David P. Boder Interviews Malfis Marson; July 30, 1946; Paris, France

  • David Boder: [In English] This begins a short interview with Monsieur Malfis Marson, a French-Jewish citizen.
  • David Boder: [In German] Monsieur Marson, er, where were you born?
  • Malfis Marson: [In French] I was born in Paris.
  • David Boder: [In German] Er, please would you tell me, for the benefit of our American friends, er, what you did during the war and the German occupation?
  • Malfis Marson: [In French] During the war, like every other Frenchmen, I was mobilized. I did the Occupa— . . . I spent . . . some part of the war in the Unofficial Forces. Then, by accident, I was moved to the centre of France; until the day the large German offensive was launched, when I ended up in a hospital in the Limousin region, in Périgueux to be more specific. Then, I spent some time recovering. And by the month of . . . by early June, then I returned to my station in the Mayenne county. As the German army progressed, I was moved away from this station, with the other men from the station of course, and we headed towards Brittany, where we were arrested on June 18th, to be precise. Later, I escaped in September 1940. To reach the free zone, since I was . . . first a prisoner of war and second a Jew, I could not stay in Paris during the Occupation. I am . . . should I go on?
  • David Boder: Go on.
  • Malfis Marson: Once I had reached the free zone after a number of incidents, I tried, right, to find something to do. I resumed my former job . . . my former occupation. I was a cutter, before the war, and I worked . . . in Périgueux. I stayed there until 1943. I can tell you that, in the meantime, I had gotten in contact with the Resistance organizations, in 1942, the southern zone Francs-tireurs organization, where I would take part in a lot of propaganda and dissemination actions. By early 1943, I was contacted by the Combat movement, and this is when I started to run the local county liaisons. As the Gestapo had eventually . . . tracked us down, in May 1943 . . . I managed to narrowly get away from them and took refuge in the Maquis.
  • David Boder: [In English] What I want to know . . . how did the Resistance movement form itself? Was that the old French radical party . . . How did the Resistance movement come about? How did it organize?
  • David Boder: [In German] How did the entire [unintelligible]
  • Interpreter : [In French] Which political movements contributed to the creation of this [inaudible]?
  • David Boder: [In German] Yes, how was the French Resistance movement formed? Who were the original parties? Yes, yes . . .
  • Malfis Marson: [In French] In my opinion, the Resistance movement, from my own experience, was mainly formed by highly developed trade unions and political movements. By political movements, which were acutely, remarkably anti-Naz— . . . anti . . . anti-fascist. Which were . . . others were nationalist movements, but they were anti-German because they had suffered from the Occupation and known the Germans during the 1914-1918 war. And with people whose interest was . . . directed towards . . . the idea of freedom only. As far as I am concerned, I was first contacted by men, who had been looked down upon, in their opinions, in their origins, who had . . . suffered, as a result of a number of humiliations. And who, as a consequence, believed that the primary duty, of every Frenchmen since we were in France, I would say of every man, was to fight against the invader. But I can tell you one thing, that . . . those who contacted us were honest men, men who believed that the Resistance movement could first, help set us free from the Occupation, and second, help us become better men and, above all, free men.
  • David Boder: [In English] Now, how was it . . . What elements of the population . . .
  • Malfis Marson: [In French] I don't understand . . .
  • David Boder: [In German] What elements of the population started to collaborate, and who collaborated closest with the Germans?
  • Malfis Marson: [In French] As I see it, the first collaborationists were failures. Men who then thought that their time had come, very jealous men, men who did not have a great future ahead of them, imagining that their brutal feelings, not their feelings but their appetite, their instincts, would get satisfied and that they would, just like Hitler, manage to rule, I would not say the world, but France and maybe Europe with the help of Hitler. Later, other people got disheartened by the lack of . . . I would not say resistance but, well . . . we realized that the allied countries were not prepared enough at that time, and some got disheartened, they really thought that Germany would end up ruling the world, and they devoted themselves, out of weakness and cowardice, to this . . . they agreed to collaborate in this way. And there were others who, out of self-interest, strictly speaking, out of . . .
  • David Boder: [In Russian] Uh . . . and . . . uh . . . mister . . . uh . . . sir [unintelligible] . . . uh . . . could you ask him about . . . uh . . . what . . . was the opinion of the military about this station?
