Veteran Stories:
Leon Katz

Army

  • A contemporary photograph of Leon Katz. For his contributions to the field of medicine he was awarded the Order of Canada.

    Leon Katz
  • Leon Katz and a fellow veteran. Date unknown.

    Leon Katz
  • A Canadian soldier poses by a sign in Occupied Germany.

    Doug Yule
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"By the time I arrived in Bad Oeynhausen these laws were already in place or being put in place and I was assigned to implement and control and manage several of these laws."

Transcript

I was born on December the 20th, 1924 in Montreal in a poverty stricken family and attended public school and then high school in the Protestant School Board of Montreal.  I graduated from Commercial High School in 1940 and I had the highest standing in the province of Quebec in the high school graduation and I got a great big silver medal to prove it.  Until 1943 I was studying accounting and auditing and McGill University and then I joined the army on July 17th, 1943.  My brother Carl was already at sea at that time although he was only 16 years old.  He fabricated his age and said he was older and so my mother in particular was supportive of both my brother and me because she was aware of the horrific loss of Jewish lives in Europe under the Nazi tyranny and both my mother and father were supportive of mine ad Carl’s entry into the military.

I was England at the time I remember, stationed in Aldershot near Guildford.  On the day the war ended the Canadian troops had a holiday, a furlough, and I went to London.  You see, by May [1945] I think our records and documentation will show that I had already been transferred to the British Control Commission [the British element of the Allied Control Commission] because very soon after I arrived in Aldershot they were asking for German speaking personnel.  I was identified as one of them and this happened very soon so it must have been in April of 1945.  Once I arrived in Germany and I did arrive at the headquarters of the British control authorities in occupied areas of the British zone and that was in Bad Oeynhausen.  That was the British military headquarters. So that must have been early in 1945 and it was just after the war ended and the British authorities were trying establish some kind of common military government over all the western zones; British, American and French.  They were of course in a conflict situation with the Russian zone but that’s another story.  In the western zones the intelligence apparatus did reach a very good agreement among the three of them so that I, for example, was able to operate freely in all three zones and I did.  Like Koblenz was in the French zone, Dusseldorf in the American zone and Köln in the British zone.

What was my target and what was I intended for?  While I was still Bad Oeynhausen the British intelligence authorities had already agreed with the Americans and the French to establish military government laws to replace the local German laws and they published those laws and every German… I want to be careful here now… every German was obliged by law to obey the military government laws and not their local laws.  So for example, Germans were forbidden from owning or controlling any foreign assets and that meant stocks, bonds and any other ownerships or shareholdings in foreign companies or in German subsidiaries in, let’s say, Canada for example.  Also, they were forbidden from owning any precious metals; gold, silver, platinum - strictly forbidden.  And so by the time I arrived in Bad Oeynhausen these laws were already in place or being put in place and I was assigned to implement and control and manage several of these laws.

The Krupp company [Formerly Friedrich Krupp AG and currently ThyssenKrupp AG], you can write books about that because they were the largest armaments manufacturer in Germany… I hesitated there because when Hitler seized the Czechoslovak Republic and the Sudetenland he also took control of the Škoda Works.  The Škoda Works were a very large tank and armoured, tracked vehicle manufacturers in Czechoslovakia and that company and all its facilities fell into Krupp’s hands.  Now I’m not going write an entire book about Krupp but let me say this; American officers made it clear to me to keep my hands off that company and although I used to be invited occasionally to parties at Villa Hügel which was the sumptuous and executive summer resort of the Krupp family itself, I was never able to establish any contact or controls with the Krupp empire because the Americans forbade it.  They were under continuous pressure by the Krupps who kept telling them, “You better be nice to us because within a year you are going to be fighting the Bolsheviks, the Red Army, and you’re going to need us.”  So it didn’t take long before the Krupp family, and this was actually a family controlled enterprise, regained control of the Krupp assets and companies even in Czechoslovakia for heaven’s sake and whenever I would trip over some connection to the Krupps I was summarily forced to abandon it.

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