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Oral history interview with Maria Koehl

Oral History | Digitized | Accession Number: 1992.A.0124.116 | RG Number: RG-50.028.0116

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    Oral history interview with Maria Koehl


    Interview Summary
    Maria Koehl, born January 16, 1903 in Mulhouse, France, discusses her family, her father Sebastian Simon, a barber, and her mother Lamy Simon; being an only child; her introduction to the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1925 when her husband, Adolphe, went to a “photo-drama”, returned home and said he had found God; becoming a Jehovah’s Witness in 1936-37; the feeling of safety in Mulhouse, notwithstanding news about Hitler; continuing her Bible study and education after the war’s outbreak in 1939; holding meetings first in the back of their barbershop and, when it became too dangerous, in their apartment that had a door to the roof for escape; how the Gestapo found out they were Jehovah’s Witnesses because there was no photo of Hitler in the barbershop; her husband’s secret travel to the French-German border near Mulhouse to secure a copy of the Watchtower Journal from a French Jehovah’s Witness, his willingness to risk arrest or even death to get the Journal, because it was their duty to seek spiritual truth and spread the word; being regularly harassed by the Gestapo and the French police to contribute money for the German troops; their awareness of atrocities going on in the concentration camps but their disbelief because of the extreme barbarity of it; their lack of knowledge about the deportation of Jews from Mulhouse because they were working inside all day; translating the Watchtower journal each month from French into German at night; how she read the text to the translator who would transcribe by hand while his wife stood watch outside, waiting for a messenger to retrieve the translated document and take it for distribution in Strasbourg, Fribourg, and elsewhere in the region; and continuing their Bible study and education after the war.
    Maria Koehl
    Robert Buckley
    interview:  1992 November 26

    Physical Details

    German English
    1 videocassette (VHS) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Personal Name
    Koehl, Maria, 1903-

    Administrative Notes

    The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Oral History Branch, in cooperation with Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Inc. produced the interview with Maria Koehl on November 26, 1992.
    Record last modified:
    2023-11-16 07:59:55
    This page:

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