019 | Peter Gumbel | Citizens of everywhere, a legacy of WWII

Isabelle Roughol
Isabelle Roughol

When they narrowly escaped the Third Reich and found refuge in Britain, Peter Gumbel’s parents and grandparents cast off their German Jewish heritage to become a perfectly British family. Two generations later, deeply unsettled by Brexit, Gumbel reaches out to Germany again in search of a new passport – and a reckoning with history.

In conversation with Isabelle Roughol, Gumbel explores the fragility of identity and who we still are when we can no longer recognize the nations we call home. It’s the story of one family and the story of Europe.

Show notes

00:00 Intro
01:47 "Home is where I am"
03:14 From the Third Reich to Cool Britannia
06:35 How Brexit tore through his identity
07:56 Choosing a new passport
11:21 Coming to terms with a German Jewish heritage
15:10 How identity diverges within a single family
17:09 Reconnecting (or not) with a Jewish identity
22:57 How to become a Borderline member
24:06 His relationship with Britain since Brexit
29:26 Could this all happen again?
32:08 Outro

Sources & credits

Citizens of Everywhere: Searching for Identity in the Age of Brexit, by Peter Gumbel. Haus Publishing, London, 2020.

Music by Ofshane via Youtube’s audio library.


Transcripts are published for your convenience, but they are automated and not always cleaned up. Please excuses typos and occasional nonsense, and always check the audio before quoting.


[00:00:00] Peter Gumbel: [00:00:00] Celebrate who you are in all its multiplicity. The values that you cherish are so much more important than the geography that you're in in terms of defining who you are and where you belong.

[00:00:14] Isabelle Roughol: [00:00:24] Hi, I'm Isabelle Roughol and this is Borderline.

[00:00:28] Welcome back. I am happy, excited, thrilled, chuffed to bits to be returning to you with a new season of the podcast. It's episode 19 and there will be many more to come in the year ahead.

[00:00:40]If you're new to the pod, welcome. Borderline is a podcast for defiant global citizens, exploring identity, belonging, our relationship to place, and what home even means. It's about and for people whose lives straddle borders, and those simply curious about a global perspective.

[00:00:58] The quote you just heard perfectly encapsulates to me what it means to be a defiant global citizen. It felt like just the right conversation to start the season. My guest is Peter Gumbel, a journalist and author living in Paris, editorial director of the McKinsey Global Institute and in past lives, a foreign correspondent with posts all over the world.

[00:01:19] He's British and "he's more than that," as he puts it. Born after the second world war into a family of German Jewish refugees, he grappled with questions of identity and generational trauma that were only revived when Brexit came along and forced him once again to ask: who am I? He answers in his book, Citizens of Everywhere, and on Borderline just now.

[00:01:47]"Home is where I am"

[00:01:47]Thank you for joining and for being the first guest of 2021. I like to start with a question that is kind of a dreaded question for a lot of global citizens and unpack it a little bit: Where is home for you?

[00:02:01]Peter Gumbel: [00:02:01] That's a great question. Home is where I am actually which may sound a little trite, but actually it's quite profound. I take my inspiration from, from Thomas Mann who fled Nazi Germany, went to Switzerland and then went to the United States in 1938. And when he got off the boat in New York, he was asked about Germany and he said, "Germany is where I am."

[00:02:28] In other words, geography is much less important than the values you bring, the values that normally a country has, but when a country goes off the rails, the values that you somehow incorporate into your own life. So home for me... long answer, but home for me is where I am. I I'm, I feel very much at home everywhere.

[00:02:52] I've lived in many countries around the world, in Europe, in the United States, in Moscow and everywhere I've been, I brought my own values and my own sense of who I am and what's important in life.

[00:03:05]Isabelle Roughol: [00:03:05] Maybe then we shouldn't talk about where you're from, but whom you come from. Can you tell me about your family a little bit, and your grandparents, your parents, and who they were?

