University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame

America - Europe

A Transatlantic Diary 1961 - 1989

Klaus Lanzinger

Wednesday, November 21, 1979

Sworn In as U.S. Citizen

Today, the day before Thanksgiving, I was sworn in as new American citizen by a federal judge. My labor of love of many years for America has not been lost, for since my year of studies at Bowdoin College in 1950-51 America has not let loose of me. The ceremony took place in a school here in South Bend, where the applicants for citizenship had assembled in the auditorium. After the oath on the U.S. constitution had been taken, the citizenship papers were solemnly presented to each new citizen.


[As my wife was not in the service of the University but a private person while I directed the Notre Dame foreign study program in Innsbruck 1976-78, her two years abroad did not count for the residence requirement. She, therefore, could receive U.S. citizenship only two years later in 1982. Our son Franz received his U.S. citizenship in California. The one academic year 1976-77 our daughter Christine had spent as a student at the University of Notre Dame with us in Innsbruck was recognized for fulfilling the residence requirement. She was sworn in as U.S. citizen with me in November 1979. Thus, over a period of several years, our family has made the transition from Austrian to American citizenship.]

November 25, 1979

What has changed?

By becoming an American citizen, not much has changed for the moment, except that one is no longer dependent on the immigration authorities or has to worry whether a visa can be granted or extended by a consulate.

[The hardest part for my wife and myself was to turn in our Austrian passports at the Austrian Consulate General in Chicago. There was the awareness that our relationship to the Republic of Austria has unequivocally changed, although our love for our old home country has not been diminished.]

A Permanent Occurrence

The naturalization of new immigrants is a permanently continuing occurrence of American democracy. Every year hundreds of thousands of immigrants from all parts of the world are sworn in as new U.S. citizens. The five year residence requirement has contributed a great deal to the cohesion of the American state and society. This way, millions of people who had come to this country were not regarded as foreign workers but encouraged to become citizens. After the relatively short period of time of only five years, immigrants became citizens. As such they formed an integral part of American society and as voters could participate in the political process. This may in part explain how the ethnic diversity of America has been absorbed into a unified body politic.

South Bend, [End of November], 1979

The Hostage Crisis in Tehran

For many weeks, America has been under the spell of the hostage crisis in Tehran. Iranian revolutionaries raided the U.S. Embassy and have been holding its personnel - ­about 60 persons - hostage. They demand the extradition of the Shah who is being treated as a cancer patient in a clinic in New York. America appears to be rather helpless in this situation. Violent clashes between American and Iranian students have already occurred. The vexation among the American public is increasing. How long will President Carter be able to look on? The Security Council of the United Nations passed a unanimous resolution that Iran has to release the hostages immediately.

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