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Arthur Goodfriend Papers

Oral History Transcription:

Tape III, Side A: August 19, 1997

NOTE: AG = Arthur Goodfriend; JY = Jason Yamashita; ST = Shari Tamashiro

ST:

In your autobiography you mentioned a one man crime wave, which I guess started out with your arrest in Peiping. Could you talk about that a bit?

AG:

Well what happened in Peking, China was that I was staying at a little Pension, with two American women and we were told by the proprietor was that one of the things we had to do in Peking was to eat what was known as a Heavenly Duck Dinner. And so the proprietress wrote out a menu in Chinese and gave it to the rickshaw boys and the rickshaw boys took us to a little Chinese restaurant in the native part of the city. A rather grim looking place, but we were told that would be the best place to get a Heavenly Duck. These ducks are, you see them on all of the ponds and lakes of Peking but the feast that you are supposed to enjoy is something that you must enjoy when you are in Peking. So we were taken to this restaurant and the rickshaw boys, we had three rickshaws, so the three rickshaw boys came in with us and they squatted in the corners while we ordered our meal. The reason being it was very cold outside and we wanted them to come in to stay warm and also to help us in case we had any problems with the waiter or anything of that sort. Well at any rate, the ducks started to come in and there were wings of the duck and the feet of the duck and the gizzards of the duck and the neck of the duck. And there was everything that you could think about the duck, but except it didn't seem to us that we were really getting any duck. We were getting all of the fancy little bits and pieces but we didn't have a really solid piece of duck. So we offered all of these to the rickshaw boys and two of the rickshaw boys were Muslims and they couldn't eat this kind of food because it was not prepared to their dietary specifications, so my rickshaw boy ate all of the ducks. And it finally wound up that we didn't have any duck, my rickshaw boy ate all of the heavenly Peking Duck. So we got outside and I got into the rickshaw and he picked up the bars, the handlebars of the rickshaw, but he had eaten so much that he collapsed in the street and there was nothing for me to do except to pick him up and put him in the seat of the rickshaw while I got between the handlebars of the rickshaw and started to run down the main street of Peking. . .Peking and was arrested by a policeman and taken to a magistrate's court where I was interrogated and all the witnesses were there to point at me. Yes, we saw him pulling a rickshaw and so on and so forth and breaking all the laws and what have you. And the judge was a little walnut looking man, listened to all of this testimony against me and finally said to the clerk of the court, "Five Dollars [mex?]. [Mex?] was the currency that was used at the time and I was very angry at this because he didn't ask me for my side of the story. He just listened to the policeman and he listened to all of the witnesses. But I paid the five dollar fine and they said, wait, wait, wait. And I had to wait until they wrote something out and they gave me the receipt for the fine. So by this time the rickshaw boy was feeling better, I got into the rickshaw and we went back to the Pension and when I got there I handed this to the man who was running the bar there and I said, "You know I really don't think much of your Chinese justice. Here I was trying to help out this rickshaw boy and so on and I get arrested and here is the receipt for the fine." And he looked at this and he said, Well, this is not a receipt for the fine. This is a license to pull a rickshaw. So I am the only licensed rickshaw driver in Honolulu. And that was really my second arrest because my first one I think I told you about the other day when I was arrested in Tokyo, counting the people who wore indigenous Japanese clothing and those who were wearing western clothing. So these two were the beginning of my one man crime wave that kept on going all through Europe and Asia and Europe.

ST:

When you say "we," you were with other people then?

AG:

No. I was traveling alone but in almost every place that I went I was always finding companions and so on. I met two really wonderful women in Beijing staying at the same Pension. We remained friends for our entire lives, except both of them have since passed away. So it was a wonderful thing because mostly the travel was on ships and on trains, it wasn't like today on airplanes. On ships and trains you made friends and then you would get into these inexpensive Pension and you would find kindred spirits. People like yourself who were living, traveling on small budgets. So there was a great deal of camaraderie and a great deal of companionship, so you never felt lonesome and made a whole army of friends by the time the trip was over. I must have been corresponding with two or three hundred people. [laugh]

ST:

Actually, could you go through your journal and take a look at the pictures and see. . .

AG:

Well, this is the journal of the 1935 trip around the world and it begins with my crossing the United States on a bus and arriving in Honolulu. There are pictures here of Honolulu. There are pictures of the ship that I traveled on, [?] on route to Yokohama. There are interludes in Hawaii and so on that are interesting because I am living there now. Then we get into Japan and we have the first experiences of going to a tea-house and a geisha house and there are sketches here of being pulled in a rickshaw, the great experience of undergoing all of these things that tourists love and I at that time was very impressionable with these things. But this is interesting because it shows my first efforts to learn Japanese. And it's interesting the words that we use, arigato, gozaimasu, and dozo. . .please, banzai, nippon, sayonara, ginza and so on and so forth. These are the words that became. . .a great way to learn a language, by the way, and these early efforts as indicated by these words suggest the beginning of a Japanese vocabulary. And then it is just a whole series of impressions of boys day in Japan with the carp flying in the breeze, the great Shinto temples, the costumes of the old fashioned Japanese, the Imperial Palace in Beijing, and on and on through India and through Java and Bali. Becoming a member of the Royal Bangkok sports club, which is quite an accomplishment at that time because to actually be part of a polo club was quite an experience for a young American man. Here we were on a ship going from Singapore to Java and weaving our way through waterspouts, had they struck the boat, would have been very, very damaging. The efforts to capture the architecture of these places, I think, is suggestive of an early interest in art and in architecture. But I think mostly it's how the world struck a young man at that time, learning for the first time how diverse the planet was. Coming into India, running into cow worship, the taxis could not pass through the street because there was a cow in the way and the cow had priority over the taxi.

