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Interview Transcript

Paul Pozner

PAUL POZNER is an American-born Russian industrialist. He holds a French doctorate, manages several factories and businesses, and is knowledgeable on ancient Asian studies.

The following interview was made for the Russian-American Center archives in the summer of 1998:

Pozner:  My name is Paul Pozner.  I was born April the 19th, 1945, in New York.  My father was a Russian white émigré.  And by that time he worked in New York, in Metro Golden Mayer International, as a technical director.  My mother's French.  And we'd been there with my brother [Vladimir Pozner], who was born in 1934.  So he's eleven years older than I am.  I left the States at the age of 4, almost 4; 1984, in the fall of 1984.  No, 1948, excuse me.  My English, sometimes, at times, makes mistakes.  1948, because of McCarthy.  My father had no choice.  He couldn't have job in the States.  So he decided to leave and it happens that he came back to his native country, which was Soviet Union.  And he brought his whole family with him.  Because at that time, we had problems of transportation.  To go directly to the Soviet Union was impossible.  The boat ... the boat went to Poland.  I believe the boat... the name of the boat was Stefan Victoria, something like that.  The boat came to Stettin; we ended in Berlin, in the Soviet Occupation Zone.  And the head of that administration just blocked my father there in Germany.  So being Soviets at that time in the Soviet zone of Germany, from '48 to '52, we remained in Berlin.  That's the first time I met Russians, or Soviets, I would say.  And only December '52 we went to Moscow.  Maybe because of that my parents remained alive.  Because in Germany at that time, having it....My father was very good also in the movies business, Soviet part of the movies business in Germany, and we were far away from Stalin's purges.  So maybe because of that my father had no problem.  My mother neither.  I don't know.  I have no idea about it.  But that's a possibility. 

Pozner:  So, we came in December '52 to Moscow, and we used to live for a year and a half in the Hotel Metropole, because we had no apartment in Soviet Union.  And here I went to school because in Soviet Union you do it at the age of seven.  So I went to school, being in the Metropole, living in the Metropole.  And in '54 we got an apartment, the apartment that I have still, still now, the same apartment.  Although my mother and father are gone, my brother is living apart.  Still I am living in the same apartment.  So I went to different schools.  In '55-'57 with my parents, I went back to Germany, the Soviet part.  My father was sent there to work, and we came back and I graduated from school in '63.  And I was not so good in school.  So I missed my exams to enter into the institute, because in Soviet Union, up to now still, you cannot just apply to an institute and enter.  You had to pass a competition, and there are say five, six persons for one place.  So I missed my exams and I went to the army.  And I spent three years in the army.  At that time it was three years in the army and four years in the navy.  So I was in the army in tanks, somewhere in the Urals, near Sverdlovsk, which is now Ekaterinburg.  And in '68, '67 I came in October, I came from the army.  And then in '68 I entered the institute.

Interviewer:  Which institute?

Pozner:  It was the Moscow University and the faculty of Oriental studies.  That happened, it was not my choice because you cannot have a choice of the language; you may have your preference but you cannot choose.  Because everybody would go to--I don't know , to Japanese, to Indian language, to Hindu, to Arabic, because people don't know a lot of varieties.  So you enter into groups of 5, 6, 7 persons in each language.  And I wanted Japanese.  And because I passed well my exams, and the languages are chosen for you in relations to the European language that you pass on entering your exams.  And I passed not the English, but the French.  And at that time, because I passed very well my exams, I was offered a choice of Arabic (because there are a lot of Arabic countries where the second language is French), Cambodian, Vietnamese, or Turkish.  So, but I was told because I was on the third year, you may, you have to have a second Oriental language.  And I was told that if I choose Vietnamese the third year, because there is a lot of ancient history, a lot of connections, I will be able to take Japanese.  Not--because normally with Vietnamese comes Cambodian.  But there are exceptions, because it is related and I'm starting well, then I will be able to take Japanese.  So I decided to take Vietnamese.  That is how it happens that I took Vietnamese.  So I started there, specializing in history, because there are few specializations:  economics, history, and literature.  I chose history.  By the third year, because I was so interested in history, by the third year I decided not to take Japanese, I decided to take Chinese, ancient Chinese.  Because all the ancient Vietnamese texts are in Chinese, say in Chinese characters.  It's not Chinese, but Chinese characters.  So I decided to take Chinese, and not Japanese.  So I graduated from the institute in '73 and immediately had a job at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R.  in the Department of Ancient History.  And in '76 I got my first degree doctorate, which is a little bit lower than an American Ph.D.  And in.....  that was in '76, and in '87 I got my second degree Ph.D., which is a doctorate, which is higher than an American Ph.D.  And I'm still working in the same institute, I still keep my job in the institute.  So since '73 through '98 I am in this institute doing Vietnamese, ancient Vietnamese history research. 


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