Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

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

German Invasion

But what, do you remember when the, when the war started um, the first time you saw the Germans when they came in?

Yeah uh, I didn't know that, there was the war, it already started and they told, the way, I. We were told that the English and French going with--help Poland so and so when they came in I didn't know, I thought maybe it's French Army. They never told us that, that the Germans already crossed my hometown. So I remember I was out the side on my street where I lived and I walked dow...and they were marching in, the German Army and I, I was out of side on street and I saw on, on the helms?

Helmets, yeah.

Yeah, helmets, saw that signia of, uh...

The swastika.

Swastika. I knew for I looked, I knew we're in trouble. I know we had the Germans already in my hometown.

What was your impression? They marched into...


...the streets.

It was a scared impression. You know, the all--mostly looked like giants. I was a young boy, they look it up like, like giants! Like they were marching tall guy, tall, strong man.

And were there people in the streets, greeting them?

There was no greeting, it looked, you know, like...

They were just watching.

...just looking, watching them. And after that, started problems. They killing in the street. And I remember they--all the doctors, a few days that they came in, they locked, all Jewish doctors and lawyers were ki...taken out and killed.


Shot to death. That was the intelligentsia, the first few days they, they killed them.

Were they killing Polish intelligentsia as well?

They--I remember eh, once where they, yeah, there was something, they were killing Gent...it was the heads of eh, very important eh, Gentiles from Ostrowiec. It was something like the partisans did something against the Germans, so they took out about thirty of those heads, I mean all educated men from Gen...Gentiles, my hometown, they hanged them. I remember exactly when we marched that time when I went from the factory back to the town where I told you that place we should live, we saw them hanging on there, they showed us how they hanged on that.

So you, you were what, fourteen, fifteen?

I was, yeah.

When you saw these men hanging?


Did you see?

But I never knew exactly what, why they did it. But after the war, when I went back to Poland I wa...I he...I learn about it because of the partisans did something, so they hanged all those Gentiles.

Did you know that they were shooting Jews? I mean did you see it, hear it?

Yeah. There was two, I remember exactly. There was two SS men eh, head, heads from the SS from my hometown and they were eh, having them uh, their eh, dogs, German Shepherd and were, so...some Jews yeah, we had to, had already wearing those eh, our Jude.

The armband.

Armband. And so they knew exactly who uh, if you weren't, if they caught you not wearing it you're going to be killed right there on the street. There was a special warning in the streets written on the walls. So I--a lot of times they, they, I saw when I walking through and saw that like two SS men with those dogs allowing to--the dogs to go to tear apart the Jews. And then they took out guns and killing. I saw right on the, on that, on the street killed.

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