Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Maximilian Kowler - April 26, 1984

Work During the War

Now what happened in Lyon, after the Germans left? I mean, you were...

Uh, the Germans left, and I came--and I was back in Lyon. Naturally, I was looking for a job. One of my--one of the jobs, I had it immediately. Jobs were hard to find, naturally, because so many of the French people came from the north and were now in Vichy France. They're all looking for jobs, they have to live, and naturally French people got jobs much easier and much better than we did. So I went and got a job as terrassier--that's a--somebody was digging earth, you know? I was digging a canal. And I worked especially with uh, Spanish people uh, Republicans who came from Spain--refugees from Franco--a wonderful bunch of people. One of the nicest people I met in my life, I would say--very warm, sincere, good-hearted, good-natured. I mostly worked with them. And uh, I did that for quite a while and it was hard work; I had never done work like that in my life. Uh, we build a canal near uh, Saint-Genis-Laval, Saint-Fons, not too far from one of the big pharmaceutical companies south of Lyon, I forgot the name now. Anyhow, I worked there for a while, but uh, being it was hard work--in order to get there, I had to ride the bicycle for about an hour uh, there was no good public transportation to get there and it became really tough. So, I left them there, and I went to Chambon-sur-Lignon. Uh, I was there then, in, in a big--one of the big youth camps, by the Jewish Boy Scouts--les Eclaireurs Israélites de France. And uh, when we came back then from there, I uh, we talked about where should we go into the resistance, where should we hide, where would be the best place to survive the war. I had never thought of leaving France, and uh, some of our, our leaders then uh, said, for example--the Haute-Loire is a very good place. Another good place would be, for example, in the south-western part of France, Marsac, which became very famous hide-out for Jewish youth leaders--Boy Scouts. Uh, and I decided, I'm just about to leave, I'll probably go back to Chambon. Then again, I changed my mind and I stayed in Lyon. Couldn't find a job, went to the Veteran's Administration, and they recommended me a job in a bar, a restaurant, a sort of ??? in Lyon, which is called ??? which was called ???. And I started to work there--I told them I didn't know anything about bar-tending, "Oh, don't worry about it, the boss will teach you."

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