University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame

America - Europe

A Transatlantic Diary 1961 - 1989

Klaus Lanzinger

Philadelphia, April 1, 1961

Old Family Traditions

Particularly in a city like Philadelphia one becomes aware of old family traditions when one meets descendants of Benjamin Franklin or Nicholas Biddle as well as a goodly number of descendants of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. More than anything else, this reveals a continuity and stability of American history over the last two and a half centuries. Many European families of influence, mostly from the aristocracy, ceased to exist primarily because they were consumed by the series of revolutions and wars that mark European history during the same period.

Philadelphia, April 15, 1961

Flight into Space

Were it not for politics, all mankind would hail Gagarin’s flight into space. The daring courage of the cosmonaut is most laudable, but the achievements of the mathematicians and engineers deserve equal acclaim.

[On April 12, 1961 the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin (1934-1975) was launched into orbit around the planet earth. He was the first human being in space. That triggered a race between the Soviet Union and the U.S. for the control of space and space technology. It also intensified the arms race. NASA already trained astronauts for the flight into space. On February 20, 1962 John Glenn, Jr. (1921-) was the first American to orbit the earth. Glenn, like Lindbergh before him, was hailed as a national hero.]

Philadelphia, April 16, 1961

Had dinner tonight with Professor Arnold Toynbee at Professor Crawford’s house in Germantown. The conversation centered on the recent space flight. Professor Toynbee mentioned that the flight into space is to some extent but another form of escapism. The troubles on earth will become more pressing, and something has to be done quickly in order to teach us to make mutual concessions so that we can live together in peace.

[The world-renowned British historian Arnold J. Toynbee (1889-1975) was a Visiting Professor at the University of Pennsylvania during the spring semester of 1961. He was honored with a doctorate honoris causa. William R. Crawford (1898-1976), Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, was at the time President of the Philadelphia Council for International Visitors. Professor Crawford treated his guests from abroad with gracious hospitality. I am obliged for this information to the University Archives and Records Center of the University of Pennsylvania, letter of April 27, 1998.]

Philadelphia, April 20, 1961


Cuba might become a second Hungary - what a dilemma for this hemisphere!

[After April 27, 1961 there was no doubt anymore that the Bay of Pigs invasion had failed. Cuban exiles had attempted to topple the Castro regime. President John F. Kennedy, just in office since January, had approved of the course of action taken by the Cuban exiles, but he did not support it with American military intervention. After the failure of the invasion, Castro’s regime remained firm in its saddle. The communist Cuba was declared a Marxist-atheistic state. And, as Castro entered into an alliance with the Soviet Union, the Cold War was brought to America’s doorstep. The communist Cuba has remained a thorn in the side of the United States for decades. It unleashed the largest stream of refugees in the Western hemisphere. In October 1962 the Cuban missile crisis brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.]

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