Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Henry Krystal - September 19, 1996

Labor in Starachowice

What, what kind of work were you doing in the factory?

Well, at that, that part we were uh, taking three kinds of uh, machine grenade shells uh, and loading them into this uh, sulfuric acid solution and then taking them out and putting them into water and then taking them out and drying them or something like that and then putting them back on the stack. That was this first part. Uh, eventually I was able to get transferred to another assignment where I was working with uh, uh, sandblasting on the same shells, but uh, just two at a time, putting them in a sandblasting machine, taking them out, putting them back on the, on the, on the wagon. And um, I worked there for awhile and then I got good at it and I became the uh, the machine maintenance man. I kept the machines going, would repair them or fix them or keep them going, replace, certain parts were replaceable, had to be maintained. And so that was an...another reason why and that, that was much better work and much less likely to be attacked uh, than uh, the other one. So that's where I got the idea that being a mechanic or a machine maintenance man was uh, safer. But this was a kind of a tenuous place to be because the, the step before that was that uh, steel was heated uh, to a very high uh, temperature, practically kind of a orange. And then it was put into a press and then the press would then turn this block of steel into a, a uh, uh, shell. And we made three sizes, the middle of which was 105 millimeters I think and the, the other one was even larger, the largest machine grenades that I have seen even to date, um.

Did anyone sabotage this work, do you know?

Not, not in my, in my presence. I, I was not aware of any.

Do you remember the name of the company? Was that the Stahlwerke?

Um, [pause] uh, I, I, it could be, I'm not sure now.

How did you get, how did you move on then?

Well, there was a, there was a Polish foreman there and uh, I talked to him and on occasion I was able to get him some money to buy uh, homebrew vodka and so on and kind of bribed him a little and he promoted me. He, he kind of liked me.

And how long had you worked in that particular factory?

I, until they sent us to, to Auschwitz.

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