Meir Schwarz is the son of Ludwig Eliezer Schwarz (b. 1877) and Meta Schwarz, nee Stern (b. 1889). Meir was born on January 28, 1926 in Nuremberg, Germany where his father, who had been an officer during World War I, sold wine and beer machinery. Meir's older brother Joseph was born on May 21, 1921. The family was religiously observant. Ludwig headed the "Adas Yisroel" community, and the boys attended religious schools and belonged to the Orthodox Ezra youth movement. On September 2, 1937, a Nazi shot and killed Meir's father after first forcibly removing him from a train in Wuerzburg. In August 1939 Meir left Germany on a Youth Aliya transport to Palestine and went to study at the Horev School in Jerusalem. His mother passed away the following year in the Jewish hospital of Furth. His older brother, Joseph, went to Neuendorf where he headed a Hachshara. From there he was deported to Auschwitz and perished in January, 1943. Before his deportation, Joseph returned to Nuremberg to visit his parent's graves and entrust the family photographs to a Christian family friend and neighbor, Mr. Zeevner for safekeeping. The neighbor buried the photographs and after the war found Meir and returned the photographs to him. Meir had come to Europe with the Haganah. He spent two months in Italy working with the Brichah to help survivors trying to get to Palestine. From there he went to France to assist in illegal immigration and work in a number of religious children's homes including Henonville and Montmorency. In the summer of 1947 he was called to urgent meeting of Mossad in Paris. They asked Meir to go to the south of France to organize the Exodus passengers who were being forcibly transported back to Europe. Meir smuggled himself on board the Ocean Vigour by initially posing as an engine stoker. As the ship's Haganah commander, Meir became responsible for maintaining discipline and morale on board the ship to insure that no one voluntarily disembarked in France. He also organized children's schools, cultural and religious events and food distribution. Meir succeeded in lifting the morale of the passengers despite the cramped unsanitary conditions and shortage of food. He organized a twenty-four hour hunger strike to protest the horrendous conditions and demand that the passengers be allowed to return to Palestine. Soon afterwards, the British crew sailed the ship away from the French port. However, instead of bringing the passengers to Palestine, they brought them back to Germany. The passengers arrived by train to Hamburg on September 8 and were taken to the Poppendorf displaced persons' camp. Though Meir remained with the maapilim (illegal immigrants), other Palestinian emissaries assumed control of the camp. In December 1947 Meir returned to France to continue his work for Aliya Bet (Illegal immigration) and to train future immigrants for the Haganah. Meir Schwarz later helped found the religious kibbutz Hafez-Hayyim.