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Oral history interview with Arno Motulsky

Oral History | Accession Number: 2017.215.1 | RG Number: RG-50.977.0001

Arno Motulsky, born in Ostpreussen in East Prussia, Germany (now Górowo Iławeckie, Poland), discusses his childhood; attending a gymnasium in Konigsberg which he reached by a one-hour train ride; the interactions between Jewish students and non-Jewish students; the boycott of all Jewish stores, including his parents’ store, on April 1, 1933; his parents’ decision to close their store and move to Hamburg, Germany; attending an Orthodox Jewish school in Hamburg; his uncle in Chicago and his father joining him there; joining Habonim, a Zionist youth group at his school; having rheumatic fever and not being accepted Youth Aliyah for the voyage to Palestine; leaving for Cuba on the SS St. Louis with his mother and younger brother and sister; the treatment of the Jews on the ship; arriving in Havana and not being allowed to leave the boat; seeing a Havana newspaper; the captain’s attempts to go to the US; going to Belgium; attending a French high school in Belgium until he was almost 17 years old; the German invasion and being arrested as an enemy alien; being sent to an internment camp in France; being taken to a camp near the border with Spain and the Mediterranean which had little food and a typhoid epidemic; the Vichy government allowing him to take a bus to Marseilles where he went to the American Consulate to get his visa renewed; taking a Portuguese ship to the US and living with his father in Chicago; receiving a scholarship to the Chicago Central YMCA College and obtaining a job in a Jewish hospital as an assistant helper in the research neurobiology lab; attending the University of Illinois Medical School in Chicago and the Army Specialized Training Program which paid his tuition; their Belgium friends obtaining fake papers for his mother to take a train to Vichy France and then to the Swiss border; his interests in the cultural well-being of Israel and his hopes for changes there for more peace; his belief that he survived largely due to luck and his ability to adjust, work hard, and learn well; and his thoughts on Germans and Americans.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Arno Motulsky
interview:  2013 April
creation: Seattle (Wash.)
Documentary films.
1 digital file : MPEG-4.
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Sammy Eppel, Daniel Benaim, and Fernando Duprat
Record last modified: 2021-03-22 14:50:56
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