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Sir Kenneth Adam

Arrived in Britain:
Place of Birth:
April 1934
Interview number:

Interview Summary:

Kenneth Adam was born Klaus Hugo Adam in 1921 in Berlin to an old-established, highly assimilated Jewish family. He was educated at Collège Français until his emigration to Britain in 1934. He settled in N.W. London, where his mother ran a well-known refugee boarding-house. He attended St. Paul’s School, Architecture College, and then became a fighter pilot in the RAF. After the war he had a highly successful career as designer of film sets (2 Oscars). He was knighted in 2003.

I still, on my way to school, saw the burning of the Reichstag. That I witnessed. One grew up very quickly, when you saw these ghastly thugs, arresting people right and left and street fights and battles with the communists and so on. It wasn’t pleasant. And so then my mother took my younger brother and myself on a steamer from Hamburg to Grimsby Harbour.

I flew operations. I was with 609 and we were flying Typhoons, which were in those days the most powerful fighter in the RAF…. We became, from just before D-Day till all through D-Day and all through the advance through Belgium, Holland and finally Germany, close support for the Canadian and British armies.

I also had to run a military government court. I’m not a lawyer, so they sent a civilian lawyer from England who advised me. What I found unbelievable was the letters of denunciation and verbal denunciation I received daily from people saying ‘he was a Nazi’, ‘she was a Nazi’. I mean there was a complete moral collapse in Germany. Nobody had been a Nazi and everybody was a Nazi. It was an incredible experience.


@ AJR Refugee Voices 2020

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