ST:

So just wait there until the cow decided to leave? They would just sit there and wait until the cow decided. . .

AG:

. . .until the cow got up and left. That's right. Here is my first meeting with Mahatma Gandhi and it was very interesting since I had credentials of the New York Herald Tribune, I was able to meet, in almost every one of these countries outstanding men. You may recall that I met the Emperor of Japan, Hirohito, in Tokyo. And here in India, I was able to visit the [ashram] of Mahatma Gandhi and interview him and find out how he expected to overcome the enormous power of the British army with nothing else but his prayers and his religious fervor and so on. And I said, I asked him, "How is it possible for you to overcome an army as modern and as well armed, well equipped as the British Army," which incidentally, I had encountered all over India. And he said, "Well, it may well be that I have greater power than the British army because it may be that the Christian people of England and Britain will eventually realize that I am right and they will give India its freedom." And it turned out of course that he was right. In the end, it was Gandhi who prevailed over the. . .

ST:

What was that like meeting him?

AG:

Well it was very impressive of course. But it was a great lesson. I had been meeting all of these great potentates, the nobility so to speak, the authoritarian people in India, all of them very well dressed. The military especially, very full of uniforms and pomp and ceremony and all that sort of thing. But the [ashram] where I met Gandhi, he wore absolutely nothing, except a little something that looked like it was a [dodi], looked like a diaper. And all he did was sit there on the ground and play with his spinning wheel. That was the symbol of India's freedom. That if they would give up all of the things that were imported from England and manufacture their own cloth by using this very simple little spinning machine, then that was the way he, in a sense, represented the determination of India to be self reliant rather than being independent on others. And it was the simplicity of the man that came through very clearly, especially as I moved onward and met people like Mussolini and Hitler and other people who really were running, who were totally different from this man. This man's simplicity, his emphasis on poverty. . .whereas the others. . .and on peace, on finding successful resolution of mankind's problems peacefully as against Hitler and Mussolini who saw nothing else but war, fighting, of new reconciliation, but always at the exercise of military power. It was a great lesson to me very early in my life to realize that there was a man who, through humility and through a very quiet demeanor, who could accomplish so much whereas these other people were obviously leading the world into devastation. And so the thing goes on. I rather like this picture that I did, this little painting that I did of the Taj Mahal, capturing the light of the moon on the dome of the Taj. And then the red fort in Delhi. And going from old Delhi to new Delhi in this horse cart because in those days in India you still used horses rather than you did automobiles. It's very interesting incidentally to realize that in 1935 Asia was still so primitive and today of course the enormous changes that have taken place. You have tigers of Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and so on, all of them just tremendous, economically vital nations. But in 1935, it was still people lying in the streets smoking opium and riding around in horse carts and being totally obedient to cow worship and all of the other aspects of Hinduism. And then of course the other thing was not only Hinduism but then running right over into the Muslim parts of Asia and realizing the antagonism that existed between Hindus and Muslims, which eventually broke out in 1947 when India was partitioned and all these massacres took place as the Muslims ran towards Pakistan and the Hindus ran through Pakistan back into India. Really seeing at an early age, the fissures, the fault lines that exist in society because of religion, because of race, because of different cultural backgrounds and habits and outlooks that cause the conflicts that we seem to be unable to resolve, even with organizations like the United Nations and so on. And again we go on into Egypt. The early impressions of the pyramids, of the sphinx. The belly dancers of Cairo. Going into Jerusalem and seeing the ghettos, the conflict there that was brewing between the Jews and the Arabs and capturing as much as that as visible here in the book. Turkey. . .[name Turk], the man who changed Turkey from an old feudal society into a modern state. Then getting into a train and capturing the misery of traveling at night in the third class compartment. Arriving in Europe. My first contact with Hungary, the music of the gypsies. Coming into Vienna and coming into the realization that we were on the threshold. . .

ST:

Could you talk a little bit about Vienna and what was going on at that time?

AG:

Well, Vienna of course was at the threshold of its problems with Hitler. It was threatened by the brewing difficulties as Hitler rose up in Germany and started to make his encroachments in the direction of Austria. But the interesting thing here is this particular picture. In 1928, when I was in Vienna I went into a little cafe. It was down in the cellar. The Saint [Urbonney] Cellar. It was several hundred feet down in the bowels of the city and that was my first contact with old Vienna. When I came back I went to same place and here I am having a conversation with myself. Here I am in 1935 and there I am in 1928. And it was a very interesting thing to have a soliloquy with myself, reminding myself that I was already retreading territory that I had already encountered earlier. But here we get into Russia, which we've already dealt with in our previous. . .

