University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame

America – Europe

A Transatlantic Diary 1961 - 1989

Klaus Lanzinger

The Civil Rights Movement in the U.S.A.
The European Integration
Questions of European Security
Space Travel and Exploration
Presidential Elections in the U.S.A.
The Immigration Experience
A Common World Civilization
The Atlantic Community

Notre Dame, Indiana, 2006

In gratitude to the University of Notre Dame, this Diary has been donated to the University of Notre Dame Archives. Without Notre Dame it could not have been written.

The years of the Berlin Wall 1961-1989 provided the time frame for the narrative. It was a critical period in the history of the West when in response to an immense threat the Atlantic Community was formed.

English translation by the author of the original German text, “Amerika – Europa: Ein transatlantisches Tagebuch 1961 – 1989,” which is accessible online at Note: Comments added by the translator stand in brackets [Transl: ].

Ships docked at Hudson River Pier, New York City

The 55,000 BRT passenger ship United States, the second ship in the picture, lies docked at the Hudson River Pier in the Harbor of New York. The photo was taken from the roof garden of our hotel in Manhattan. It was the evening before we returned to Europe on board the United States the end of August, 1964.

"These Ships are alive with the supreme ecstasy of the modern world, which is the voyage to America."

Thomas Wolfe, Of Time and the River, Chap. 102


When America liberated Europe in 1945, it was the great unknown. What did we know of America? We knew very little, and the little we knew was a distorted picture. In hindsight it is very hard to imagine how compelling the need for knowledge about America was. I had experienced that development and was touched by it.

I was born in 1928 in the town of Wörgl, in the Lower Inn Valley of the Tyrol, Austria, where I also grew up. After graduating from the Realgymnasium* in Kufstein in 1948, I studied English Philology, History, and American Studies at the University of Innsbruck from 1948-52. In my second year of studies I received a Fulbright Scholarship that brought me for the academic year 1950-51 to Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Bowdoin is a New England Liberal Arts College with a rich tradition. Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow studied there from 1821-25. As I was given credit for my previous studies, I was able to graduate from Bowdoin College with a B.A. degree cum laude in June of 1951. The year at Bowdoin College was an eye-opener for me. From then on, the puzzle America has not let go of me anymore. In December of 1952 I obtained a Dr. of Philosophy (Ph.D.) with a dissertation on Nathaniel Hawthorne at the University of Innsbruck. Marriage and raising a family followed thereafter. My wife Aida, née Schüssl, comes from Vienna. Our two children, son Franz and daughter Christine, were born in 1955 and 1959 respectively in Innsbruck, Austria. Temporarily, I worked in the book selling and publishing business.

[Transl: *The Realgymnasium is generally assumed to be the equivalent of a high school plus two years of college.]

The chance to pursue an academic career offered itself in 1957 when I received the position of Research Assistant at the newly-founded Amerika-Institut of the University of Innsbruck. I became intensely preoccupied with American Studies, which at that time were still in their infancy. Especially valuable during my time as Research Assistant was the contact with the American Fulbright-guest professors who were interchangeably assigned to the Institute every year. For 1961 I received a grant from the Fulbright-Commission in Vienna that made it possible to spend a six month period of research in the United States. I was working at the time on a book project on the epic in the American novel with separate chapters on James Fenimore Cooper, Herman Melville, Frank Norris, and Thomas Wolfe. The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia granted me its “courtesy doctoral privileges” that gave me free access to its research facilities. The main reason for going to the University of Pennsylvania was Professor Robert E. Spiller who was one of the leading scholars in the area of American literature. Professor Spiller admitted me to his seminar and gave me helpful advice on how to carry out my research project. I could spend the summer months of 1961 at the Huntington Library in Pasadena, California. After my sojourn in the United States, an intense period of publication that comprised a number of articles on American literature followed. At the same time I was entrusted with the editorship of Americana-Austriaca, an American Studies series whose 5 volumes appeared from 1966-80 at the Wilhelm Braumüller Universitätsverlag in Vienna.

