwitz, they took to labor camps. Like in the wars, they took them to dig ditches. We knew it, but we knew that they didn't, never came back. So they were, terr...there the family lost ??? people. But then later on they starting to eh, taking all the Jews out and sending them to all the camps. That was the, they liquidated the Jewish people in Europe.

But you, but you seemed to know that as long as you could work, you had a...


...chance to survive.

It eh, I felt that as long as you're working they're going to use you out. They, then you're going to stay--live awhile.

And you said that after the x-rays, when they...


...didn't take you out to work anymore, you thought that was it.

That was it, yeah.

That, so that system of either you work or you're, or you're dead.


Do you think that you carried that with you after the war, that work--you said keeping busy was.

Yeah, keeping busy you forget about your, your problem. You put yourself in, your life. Like, I go--like taking class and, and painting, water colors. It, it keeps your mind busy, especially when you're retired, you know, you got so much time, you know.

But when you first came to the United States, did you feel like you had to work, work, work?

Yeah, oh yeah, I uh, you want to--first you want to go to work, you know you have to do something to make a living. So I went--like I learned a profession in electronics. So yeah, I wanted to work. It was--but still a lot of times, there was still depressions and uh, it was, it was not a smooth life.

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