Annual Letter 1988

Georg and Wilma Iggers
100 Ivyhurst Road
Buffalo. NY 14226 USA
December 10, 1988

Dear Friends:

Like all years, this year passed very quickly. It began on New Year’s Day with a beautiful two-week vacation, the first real one we took in years, in Sosua in the Dominican Republic, a small town which in 1940 was settled by Jewish refugees from Central Europe who made a remarkable contribution to the agricultural development of the Dominican Republic. We found out about the settlement only after we had booked the vacation and were pleasantly surprised to meet the small remnant of survivors in the still functioning synagogue a few steps from our hotel.

In the spring Wilma enjoyed the semester off in the first year of the semi-retirement she had negotiated with Canisius College, but still did not have enough time for her writing and research. We were very pleased that the Wayne State University Press agreed to publish an English version of her book on the Bohemian Jews. We are confident that someone else will do the translating. She has been engaged on her new project, for which she has a contract, on Prague women, German and Czech, Jewish and non-Jewish, since the early nineteenth century.

During the summer we were again in Europe. As usual Göttingen was our base. Wilma spent two weeks in Czechoslovakia – the previous year she had been denied a visa – where she had an exhilarating time seeing friends and relatives and discussing her present work with a large variety of people. Only the political atmosphere and the very uncooperative reception she was accorded at the Jewish State Museum and by the officials of the Jewish community put a damper on her trip. I stayed put in Göttingen, working on my own manuscript, except for two brief trips we took together, one to the two Berlins and Leipzig, where we combined scholarship with seeing friends, the other to a conference I organized in Paris which too was an opportunity to see good friends.

Fall was unusually busy: Wilma says hectic. For the past several years we have had a regular flow of visitors from both Germanys and this time also from Austria who came to Buffalo to stay with us before or after attending the meeting of the German Studies Association in early October. At the end of October Wilma went to Germany for two and a half weeks. She had been invited to give a paper at a conference on the Prague literary circle in West Berlin and to attend a commemorative colloquium at the Academy of Sciences in East Berlin on the fiftieth anniversary of the Nazi pogroms of November 1938. Wilma was able in Berlin to observe how Germans in both parts of the city dealt with the anniversary. The confrontation with the past was also the topic of two very interesting discussions which we had in Buffalo, one with a social historian from Vienna, the other with a political historian from the Academy in East Berlin.

While Wilma was in Germany, I taught her two classes, one in German language, the other in recent German literature at Canisius College, which I enjoyed even if together with my own classes it gave me a very heavy load. A good deal of our spare time has been taken up with our exchange students. A majority of the graduate students whose work I direct are foreign, European end Asian, including students from Mainland China. We were very pleased when the president of the Technical University in Darmstadt, who has become a good friend, came over in person to honor us for our part in the student exchange which we established almost fifteen years ago. There is a whole community of former exchange students from Darmstadt with whom we keep in touch and whom we see whenever we come to Germany. Our contact with Philander Smith College in Arkansas, where we taught at the time of the Civil Rights Movement, continues, but this is the first time in many years that I have not been invited to visit because the particular evaluation component of the program under which I have been regularly invited has been discontinued.

This October it was fifty years since we left Europe for North America. The Buffalo university archives interviewed us at length this spring on our experiences before emigration and later in the South. The years pass quickly now. Later this month we shall be celebrating our fortieth wedding anniversary with our children and grandchildren. We see quite a bit of them. Jonathan has just moved into a house about half a mile from here and comes by almost every day. Daniel and Janet and family come down fairly often or we meet them in Hamilton or Toronto. Jeremy has now fully moved to Minneapolis where he is working full time for the Minneapolis Star and Tribune. We visited him right after our return from Europe last August, also to see his new house, and he will be here later this month.

We shall be in Göttingen again this summer but shall also be on brief lecture trips to Sweden, Poland and the GDR. So we shall see some of you during our stay in Europe.

With very best wishes for the holiday season and the New Year,

Georg + Wilma

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