Annual Letter 1974

100 Ivyhurst Road
Amherst, NY 14226
December 7, 1974

Dear Friends:

The years fleet by. Last year, shortly after we had written you, we celebrated our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. We observed the day by driving with Jonathan to Toronto to spend the day with Dan and Maggie and then flew to the West Coast the next morning to spend several days with Jeremy in Seattle on our way to the American Historical Association meeting in San Francisco. Both Jeremy and Danny had taken the year off from school after receiving their BA’s the previous spring to work and reflect on their future plans. Jeremy found a fair amount of time to photograph and hike in the Northwest. Danny, like Jeremy, had several jobs, the last and most pleasant one working for the Canadian National on the parlor car between Toronto and Windsor. Both found it to be a very valuable year. Jeremy, not yet fully certain in what direction he wants to go, started in the Ph.D. program in philosophy at the University of Minnesota but is also taking some works in classics; Daniel, apparently more certain of his future aims now, is a first year law student at the University of Windsor where Maggie is completing her last year for a B.A. in sociology. Jonathan remains at home. He is a freshman at Canisius College. He has not yet decided on a major, is thinking of economics, but also considering combining a general liberal arts course with special training in surveying. He is thinking of transferring in September but for the time being appears to enjoy both Canisius and staying at home.

So our house is not quite empty. In addition, we had a relativelv steady flow of visitors, including european friends, who passed through. Wilma and I have been involved in our usual activities. Wilma has been particularly busy. She has had a heavy teaching schedule at Canisius – as enrollment declines, and faculty members are not replaced, the pressure on the remaining faculty has increased. She has at the same time been very active in pursuing her research interests on the literary and intellectual history of the Bohemian Jews in the period of transition in the nineteenth century from ghetto and Judengassen to the mainstream of intellectual life and the cultural explosion of the turn of the century in Prague and Vienna. This past year, moreover, she was asked to write and give several papers on Karl Kraus, the Viennese cultural critic on whom she wrote her dissertation and book, on the occasion of the centennial of Kraus’ birth. Today she is in New York City for an AAUP meeting on collective bargaining, a somewhat risky topic at Canisius, where there is considerable uncertainty about the future as at many other private colleges, so that the colleagues were glad to have her represent them. I am continuing my own, less interesting research, on twentieth century european historiography. The atmosphere at the university has changed as it has changed elsewhere too; it has become not only politically but also intellectually much quieter. I have found it more difficult than in past years to involve my undergraduate students in discussion and been forced to do much more straight lecturing. On the other hand I have had my liveliest and most hardworking graduate seminars these past years in european historiography as well as in two study groups, one on the Frankfurt School, the other on Marx’s Grundrisse. But this is a different generation of students. Outside the University, I continue to be active as co-chairman of the education committe of the local NAACP and as a counselor in the Military and Draft Counseling Center. My association with the NAACP is in someways a nostalgic one at this point. The education committee has been increasingly ineffective in an increasingly rigidified situation. We expect to obtain a court order mandating a plan of racial balance for the Buffalo public schools, but are very doubtful whether the order will also include the suburbs; without the latter the former will be difficult to implement meaningfully. Too many signs point to an increasingly separated society. My involvement with the counseling center seems much more encouraging. We work with a small but steady flow of persons in the military, who for a variety of reasons need help in obtaining discharges or facing disciplinary action, as well as selective service violators, some of them in Canada. In contrast to the Viet Nam days, when we were mostly counseling students, we are now dealing very largely with persons from very disadvantaged backgrounds and often with very serious problems.

This past summer we were in Europe, but partly separately because we did not want both to be away overly long from my father. Wilma had a summer grant to work on the Bohemian Jews in Prague and West Germany. I flew ahead to London in June to participate in a conference: Wilma joined me in Göttingen after Jonathan’s graduation where we stayed with our friends in Rauschenwasser with whom we have spent the sabbatical year 1971-1972. Between library work and old friends the few days in Göttingen were wonderful. We then spent a very pleasant week with friends in the Polish countryside and then proceeded on to Prague. The political atmophere in Czechoslovakia, in sharp contrast to that in Poland, was more depressing than ever. Not only have the intellectuals who participated in the 1968 events been humiliated in every possible way, reduced to menial jobs or in some cases unemployment, but their children have often been barred from further study. There is close police surveillance. Yet the morale among the victims of persecution remains remarkably good. I stayed only four days, long enough to see our friends, before returning to Buffalo; Wilma spent a month there. She was unable to obtain access to the library of the archives of the Jewish Museum, because Jewish studies are being officially discouraged, but found the persons at the university library very cooperative and was thus able to keep herself fully busy.

Just before Wilma’s return, my father died. He had moved here in February after very reluctantly having given up his job as a traveling salesman. He first stayed in an apartment hotel in town, but then as he became increasingly feeble, moved into a quite pleasant nursing home not far from our house. We saw him almost daily here in Buffalo. He was depressed at times about his failing strength and lack of work, cheerful at other times, keenly interested in the Watergate Affair. He was never bedridden and died suddenly of congestive heart failure on August 17, several weeks before his eightieth birthday, and was buried next to my mother in Richmond.

Our best wishes to all of you for the holiday season and the New Year. May it be a year of peace.

Georg, Wilma and Jonathan Iggers

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