This interview is with Dr. Donald Winter Stein, MD., and was conducted by Philip Jesse Grant.

Q: Where were you born?

A: Denver, Colorado.

Q: And in what year?

A: 1927.

Q: What is your profession?

A: I'm a physician.

Q: Do you have a specialization?

A: Anesthesiology.

Q: And you are currently retired?

A: Yes, I am.

Q: Where did you gain your education? Primarily your college education?

A: I went to the University of Colorado and graduated with a bachelor of Arts Degree from the school of arts and sciences and then went to the University of Colorado School of Medicine graduated with an MD degree.

Q: You grew up during the Great depression, when many families were unemployed and suffering financial hardship. What did your family do during the great depression?

A: During the depression my father was a physician and my mother was, what would be called a technical writer for physicians.

Q: What opinion, if any, did you have of the "New Deal" Plans?

A: The first I heard about the New deal plans was, we had an NRA sticker in the window and were informed that it had been declared unconstitutional.

Q: How did they affect you and your family?

A: They had very little affect on me because I was only about 4 or 5 years old and my family was relatively unaffected.

Q: You are Jewish correct?

A: Yes I am. Reformed Jewish to be specific.

Q: What knowledge did you have of events in Europe prior to the USA's entry into the war following the Pearl Harbor attack?

A: I was aware of what Hitler was doing, for the most part. We listened to his radio speeches in school. I knew that this was something very scary that was going on. that I was aware of the appeasement, I was aware when they took over Austria. I was aware of their two deals on Czechoslovakia and the feeling in the family was that all this was not going to stop Hitler, even if Neville Chamberlain thought so. I was also aware that there were problems among the Jewish people, and that one of my folks closest friends had brought, I think it was the nephew in about 1936 or 37, Fred came to the United States and was taken over by this childless couple who provided him with a home. He was approximately 16 years old, and I was about 9 or 10. Subsequently, another family we were very close friends with brought another close relative over who lived with them as they had a son of the same age. And I knew there was a attempt to get people out of Europe. I was also aware of, probably in 1939 or 40 a banker from Danzieg, a relative on my fathers side of the family came to the united states and brought his family, his wife and two daughters over and they were escaping from Hitler and his Nazis.

Q: Hitler was going on a campaign against the Jewish people, among others. Was it widely known in Jewish community in which you lived, that Hitler was embarking on a plan to exterminate the Jewish people?

A: We knew that he was extremely anti-Jewish but I don't think we knew the extent of what his plans were or what he was willing to do until after the war, but we knew, yes, that there were problems between Hitler the Jewish people.

Q: Did you and your family support United States involvement in the war prior to Pearl Harbor?

A: My father, in the late 1930's was very definitely of the opinion that we were going to be unable to stay out of the war even before the invasion of Poland. He saw it coming. My father was asked be the anesthesiologist for an army hospital that was going to be staffed by physicians from the University of Colorado. He had agreed to accept this position. I believe this was before the 1939 invasion of Poland but I know it was surely about that time.

Q: You say they where forming a hospital Unit? Where was this hospital to be built?

A: Those hospitals are not built, per se. They are given numbers and then mobilized to various locations.

Q: Like the MASH units kind of like in the show of the same name?

A: No. They aren't MASH units. The MASH units came after WWII. A general hospital was a large hospital, a thousand to two thousand beds that were set up in back of the lines. In other words they were set up in Italy, they were set up in England, His particular unit was set up in New Caledonia. But they went to various areas. There were field hospitals that were the closest ones to the front and those might be considered MASH units in normal terminology. Then they went to a station hospital. And then the general hospital, or a convalescent Hospital were the last over sees hospitals before they were brought back the united states. You have to realize that most casualties where transported by ship very few were transported by airplane. And even air travel was very slow and tedious in the 1940's .

Q: Let me interrupt you for a second if I can. Where is New Caledonia?

A: It is outside of Noumea. It is immediately north of New Zealand It is a French Protectorate.

Q: What was your general opinion of how then President Franklin Roosevelt dealt with the prewar situation?

A: At that point, being only about 12 years of age, I did not have much of an opinion. I do know that my family was very much incensed that any man would run for a third term. At that point my father and his family had been democrats, My father switched parties and became a strong advocate for the election of Wendell Wilkie in the 1940 election in the 1940 election

Q: If you don't mind I think we will move on to the war years, if that is acceptable. Do you remember where you were on the day Pearl Harbor was attacked, Sunday December 7th? Do you remember where you were when you heard the news?

A: Yes, I do. It was on a Sunday, Approximately 1pm mountain standard time. On Sundays we went to religious school, from 10am to 12pm. We got home and had our big meal of the day about 1 o'clock, and we generally listened to the New York philharmonic. At approximately ten minutes after 1pm, the broadcast was interrupted to announce that Pearl Harbor had been attacked and further information came across that day.