ST:

Actually, but going back to Vienna. . .sorry. . .What was the atmosphere like? What was the feelings going around? AG: It was at that time the feelings were ambivalent. First of all, there was the sense of pride in Austrian history, the feeling that they were a great people. They were autonomous and they were deserving of peace and of prosperity and so on. And at the same time there was great fear, the realization that they were on the threshold of a new situation where the freedom of Vienna, of Austria, was threatened by this enormous monolith that was growing up across the border in Germany. Vienna at that time was a very, very important place not only in Europe but in the entire world. That was where Sigmund Freud and the beginning of modern psychology was germinating. It was a great intellectual seat. Some of the greatest music, some of the greatest poetry, some of the greatest science was coming out of Vienna and out of Austria. It was a great center of medical scientific progress. The Viennese [kronkenhaus], the hospitals were among the most modern hospitals in Europe and in the world. But all of this, because of its unfortunate proximity to Germany, made it very, very vulnerable. So there was this situation of pride and contentment with what they had and the prosperity that they were enjoying. At the same time the realization of how vulnerable they were because of their proximity to Germany on one side and Russia on the other. They were trapped as all of these countries were. Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Austria were all geographically in a situation where they could not survive because they had the pressures on one side Germany and on the other side the Soviet Union.

ST:

Okay.

JY:

Could you tell us about this image of the crosses?

AG:

Well, yes, this is Warsaw again. I was there in November of 1935, it was the night of all soul's night, when everybody went to the cemeteries to light candles and to honor the dead. Again, it was a very symbolic thing, this represented the depths of Polish Catholicism. Something that I saw again and again when I went back to Czechoslovakia and to Hungary, a great devotion to ancestry which was manifested by the lighting of candles and this is an interesting painting, I think, because somehow it just captures the mystery of the night, the darkness, the silhouettes of the crosses and then the glow of the illuminated candles. It's interesting that this kind of a painting is repainted as I go back to Austria, and go back to Hungary in later years and I repeat this thing. But again, it evokes something very early in my life, the importance of religion, how devoutly religious people were in Poland. How across the border in Soviet Union they were just trying to extinguish religion against the will of the people because the need of the people were still reaching out toward a deity represented by the Catholic church of Russia. All of these countries were undergoing stresses and strains, socially, culturally and religiously because of the powers that were in conflict around them.

JY:

I was just wondering stylistically, in the beginning of the journal it's very colorful. It's a lot of vibrant colors you're using. When you go back to Europe, it starts to change. Also, there's a lot more use, when you go back to Europe, with contour line, the black again. Whereas this is just a lot of different colors, more impressionistic even in some of your landscapes. Was that a conscious decision? AG: I don't think it was conscious, I think what was happening was that I was doing something that I think everyone should realize is important, I was doing a lot of painting and it was inevitable, that doing a lot of painting, that I was learning and improving my painting. I'm not unhappy with the early efforts here, I think that they were an effort to capture the situations that I encountered and my activities and so on and I think that they're a little naive and I think they represent real effort. But I would say that when you move on, from let us say, from a picture like this of [Benorris?] in India and come into a thing like this in Warsaw, I would say that this is an enormous improvement over the other. I was really improving my sketching and my painting, visualization process, which I think comes out very, very clearly as we move onward into Germany where I think we have some material that, . . .that just think, here you are observing people and able to capture, as people go by, capture this enormous variety, this spectrum of personalities, of characters. The Nazis and the military and the soldiers and the overly fared women. Being able to get down on a page, the symbolism of Nazi Germany's hatred of the Jews: Juden Raus out with the Jews, and the propaganda. Trying to capture, just studying a thing like this and seeing the effort to capture the personalities of these people. The classic German with his beefy neck and the ordinary German who was being seduced by Nazism. The caricature of the Jew, the ambivalence of the way people felt about "Heil, Hitler." Somehow or other the things are much more politicized. I'm much more aware. . .the sentiment of the early pictures has given way now to a realization that the world is in trouble. This is 1935 and by golly we were on the threshold of big, big trouble. It's interesting to me that I was able to catch that and in one book, as you move from the naivete of one man going into Japan and being fascinated by the geisha girls and so on and by the costumes and by all the color of the country that impresses tourists. At the end of the book, this is the same year, at the end of the year, diversification occurs where I become politicized. I realize that we are now dealing not with just tourism and beauty and sentiment and women and food and so on, but you're dealing with very profound problems that are manifesting themselves coming out very, very clearly you recall in Russia and in Austria and now really the focus of the problem, the seat of the problem, in Nazi Germany. The realization at that time, this is 1935, that Hitler was the important person that he was. That this man, who I actually was listening to in Berlin when he was making one of his speeches, he was sitting no farther than 7 or 8 feet away from me and this man was going to have such a profound influence on my life that in a few years that I would be a soldier in the American army fighting a war, a world war that was instigated by this man and the same thing of course happened to me when I was in Italy and meeting Mussolini and realizing and getting down in this book, the first evidence of the importance of these men had in ruling the lives of the people of my generation.

ST:

Can we talk about Germany, when you were in Germany. You see the beginnings of the persecutions of Jews and everything like that. Can you just tell us about what was going through your mind at that time? What your feelings were like?

