University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame

America - Europe

A Transatlantic Diary 1961 - 1989

Klaus Lanzinger

South Bend, [March 2], 1969

The Success of the European Journey

Nixon’s journey to the capitals of Europe exceeded even the best expectations. He succeeded in reestablishing a relationship of mutual trust between America and Europe. The meeting with Charles de Gaulle was of special significance. It revived the American-French relationship. Altogether, Nixon’s visit has noticeably strengthened the Western alliance.

South Bend, March 3, 1969

Apollo 9

The launch of Apollo 9 with the lunar module on board has not attracted much attention. Flights into space have become so much of a routine that they are seen as a matter of course. Apollo 9 orbiting the earth does not stir any sensation. No moon fever has broken out in America, yet the moon landing, expected to occur this summer, has aroused the public imagination. This event is being looked forward to with great anticipation.

South Bend, March 4, 1969

Nixon’s Press Conference

Two days after his return from Europe, President Nixon gave a press conference in the White House that was aired on national television. Almost exclusively, questions of foreign policy were discussed. Although it should have been a report on the journey to Europe, questions concerning Europe were immediately superseded by the War in Vietnam and the crisis in the Middle East. The real problems of Western Europe were for the most part ignored. Nixon emphasized that a new relationship of trust with the European allies has been established, and he stressed that America will keep its European allies informed about the sought after bilateral negotiations with the Soviet Union. The new attitude of the United States toward Europe is based on non-interference in questions of European disputes. As desirable this approach may be, it nevertheless shows a certain distancing from European problems. There is obviously no intention of solving vital European problems, but more the tendency of striving for a policy of appeasement. If the Europeans do not muster the farsightedness and the political will to unify their continent, nobody else will do it for them. Then nobody in Europe should hope for playing a role in present world politics.

South Bend, [Beginning of March], 1969

A Gruesome Mathematics

Without much ado, the gruesome mathematics of megatons with their sheer unimaginable force of destruction was exercised before the public in a Senate hearing of recent days. At stake was establishing an antiballistic missile system or ABM. It was demonstrated that over the North Pole, from Russia or China, intercontinental missiles could reach the American mainland. Although much of the argument was still theoretical, the realization that the North American Continent over Alaska lies unprotected open to an attack caused some uneasiness. At the same time, the absurdity, if not the impossibility of a nuclear war was shown with compelling logic.

South Bend, [End of March], 1969

The Death of Dwight D. Eisenhower

On Friday, March 28, around the hour of noon, the former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower passed away at the age of 78. Eisenhower’s death did not come as a surprise, for during his severe illness the public had continuously been informed about his critical state of health by medical bulletins from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. Yet nevertheless, when after seven heart attacks the inevitable occurred, the country and the world felt deep sorrow. Although the United States is mourning over a former president, the name Eisenhower remains indelibly connected with the invasion of Normandy in World War II. As it has only now been made clear, the decision for D-Day lay in the hands of Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces. At that time there were five million Allied troops under his command. It was Eisenhower’s great historic accomplishment to have militarily subdued fascism in Europe. In a retrospective summary of his life, his high qualities have been praised. Eisenhower was a man to whom defending principles meant more than the interests of an individual or a group. Even Democrats who were in the minority during his administration admitted that he was non-partisan and objective. He was a person of absolute honesty and integrity. He had to a high degree won the trust and reverence of the American people. Service to his country meant more to him than anything else.

Eisenhower spent the last years of his life on his farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The disclosure of his last wish that he wanted to be buried in his hometown Abilene, Kansas, came as a surprise. Thereby the modesty of his early youth came to light. He was born on October 14, 1890 in Denison, Texas. But as a one year old child he came with his parents to Abilene, a small town in central Kansas. There he grew up. The name Eisenhower goes back to a Hans Nicholas Eisenhauer, who in 1741 had emigrated from the Palatinate to Pennsylvania. Dwight Eisenhower went to the Military Academy at West Point because it offered him the opportunity of a higher education without charge. After West Point he pursued a military career, which finally led him to the Supreme Command of the Allied Forces in World War II.

Eisenhower’s last coming home was a dignified and solemn state funeral. Dignitaries and heads of state from all over the world arrived for the obsequies. As always at such occasions, the tall figure of French President Charles de Gaulle towered over the other guests from abroad. The personal presence of Charles de Gaulle at this state funeral was much appreciated in America. It certainly contributed to the American-French reconciliation. With the death of Eisenhower an era comes to a close, which today appears to lie much further in the past than the number of years would indicate.

[Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969), hometown Abilene, Kansas; attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, 1911-15; General, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, 1942-45; U.S. Army Chief of Staff, 1945-48; thereafter retired from military service. He was President of Columbia University, 1948-52; U.S. President, 1953-61. The Eisenhower Presidential Library was built in Abilene, Kansas. His mortal remains were buried in the Chapel of the Library.]

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