Q: That must have been a massive psychological blow. What was the general reaction in your household to the news?

A: I guess the general reaction, I don't have the pictures unfortunately but, also being Sunday December 7th, my father had decided that we would have a family picture taking for the holidays, for the various members of the family. and when the proofs came back, the expression on my face and my sisters face was of such a look of great concern that they had to have those pictures taken over again. I mean it was a very startling thing for us to realize that we were going to war. The family was just totally astounded.

Q: What did you know of the pre-Pearl Harbor situation in the Asian theatre of the war?

A: I knew that there was a very serious problem there. I knew about the China invasion by Japan. We had some friends, actually a physician that my dad had gone to school with, who had gone to Korea and had come back to the United States before that time {the time of the Chinese Invasion]. It was obvious that there was going to be a problem on that front, too. I knew that there were negotiations going in Washington, trying to head off any problem with Japan, and then this stab in the back. All this time that we were negotiating with Japan that they were planning this attack, and that this was only a front.

Q: In the period where the United States was involved in WWII there was a great deal of rationing and hardship. There were many propaganda and war movies being released at this time as well as a great deal of news reels being shown. How heavily was your family hit by the war mentality?

A: Well, what it amounted to was that my father was called into service in the summer of 1942. The hospital unit was mobilized at Fort Mead Maryland. The decision was made by the family to be near him as long as he was in the USA. We used that as a chance to travel across the United States, by train be it noted. We did not motor and flying was not a consideration in those days. We had no automobile while we were living in Maryland. The unit was supposed been sent overseas with two months of being mobilized, but instead of being mobilized those two months became fourteen months. There was apparently a security leak within the unit. They were activated and the demobilized on three different occasions. They each corresponded with, first the north Africa invasion, and then the Sicilian invasion, and finally the Italian invasion. At that point apparently the war department decided to send the unit someplace else. They were then transported across the US. While we where in Maryland living with Dad we had access to food from the commissary at Fort Mead. As I said we had no car so gasoline rationing wasn't a problem. So we where not to badly inconvenienced as far as the rationing. When at that time, until we where able to have a car, the men in the unit where able to get enough gasoline so they could car pool and those who did have cars drove. We used a lot of the trains and public transportation was the main thing used. We gave up allot. I think the thing that we were more aware of, being on the east coast, was the importance of blackout curtains and no light shining through any of your windows.

Q: And why was that? What the necessity of a blackout?

A: The reason for it was that the glow from a city would be a good target for any planes coming in. Cities give off a tremendous glow which would be able to lead any invading force or attack to that city. So the cities were totally black at night.

Q: Was it thought to be a major threat ? The coming of Enemy forces during the night?

A: They did not know, but they where not taking any chances. We knew what had happened at Pearl Harbor, therefore all coastal cities both east and west coast were on blackout conditions, and I think they were dimmed in many of the in- land cities as well.

Q: On a side note, how was the food in the commissary?

A: It was satisfactory. We had no problems with it. And the Catholic priest used to make it a routine to stop by our house on Friday nights so he could have steak or roast beef.

Q: What happened after your father was shipped west? What do you remember feeling during the war years?

A: The war years pretty much a haze in that we did spend over a year in Maryland the came back to Colorado at which point I was able to return to high school. I came back as a junior and was able to graduate at the end of my Junior year. I took subjects all through my senior year and I also worked.

Q: You graduated from high school early, correct?

A: I graduated as a Junior, yes.

Q: And you then joined the military?

A: Yes. I graduated in June, I was still 16. I immediately went to the University of Colorado where I started my education. University of Colorado was on a Semester basis. It had Naval ROTC and Naval V-12 Units.

Q: Sorry to interrupt but what is a V-12 unit?

A: Its similar to ROTC but it was a lesser program than the ROTC.

Q: Back to what you were saying?

A: Yes. They had taken over all the dorms at the university. The university was on a three Semester basis a year, with no holidays except for Christmas day. We went 5 days a week, Thanksgiving included. No holidays were taken. I turned 17 after the beginning of my second semester. I completed that semester. I had a whole year of college buy the end of February in 1944 and I enlisted in the navy just before I finished that year and in April I was called into service.

Q: Did you see many of these propaganda films during the war?

A: We saw a lot of films but I don't think we would have considered them propaganda. As far a we were concerned they merely showed us what was going on. We were aware of the devastation of England and the bombing of English cities. We were aware of the guided missiles from France and Germany. I don't think any of us considered those films propaganda. We considered these as close to fact and our beliefs where pretty well held up after the war.

Q: When did you meet your wife to be, Claire Rosenbush?

A: I meet her in the fall of 1948.

Q: Do you remember where you where on D-day? And what was your response to the news?

A: On D-Day? Yes. That was the week I graduated from high school and we were at home. I was an avid radio listener and I heard the news go out early in the morning. I remembering thinking that there was now hope that we would be inevitably successful. I remember we went to temple that evening to prey for the success in this endeavor. Q: And on V-E day?

