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Joseph L. Rauh, Jr. Oral History Interview

 

OH474 Parts 1-5

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Oral History Interview with
Joseph L. Rauh, Jr.

U.S. Army officer on Gen. Douglas MacArthur's staff, 1942-45; officer of the Americans for Democratic Action

Washington D.C.
June 21, 1989
Niel M. Johnson

[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]


Notice
This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word.

Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. [45]) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.

RESTRICTIONS
This oral history transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced for purposes of research. It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.

Opened January, 1992
Harry S. Truman Library
Independence, Missouri

[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]



Oral History Interview with
Joseph L. Rauh, JR.

Washington D.C.
June 21, 1989
Niel M. Johnson

[1]

JOHNSON: Mr. Rauh, I'm going to start by asking you to tell us where you were born, when you were born and what your parents' names were.

RAUH: I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on January 3, 1911, making me 78 now. My father's name was Joseph Rauh; I'm a junior. My father was born in Bamberg, Bavaria, Germany; he was an immigrant. My mother's name was Sarah Weiler. She was born in this country, but her ancestors came from Germany. We were German Jews; Cincinnati was quite a home for German Jews and still is.

JOHNSON: That's where you got your education?

RAUH: Yes. Actually my father was an education nut. He was a small businessman, but he anted to make enough money to give his kids the best education. Of course,

[2]

in those days, and maybe it's still true, the prestige lay with Harvard, and the happiest thing in my father's life was that he had enough money to send both my brother and me to Harvard. So we got the best education possible.

JOHNSON: You had one brother. Did you have any sisters?

RAUH: Yes. My brother's dead. My sister is alive; she is 87 years old. She's a pediatrician. She doesn't practice anymore, but she was a very wonderful, successful pediatrician in Cincinnati, setting up her office in the poor districts. She was a liberal, a Truman liberal, all the time.

JOHNSON: So there were three children.

RAUH: Three children.

JOHNSON: And you're what, the oldest, youngest?

RAUH: I'm the youngest of the three.

JOHNSON: What was your brother's name?

RAUH: Carl. He went into my father's business, but the business folded. It was a shirt business and you couldn't make apparel in the north after a while because of the southern competition in wages. So my brother sold out. He got out of the business rather

[3]

young, and he died rather young. He was just 67 when he died.

JOHNSON: Your father's occupation then was . . .

RAUH: A small shirt manufacturer. He was a died-in-the-wool Republican who marched in the 1896 gold parade of McKinley in Cincinnati. He was a died-in-the-wool, conservative Republican, and all three children were Democrats.

JOHNSON: Did he mellow as he got older?

RAUH: Well, the joke in our house always was, and my mother would tell the joke; he would denounce Roosevelt, and then say to my mother, "Sarah, go upstairs and get that clipping about Joseph and the New Deal." I mean he was proud of his kids even if he disagreed with them. We had a happy family.

JOHNSON: What was your major in college?

RAUH: Economics, although I don't know a damn thing about it. I don't know why I did that. When I went into college it was before the Depression; I matriculated in 1928, September of '28. October of '29 is Black Monday, and that's when people started worrying and that's when I went into law. So I went into law school rather than anything else. There was no room in this

[4]

little [family] business for anybody else, so my father said, "Why don't you go to law school?" I was sort of treading water, going to law school.

JOHNSON: Are you saying now that your father was probably the most important influence on you in these years?

RAUH: Up to the time I went to college, there's no question, he was the most important influence. College and law school changed all that.

JOHNSON: Okay, what influences did you come under there?

RAUH: Well, the most important influence, of course, was Felix Frankfurter. I am what they called back in the thirties one of the Frankfurter "happy hot dogs." I don't think there were terribly many influences that I had in college. I did fairly well; I was not a bad student. But going to law school, the chief influence was Felix Frankfurter and that's how I came here to Washington.

One day in my third year in law school, he stopped me and said, "What are you going to do next year?" I said, "Well, I've been hired by the best Jewish law firm in Cincinnati." And he said, "Well, you're not going there." I said, "What do you mean, sir?" He said, "Well, yo