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Oral history interview with George W. Landau

Oral History | Accession Number: 2014.22.1 | RG Number: RG-50.030.0744

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.


Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Interviewee
Ambassador George W. Landau
Interviewer
Ina Navazelskis
Date
interview:  2014 March 10
Language
English
Extent
1 digital file : MPEG-4.
 
Record last modified: 2021-02-16 15:51:48
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn78011