KW: I guess first of all, can you tell me a little bit about your childhood? What was your family like?
FAS: My family consisted of my father, whom I adored, my mother, whom I didn't much care for, a sister who is, fortunately, alive and fifteen years older than I am, and me.
KW: You grew up in France correct?
FAS: Yes, but I was born in Germany. My parents left Russia in 1919 and stopped in Germany until 1930, and I was born there in '26. And then I lived in France from 1930 to 1940, and then the war came and from then on it was messy.
KW: So, after that you've been in the US ever since?
FAS: Yes, except, that it took some time to get there. We went along the coast, the Atlantic coast, and with a lot of other people, and then we were lucky enough to be able to get into the so called unoccupied France, and from there on we went to Spain, Portugal, the States briefly, and then to Cuba. And from there we got immigration visas.
KW: Well you have seen a lot more of the world than I have.
FAS: It was not because I wanted to.
KW: Right. Right. Did you know any engineers or people in the sciences when you were growing up?
FAS: Yes. My father.
KW: What did your father do?
FAS: Well, my father was a genius in his own way. He came from a very poor family in
Warsaw, which then belonged to Russia, and even though he was a Jew, so this was very rare, he got a scholarship to go to the equivalent of MIT in Russia. It was called the Mining Academy. In St. Petersburg, in Leningrad afterwards, but then it was St. Petersburg. And he finished with distinction and as a condition of the scholarship he first had to be a coal miner, and then he became a mining engineer. In 1919, he disliked of course the regime very much and he took a locomotive at the point of a gun, and drove the locomotive, my mother, and my sister, and a little bit of money through the various warring factions, and landed in Germany. Where he became an investment banker. As you know there was a terrible Depression. Terrible, terrible. And so he lost it all, and owed a lot of money. But then he went to France and there he gradually repaid his
debts, and through my uncle, my mother's brother, he became a millionaire again. He owned part, about a tenth, of ten or eleven factories. And then came the debacle, and we decided to just go south as far as we could. We didn't have any visas to go further than France. And then all of a sudden Petain, the Supershit, made a deal with the Germans that no one in the Atlantic zone could move to the unoccupied so called region, as of that date, and Dad faked papers and we got into a town which was not occupied: Toulouse. And from there on we found that in order to get visas to get out of France, we had to go to Marseille, which was occupied by the Italians, who were much nicer. And we got, surprisingly enough, exit visas from France and then transit visas
through Spain and Portugal. And in Portugal it was a real mess because it was the end of the universe; and we were lucky and we tried to go to England because Dad wanted to continue the fight, but they were having terrible difficulties. And so, we were able to get a visa to the Dominican Republic because they wanted people who were technically competent. We transferred through New York and loved it, and found that in order to become immigrants we had to go outside and the consul for the United States in Canada was reputed to be an anti-Semite, so we went to Cuba and there they gave us the immigration visas almost immediately because I been born in Germany. And so, as far as the Germans were concerned I was a Pole, but as far as the Americans were concerned I was a German, and the German quota was open. And so they took me, and because of me they took my family.