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Oral history interview with Sunanda K. Datta Ray

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

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

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.

Interviewee
Sunanda K. Datta Ray
Interviewer
Olivia Rosen
Date
2017 May 17  (interview)
Geography
creation : Kolkata (India)
Language
English
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, courtesy of the Jeff and Toby Herr Foundation
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Record last modified: 2018-04-09 11:42:18
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn562669