Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Maximilian Kowler - April 26, 1984


Before, before that time, do you remember uh, any of the uh, any of the um, the uh, anti-Jewish legislation that was passed? After the German occupation, in Vichy France?

In Vichy France, yeah. What was his name--the man who survived the whole thing, and just died recently in, in Spain? Uh, I forgot the name. I forgot the name. Yes, uh, there were all uh, there were all--I know I don't remember distinctly what the anti-Jewish legislations were. I know there, there were some, but there again, I don't remember. It's funny uh, since I think you asked me that uh, I was never worried about it.

You were never threatened by it?

I just--no, no, no, I was never--I never felt threatened about it. See, that's the thing, that's probably why I don't remember it. I really--I, I give you my word, I am not trying to blank it out of my mind, I don't remember it. And you know when I remember it? When I read it in books. I have some books here, very interesting books, like Soldiers of the Night by David Schoenbrun, for example. I have some other books by uh, it's uh, I just bought it recently. It's uh, I saw it advertised in I think the Hadassah Magazine uh, I can't give you the titles, I don't remember now. But in there--when I read these books, first I'll find all the names of all the people I worked with before uh, names which have, which have evaded me and I'll read about these legislations which came out, and when I read about it, I'll remember it.

So your, your father was never affected by any of the legislation either?

No, no, not at all. He worked for a dentist who was very close to the Cardinal Gerlier of Lyon, incidentally one of--I would say one of the great controversial figures, as they say. All I knew was only about the good things he did. Uh, he did a fantastic job for the Jews of Lyon, and I think he was one of the very few people I know of that the Germans were afraid of, sort of. Uh, very powerful man, very strong man. But then some other people say that he uh, sold his soul, that he didn't do enough--let's put it this way, didn't do enough for the Jews. But then again, you, you have to realize the situation where who can decide whether you did enough, and who can decide when to stop, because if you do a little more, whatever you do might become ineffective. That's the story with the Pope, you know, Pacelli uh, but I think it was Pastor ???, you know, who hist...who history says that maybe he didn't do enough, maybe he didn't fight the Germans enough, maybe he didn't resist enough. If he would have, how do you know that he could have been as effective as he was in a small way now? It's very hard, and the same thing they're saying about the Gerliers. So, my father worked for a dentist who was a friend of Cardinal Gerlier, and completely protected. The dentist let him around the whole office there. My father had no, no uh, certificate to be a chirurgien dentiste, a surgeon dentist. That--my father's boss was--there were the days he wasn't even there, my father did the whole thing. The French police didn't--couldn't care less.

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