Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Maximilian Kowler - April 26, 1984

Meeting French Rescuer

And interestingly enough, when I read the book Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed uh, they are talking about Roger Darcissac in the book, who had all kind of stamps and papers and all this. The identity papers we got there--at least I got there--is we assumed a name, an existence of a person who had really lived, but they died already. So they were not completely falsified, only the dates were falsified--the person had really lived there. I never knew who made the paper. So when I read the book, I saw that Roger Darcissac was instrumental in making papers there. So my goal was--I read the book, and I had already planned a trip to Lyon--I was in France at the time. I said, "All right, so we'll drive to Chambon-sur-Lignon, pour uh, to go to Lyon," and I went to visit Roger Darcissac. Uh, got to the hotel, and I called him. Uh, we have a common friend in Switzerland who had announced me already to Roger Darcissac. Uh, I called him from the hotel, and a man said, "Oh, I can't." I invited him to dinner. "I cannot come to your hotel, because of, what you think. I'm an older man, and I cannot walk downstairs." He lives in, I think, in the only apartment building of Chambon-sur-Lignon--the third floor. "I cannot come down, you come and see me," which we did. There the man was sitting in a tremendous-sized--big-sized living room, completely uh, filled--stuffed with pictures and books and uh, albums, and uh, his TV set and his uh, a table and the bureau and this easy chair. It was his living room--it was all full of memorabilia. And then I sat and we had a wonderful talk, and uh, when--for a few hours--and when it was time to leave, he took us to the door--the apartment door--and uh, he couldn't say good-bye. He walked down with us one flight. He couldn't stop. He walked down a second flight, he still didn't stop. He walked down the door with us. Now this is a man who didn't want to come to the hotel and suddenly he was down the street with us. He walked a few steps down the street, just to show me the door, "Do you remember le presbytére?" That's where the--that was the house, the--it's the parsonage of the church. He stopped and put it down, to show me that--which I naturally remembered--but he was so moved by it. The beautiful thing of the--of our meeting was--naturally he didn't remember whether he made my paper or not. He made so many papers, how could he remember? But the most moving part of the meeting was that a few months later he died, and both his children didn't--knew about me by then already--both of his children had sent me an announcement of his death, and one didn't know from the other that, that they were in touch with me. And I'm really glad that I went to see him before that, because it was--I think I owed it to him and to, to myself, and to all the other people he helped, really, to, to go there and uh, and thank him.

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