AG:

Well, the feelings were in the first place, a feeling of horror that anything like this could happen generally. But it had a very personal impact because I was a Jew and two things were going on within me and this is certainly not. . .it manifests something that we've already discussed in our earlier discourse. What was my role in a situation like this? I didn't look Jewish. I was an American. I had an American passport and so on. I was able to get by in this society. And instead of in any way allying myself, associating myself with the Jewish people that I could see being insulted, being spat upon, being kicked and being treated so brutally. There I was in a situation, what do I do? Do I simply become a bystander and watch this happening. . .doing nothing about it? Or do I intercede in some way. Now at that particular point I accuse myself of cowardice. I did not do anything, I just witnessed this and suffered all of the internal difficulties and agonies, the humiliation that was being visited upon these people but I did not have the courage in any way to intercede or to take action of a courageous or a positive nature. But on the other hand, and here is the other hand, and that is: suppose I had? It would have simply subjected me to the same physical abuse that the Jewish people were suffering. So there is the ignominious action of hiding, of disguising, of mingling, almost associating myself with the German Nazi's and so on and doing nothing to offset this horror that I was, in a way, participating in and on the other hand, the realization that there was really nothing I could do without experiencing myself the same consequences that were visited upon the Jewish people. So it was then as it is now, it remains, it is an integral part of the 90 years of my life, that I am two people. I am a human being who wants to survive and therefore, mingles with the ongoing social practices and so on. Silent in the face of abuse and not until I've made friends with people, revealing to them who, the insults that they were visiting on others were being visited on me and then experiencing the satisfaction of their admitting they've made a mistake. So there is my feeling of revulsion against myself for not being more heroic, more courageous, more positive in my reaction to the situations that I met, confronted in Germany. And on the other hand, the realization that my survival, in a way, justifies my behavior because what happened was, that in WWII, as a soldier, I did play an important role in the defeat of this. . .of fascism. And incidentally, of communism. That's all part of the, really, meaning of my whole life. So that by surviving this, by remembering the experience, but surviving it because I did not enter the fray, so to speak, at that time, when I was defenseless, in a situation that I alone could do nothing. I feel badly about it but at the same time I justify my feelings, my behavior, by my survival and by the fact that eventually I was able to play a role in the defeat of this colossal menace. But it's interesting to me that I'm still in this state of internal turmoil, of conflict and so on. What really is the role of a person? Is your primary role that a self-survival? So that you can enter the conflict under better conditions, under better circumstances later on. Or do you move immediately to express your revulsion, express your position even though you know it's going to result in a very, very negative consequences. It's in the book and I really find that in a historical sense, this is a story that goes from the sentimental aspects of say, Japan and China and so on, and then moves little by little into a realization that we're dealing with a political, politicized and militarized world where the world is on the threshold of a tremendous conflict. So this is a book of maturization, it's a book of a young man who ages, who gets older month by month as he goes from one situation to another and it's all manifested in. . .at one place it's a picture that I'm very proud of, of the Taj Mahal, which is pure sentiment. The Taj Mahal, moonlight, and all that sort of business, sentiment. Then as you get to the end of the book, it's all the conflict, the reality of human nature expressing itself in international conflict.

JY:

How much do you find is a person's make-up dependent on their culture or their ethnicity?

AG:

Well, I think that we are born into a social situation. We're born into families. The family is part of the fabric of generations. As a child, you're obviously very influenced by this. The food that you eat, the religious and other ceremonies that you are participating in. I emphasize things like food because love of certain kinds of food will stay with you for your entire lifetime. What your mother cooks is what you really learn. Like when you get a bag of little cookies and so on. That really says something to me about the cultural that passes on from one generation to the other. But then you become a member of a nation and you become nationalized, so to speak. You're no longer caught up within the little confine of a family. You now go to school, and you mingle with others and in a country like the United States, you're mingling not with your own kind, you're mingling with the Irish, you're mingling with the Italians, you're mingling with the Puerto Ricans. You move out of your little cocoon into the wider society that you belong to. Then you identify because you're propagandized, you are taught in school to become patriotic, to identify with the American flag, stand up and salute and so on and so forth. You become nationalized and at the same time you cling to your ethnic groups. But then in my situation when with this great hunger I had, this to [ ] I had for travel, I go way, way beyond that and I find myself now in situations where, my God, there are French people in the world, there are Italians, and there are Greeks and there are Russians and so on and the had different food and they wore different clothes and they have different outlooks and they worship different gods and so on and your horizons expand exponentially and you become, you start growing up, you start becoming a person no longer in what might be called the prison of your birthplace. You're now become a member of a much larger universe and so it's growth. But never leaving, never leaving the realization that that's the way you began and that's the way you are and that's the way you'll always be, that's imprinted upon you genetically, I think, by your DNA or whatever it's called, that determines your bloodline and your background and to a degree, foretells your future.

JY:

Would you consider yourself, maybe, a citizen of the world?

AG:

I've often thought of myself as, I really do, I do see myself as a citizen of the world. On the other hand, more and more, I identify with the United States because of the role the United States plays in the world. But it is not a feeling that the United States should be pre-eminent or anything of that sort. It's a totally different feeling. My great feeling about the United States is the United States is very apt to make the same mistake that has been made by the Portuguese, by the Spaniards, by the Dutch, by the British, other countries that at a certain time in history prevailed. They were the number one nation in the world. The indispensable societies of the world at that time. Portugal was number one at one time and settled in, let us say, Brazil where the Portuguese language is still spoken. Spain in Mexico, in South America, left its imprint in the world. Britain, the sun never sets on the British Empire, they were running the whole world. Every one of these countries got up to the same point that we are at now and every one of them went right down eventually and that is my great fear, that the United States, unless it learns how to behave with its power is very vulnerable to the same fate that befell its predecessors.

