University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame

America - Europe

A Transatlantic Diary 1961 - 1989

Klaus Lanzinger

South Bend, October 1, 1971

In Memory of John A. Hawgood (1905-1971)

The last time I met with Professor John Hawgood was in April this year at the Hotel Grünwalderhof in Patsch near Innsbruck. As always, he was full of plans. He was just preparing the edition of a German travel report in English translation for the Lakeside Press of the R.R. Donnelley and Sons Company in Chicago. This travel report describes the opening of the Northern Pacific Railroad which in 1883 connected Minneapolis with Portland, Oregon. John wanted by all means that I collaborated with him on this project. I finally agreed that I would try to find the German source material for that report. At the same time, John Hawgood was working on a history of San Francisco for which his profound knowledge of California would have been the best prerequisite. Furthermore, he had in mind to work on several articles. Among these would have been a study of the diplomatic correspondence of the American envoy to the Imperial Court in Vienna in the 19th century. We had agreed to meet at the Newberry Library in Chicago in October. Yesterday, the publisher of the Lakeside Press called me up and told me that John Hawgood had died after a heart attack on September 16 in Santa Barbara, California. He was 65 years old. John Hawgood was professor of American history at the University of Birmingham in England. He had studied history in Oxford, Heidelberg, and Vienna. From early on, he pursued his research interest in the American West. I got acquainted with John at the Huntington Library in the summer of 1961. In the following years we maintained a fruitful exchange of ideas. In his lifetime he had crossed the Atlantic about forty times. John Hawgood was for me a model of the world open scholar who was at home on both sides of the Atlantic.


[The edition of the travel report on the opening of the Northern Pacific Railroad was continued by Ray Allen Billington, Professor of history at Northwestern University and Senior Research Associate at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. The original text of Nicolaus Mohr (1826-1886), Ein Streifzug durch den Nordwesten Amerikas. Festfahrt zur Northern Pacific-Bahn im Herbste 1883 (Berlin, 1884) appeared in the Lakeside Classics Series as Excursion Through America (Chicago: R.R. Donnelley, 1973). I wrote the Epilogue, “Nicolaus Mohr as Foreign Observer of the United States,” pp. 353-68.]

South Bend, October 16, 1971

The Adaptation

Whoever immigrates to America will experience a distinct psychological change in the process of adaptation. At first everything is foreign and totally different. After a few months, the most familiar memories of the old home country fade away. What one gradually loses from memory are the sounds of old musical instruments, the relief over the portal of a gothic cathedral as well as the rich tint of colors of the Alps. Especially, the certainty in using one’s native tongue is being lost. In a conversation with acquaintances already advanced in age that have lived here for decades, I have noticed a peculiar linguistic phenomenon. While their native tongue has become clumsy, they have never really learned to speak correct English. Many immigrants are moving in a mixed linguistic no-man’s-land. As the second generation grows up speaking English, the language of the home country of their parents is gradually forgotten. Then the language of their parents or grandparents is mostly learned again through foreign language instruction in schools and colleges. America is extremely tolerant with foreign accents. But on the other hand, a strict purism in teaching English is observed in schools. After a short period of time living in the United States, the European way of life vanishes. Over time it appears to be unreal. What is left is the idealization of the old home country, which turns into an illusion.

A Feeling of Calmness

There is a feeling of calmness and unconcern in America that is unknown in Europe. Nothing seems to be so exceptionally important or distressing anymore. There is no fear anymore of an overthrow of the government, of the state interfering in the private sphere, or that a war could break out. The problems of world politics lose their frightening immediacy. One can talk with ease about Berlin, Prague, or East Pakistan without getting excited. Even the problem of the dollar devaluation is not of much concern to the individual American, unless he or she is presently living abroad. There are few events that would disrupt the flow of everyday life in America, or would set one off balance. Arriving here from Europe, one gradually begins to feel this general equanimity and connected with it a balanced calmness.

South Bend, October 17, 1971

The Strength of the Middle Class

Whatever the outside world may learn about the extravagances of America, it should not be overlooked that the American middle class is keeping things in balance. The large American middle class lives in the suburbs. Its members live a normal family life; they go to church on Sundays and care for the education of their children. This America is healthy and will endure despite all challenges.

Violence on the Streets

But it should also be kept in mind that the streets in the inner cities are dominated by sheer violence. Here, criminal offenses are worse, the victims of brutal violence more frequent than one would like to realize.

South Bend, October 18, 1971

The Cultural Isolation

When the United States goes through a period of political and economic isolation, as is the case at this time, it also affects its cultural life. Suddenly, highly-qualified persons and top performers from abroad are not to be seen or heard anymore on the stage and in concert halls. Also, well known names are missing on the guest lecture tours of American colleges and universities. Especially conspicuous is the decline of the cultural exchange with Europe. A certain intellectual dearth and cultural scantiness cannot be denied. The cultural life is in danger of becoming shallow and to relapse into provincialism.

South Bend, October 25, 1971

The Vote on China

Today the General Assembly of the United Nations voted on China. The Albanian resolution to admit the People’s Republic of China as the only representation of the Chinese people passed with 76 in favor, 35 against, and 17 abstentions. On the contrary, the resolution by the U.S. Ambassador George Bush that the vote on China should require a two-thirds majority was rejected. Thereby, the American dual representation policy was defeated. After the vote, the representatives of the Republic of China on Taiwan or Nationalist China left the World Organization.

The jubilation in the General Assembly over the victory in the China question turned into pandemonium. Such scenes have never before been seen on the East River. In the frenetic ecstasy by the Marxist Afro-Asian and Euro-Communist nations it would have been difficult to distinguish what counted more the joy over the admission of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations or the glee over the American defeat. The most dejected and lonely figure in the General Assembly was Ambassador George Bush. This obvious demonstration against the United States in the United Nations shocked the American public. It will even more so strengthen the trend toward isolationism. But the decision by the United Nations does not come altogether inconveniently for the Nixon Administration, for it opens the way for a concrete China policy and relieves the President of a heavy burden before his upcoming journey to Peking.

[The later American President George Herbert Walker Bush was U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, 1971-73; he was Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office to the People’s Republic of China in Peking, 1974-75. For further biographical reference see the entry of January 20, 1989.]

South Bend, October 28, 1971

Great Britain in the Common Market

Almost ten years to the day since Charles de Gaulle’s veto in 1961, the British Parliament voted in favor of Great Britain joining the Common Market. The Conservatives under Prime Minister Edward Heath won the debate on Europe in the House of Commons with 356 in favor and 244 against. Also a substantial part of the Labor opposition voted in favor. This is a great day for Europe, for a big step forward has been taken toward European unification.

<< Klaus Lanzinger >>