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Oral history interview with Maria Koehl

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

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.

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.

Interviewee
Maria Koehl
Interviewer
Robert Buckley
Date
1992 November 26  (interview)
Language
German
English
Extent
1 videocassette (VHS) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
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Record last modified: 2018-01-22 11:01:36
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn508860