Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Maximilian Kowler - April 26, 1984

Experiencing Anti-Semitism

So you had a number of non-Jewish friends?

Lot of non-Jewish friends, yes. More non-Jewish than Jewish at the beginning. Later on--during the war, and later on in years, and then after the war, then I joined--I left that movement and I joined the Jewish Boy Scouts. And naturally then I had many more--all--most of my, my friends then were Jewish, and the others then--a part of them were non-Jewish because I still work on the general--in general conditions on in the youth movements.

Before the war began, um, among the French, did you experience any kind of anti-Semitism?

No. Not at all. Uh, the only thing we did experience sometimes--the only bad word I remember was sale étranger--dirty foreigner--if there was a curse. Anti-Semi...anti-Semitism--absolutely, absolutely none whatsoever, any time before the war.

Parents either? Same thing?

Same thing. No--nothing at all. No. Uh, if it was, I didn't hear it, I didn't see it.

Do you remember where you were when the war began?

Uh, when the war began, I just came back from Boy Scout camp, matter of fact. Uh, my father was called, and being that he was a dent...he was a dentist uh, within a few weeks he was put in sort of like a camp because the French people--the French government didn't know at first what to do with us. Should they consider us enemies, or should they consider us uh, a danger to the government, or to the nation? Or should they uh, should they warn that there are spies, and, what they call la douzième uh, la cinquième colonne, is what they call, you know? Whether we are part of the Fifth Column, or whatever. So it took them a while really to make up their mind, and eventually my father was sent by the French army to the Royal Air Force, to Limon, where he worked at the air field in Limon uh, as a dentist for the Royal Air Force.

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