A: On V-E day I was in boot camp in San Diego, California. In fact it was my first or second week of being in the Navy.

Q: Did they announce before they did so that they intended to use Nuclear weapons on Japan?

A: No they did not. although by that time I had now progressed to a long waiting period, I think from April to august. I had been detained at the boot camp for three different programs as to what kind of training they were going to send me trough. And I heard about a week or two before hand that an A-bomb was in the works. so that even though it was a big event when it happened in the back of my mind I knew that something was going on.

Q: Do you condemn the use of the atomic bomb to end the war?

A: I have ambivalent feelings. I think that without the use of the atomic bomb the war could have gone on for another two or three years. The Japanese were fanatical. They had these kamikaze pilots who would crash their planes into Allied ships. Even when dad wrote they were on Okinawa, they were still digging Japanese out. That the Japanese euthenics would die to the man. I do think that the atomic bomb did a great deal to bring a very disastrous and prolonged war to an end. As to whether it was necessary or the right thing to do, to drop the second one I do not know.

Q: What did you think of the devastation caused by the atomic bomb?

A: I thought it was a necessary part of war. I mean we had seen the pictures of London and the utter destruction of that city. And the barbaric things that the Germans and Japanese had done. We were becoming more and more aware. We had already invaded the Philippines and had learned of the great atrocities that the Japanese had committed on American service men, you just almost at that time felt that this was a necessity. You hate to see human life lost at any time but sometimes you have to fight on equal terms.

Q: Where were you on V-J day?

A: I was still in San Diego, and we were given liberty that day and the town was a mad house.

Q: Do you remember what you thought when you realized that the war was over?

A: Thank god! A chance to go back to school and finish my education. A chance to have my father back in the US. To have the family back together again. It was a great relief that we had prevailed at last.

Q: What was the highest rank you achieved in the Navy during WWII?

A: I ended up as a Hospital Apprentice First Class.

Q: What was the biggest adjustment for you of dealing with the post-war reality?

A: School. I went from a university of about two thousand to that university having ten thousand. It was massively overcrowded and impossible to get the classes you wanted or needed.

Q: What do you think the worst part of WWII was?

A: By far I think the worst thing about WWII was the holocaust. Hitler had gone on a plan of extermination against not only Jews, but mentally defectives, gays, and gypsies.

Q: What do you think the worst aftereffect of the war was?

A: The worst thing, maybe, was the Cold War. That people could not get along together was the worst thing. Russia was so busy arming themselves, that instead of a peaceful working together of the allied nations Russia actually succeeded in dividing the world into communist and non-communist factions. And the communist hunters and the McCarthy era these were all part and parcel of the whole post war situation

Q: What do you think the best after effect of the war was?

A: I guess the professor under whom I trained said that "Tremendous strides are made, scientifically during war. That the changes in medicine that occurred, even the entering of the atomic age, it was, granted there have been negative ramifications granted, but it opened up a whole new science and technology and a whole new way of looking at the world. Wars help and force, even with their bad thing, to encourage people to develop new ideas and new approaches and actually accelerate their development. The huge improvement in technology and science.

Q: What are your feelings about the occupation and disarmament of Japan?

A: I think its one of those things that has to come about from war. Here is a group that had started a violent war of conquest. If left to themselves in normal peace pursuits, you don't know how fast they might rearm again. You saw this in Germany after WWI. Over the next twenty years they were able to rearm and redevelop. They became a major power. It becomes important and impressed upon the people of the world to keep these warring factions of our planet from fighting. Peace was the goal.

Q: You reached an officers rank in the Navy during the Korean War, correct?

A: Yes I reached the rank of Lieutenant, but the war ended before I could be shipped over.

Q: Many people condemn our involvement in the Korean war. What was your opinion of our involvement?

A: I felt it was necessary because of our friendship with the Koreans. Japan had taken over Korea in around 1910 and we felt that they deserved to be their own nation. Although the major problem seemed to be that our men did not know what they were fighting for. In WWII we had been attacked but in Korea the reasons for fighting were poorly expressed to the common soldiers. The same is the major reason we did so horribly in Vietnam. We should never have gotten into that War. In fact I ducked that war. I refused to resign into ready reserves even though they tried to trick me into it. They asked me to come to Kansas and do some physicals but I would have to sign into the ready reserves which meant they could send me over if they wanted.

Q: Do you think it was acceptable for us to Get involved in the Gulf War or do you feel that it was something similar to Vietnam?

A: No I think that in fact we ended it to quickly, It think we should have finished what we started there. Saddam Hussien had the potential to be another Hitler and needed to be stopped to halt his aggressive expansion. I think we needed to total squelch him and in that we failed. As long as we are trying to protect human beings from cruelty and death, it is acceptable to wage some kind of military action.

Q: Thank you for your time Dr. Stein.

A: Not at all. You're welcome.

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