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Oral history interview with George W. Landau

Oral History | Accession Number: 2014.22.1 | RG Number: RG-50.030.0744
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George W. Landau, born March 4, 1920 in Vienna, Austria, describes in detail his childhood in Vienna; growing up as the only child of two upper middle class, secular Jews; the intellectual life of his parents and his education; visiting his extended family in Bukovina, Romania; the division of his school between those who were Aryan and everyone else; being in one of the last cohorts of Jews to graduate; a humiliating experience he endured when he was forced by young Austrian Nazi sympathizers to clean pave stones in the street; immigrating alone to Columbia; learning Spanish and finding a job; converting to Catholicism and managing to get his parents out of Austria; getting a position in the Bogotá office of Otis Elevator and being transferred to the New York office, arriving in 1941; being accused of being an enemy alien by his employers after the Pearl Harbor bombing and going to the Department of Justice in Washington, DC to get a letter stating that this was untrue; quitting the company and working elsewhere until 1942 when he was drafted into the U.S. Army; being naturalized as a U.S. citizen in Texas in 1943; attending Officer Candidate School with much difficulty and convincing the administration to let him graduate; going to the Pentagon after graduation to ask for a position with military intelligence; attending Military Intelligence School at Camp Ritchie, MD; going to France in early 1945; being in Paris when World War II ended; being sent to Gmunden, Austria to interrogate prisoners; screening Soviet refugees in a displaced persons camps; leaving the Army in 1947, but staying in the reserve; marrying a woman from Austria; taking the foreign service exam but not being admitted due to his young citizenship; working in the shipping business in New York and Cali, Colombia until 1957 when he was appointed as the commercial attaché in Uruguay; serving in Spain and Canada and as an ambassador in Paraguay, Chile, and Venezuela; and how his experiences in his youth in Vienna influenced his subsequent service in the U.S. diplomatic corps.

Interviewee
Ambassador George W. Landau
Interviewer
Ina Navazelskis
Date
2014 March 10  (interview)
Language
English
Extent
digital files : MPEG-4.
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Record last modified: 2018-01-22 11:23:34
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn78011