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Oral history interview with Jan Aronson

Oral History | Accession Number: 2016.273.1 | RG Number: RG-50.030.0894

Jan Aronson, born on December 8, 1925 in Cologne, Germany, discusses her home on the Rhine River; her parents’ love of art; her father’s service in World War I and pride in being German; her two brothers; speaking both German and English at home; her family’s upper-middle class status; her parents’ agnostic beliefs and assimilation; her parents’ involvement in politics; the arguments between her parents over whether or not to leave Germany after Hitler’s rise to power; her father’s belief that the situation presented by Hitler and the Nazi Party would blow over; her grandmother’s career as an opera singer and actress; her Jewish identity later in life; the relationship between Jews and non-Jews in Cologne; hearing the speeches and ranting of party leaders on the radio; visiting the Cologne Cathedral with nannies; camping and boating with her family; seeing the Hitler Youth marching and singing in the streets; her father’s costume and hat factory; celebrating Fasching, or Carnival, every year in Cologne; being forced to move to a Jewish school in 1937; Kristallnacht and witnessing the destruction of her father’s factory; her older brother being sent to a London art school for his safety; her younger brother being sent to a sponsor family in Belgium; her Jewish school principal’s arrangement for her class to be sent to England as part of the Kindertransport; the trip to England; her stay with a Jewish family in London and learning English from their cook; hearing about the Nazi invasion of Poland on the radio; blackouts; rationing; moving to an all-girls hostel; the Blitz and bomb shelters; being evacuated to Northampton and staying with a couple with no children; her parents’ flight to Scotland and work there; her Zionism and wish to move to Palestine; meeting her parents and brothers in Scotland before traveling to the United States; living in New York for a year; moving to Los Angeles; changing her name to Jan; becoming an American citizen; her parents’ work in California and her first job with Warner Bros.; meeting and marrying her husband; living in Kansas for five years before moving back to Los Angeles; having three children; visiting Cologne; and her life today.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Jan Aronson
Katherine Saint John
interview:  2016 August 24
creation: Los Angeles (Calif.)
1 digital file : MPEG-4.
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:54:08
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