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Oral history interview with Sunanda K. Datta Ray

Oral History | Digitized | Accession Number: 2017.168.3 | RG Number: RG-50.978.0003

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    Oral history interview with Sunanda K. Datta Ray


    Interview Summary
    Sunanda K. Datta-Ray, born on December 13, 1937 in Calcutta (Kolkata), India, describes his father, who was a civil servant in the East India Railways; the outbreak of WWII and his father’s office moving to Benares (modern-day Varanasi); the family’s move from Calcutta to Benares to Lucknow and eventually back to Calcutta; growing up in a Bengali, anglicized, middle-class family; his family’s history of receiving educations in England and returning to India after; his brother and sister; attending Le Martiniere School for Boys in Calcutta; the little interchange between parents and children in his family growing up; being raised Hindu but not religious in a conventional orthodox way; the Chinese and Armenian communities in Calcutta; his friendship with a Baghdadi Jewish boy named Justin Aaron; how towards the end of the war there was “vague disquiet at home” about a possible Japanese victory; his family’s thoughts on Subhas Chandra Bose; his family’s move to Benares in 1941 and return to Calcutta in 1943-1944; the Partition in 1947; encountering a certain sense of pride among some Indians relating to Hitler’s claims of Aryan mythology; not being aware during the war of Hitler’s persecution of Jews; learning about antisemitism from his mother when he was a child; his father’s devotion to Sri Aurobindo; his father’s travel in the 1940s to Pondicherry to visit Aurobindo’s ashram; being in Pondicherry with his family on August 16, 1946, the “Direct Action Day”; arriving home the next day and the horrors they encountered; how these memories have influenced him as a journalist and editor in India and Singapore; the numerous refuges coming in from East Bengal after the Partition; attending Manchester University in England; returning to India; working for the periodical “The Statesmen” for 30 years; the Jewish Holocaust refugees in Calcutta; the Naxalite movement; and his experiences with diversity in Calcutta in his youth.
    Sunanda K. Datta Ray
    Olivia Rosen
    interview:  2017 May 17
    creation: Kolkata (India)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, courtesy of the Jeff and Toby Herr Foundation

    Physical Details

    3 digital files : MP3.

    Rights & Restrictions

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    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
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    Administrative Notes

    This is a witness interview of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's Perpetrators, Collaborators, and Witnesses: The Jeff and Toby Herr Testimony Initiative, a multi-year project to record the testimonies of non-Jewish witnesses to the Holocaust. The interview was recorded in Kolkata, India.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this oral history interview has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2023-11-16 09:41:06
    This page:

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