JY:

Looking back at Germany, were there any people that you were witness to that were maybe skeptical or against the Nazi beliefs?

AG:

Yes, I remember very clearly. Remember I was studying business practices all over the world. So that when I was in Germany, I met with the heads of various corporations and certain department stores in Berlin and I remember in several cases being in the office of, let us say, of a general manager of a very large department store in Berlin and he would not talk to me. He just sat there and when I asked questions, he nodded his head or he shook his head and he wouldn't say anything and then he suggested, "Look, can we go out? I'd like a little fresh air. Can we go out and take a walk?" And so we walked out and walked into a park where we were alone and he let it all out. He says to me, "I cannot speak to you in my office because it is being, everything is being bugged and. . .it would cause a great deal of trouble if my true feelings ever became known. But let me tell you that we are on the threshold of big, big trouble here. The Nazi party, Hitler and his brown shirts, are taking over and I don't see any chance of our being able to prevent this from happening and if it happens then we will be right back where we were in WWI. We're going to be in another big war that will make WWI seem like nothing compared to what we're heading into now." And this happened time and time again, people who could not express themselves. It goes back to what I was saying a little while ago about my Russian experience. I had to be very careful what I wrote in my Russian book because if I wrote something in that book and the book were confiscated and read by the authorities, I would have been very, very vulnerable and these people also had this fear. And that is very important to us here in the United States. You've got to remember, I don't know whether you remember, but in the 1950s, we in the United States had exactly the same thing here with a man by the name of McCarthy. You had to be very, very careful of what you said because this man was out to incriminate anybody who disagreed with his authoritarian, American first, anti-communist position.

ST:

So actually, did you have any inkling, when you were in Japan, of its militarism and I guess anti-Western sentiments?

AG:

The only memory that I have that relates to this question and it's an interesting thing that is in my memory. I do remember witnessing a military maneuvers by the Japanese army. It was the first time I'd ever seen Japanese soldiers and the thing that I remember was the way they drilled. They had all. . .they did all of their drilling lying on the ground and creeping and crawling and instead of people marching always and you always see soldiers marching and looking very, very [good?], the Japanese soldiers were not marching, they were crawling and creeping and this was the beginning of the realization that these had a new and much more practical attitude toward fight. It was no longer a Calvary charges with bugles blowing and drums beating and all of the glory and glamour and so on. The way you were going to fight a war now was by creeping and crawling and disguising yourself and overwhelming the enemy by being smarter than he was, being less conspicuous, by blending more with the background, the uniforms corresponded to the color of the ground they were crawling over. Now, why did that make such an impression on me that I have a very clear recollection of watching this and saying, "My god, what's going on around here?" At the same time, there was the realization that these were totally. . .that Japan had already manifested its ability to fight victorious war by having beaten Russia. And can you imagine, Japan. . .the Japanese Navy sinking the whole Russian fleet at Port Arthur? And they already demonstrated a military capacity that staggered the world, but I don't think here in the United States we appreciated that at all. We got into trouble with Japan through sheer ignorance. We knew nothing about Japan really and the Japanese knew very, very little about us, despite the fact we both had tremendous educational institutions that should have informed us more about each other.

ST:

Did your trip end in Germany?

AG:

Did what?

ST:

Your trip around the world, did it end in Germany?

AG:

No. I went to Belgium. Here's a picture (laugh) of my aunt. I took my aunt out to Waterloo to show her where Napoleon lost the war and for a woman who's up to her knees in mud and so on. What's going on here? Yeah, Waterloo. I don't quite remember the [ ] for some of these other pictures. But we then get into, let's see towards the end it was England. My first trips to Oxford and Cambridge. This looks like France. Yeah. It wound up with Switzerland and here is apparently an effort to capture the whole spectrum of people, no, this is very definitely Italy with Mussolini in center stage.

ST:

What were your experiences in Italy with Mussolini?

AG:

With Mussolini it was the beginning of the black shirt revolution that was going on there where the Italian people were undergoing the same regimentation that was occurring in Germany but whereas in Germany it was Hitler and the brown shirts, in Italy it was Mussolini and the black shirts. But they were both determined to re-militarize and to assert their power in a military way and I was in Rome when Mussolini made one of his speeches, just as I had listened to Hitler in Berlin, there I was standing a few feet away from Mussolini as this pompous little man shouted and gesticulated and just spellbound the audience. Both Hitler and Mussolini were magnificent orators. They were very, very effective speakers and the way they manipulated the crowd was awesome. I myself was very much influenced by the power of their. . .it was not only their language, but it was their passion. . .the enormous sense of conviction that they manifested with their shouting. It was not only shouting, it was whispering at first and then the whispering would rise up little by little to a tremendous crescendo. And the crescendo, the shouting became very, very vociferous. . .very, very powerful because it started out in a whisper, it wasn't a constant shouting and so on, which would sort of in a way wear you out. It would be "unghhh", it was like music. It was like an opera or an operatic movement that would go from something very, very docile. . .very, very quiet and so on and little by little the orchestra would move in and the violins and so on and finally you would have the beat of the drums and the clashing of the cymbals and so on and wow it just blew your mind and both of these men had that incredible. . .

JY:

Do you think that people were understanding the messages or were they more. . .in the whole movement of the spirit of the times?

