Page 1


Click on text below to watch and listen to John's answers. If movies do not appear in the top left frame after clicking the answers below, install the free Quicktime Player and try again.

Second Interview Insert Key
Indented text represents the follow-up interview conducted on December 13, 2006. coming soon


Introduction of Interviewers

Hi, I'm Liza, I'm Robin, I'm Jake, I'm Karina and I'm Megan and today's date is Tuesday, May 4th 2004. This interview is being conducted with Dr. John Kerner in San Francisco, California.

Can you please state and spell your name?

My name is John Kerner.
Can you state and spell your name at your time of birth?
At time of birth my name was John Kapstein.
What is your birth date and how old are you now?
My birth date was February 9th, 1919. I'm now 85.
What was the city and country of your birth?
I was born in Portland Oregon, USA.

What is your earliest memory as a child?

My earliest memories were when I was very small, just remembering, I think I had some rabbits when I was very small, like 3 or so. That was my earliest memory.

Can you remember any details from it?

No, at that age I couldn't. The next earliest is I remember moving to San Francisco when I was around 3 and I remember riding in an elevator to where we were staying temporarily, with a kiddie car. That was a gift.

Can you share with us the story behind why you changed your name?

Yes. I'm Jewish, and during World War Two and around that time, I noticed that there was very often prejudice because of a name, not because of the individual or his accomplishments. And it seemed to me that my children would have a much better shot at life if they had no pre-conceived opinions about them and their choice of religion. So I thought it would be better for my children. I had experienced unpleasantness in my lifetime because of my religion and I thought it would be easier for my children if they weren't pre-judged.

Can you talk about any experiences before the war when you felt prejudice because of your religion?

In San Francisco where I lived most of my life, I never was aware of any prejudice. But when my family temporarily moved to Boston for a year and a half, the school that I went to was the first time I was ever called in an unpleasant way being called a Jew by my classmates. That was my first experience. I had never had anything like that in San Francisco.

You said that you moved around a lot because of your father's work. How did living in many different places help or affect your perspective on life growing up?

It made it more difficult to form permanent friendships, but on the other hand it made it easier for me to adjust as I went through life because I could meet strangers like you and relate to them easier than most of my contemporaries. So it was not a total loss.

Page 1

Next