Oral history of British science

Klug, Aaron (Part 1 of 31). National Life Stories Collection: General

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  • Subjects

    Biophysics; Chemistry

  • Recording date

    2002-10-29, 2002-11-03, 2002-11-20, 2002-11-27

  • Recording locations

    MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge

  • Interviewees

    Klug, Aaron, 1926-, (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Thompson, Katherine (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    AK was born in 1926 in Zelvas, Lithuania. Parents Lazar and Bella (nee Silin) Klug. Jewish parents. AK's father worked for grandfather who was cattle dealer and owned land, unusual for Jews. Father was apprenticed to be saddler but worked with his father. Mother married early in twenties - her family in South Africa. Language spoken at home was Yiddish, he wrote articles for Jewish paper. More about the state of Lithuanian Jews. In 1941 Germans invaded Soviet Russia and Lithuanians were then pro-German. Father's older brother had inherited his father's farm - was deported to Siberia and died there. AK tells story of uncle's children - especially a daughter who survived. AK's father, as well as his younger brother later emigrated to South Africa in 1927 and family followed 2 years later in 1927. Talks about anti-Semitism in Lithuania, Jews were shot. Mother's relations lived in Durban and AK's father worked for them - trade in timber and hides. Father went ahead, family followed later when AK was 2 years old. Father told AK much later in life in a letter he wrote about wartime upheaval in the country, about encounters with the Red Army detachment and rescuing his younger brother. Father being caught, deported, court martial and escape. The family plus mother's younger sister arrived in Durban in 1929 - moved into a house. AK's mother died when he was 6, younger sister became 'mother' and married father some years later. Earliest memories: watching horse-racing, next to their house. Later they had black servant and father learned Zulu, also English. More about father's education describes lessons in 'Cheder'.

  • Description

    Nobel Prize-winning chemist Aaron Klug in conversation about his life and work. Klug is most famous for his research into crystallographic electron microscopy.

  • Related links

    Visit this interviewee's page on the 'Voices of Science' web resource

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