AG:

Yeah. . .well, again this is a combination. I think that. . .yes, the people certainly understood in the sense that they understood what Mussolini and Hitler were saying because what Mussolini and Hitler were saying was exactly what the Italian and the German people wanted to hear. The Germans were suffering from the defeat of WWI and they wanted to be told, look, we didn't lose that war, we really won it but we were let down by the Jews and we were badly treated by the French and so on and so forth. We must now re-assert ourselves and show that we were really the victors in that war. That's exactly what the German people wanted to hear and it responded to their pride and so on. The. . .Yes, the answer is yes, they did understand but at the same time they did not understand in the sense that understanding would have meant that they would have understood the consequences of what they were being told. They would understand that, yes, you are arousing us but at the same time you are arousing others who are our potential antagonists and they never realized, incidentally that as they moved toward this expression of their power, that the power of not only France and Britain was being mobilized, but in the background there was the United States and it never occurred to them, they never understood, getting back to the word understand, they never understood that eventually they would have a nation against them that was so distant from them. The Atlantic Ocean between them, that the United States was invulnerable. They could not send airplanes, they could not send zeppelins, they could not send cannon that could destroy Chicago or Pittsburgh as they could London and Paris. The United States was sacrosanct and eventually as they antagonized the United States, the American industrial power was such that they would be destroyed. They did not understand this. So the answer to your question is yes there was understanding of Mussolini and of Hitler because they understood and were responding to the nationalistic appeal but they did not understand the consequences of what lay beyond this effort.

ST:

Going on, after Italy?

AG:

Then I went home. (Laugh) At the end, this is what I would call editorializing. I was thinking about the whole experience and I see here references. I see Lenin, I see Hitler, I see Mussolini, I see other personalities. I don't see Gandhi at this particular point but it's an effort in the end to say, well what has this whole experience been and where am I? And here I am back in Hawaii I guess, this looks like Diamond Head reflecting on the whole experience and trying somehow to make sense.

JY:

Do you remember what your conclusions were?

AG:

Well I think that my conclusions really as best I can recollect, remember this was 1935, and how old was I? Something like 25 years old or something. My conclusions were very subjective in that how am I going to make out? How am I going to enrich myself? How am I going to survive all this? How can I become prosperous? How can I make a lot of money? How can I succeed? It was while I had matured a great deal, I still had the sentiment and the outlook of a selfish individual who is saying, well this is the world. . .where do I fit in? It was very important that I fit in because my father was unemployed, he lost his job, he lost his factory in the Depression so they were dependent upon me for the survival of the family. So again it was justification. What I wanted was an automobile. What I wanted was dates with beautiful girls. What I wanted was good clothes. What I wanted was to be able to eat in good restaurants. I wanted selfish, materialistic things and I think that primarily is what dictated my thinking and my behavior. But in the background there was. . .I had undergone an educative experience that in time manifested itself when the war did break out, I had a background that was. . .assisted me in the work I did then. But basically, the, I think the real point is, that as a human being, you act realistically in terms of your own self-interest, you're selfish, you want to do well in very personal terms. That means eating well, living well and a good environment. It means having dates with girls. It means entertainment. Selfish satisfaction of selfish desires. It's nothing to be ashamed about. I think it's very, very natural. But eventually the experience did prove very worthwhile in giving me the maturity and the knowledge that I needed as I aged to be successful and more important, things that made me money and being successful in a materialistic way.

JY:

Did you feel a sense of feeling lucky that you were in this part of the world at that time?

AG:

Well, the whole question of luck then enters into it. Yes, there's no question about the fact that I was very, very fortunate that I could do this. If my mother and father had not come from Hungary, I would have perished. Instead of that, by being born into the United States through their good behavior gave me the opportunity to do the things that I was doing. But is it luck or is it something else and that raises the whole question of some manifest destiny, some force, some deity, some power, some transcendental something that I just have no way of explaining in my life other than saying that somebody, something, whatever it was, was directing me in ways that enabled me to survive. You've got to remember that one of the very, very first things that happened to me when I was a, I don't whether we've gone into this, but when I was a runner in the New York Stock Exchange at Wall Street in New York back in 1924 I was sitting on the steps of the United States Assay Building at Wall Street eating my lunch and that's where I ate my lunch every day. Here is the Assay Building, here's the statue of George Washington I was always eating in the shadow of George Washington. Across the way was the J. P. Morgan Bank and every day that's where I had my lunch at twelve o'clock. Then I had to go back to school and the day that I went back to school in September of 1921 a bomb exploded exactly where I would have been sitting and thirty people were killed and hundreds were injured. Now how do you explain that other than that there was something determining my destiny and did it again and again and again. All through my life, things happened to me that were not a matter of my judgment, not a matter of my personal determination. These were circumstances that were in some way organized, in some way orchestrated by whatever it is that goes way beyond me and my judgment, my decisions, my behavior and so on. Things were done for me rather than by me. And so it leaves you with this quasi-religious feeling-I don't know whether religion is the word that I should use, but a belief in the spirit, in something transcendental that we don't understand that has nothing terrestrial about it. There's something going on that as human beings we don't understand and I really feel like a pawn, a puppet being manipulated by some instrument that I can't describe, can't put my finger on it because I can't really say I'm a fervent religionist. I don't identify closely with any religion and yet I really believe that I'm not in command of my life. My life has been commanded, dictated by something that I don't even begin to understand.