  • Interpreter : [In French] What was the opinion of the military circles, and how did they contribute to the resistance movements?
  • Malfis Marson: They, so to speak, did not contribute at all in the beginning, because servicemen were, in my opinion, right, servicemen were obedient, except for a few rare French career officers who followed de Gaulle, I would not say from the beginning, but in the months following his June 18th 1940 speech, they were all subservient to the Vichy regime because a serviceman, in essence, is an obedient being who is compelled . . . who obeys his superior, and to them Marshal Pétain was the supreme leader of the French forces. Later, they . . . grew up . . . some of them did understand quite well, since the first founders of the resistance movements, especially the fighting movements, were career officers who had escaped and started an action . . . who took . . . who did . . . who . . . who performed rather strong action. in France. But, until . . . the landings in Algeria, it can be said that French career officers had not done anything within the resistance movements. And that the resistance movements were set up only by civilians, by political party members and mostly by the French trade unions and workers' organizations.
  • David Boder: [In Russian] Uh . . . could you ask him whether . . . he knows about the intellectuals such as university professors and . . . uh . . . just professionals in general such as lawyers, doctors . . . and . . . uh . . . these . . . uh . . . judges, etc.?
  • Interpreter : [In French] What was the relationship between the resistance movements, and what kind of resistance action was taken by French intellectuals, such as simple university teachers, lawyers, physicians, well, all the representatives from liberal professions?
  • Malfis Marson: Well . . . young French students . . . at the beginning of the Occupation, reacted very strongly. There were some demonstrations on November 11th, 1940, to be more specific, during which there were quite a number of fights between the French occupying forces . . . and the . . . the Latin Quarter, I think, do you remember this? On Boulevard, er . . . on Boulevard Saint-Michel. We can say that, later, a large number of French students were among the leaders and among the most active men in the French Resistance movement. In regards to intellectuals, I believe they were divided between both sides, and at the beginning, many of them collaborated, regrettably . . . Oh, some teachers . . . some teachers, and this can be said to their credit, were part of the most active men in the Collab . . . in the . . . in the Resistance movement. And others, very few of them, collaborated.
  • David Boder: [In Russian] Uh . . . [unintelligible] . . . and farmers . . . uh . . . the agricultural population, what was their opinion of this station?
  • Interpreter : [In French] What stand did the rural population take . . . [inaudible] . . . on the Resistance movement?
  • Malfis Marson: On the Resistance movement? The rural stance, with regard to the Resistance movement, generally remained rather good. One thing should be said here, that French peasants are of an individualistic and selfish nature, they are only interested in their own profit; however, I believe that they are mostly patriots, and that what they did not like was to be compelled to do things, right. But, in the end, I think that . . . despite the plan developed by Pétain and the Vichy regime in their favor, they helped as much as they could the men from the Resistance movement asking for their support.
  • David Boder: [In English] How does he think will the situation now clear up in France, and how will life become organized, and what he expects . . . when will France be back to normal?
  • David Boder: [In Russian] Does he expect, does he think now that this situation will ever be normal again and when will it get normal?
  • Interpreter : [In French] What is your opinion about the current situation? When do you think the current situation will be back to normal, and how?
  • Malfis Marson: In the aftermath of the war, of course, there is a lot of . . . of disorganization, in the trade and production resources in France. I think that, in my opinion, until a complete agreement is reached between . . . the workers on one side and the employers on the other side, by means of trade productions, and in order to mitigate the black market and . . . to stabilize, right, the distribution of all staples and goods that are essential . . . to . . . to live, we will see no return . . . we shall not return, right, to the days we knew in 1938 and 1939. As far as I am concerned, I think we need to build up a fruitful collaboration, I would not say not only with the United States, but mainly with Europe as it is.
  • David Boder: Thank you very much Mr. Marson.
  • David Boder: [In English] This finishes the brief interview with Monsieur Malfis Marson of the French Resistance Movement taken at the Schools of ORT on July 30, 1946. Eh . . . how old is he? [Ends abruptly].
  • Contributors to this text:
  • Transcription (German) : S. Peters, P. Gaensicke
  • Transcription (French) : A. Leclerc
  • Transcription (Russian) :
  • English Translation (German) : S. Peters, P. Gaensicke
  • English Translation (French) : A. Leclerc
  • English Translation (Russian) :