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Oral history interview with Joseph Eaton

Oral History | Accession Number: 2010.197 | RG Number: RG-50.030.0581

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

Dr. Joseph Eaton (né Wexler), born on September 28, 1919 in Nuremberg, Germany, describes his parents; growing up in Germany in the 1920s; his father’s experiences with antisemitism in the German Army; his education; Hitler’s rise to power; belonging to a Zionist youth group; attending a Jewish high school in the suburb of Berlin called Grünewald; going with his brothers to the United States to finish school as a part of a special program in November 1934; staying temporarily with an officer of the German Jewish Children’s Society, John L. Bernstein; his parents’ divorce and separate immigrations to the Netherlands; adjusting to the US; staying with several different foster families in New York, NY; attending Cornell University; being active in the Hillel Society; studying cooperative farming experiences in the United States before he was drafted; the publishing of his book, “Exploring tomorrow's agriculture” in 1943; going through basic training at Fort Dix, NJ; being trained as medic; not experiencing antisemitism during his training; he and his brothers changing their surname in 1940; working as a clerk in a military hospital in Camp Rucker, AL; being considered an enemy alien and being monitored by the FBI; being transferred to Queens College in New York in preparation for the US involvement in post-war France; his unit’s mission being scrapped; being sent to Camp Ritchie in Maryland; being attached to the psychological warfare division of the Army; his training at Camp Ritchie; writing leaflets; going to London, England in 1943; landing in Omaha Beach in France five weeks after D-Day; going to Paris, France then Luxembourg; being stationed at Radio Luxembourg and his work there; the dropping of leaflets and the newspaper “The Front Post”; the content of their written materials; handling the surrender of German General Ernst von Poten in Trier, Germany; how he was naturalized before he was sent to Europe during the war; his feelings as a Jewish soldier; asking people in German villages around Aachen about the local Jews; visiting Buchenwald concentration camp and his impressions of the camp; the children’s barrack and his report on it; visiting Theresienstadt; driving through Marienbad (Mariánské Lázne, Czech Republic) and Prague, Czech Republic; the typhus epidemic in Theresienstadt; meeting with Leo Baeck, who was a leader of the Jewish community in Theresienstadt; learning of the death of his grandmother; becoming the editor of a newspaper and the content they published; writing a story about Hitler’s birthplace; not getting permission to visit his brother in Palestine but managing to get there; being offered a job in military government in Germany by the US Army and declining; finishing his PhD and his career in research; retiring and writing a history of how his family interacted with the German culture over many centuries; identifying as a Jew; and helping to establish a school of social work in Haifa University.

Interviewee
Dr. Joseph Eaton
Interviewer
Judith Cohen
Steven Luckert Ph.D.
Date
2010 May 27-2010 August 01  (interview)
Language
English
Extent
2 digital files : WAV.
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Record last modified: 2018-01-22 11:20:08
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn41725