Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Maximilian Kowler - April 26, 1984

Work After the War

Do you remember the Nacht und Nebel decree? Night and Fog decree?


Just curious. In 1941 and '42...

Where was that?

It was in France, but it was passed by the Vichy government.

No, I don't remember. What is it called in France--in French?

Night and fog. Um...

Nuit, nuit et brouillard-- that's night and fog...

There was a famous film um, named Night and Fog, which takes the name from that decree but then...

I never heard of it. Huh.

They were then given a license to arrest people in the middle of the night, and um, hold them without any reason uh, as a police decree. I thought that that might have been something that um, that you...

No, I don't remember it. I never heard of it. Maybe I, maybe I heard of it and forgot. I don't know. I don't remember it.

But when--in 1943 when you, when you were back in Lyon...

No, no, no, 1943 I wasn't any more in Lyon. I was already in France in--I'm, I'm sorry, I was in Switzerland already then.

But you had returned from Switzerland to...

No, I returned from Switzerland in 1944.

Then went back to Lyon again?

Back to Lyon again.

Then what happened?

Then I went--then I went to the Haute-Loire.

Again with the youth movement?

With the youth movement.

What were you doing...

That's what I said before, with the reorganization of the youth movement, there were a lot of kids who...

I see. A:...who had lost their parents, who didn't know where their parents were, separated from their parents and all that, and we had--we moved approximately four to four and a half thousand kids then.

Did this continue then to the end of the war?

That continued way after the end of the war, way after. Uh, that continued 'til approximately hm, I would say '46, at least '46. Forty-six, yeah, '45, '46. And then uh, then there was a lapse between that and between I went to work in '47, I believe. Yes, it must have been '47. I married in June. I must have started--beginning '47 I started to work for the Jewish Agency. In Lyon first, and uh, when they saw that uh, they had somebody they could use, you know, they hired me sort of by recommendation by the director of, of the, the youth movement--the Fédération Association de Juive de France, it was called. Uh, they uh, when they saw that I could uh, be very useful to them, they uh, asked me whether I would move to Marseille--from Lyon to Marseille, because the job in Lyon was secondary, really, whether I would move to Marseille to take on a much bigger job and uh, the salaries we were paid were absolutely fantastic for French--for, for France at that time, because the salaries were really salaries in dollars, because the money came--most of the money came from the American Joint Distribution Committee. So these dollars were so fantastic translated into French francs, that, I mean, I couldn't resist, I mean this uh, was the basis on what we got married eventually, because it was a fantastic situation really. Then moved into Marseilles, and uh, worked for the Jewish Agency in Marseille.

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