[00:03:14] From the Third Reich to Cool Britannia

Peter Gumbel: [00:03:14] Sure. I mean, I, you can tell from my accent that I am British. I was born in England, in a small town near London. And until 2016, if you'd asked me, you know, who I am, I would have said I'm British. Where I belong, I would say I'm British. That has changed and I'm sure we'll get to that in the course of this conversation.

[00:03:36] But actually my family background is more complicated than that. I didn't come from 15 generations of Brits dating back to Magna Carta. I come from a family of refugees. Actually my grandparents fled Nazi Germany and got out -- both sets of grandparents, mother and father -- got out just in time in 1939, while they still could, and they went to England.

[00:04:01]What I talk about in my book, Citizens of Everywhere, is that they were very much German. They felt very German. They were proud to be German, but they were assimilated Jews. And they had actually given up their Jewish religion quite a long time before the Nazis came to power. My grandmother on my mother's side was actually baptized in 1910 at the age of 20. So when Hitler came, they felt they were very assimilated. They were very much part of the local community. They were very German.

[00:04:35] And of course, then the Nazis came along and basically said, "Hey, you're not German. You're Jewish." So suddenly their identity was very challenged, clearly. And they were in extreme danger, and when they left, they just managed to get out. My grandfather was arrested on Kristallnacht on the 9th of November 1938, and amazingly managed to get out of jail after 10 days. And they fled to England where they arrived as stateless refugees, because the Nazis stripped them of their German citizenship. And they spent the war as stateless refugees. And then as soon as the war ended, they became naturalized British citizens. And both they and then my parents who were already in Britain at the time, they essentially set up a new life and started a new life as, as British citizens. And, and they absolutely loved Britain and they were eternally grateful to Britain for being the country of their salvation.

[00:05:33] So I grew up in a household that completely adopted and assimilated into Britain, into British life. We only spoke English at home. My parents and my grandparents cast off as much of the past as they could. We grew up you know, in kind of classic British fashion except of course there was some things that were a bit different. The food we ate was not super British.

[00:05:56] Isabelle Roughol: [00:05:56] Hmm, maybe that's a good thing.

[00:05:58] Peter Gumbel: [00:05:58] Maybe it was a good thing.

[00:06:00] We didn't, we didn't go to the pub or if we did go to the pub, it was like some sort of anthropological expedition to see how, you know, how these strange creatures celebrated their time off rather than to go to the pub for, you know, for, for fun. And there were certain things about the way that I grew up, which were not classic British. However, I went to British schools, I played crickets, I ate Marmite, I watched Monty Python. I did all that sort of the British things. And so I think to my friends anyway in, in, in many countries, and particularly the United States, they look at me as being this sort of quintessentially English person.

[00:06:35] How Brexit tore through his identity

And then along comes Brexit. It really questioned my identity. I mean, it's interesting when I look back at my grandparents whose identity was completely shot to pieces by the Nazis and who they thought they were was suddenly deemed, you know, they weren't, and my parents who created a new identity for themselves. And for me, having been completely convinced that I was British and feeling totally British, suddenly 2016, there was this moment of reckoning when I felt that I had to choose, or I was being forced to choose. I couldn't be both British and European at the same time.

[00:07:13] And, however, I feel very much both. I feel my identity is very much partly British because I grew up there and that's, you know, my friends and my university and my upbringing. But also very European because I grew up in a household that was very interested in the, in the rest of the world and in Europe, and I've lived in many countries in Europe. I've lived in, in Denmark and in Belgium and in Germany and obviously now in France, I live in Paris. I've been here since 2002.

[00:07:41] So, I felt very, always felt very European and with Brexit I had to choose, or I felt I had to choose, and that put me in a really uncomfortable position. I felt almost like I was being orphaned. I couldn't be both.

