Dr. John Kerner

Date: May 4, 2004
Location: San Francisco, CA
Interviewers: Liza M, Robin J, Jake C, Karina M, Megan H, with Howard Levin

Date: December 13, 2006
Location: San Francisco
Interviewers: Liza M, Alex B, with Howard Levin coming soon

Dr. John Kerner was originally born John Kapstein on February 9, 1919 in Portland Oregon. Kerner first experienced anti-Semitism as a child living in Boston and later in life he changed his name to avoid anti-Semitism for his own sake and the sake of his children. In 1939 Kerner attended medical school in Berkeley, California where he participated in ROTC. As president of his class he complained to the administration about the exclusion of the Japanese who were being sent to internment camps. Kerner joined the army in 1944 serving as a battalion surgeon and a combat medic with the elite 10th Mountain Division and the 35th Infantry Division. He served at various battles across Europe including D-Day at Omaha Beach in Normandy, St. Lo, and Bastogne. Kerner witnessed mass murder at Gardelegen in eastern Germany where concentration camp prisoners were burned to death by the Nazi's during the final weeks of the war. Although fighting for the American side, Kerner and his crew helped out wounded German soldiers. He received several medals and wrote a memoir on his life in the war. Dr. Kerner is proud of his wartime service but speaks of his "absolute abhorrence of war.

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