The Polish Heating Technician
The Pole Antoni Grot (1922–2012) came from a small town near Danzig (Gdańsk). When he was 18, the labour office sent him to Elbing (Elbląg) to perform forced labour. He was forced to work there as a welder for a shipyard for four years before the Germans sent him to Berlin in June 1944. Employed by the subcontractor John Schmitz, he welded heaters at the Siemens-Schuckert factory. Because he was experienced in this trade, he was given more responsible tasks than other Polish forced labourers. The forced labourers were usually left unprotected from the many bomb attacks on the Siemens factories.
The company housed Grot in a Siemens barracks camp for Polish forced labourers in Falkensee, west of Berlin. From there he had to travel one hour each day by train to work and was frequently harassed by German youths. When Grot mentioned in a letter to his family that the rations were very poor, he was interrogated by the criminal police. After the liberation in April 1945, he returned to his hometown. Finally, in the 1990s, he received a token payment in several instalments as recompense for the five years of forced labour that he had performed during the war.