[00:07:56] Choosing a new passport

So that's when I took the decision to find another passport, a European nationality. And I know from many Brits who live in Paris or friends I have around Europe, that many of them were thinking of the same thing or have actually tried to get other passports. And for me, I had what turned out to be a relatively easy path to get another passport and that was to get a German passport. Because my grandparents and my parents were stripped of their German nationality when they left Germany, under the post-war German constitution, I was eligible to have a German passport. In fact, my children and my brothers and sisters, we were all eligible to become German again, I would, I would say, although we never were German this generation anyway.

[00:08:43]So we applied and it took a little while. There's a, there's a small office in Cologne that has been dealing with these requests, and it has been completely inundated since Brexit, but after a couple of years, I got the emails saying "come to the German consulate and you can pick up your naturalization certificates and your passport." And I did.

[00:09:04]It was a very interesting moment in my life because as I say on the one hand, it really challenged my assumptions about who I am, about being British, but at the same time, it set me on a, on a real journey to think about who my parents and my grandparents were and where they came from and how that affects me and how that essentially means that I have multiple identities. I have my British identity from a national point of view, but I also have my German heritage and my European convictions. And so in that sense, my own self perception is of something bigger than just one country. I'm not just British. I'm, I'm more than that.

[00:09:52] And now I have two passports and that really corresponds to being British by birth and by education, and being European very much ingrained in myself if you like.

[00:10:07] Isabelle Roughol: [00:10:07] I want to dig into that. You mentioned you've been in France for nearly 20 years, so you could have, if it was just a matter of practicality, you could have asked for French papers and you would have got them. Why then go for a German passport rather than papers from the country that you live in?

[00:10:26] Peter Gumbel: [00:10:26] Well, you are, you're quite right. I could have applied for French citizenship and I actually thought about it. If you've been a tax resident for more than five years in France and you speak French, you can apply and that certainly in my case would have made me eligible for a French citizenship.

[00:10:43] However, when I thought about this, I was torn because on the one hand I feel quite at home in France. Now I've been here for, as you say for almost 20 years. I love living in France and it's a great place, but I've never really identified as French in that sense. I have lots of friends. My partner is French, but somehow I have a sort of a critical distance to France, which, which is fun and interesting. And I love France, but, but I don't feel very French, whereas...

[00:11:14] Isabelle Roughol: [00:11:14] Might be your Britishness that makes it hard.

[00:11:16] Peter Gumbel: [00:11:16] Maybe my Britishness, right, right! 800 years of happy rivalry and so on.

[00:11:21] Coming to terms with a German Jewish heritage

But I think, I think really to answer your question, the key point for me was this was a time to come to terms with my German heritage and a very complicated German heritage, German Jewish heritage.

[00:11:36] One of the things that I didn't say when I was talking about my grandparents and parents was that as they tried to create a new life for themselves and integrate into British society, they completely cast off both their Germanness and any vestiges of Jewishness. And they cast off to the point where it was something that we never talked about when we were growing up in Britain. It was obvious the German part because my grandmothers both had accents and, even my parents who spoke fantastic English made little grammatical mistakes from time to time. And as I said, the food was different and we had a slightly different life in many ways.

[00:12:15] But we never really talked about Germany and in fact it was very difficult to talk about it. I have a vivid memory of when I was 11 years old and I was with my parents having dinner and I said to my mother: "Why don't you talk about what happened in your past?" And my mother was 14, 15 when she left Germany. And she, she couldn't cope with that question. She just started crying and she left the room and... And it was, you know, if you're 11 years old and you can see the distress that that causes, you realize instinctively that this is not something that you should broach as a subject.

[00:12:56] So like my brothers and sisters, it was something that I didn't really talk about. However, having been a curious young boy and still a curious man in my old age, I got very interested in that German part of my personality. So I learnt German at school, I went to Germany and did exchanges as a student. I studied for a year at Munich university. And I've actually worked a couple of times in Germany, including Berlin after the wall came down. And I read a lot of German literature, got very interested in Germany, read a lot about the war.

