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America - Europe

A Transatlantic Diary 1961 - 1989

Klaus Lanzinger


Innsbruck, [Beginning of July], 1971

The Admission of Great Britain to the Common Market

The essential event of European politics in the first half of this year was without a doubt the agreement reached by the European Community on the admission of Great Britain to the Union of Six. As the signals have been set on the go-ahead, Great Britain must now come to terms with the centuries-old reservations against the Continent and find its way to Europe. By Great Britainís joining the Common Market, new possibilities for Europe will be in the offing. A common market of 286 million people could emerge, which would soon attract all European states and inevitably also bring about political integration. The vote in the House of Commons in October on joining the Common Market is of historic importance. A United Europe with Great Britain could become the third force between the two superpowers.

Innsbruck, [Middle of July], 1971

The Distrust of America

There is still a deep-rooted distrust of America at all levels of European society. The physician does not trust his American colleague that he can make the right diagnosis. The dentist questions whether well fitting dentures can be put in place. In the view of teachers, American schools are not worth anything. The teller at the bank warns that money is losing its value in America. The innkeeper doubts whether a tasteful meal can be prepared. In general, people share the view that one cannot walk on the streets in Chicago without risking to be mugged. The most widespread assumption is that Americans have no culture at all. The list of distrust could be prolonged at will. Despite the increased transatlantic traffic, it is very difficult to overcome these prejudices.

Innsbruck, July 17, 1971

The two most remarkable artistic events, which my wife and I experienced during the past two years were the performances of Salome by Richard Strauss at the Deutsche Oper Berlin and Mozartís Don Giovanni conducted by Herbert von Karajan at the Salzburg Festival.

[My family and I left Innsbruck on July 18. We drove by rental car via Strasbourg, Nancy, Reims, Paris, Chartres, Rouen to Le Havre, where we embarked on the France. Being aware of the forthcoming emigration to America, this journey through Germany and France was an especially poignant experience.]

Le Havre, July 23, 1971

Travel Impressions

A journey through Germany and Northern France still shows the devastating destructions of both World Wars. Hundreds of kilometers around Verdun, the traces left by the fierce battles fought in the First and the Second World War are still clearly visible: Countless military cemeteries, where only a fraction of the nearly one million soldiers from all nations who lost their lives are buried; to a large extent ravaged stretches of land, where the vegetation and forests have not as yet fully recovered; bomb-destroyed cities, burned-down churches, evacuated houses hit by shell-fire line the streets. The horrifying losses of people, of cultivated land, as well as the loss of art treasures come into view. The wounds afflicted by two World Wars have not as yet completely healed.

The French province makes a bleak, depressed impression. Despite the abundant fertility of the country, the small towns and villages are impoverished. They seem to be going through a depression, which turns entire regions into emergency areas. It is surprising to see how little of the tourist trade has taken hold of the country outside of Paris. France suffers from serious structural problems concerning its agriculture, educational system and the retail trade.

Generally speaking, one can say that Europe as a whole would need a supranational area planning. So far, very little has been done in this regard. Area planning is still carried out according to national concepts and priorities. While North and South from Hamburg to Naples are connected by a superhighway system, East and West are not. It is hard to believe that there is no four-lane highway between Strasbourg and Paris, nor is there one planned.

Islands of Beauty

Despite the problems that depress agricultural regions and plague industrial zones, Europe has islands of beauty. Among these are the mountainscape of the Alps, the splendor of castles and palaces, like the Belvedere Palace in Vienna and Fontainebleau near Paris, the exalted architecture of medieval cathedrals, like the Strasbourg Cathedral and the Cathedral of Chartres, the picturesque, idyllic Barbizon, and much more. In order to see and to enjoy the beauty and cultural treasures of Europe, it will always be worthwhile making a pilgrimage across the Atlantic and to go on the Grand Tour in the sense of Henry James.

[The France left Le Havre late afternoon of July 23. After a calm, five day crossing, she landed at the Hudson River pier in New York. It was the last Atlantic crossing of this elegant passenger ship. Also for me and my family, it was our last Atlantic crossing by boat.]


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