Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Nicholas A. Rey
REY: Exactly. None of that. A Polish-American insurance companand blah, blah, blah. No we were not involved in that at all.
Q: A kid is very sensitive to this sort of thing, looking at the older generation, how could it be so stupid and all that. Did you find that within this group that you were observing, your parent's generation, were they affected by that disease that seemed to be rather strong in Poland, anti- Semitism or not?
REY: No, they were very definitively not anti-Semitic. In fact they were very strong on that. That is interesting that you mentioned that. They imbued in me strong opposition to that whole syndrome which exists in Poland. Not as bad as I thought it did, but still is there, boy. My father always worked with Jewish people a lot; in his business career there were a lot of Jewish people. They both always dealt with Jews as a very flexible thing. In fact it is fair to say that I have, I don't remember whether it is an eighth or a sixteenth Jewish blood in me through my mother, because my mother's grandmother was Jewish. Was Jewish and converted to Lutheranism. That was great grandmother. My, my mother's mother, converted from Lutheranism to Catholicism. I was always brought up in the Catholic church. But there is a strain in me of Jewish background. In fact it was a family, a very wealthy banker's family, quite famous in Warsaw historically. They started a technical, vocational, school which became quite interesting to me because one of the prime ministers I had to deal with had actually gone to that school when the communists took it over.
Q: Well, in high school, was this a day school or...
REY: A day school. I never did boarding. Well I did do boarding but that was in seventh and eighth grade. Yes, it was a day school. I was very much as a teenager, desperately wanting to de-emphasize anything Polish about me and emphasize anything American.
Q: Well, of course, in a way the great identifier that everyone hais their name, and Rey is maybe people thought French or something.
REY: French or Swiss. Spanish.
Q: It just doesn't resonate.