[00:13:29] And what happened really with me after Brexit and after the referendum was this sense of, "Well, now's the time to really think about Germany and to think about Germany in the light of... 80 years later, 80 years after my grandparents fled, you know, what is Germany today?" And the conclusion I came to was that Germany has completely changed and, you know, three generations or even four generations have passed. And so I feel very comfortable actually being in being in Germany, and I feel very comfortable with the idea of being a German citizen.

[00:14:03]This is something that is not accepted by friends of mine who have had similar family backgrounds, and also some of my American friends, my American Jewish friends, who say, you know, "How could you? Look what happened. The Holocaust..." you know... and I should say that I lost several relatives in the Holocaust, including my great aunt who was gassed in Auschwitz and clearly that weighs incredibly heavily on, on even me three generations later.

[00:14:31] However, having said that, my sense was and is that Germany has made enormous strides. It's changed completely. It has really made a very sincere attempt to come to terms with what happened. And it's reached the point where I feel, I feel comfortable being German and that whole reckoning, that whole sense of coming to terms with, with the family past, that was an important part of my post-Brexit thinking.

[00:15:01] And that's why, to answer your question in a very long way, that's why I decided that actually I wanted to become German rather than to become French.

[00:15:10] How identity diverges within a single family

Isabelle Roughol: [00:15:10] Has the rest of your family also taken a German passport? What was, what was their reaction? Both, you know, at your generation, your siblings, and then you have daughters as well.

[00:15:20] Peter Gumbel: [00:15:20] Yes. I have four brothers and sisters, three of whom have actually also become German. I think, I don't want to speak for them too much, but my sense is that they have, they have more of a sort of pragmatic approach, which is it's useful to have a European Union passport because it means they'll have access to Europe, their kids will have access to Europe, and they can live and work wherever. So I don't know whether they have the same degree of this sort of sense of trying to come to terms with Germany that I've been through.

[00:15:52] However, they did decide to take it. They have got German passports. And my kids also. They're eligible and they decided that they wanted to have German citizenship so they have passports. And for them it's really interesting because for me the whole decision to become German was one very heavily laden with emotion, the emotion that I had to work through from my childhood. For them, it's not memory, it's history. And so it's not an issue at all. They're happy to have another passport. In fact, this is their fourth. They were born in the United States so they have a US passport. They were British through me. They are Italian through their mum and now they're German as well. So, so they've been collecting passports like candy in a candy store and and they're happy to have it. And they are completely, completely cool about it all.

[00:16:40] So it's a very different approach for them, but they're interested. And they were really interested. In fact, I wrote the book for them originally, it was just going to be a sort of a memoir, sort of saying, "Hey, this is where you're from. This is the story." And then as I started working on it, I realized that actually there was, there was a bigger story here. There was, there was more to tell, there was a more general point in that it might work actually for a broader public.

[00:17:09] Reconnecting (or not) with a Jewish identity

[00:17:09] Isabelle Roughol: [00:17:09] We've established there's a German identity there. I wonder about your Jewish identity. Your family was quite secular for a long time and I don't think you grew up very much in the Jewish faith. Is that something that you've reconnected with on that occasion as well? Or is that just not part of it?

[00:17:28] Peter Gumbel: [00:17:28] Well, this was the... interestingly enough, this was the biggest taboo of all because they were, I think my grandparents and my parents were so... Um, what's the word? I would say sort of terrorized by their experience during the Nazi period, during the Third Reich, and they didn't really feel themselves as being Jewish.

[00:17:48] They were actually both of them, both my parents were second generation non-Jewish. As I said, my grandmother on my mother's side converted in 1910, her husband converted in 1923. So that was 23 and 10 years before Hitler. So they didn't feel that they were Jewish, but of course, for the Nazis, they were Jewish and so they were persecuted as a result.

[00:18:13] That for them was definitely the sort of big denial they went through, that they had been Jewish and they stayed on in Germany for much longer than they should have because they thought they weren't in danger. And so when they came to England, the Jewishness completely disappeared. I mean, it hadn't really been there in Germany at all very much. I think it was, there was, there was a vestige: their grandparents, their great-grandparents were buried in the Jewish cemeteries in the towns they came from and so on, but they didn't, I don't think they felt Jewish. And certainly when they came to England, by that time they were definitely not Jewish. My parents joined the Church of England and my mother sang in the church choir every week. So we grew up in a classic Church of England .

