Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Maximilian Kowler - April 26, 1984

Hearing News of Treatment of Jews

What had you heard was going on in Austria, in Germany or in Poland--about the German treatment of Jews?

Uh, interestingly enough, until in uh, I don't remember even, whether we heard something. I'm talking up to 1942, in that period of time. I don't know how much we heard. I knew, naturally, before I left Vienna, I knew about Dachau already. Uh, I don't remember whether I knew about any other camps until later on--until '42 or later. I don't remember--you see, I, I was always ahead of the Germans uh, I never worried about the uh, I did worry, but I, I stayed--we always had the initiative. We always were ahead of them--always a few step ahead of them. And I don't, I don't remember being worried about being deported; it, it just didn't reach us. We--our only uh, object was to escape to be caught. Uh, what would happen to us after we are caught uh, didn't think we, we thought of it. We heard of where French camps like, you know, Drancy uh, what other uh, Rivesaltes, Vernet--they were camps in France, which we were worried to uh, to escape. Uh, and somehow it, it didn't bother us that much.

Had you heard any rumors of uh, maltreatment, of uh, of mass shootings, executions?

In Germany? Or in the east or something? No, no. If I, if I did, I forgot. I don't know. Uh, as I said, I uh, I was always ahead of it somehow, and uh, I, I just didn't think of it. I just didn't think it could happen to me, now that you ask, because uh, and I think that if--I think that many Jews that were caught in France--I'm talking about France only. I know what was going on there. I lived there and I was very close to French people. Uh, I think many Jews could've survived--many more Jews--no, let's put it this way: many more Jews could've survived in France, if they would've taken the initiative of surviving--of trying to survive. Some of them didn't survive because they were too complacent. They just sat there and waited--what is, what is going to happen?" Uh, there were ways and means in France to survive--no question about it. The French people were good--there were bad ones, naturally--the French people basically were good, the French people were helpful. Uh, I made--had this experience myself personally, my wife had this experience uh, experience of my friends, and many, many of my friends survived. There is the famous example--I mentioned to you Chambon-sur-Lignon, you know? There were ways and means to survive in France. Naturally there were ???, that I know. I had family who was in Gurs. I know there were many other camps, and even though it was family of mine--and I know how they were caught. The only reason they were caught is because they sat and waited.

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