George Grojnowski


George displays the concentration camp jacket he wore in Buchenwald, on which he changed the yellow triangle to red in gratitude to his Soviet liberators in May 1945.

Sydney Jewish Museum Collection M2004/025


“For a long time I didn’t talk about the Holocaust. You feel guilty that you survived and you think, ‘What is the point of being a survivor?’ You’re 18 years old and have no parents, no sister, no aunts and uncles…No one survived. You’re by yourself and don’t know where to go, where to establish yourself again.

I didn’t talk to my children about it. But when people started denying what happened, my wife said to me, ‘If you aren’t going to talk about it, who will?’ So today I tell my story. Talking about it is a good thing: it helps you come to terms with it.

In my story there are two occasions when a Nazi soldier impacted on my survival in some way. The first was when a Nazi guard stopped me from running to my mother and sister – they went directly to their deaths – and the second was when a Nazi guard gave me back to my father. I like to tell these stories because in a situation where most people had no value for human life and no one even thought of a life after the war, there was someone who didn’t want to separate a father and son. When you fight for life every day, you don’t analyze it until later. When you think of what could have happened, you realize that those two soldiers had some element of humanity in them.

My birthday is 23 January 1927 but I regard March 1949 as my true birth day, when I came to Australia and built a normal life.”

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