[00:18:57] What is quite interesting is that if you look at the literature on second generation Holocaust survivors, and there is quite a lot of very interesting literature, often done by psychiatrists in Israel who've had to deal with quite difficult cases. There are certain aspects that keep recurring. One of them is a sense of "Where do I belong?" which is understandable. Another one though is a sense of shame and guilt and very much a lack of communication and kind of a ghastly silence where, where there should be answers.

[00:19:34] And I think for me certainly, thinking about it, that Jewish aspect of our family history was something that was completely taboo. It was difficult enough as I've said to talk about Germany and impossible to talk about being Jewish. So I grew up Church of England, never very religious, and I haven't reconnected at all with, with my Jewish heritage.

[00:19:59] And we had nothing at all in our family that was Jewish. We didn't grow up with anything. We didn't have seders, we didn't have any, you know, we didn't celebrate Hannukah at all. We celebrated Christmas. There were no vestiges of even the Jewish culture and tradition in my upbringing.

[00:20:15] However, having said that, I do have a brother who's in California and who has married a Jewish woman and is bringing up their child in the Jewish faith. So he has to a certain extent reconnected and we have interesting conversations because I think we come at this from, from different angles. You know, he feels, he feels Jewish and, and I don't, and we're brothers. So that's, you know, that's the way it is. I think it's... everybody has a different reaction to their own family history when you've been in a family, which has been through such turbulent times.

[00:20:49] Isabelle Roughol: [00:20:49] Hm. It really speaks to the construction of identity that you can have the same roots really, the same heritage, and interpret it in very different ways. Identity is so personal.

[00:21:03] Peter Gumbel: [00:21:03] Yeah. And it's been very interesting because actually writing the book -- before I published it, I circulated it to my brothers and sisters and it actually has started a really interesting conversation amongst us, which we've never had before, about our upbringing and about the different ways we reacted. And to a certain extent, they all recognize themselves in what I described about how I felt, but they all felt that their feelings were different, but nonetheless based on the same starting point. And it is very interesting as you say, I mean, we've all come to terms with who we are in different ways and that's within a single family. And, and I respect that. I think that's, that's important. Everybody needs to find their own path.

[00:21:47] I think the point that I make, that I try to make at least in the book, is that identity is something that is incredibly, obviously incredibly important, but also incredibly fragile. And it's something that... the fragility is something that we've experienced as a family and I experienced with Brexit. And that's why it's so important to build your own identity based on who you are and where you are mentally, rather than geographically.

[00:22:17] I think that we live in a world where you know, multiple identities are completely accepted and normal now, they weren't 50, 60 years ago . Being British or being German is only a very small part of who, who one is. And I think, you know, if I had any takeaway from the book at all, it would be: celebrate who you are in all its multiplicity, and that's incredibly important. And I think the values that you cherish are so much more important than the geography that you're in in terms of defining who you are and where you belong.


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[00:24:06] His relationship with Britain since Brexit

As you've reconciled, I guess, with, with your German identity, I think your British identity got a little bit more complicated, with Brexit. How do you feel about Britain today? How do you relate to it?

[00:24:21] Peter Gumbel: [00:24:21] Well, that's a great question. I think I'm like quite a lot of people who were very distressed by Brexit. I've been quite amazed by the, the degree of emotion. I mean, here we have, you know, Britain, which is stereotypically a place where people don't show their feelings, and yet the surge of anger that I have seen around me is quite remarkable. I feel that anger, and I personally feel aggrieved by Brexit, in a way that actually quite surprises me.