The unexpected turning point in my life occurred in the summer of 1962 when the University of Notre Dame in Indiana began a collaboration with the University of Innsbruck in order to establish a foreign studies program. I was put in charge of making the preparations for the establishment of the program. In doing so, an immediate close cooperation with the University of Notre Dame developed. After the preparatory work in Innsbruck had been finished, I was invited to come to Notre Dame as a Visiting Assistant Professor for the spring semester of 1964 to help with the preparation and selection of students for the program. This time my wife and I decided to travel together with our two children to America. We arrived in South Bend, Indiana, by the middle of January 1964. The Notre Dame Campus is located on the north end of the city. Notre Dame was founded by a French religious order in 1842.* Today the University of Notre Dame is regarded as one of the leading Catholic universities in North America. When I returned to Notre Dame as a Visiting Associate Professor in 1967, tenure was granted, i.e. permanent appointment as a faculty member of the University. The opportunity to teach at a well-known Catholic university in America made it much easier for me and my family to decide to emigrate. As a professor at Notre Dame I served several times as resident director of the Notre Dame Foreign Studies Program in Innsbruck. Consequently, our moving frequently between South Bend and Innsbruck led to a veritable transatlantic migration.

[Transl: * The University of Notre Dame was founded in 1842 by the Congregatio a Sancta Cruce (C.S.C.), or the Congregation of Holy Cross from Le Mans in France.]

How the Diary originated

The American journey of spring and summer 1961 initiated the practice of keeping a diary with observations on America in comparison to Europe. I first thought of an American diary concentrating on my American journeys of 1961 and 1964. Since there are no records available for the time in between, historical events of the years from 1962-64 and 1964-67 are briefly summarized. But from April 1967 on, the records continue uninterrupted until December 1989. They are not daily entries but such that were from time to time stimulated by travel experiences and important historical events. As a result, there are on the one hand gaps, and on the other a quick sequence of entries as the events required. Due to the frequent Atlantic crossings, the original American expanded to the present transatlantic diary. Changing residences every other year between America and Europe made it possible to reflect on and observe more thoroughly social and political conditions as well as different lifestyles on both sides of the Atlantic.

What was written down?

What I had written down at the time had surprised me and evoked my astonishment, while my attention remained concentrated on the following subjects: 1) The civil rights movement in the U.S.A.; 2) The European integration and questions of European security; 3) Space travel and exploration; and 4) The emerging common world civilization. Consciously, also my own immigration experience to the United States was recorded.

The Edition [         ]

After my retirement in 1997 I was able to attend to the diaries which had accumulated over four decades. The handwritten recordings had been stored away in cartons that were only opened again for the editorial work. I was often surprised myself about what had come to light. The editorial work lasted from the fall of 1997 to the spring of 2002. The original text was not changed in regard to its contents but only stylistically brushed up. Occasional sketchy entries on travels were brought on a coherent and readable form. Names, dates and historical events were checked on their accuracy through the reference sources listed below. Anything that was added through the editorial process stands in brackets [ ]. These include comments, supplements, biographical sketches, and connecting passages. The text has lost nothing of its immediacy to the historical event.

Indications of Place and Time

The place indicated is always the one where the entry was made. If no place is mentioned, then the immediately preceding place applies. This is mostly the case when sequences of events quickly follow one another. In order to maintain consistency, the dates of the entry in the original German text are given in German even if the entry was written in English.

[Transl: Throughout this translation all dates are consistently given in English.]

Reference Sources

Names, biographies, historical events and dates have been checked on their accuracy through the following reference sources:

A) Encyclopedias, reference books

Brockhaus Enzyklopaedie.
Mannheim: F.A. Brockhaus, 19th rev. ed. 1986-1994. 24 vols.

Collier’s Encyclopedia.
New York: P.F. Collier, rev. ed. 1996. 24 vols.

The Encyclopedia Americana: International Edition.
Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Inc., rev. ed. 1999. 30 vols.

Der Grosse Ploetz: Auszug aus der Geschichte.
Freiburg: Verlag Ploetz, 1980.

B) Biographical reference works

American National Biography.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. 24 vols.

[For biographies from American history up to 1900. Replaces the older Dictionary of American Biography (DAB) of 1926 and 1937.]

Current Biography Yearbook.
New York: H.W. Wilson Co., 1961-2000.

[There is a single volume available for each year.]

Deutsche Biographische Enzyklopaedie.
München: K.G. Saur, 1995-2000. 12 vols.

Who’s Who in America.
New Providence, New Jersey: Marquis Who’s Who, 2000.

Who’s Who in the World.
New Providence, New Jersey: Marquis Who’s Who, 2000.

[Single sources, especially books, newspapers and magazines are referred to in the text.]

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