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Paul Grünberg

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00:00:00 Background

00:01:02 Anschluss of Austria

00:03:36 Deportation

00:12:19 Buchenwald concentration camp

00:16:57 Daily life and survival in the Buna/Monowitz concentration camp

00:31:24 Death marches/liberation

00:44:19 Postwar period

“But how do you aim to explain, for example, to my grandson what hunger is? How do you expect to do that? They don’t know the feeling. Or what freedom is, that’s something you can’t explain to anybody, it can’t be explained.”[1]


Paul Grünberg, the only child of Oskar and Else (née Wolf) Grünberg, was born in Vienna on January 24, 1923. His mother was a master seamstress, his father a journeyman furrier. Paul Grünberg was apprenticed to a tailor at the age of 14, but the training was interrupted by the Anschluss, the annexation of Austria, because his master craftsman emigrated to Switzerland. After the “Night of Broken Glass” (Reichspogromnacht) on November 9, 1938, Oskar Grünberg was arrested and sent to the Dachau concentration camp. As a veteran of World War I, however, he was soon released. On September 11, 1939, the Gestapo again arrested Oskar Grünberg, taking Paul along as well. The father and son were put in the prison at Rossauer Lände, and several days later they were deported from there to the Buchenwald concentration camp. His mother and grandparents were deported to Modliborzyce in 1941 and murdered.


Oskar and Paul Grünberg had to work in the quarry in Buchenwald. Oskar Grünberg could not keep up such work for long, and he was murdered in the sickbay at Buchenwald. With the help of a Viennese prisoner, Paul Grünberg was transferred to work in the plant nursery. In October 1942, the SS took him, along with Fritz Kleinmann and other Jewish prisoners from Buchenwald, to the newly built Buna/Monowitz concentration camp. Paul Grünberg worked as block clerk at first, and then, because of his good handwriting and his claim to be a bookkeeper, he was assigned to the administrative office. In summer 1944, he was transferred to the administrative office of the Neu-Dachs (Jaworzno) subcamp, a coal mine. On January 15, 1945, the SS forced the prisoners from Jaworzno to go on the death march. In early May 1945, the SS abandoned the prisoners in Czechoslovakia and ran away. Paul Grünberg hid with a friend in a farmhouse in Reichenberg/Liberec until the Red Army came and helped them.


Paul Grünberg went back to Vienna; he was the only member of his family who survived. A former prisoner got him a job in the management office of a large publishing house, where he worked until retirement. In 1949, Paul Grünberg married his first wife, Johanna, and they had a son. Johanna Grünberg died in 1974. Today Paul Grünberg lives in Vienna with his second wife, Ottilie.

(MN; transl. KL)


Paul Grünberg, oral history interview [Ger.], February 1, 1998. USC Shoah Foundation Institute, Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Archive, Code 47322.

Paul Grünberg, oral history interview [Ger.], June 16, 2007. Archive of the Fritz Bauer Institute, Norbert Wollheim Memorial.

[1] Paul Grünberg, oral history interview [Ger.], June 16, 2007. Archive of the Fritz Bauer Institute, Norbert Wollheim Memorial. (Translation KL)