[00:24:50] I didn't have a vote in the referendum because I've lived outside the UK for 15 years. So, I was disenfranchised for a referendum, which had material effects on me. So that's already a bad start. But then this idea of why people voted and the way that immigration and xenophobia were front and center during the campaign is something that I found extremely worrying and concerning. And, you know, coming from a family of refugees who escaped the Nazis, you know, you sort of see this resurgence of national exceptionalism and populism and castigating foreigners, and you cannot avoid being concerned and quite frightened for what's going on.

[00:25:38] I mean, I think what's good is that in the meantime that anti-immigrant rhetoric has softened a bit, that the polls have shown that people are a bit more reconciled to, to immigration, for example. But I went through a hard time. I mean, having been very proud of being British all my life, wherever I was. I've never lost my British accent in any of the languages I speak. I suddenly felt, "what is this country? I have a hard time recognizing it." And that's important. I mean, that's an important recognition, so yes, I feel emotional about it and angry about it still.

[00:26:08] I think if you wanted to crystallize it, it would be: the one thing that really, really annoyed me more than anything else was the famous Theresa May speech at the conservative party Congress, in the conference in 2016, october 2016.

[00:26:21] Isabelle Roughol: [00:26:21] I'm still mad about it.

[00:26:22] Peter Gumbel: [00:26:22] Yeah. Well, you know, when she comes out and says, "If you're a citizen of the world, you're a citizen of nowhere." And I mean, that's the reason I use the title "Citizens of everywhere" as the title of my book, because I'm still furious about it because quite apart from, you know, just castigating people like that, there is a very nasty echo. If you go back to the 1930s and you know, you look at the Nazi propaganda, you know, Jews as being this sort of the Wandering Jew, not settling anywhere and being a troublemaker and not belonging... It was an absolute staple of Nazi propaganda.

[00:26:58]I couldn't help with my own background as the grandchild and child of people who had been stateless refugees from the Nazis, I couldn't help hearing that very nasty attack, you know, being repeated in a, you know, less virulent form, but nonetheless the same intention to say that you don't belong. And that still makes my blood boil.

[00:27:22] Isabelle Roughol: [00:27:22] I think there's something too to the sentence that came right after, something like "you don't know what the meaning of citizenship is" that made an assumption about who we are and how we relate to our community and, and what we contribute, that just... that, that's the one that really makes me furious.

[00:27:41]Peter Gumbel: [00:27:41] Yeah. I think she'll go down in history with that one phrase, frankly. And she does, she deserves to. A disastrously bad prime minister, but also an absolutely hideous expression and one that sticks and one that will stick.

[00:27:55] And I can see, I understand on a sort of a logical rational level that a lot of people have felt not abandoned, but have felt that the world has gone too fast and too far in a direction they're not comfortable with in the last 30 years. You've had this huge move of globalization and it's been good for the economy, it's lifted a billion Chinese out of poverty, which is amazing, but it's also meant that jobs in, in many countries have gone or have been under threat and wages have been under threat and employment regimes have become more precarious and fragile and income has not, has not really grown over the last 20 years.

[00:28:36] So I can understand that people feel aggrieved and I can also understand that immigrants and immigration and multicultural societies are not particularly easy to warm to if you have a certain, very narrow vision of who you are and what your country is, but that's the reality of Britain in the last 30 years and it's great. We celebrated the British openness and multicultural nature at the Olympics in 2012, it was a wonderful celebration of a country that's open and fun-loving and in its multiplicity, a very special place. And that has got broken. I can understand, as I say, at a certain level that people are unhappy, but I can't understand that you castigate everybody who doesn't think the way you do as being a citizen of nowhere.

[00:29:26] Could this all happen again?

Isabelle Roughol: [00:29:26] To conclude, the madness that, that drove your family out of Germany all those years ago, is that something that you can envision repeating itself in Europe, in Britain? How do you see the future given that we have this fairly nasty streak of politics at the moment?

