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Oral history interview with Gerald Liebenau

Oral History | Accession Number: 2012.213.1 | RG Number: RG-50.030.0670

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

Gerald Liebenau, born on November 30, 1925 near Elssholzstrasse in Berlin, Germany, discusses growing up in the Berlin neighborhood Schöneberg; his younger sister; his father (Kurt, born 1889), who worked as a window decorator for a Berlin department store and owned a textile store; his mother (Helene “Lola” Organitsky Liebenau, born 1898), who was a pianist; his family’s participation in the Jewish rowing club on the river Spree; having a relatively peaceful childhood until Jews were no longer allowed to attend public schools in 1936; his family’s move to the Haberlandstrasse section of Berlin; his parents seeking an affidavit for immigration to the United States from a relative who lived there (David Miller); the events of Kristallnacht; their affidavit being turned down; his father leaving Germany for London in September 1938; his father sending all of their furniture to Scranton, PA, before the Gestapo ransacked Jewish homes; receiving visas to London and leaving Berlin in December 1938; having his bar mitzvah in London; going to the US in late January 1939 on the “RMS Aquitania”; settling in Scranton, PA; moving with his family to New London, CT in 1941; his girlfriend Vivian Shepardton; being drafted into the US Army within a week of his high school graduation; being trained at Camp Blanding to be a machine gunner (approximately 1942-1943); being sent to Southern Italy in 1944; going to Caserta, Italy and then to a villa on the Adriatic Sea, where he trained to jump from airplanes; becoming part of the Austrian unit of the OSS in Vienna; spending a little time in Germany searching for scientists for the US; returning to Berlin briefly to seek out survivors from his family (circa 1945-1946); leaving the army as a “buck sergeant”; attending Yale, where he studied history and Russian; getting married to Vivian Shepardton; moving to Arlington, VA, to work with the CIA; and living in Berlin with his family for a few years.

Interviewee
Gerald L. Liebenau
Interviewer
Ina Navazelskis
Date
2012 September 12  (interview)
Language
English
Genre/Form
Oral histories.
Extent
20 digital files : MPEG-4.
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Record last modified: 2018-08-09 10:32:50
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn47848