ST:

What happened on the close of your return from the around the world journey?

AG:

Well, then again, it was a matter of career. As I said a little while ago, I was-nothing that had happened changed my mind about the fact that what I wanted was to make a lot of money and be a success and take good care of my mother and father and wear good clothes and eat in good restaurants and meet with good girls. . .bad girls, or whatever it might be. It was a very selfish and materialistic outlook, so it was a matter of a good job and I could have gone right back to my old job. But there again, there was my feeling which I've had all my life, that I didn't want to be at any job for more than five years. Five years and out and I really believe that that was, in a way, a factor, a judgment that I have made. Never stay in a job and lose yourself in that job so you become a fixture in that job. I don't want to become the president of the American telephone and telegraph company and all my life work my up from the line-man with the telephone company to the President/Chief Executive Officer and spend my whole life with a corporation, winding up at the very top. No, I want five years in this and then five years in that. I want to be a policeman for five years and I want to be a funeral director for five years and I want to be a garbage collector for five years. Whatever it is, never stay at a job for longer than five years. And that really in a way, has determined my life. I've never stayed at a job for longer than five, six years. Because I was always beckoned into the adventure, the novelty. Into the terra incognito of something else, rather than staying and prospering within the jail of a single job. So what happened was when I did not go back to my previous employment, I opened myself to new employment and found myself an excellent boss who again, through circumstances that are only divine rather than terrestrial, led me from-directly into the work with The New York Times as a travel correspondent with The New York Times and brought me into contact with Time and Life magazine where I became a correspondent for Time Life. And that gave me contacts of such a nature that when I went into the army, which was the next big thing, I had contacts with Life magazine that opened up their picture morgue, their, all of the tremendous resources they had became available to me because God, or whoever he is, had kept me from going back into my old job and put me in the situation where I was in contact with totally new people. Among them the Life magazine personnel.

ST:

A question about when you were a travel writer for The New York Times. In your autobiography, you talk about life in friendly Guatemala: "Clearly a success in achieving my intention, bringing travel down to earth and investing it with education. The series misled readers on the misery of the people on the threshold of a thirty year war." At this point, are you becoming more socially conscious about issues or about countries?

AG:

I think the point you're making there is, has to be seen as I've tried to make it clear. I was thrilled with writing stories about Guatemala and other places and my intention was a very, very good one and that is to explain these, tell about these places so they became accessible, not just to rich people but to young people, who with very limited budgets could go down there and live very, very cheaply and experience life in another culture, speaking another language and so on and so forth. And so I, my articles about Guatemala and other places in Central and South America dwelt very, very heavily on the ability to travel in these places with very, very little money. That you could buy a house for something like seven or eight hundred dollars. You could furnish it for a hundred dollars. These marvelous opportunities that you had in other countries, if you had the courage to do that. But in doing that, I totally overlooked that fact that yes, these places were very, very cheap to live in but why? It was because the people there were so poor that they were willing to do all these things. You could buy this land because they needed the dollars that you could give them, for it meant more to them than the land. You could have a servant who would work for you for three dollars a month because three dollars a month represented wealth to her. You in a sense were exploiting her. I didn't realize that this was capitalism running wild in places where people had no capital. I'm amazed that the editors of The New York Times didn't realize that this thing that I was pushing, the cheap way of life, how an American could live cheaply in places like Guatemala, in Ecuador, in Peru, in Colombia and so on. In Costa Rica, in Honduras, you could live very, very cheaply there. But why could you live cheaply there? Because the people there were so poor that a peon, a worker there, would work for a whole day for fifty cents and you could have for something like ten dollars a month, you could have a place to live in, you could have three meals a day, you could buy cigarettes, you could buy all the bananas and the fruit and so on you want. The American dollar enabled you, gave you power that satisfied you but what did it mean? In a way it was good for them, in that the people had the dollar. But on the other hand it was exploitation of a situation down there where these people were condemned to poverty because they were in economic and political situations that condemned them to that poverty. So it was very selfish, very American outlook on this and it was wonderful for me to be, month after month, I was having full-page stories in the most prestigious newspaper in the world, The New York Times. And getting all kinds of commendation for this thing. You can imagine my ego, my pride in being correspondent for the New York Times. And totally oblivious to the fact that the root of all of this was the roots of communism, the conflict with capitalism, with the United States using its power, its resources, its prosperity without regard for the condition of other peoples. It was ignorance, rampant ignorance in the service of selfish desire. And yet it had a good motive. What I really wanted to do was to tell young people that you don't have to be stuck here in Chicago or Cincinnati or St. Louis or [ ]. Get the hell out of there and go down to these places and learn the language and eat the food and see what the world is like because you can afford to do it, it's so cheap. But the reason why it was so cheap was the people there were being exploited. [ ] Do you see the remarkable conflicts that go on, the good and the bad, in all of these situations that I'm in.

ST:

When did you come to the realization?