[00:29:49] Peter Gumbel: [00:29:49] Well, that's really the reason why I ended up publishing the book. It's an essay, it's a short essay. It's like a pamphlet really, which, which is I hope, a fiery argument in favor of combating the nationalism that we saw on display in Brexit and we saw with Trump in the United States. I think what has been really interesting and what has been really frightening has been to see how quickly institutions that we thought of as being fundamentally democratic and open have been overturned or have been altered. And you saw that in Trump, in Trump's America, in very worrying ways. And I think you've seen it in Britain, too, with Boris Johnson overriding the House of Commons and announcing that they're going to break international law and so on and so forth, with impunity. And this is especially in Britain, a country which has a tradition of respect of the rule of law and respect of tolerance.

[00:30:48] So I'm not trying to say that Britain is in, you know... we're not seeing Weimar Britain. We're not seeing a country that's about to be overrun by Nazis. But, but what I am saying is that the tendencies that are there, that this very extreme populism, that the rabble-rousing against immigrants, that is extremely worrying. And the disrespect of democratic institutions and traditions, and the closing of doors, all of that makes me frightened. So what I say in the book is, you know, "my children, you need to carry the flame of freedom, of openness, of liberal democracy. It's incredibly important. Don't take it for granted because what we've seen in the last three or four years on both sides of the Atlantic are the same sort of terrible tendencies that ultimately led to the fate of my family in Nazi Germany.

[00:31:42] So, yes I am worried. I think and I hope and I pray that reason will prevail and we've seen in the United States, there has been a turning back. However, you look at Britain, you look at the United States. It's 50:50, pretty much. It's not at all the case that this was just a little blip and everything will go back to normal. There's still a lot of nastiness out there. And that definitely worries me.

[00:32:08]Where to find Citizens of EverywhereIsabelle Roughol: [00:32:08] Well, I think the book is a wonderful little pamphlet in the tradition of liberal pamphlets. Can you remind the audience what it is and where they can find it?

[00:32:18] Peter Gumbel: [00:32:18] Yes. So it's called Citizens of Everywhere. And it's published by a small publisher in London called Haus Publishing. And you can find it on the Haus website, or on my website, which is Petergumbel.com, or of course on Amazon which inevitably has it too. Anyway, thank you very much, Isabelle, for inviting me. And I hope that what I've said resonates a bit and that I haven't scared too many of your audience.

[00:32:47] Isabelle Roughol: [00:32:47] Oh, I'm sure not. They're used to scary conversations. Thank you. It was, it was really, really fascinating. I appreciate it.

[00:32:53] Peter Gumbel: [00:32:53] Thank you so much.


[00:32:54] Isabelle Roughol: [00:32:58] We will do our best indeed to carry that flame of freedom and openness. I want to thank Peter Gumbel for taking the time to chat with me and for sharing his incredible family history. Special thanks today as well to George Anders.

[00:33:11]Borderline will be back in just a few days. There's a new episode published every Sunday morning for members of Borderline, and public episodes are released on Tuesdays.

[00:33:21] Becoming a member gets you these episodes early, longer edits -- there's a longer version of this conversation with Peter Gumbel on the site right now -- and it also helps me keep Borderline alive.

[00:33:33]As always, please share Borderline around you, send it to your friends, share it on social media. And get in touch. Let me know what you think. Suggest guests and topics. Tell me your story. I want to hear it all. You'll find all the links you need at borderlinepod.com and you can reach me at isa at borderlinepod.com.

[00:33:50]Next week on Borderline, we'll talk to Katherine Alexander about something very dear to me:

[00:33:55] Katherine Alexander: [00:33:55] "If there was a year abroad whilst you were still in high school -- not even university, high school -- that was compulsory, I think that would be huge. I think people would change beyond any recognition."

[00:34:08] Isabelle Roughol: [00:34:08] Borderline is a One Lane Bridge production. I'll talk to you next week.

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Journalist, podcaster, media consultant. Telling stories & building better newsrooms. Writes The Lede. Ex- LinkedIn News, Le Figaro, The Cambodia Daily. 🎓 Mizzou '08, Birkbeck '25.