Sir Kenneth Adam, OBE, born Klaus Hugo Adam in 1921, is a production designer famous for his set designs for the James Bond films of the 1960s and 1970s. Initially, he trained as an architect in London, but in October 1943, he became one of only two German-born fighter pilots to fly with the RAF in wartime. He joined 609 Squadron where he flew the Hawker Typhoon fighter bomber. After the war, he entered the film industry, initially as a draughtsman on This Was a Woman. His portfolio of work includes Barry Lyndon and The Madness of King George; he won an Oscar for both films. Having a close relationship with Stanley Kubrick, he also designed the set for the iconic war room in Dr Strangelove. Sir Ken Adam was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003.
I was born in... Berlin in... 1921, into a sort of upper-class German Jewish family, and a great family, because there were four children, my father and my mother, and...we had… our early family life was wonderful. Of course, when Hitler started and came to power things changed and... I mean, I can't go into all the details because we can make a film purely about that side of it. And... I had a much older brother who was studying in Clermont-Ferrand in France in 1932 when he saw what was happening in Germany from the outside, and he came back from his studies, he said to my father and mother: his two younger brothers and the whole family has to leave Germany. And my father, who considered himself a very good German and had been a very much-decorated cavalry officer in the First World War, was very difficult to talk into that. My mother immediately took the side of my older brother.
And then in... 1933, or... I think it was 1933 or '34, my father was arrested. Nobody knew why. We had a place in the country and the police came. And... he had a sort of big sports store in Berlin – famous, it was part of Burberry's, I think – and he was released, strangely enough, through one of his ex-employees who by this time had been an SS-Obergruppenführer, and so he was released with 48 hours. But that gave him the push to decide we had to leave. And I left with my younger brother first, in the beginning of '34, and then the rest of the family came later, in June - July '34.