AG:

Not until it was too late. [laugh] No, my awakening didn't come until the war and I realized then that the ignorance that led us into the war and the ignorance that led to the development and the success of fascism and communism. I never understood what the internal mechanisms were that led to human behavior manifesting itself. The only way that these quiet little terrible conditions came into being was when they were politicized by people like Mussolini and by Hitler and by Stalin and by Lenin and Marx and so on. Then the explosion occurred and we were unprepared for this through our own ignorance and our own selfishness and blinders on our capitalistic eyes that blinded us to reality. And so only gradually and strenuously, with great sacrifice, with great effort, with bloodshed do you move from a state of selfish ignorance into the beginning of awareness of what's really wrong with the world, with human nature and with national interests and so on and so forth and that becomes the gradual education that comes from time and experience and if I may go back to it, the five year program. If all you know is working for UPS, for United Parcel Service and your whole life is spent. . .you are blind to, you know we're talking about something that has just happened today. They've finally come to a settlement. They didn't need a strike [laugh], the settlement that they came to should have been settled by this one thing. If the head of UPS had taken off his fancy clothes and become a delivery man and undergone the experience for one week, if he had done nothing else for one week, had been a part-time worker and experienced what the average worker was then there wouldn't have been a strike. They would've been able to know the problems and sense the problems and respond to the problems without having to go through this, this terrible ordeal. Now that goes right back into international behavior. We don't understand others and it takes a lot of time and a lot of effort and a lot of pain to finally develop that. Now the question is, can the university give you that through a college education? ST: Don't know [laugh]. One minute left? People define, I guess, World War II a lot of times by Pearl Harbor. I guess that's the first major memory or event in time. I guess, what was Pearl Harbor's impact on you? AG: Well first of all there is the impact of Pearl Harbor, which meant the United States was at war under very, very unfavorable circumstances. The reports were that we had lost our fleet and that meant that Hawaii could be invaded. There was a real feeling that it could be and would be and even California was under alert and a sense of danger, a sense of enormous emergency and that was the obvious response to Pearl Harbor. But then there was another one, and again we get back to this selfish personal thing. First thing I did when I heard about, learned about Pearl Harbor was to go down to The New York Times where I had a job as their correspondent and saying, "Look, I've been to Japan. Can you use me in any way?" And writing stories about Japan that would enable the American people to understand Japan. In other words, I made myself available, not to the Travel Department, this would be to the editors of the Times who I thought might need me to explicate the Japanese people to the degree I thought I knew. Of course I didn't know it really, all I knew was the little that I had gained by having been to Japan which really in a way was important. . .whether it could have any impact on The New York Times and on the American understanding of this calamity that had happened was altogether different. It was very interesting to me that my first reaction was again a very personal one. How could I turn this to my personal advantage? I remember. . .gee, here's an opportunity for me to become important. To tell the editors of The New York Times about the enemy and so on. And to a degree it was. . .they listened and I became. . .it could have opened up doors but of course what happened was that I immediately got a telegram from the War Department calling me to active duty because I was a reserve officer and I was called into active service and went down to Camp Lee, Virginia and became a soldier and that took me completely away from The New York Times and put me into a totally new situation. Five years now. [laugh] The next five years is going to be the war. But this is interesting, Now again, isn't it interesting how somebody, again, something up there intervened and at that crucial time, something happened that determined my life that I had absolutely not a thing to do with. I had nothing to do with the bombing of Pearl Harbor and any of that stuff. This was done for my particular benefit in order to put me into a new five year phase. I'm exaggerating this thing, I'm sure that you get the nuance but do you see what seems to be the lesson. That we're not in command of our lives. These things will happen and somehow determine the course of our lives without our own decisions being made, the decisions being made by a force that we don't understand beyond us.

JY:

Jumping ahead of all of that, what were your feelings at the end of the war with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

AG:

Well I think I have to admit a totally conventional feeling of having witnessed the war, having participated in it, having been in combat, having seen something that cannot be understood unless you personally see it, having seen bodies being brought in piled up and dumped off trucks and buried in the mud of the battlefield and so on. Having seen hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of American soldiers killed, I'll never forget Normandy, the English Channel with bodies bobbing up and down in the channel and so on. I'll never forget really early being a witness to a gathering point where all of the bodies were being brought in from the whole battlefield and Negro gravediggers were removing the dog tags of the dead and sticking their rifles up above the body and putting the dog tags as identification on the rifle and so on, so that somewhere along the line somebody will come and remove these bodies and put them in the proper cemetery. You have to see dead soldiers to answer the question and the answer is that yes, anything to stop the war, to stop these American soldiers being killed. I wasn't thinking about the Japanese, I was thinking about the soldiers that I had seen dead. So if you had to drop a bomb on these people to make them surrender, drop the bomb. And I'm not saying that even today I really don't believe that. . .I don't think that Truman had any alternative because I remember that Hitler, Germans had surrendered and already that divisions that we had in Europe were being mobilized for transfer to the Pacific. It was an enormous effort to prepare them, get them there and then they would face Okinawa, well, they would face the whole business of the war all over again that they had fought in Europe and fight it all over again. Well, yes. So a hundred thousand people in Hiroshima, fifty/sixty thousand people in Nagasaki. Here again the selfishness, the chauvinism, whatever you want to call it of being an American impels me to say honestly that yes, I think we had to do it. I'm glad we did it because I could not have stood the idea. . .I myself did not want to go and fight another war. Well, by that time I was in China. I was transferred from, after the German defeat, I was transferred to Shanghai to become the editor of the Stars and Stripes in China, so I was very definitely involved. But when I got there I was enormously relieved that it was not the Japanese we had to fight, we now had to fight the Russians, this is the beginning of the Russian. . .not the Russian, the communist problem.

[BREAK]

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