Georg G. Iggers and Wilma A. Iggers 100 Ivyhurst Road Buffalo, New York 14226-3441 December 11, 2010
Quite a number of you have asked how our application for immigration to Canada was going. Several weeks ago we were finally informed that the application had been approved, more than three and a halfyears after our son Daniel in Toronto had sponsored us. Apparently they are hesitant to admit people of our age who may become a burden on their health system. As you may know, in Canada unlike in the U.S., all residents are health insured. This past year we underwent three very extensive medical examinations which preceded the approval of our application. The irony now is that we may not move to Canada after all. The physical state of our son Jonathan has deteriorated over the past several years since he was in a serious automobile accident and reached a critical state just now. So we do not want to leave him unless he improves markedly. We must appear at a border by February 17 to register and be landed formally, but as we understand it, we can then return to Buffalo and slowly move our belongings. It seems that we need to spend a total of two years in Canada in the next five years, which need not be consecutive, before we lose our residence permit. We thus have some time to decide. We prefer Toronto because Daniel, his wife Janet, and two of his children, Kelly and Adam live there. His other daughter Sarah her partner Phil, and our great granddaughter, Ivy, live in Niagara Falls, Canada. Besides relatives on Wilma’s side live in the Toronto-Hamilton area.
We are fortunate that at our age we are in good health. The Canadian Immigration service has certified this. I have recovered fully from my bypass operation two and a half years ago. I have some minor problems in walking and need a hearing aid, otherwise I am fine. Wilma is in amazing good shape and as active as ever. We are still living in our house into which we moved when we first came to Buffalo forty-five years ago and intend to stay there for the time being. Ultimately we shall probably move to a senior residence. We prefer Toronto not only for family reasons, but also because the residences which interest us there are in an urban setting with good public transportation available, while those we have seen in the Buffalo area are on the outskirts oftown and would require our keeping an automobile if we do not want to be largely isolated from the outside world.
We did little traveling . In early October we took the train to Philadelphia to visit our friend Qingjia Wang, with whom I have worked closely for the past twenty some years since we first met in China, his wife Ni and their small son, and our and Dan’s longtime friend, Timmy and his wife Joan. In late October we visited Wilma’s sister, Marianne, in Urbana, Illinois, as we do every fall, a very relaxing and pleasant visit. Our main trip, from which we just returned last week, was to Germany in early November. Most of the time we spent in Gottingen where we still feel very much at home. We spent four days in Berlin where we saw many friends. We unfortunately did not have time to visit Leipzig, a city where we spent quite a bit of time during the Cold War, but our friends Gert and Waldtraut Klitzke came to Bad Sachsa in the Harz Mountains to meet us. We also did not have time to go to Vienna to see our grandson Micha and his mother. We finally spent two days with friends in Darmstadt and former students who had been part of the Darmstadt-Buffalo exchange before boarding the plane in Frankfurt last Tuesday. In Göttingen I went to the Friday evening services in the synagogue, of which we are still members, and to a very impressive Hanukah candle ceremony lighting. I was able to establish a cooperative relationship between the liberal temple to which we belong in Buffalo and the Göttingen synagogue, two very different congregations, the one American suburban, comfortable middle class, the other predominantly consisting of recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union. The Buffalo rabbi is seriously thinking of coming to Göttingen next year to participate in the annual observance on November 9 of the pogrom (the term Kristallnacht has been replaced in Germany by the term pogrom which more exactly describes what happened on that night in 1938). A good number of local citizens including the mayor and school classes participate every year in the observances in Göttingen.
We have not been entirely inactive as regards scholarship. Wilma in April participated in a conference at the Czech embassy1in Washington on Jewish immigrants from Czechoslovakia to the United States. She presented a paper on the historian Hans Kohn, one of the early founders of Zionism in Prague around 1913, who migrated to Palestine in 1919, but soon became disillusioned with the Zionist policy towards the Arabs, left Palestine in 1929 and devoted most of his scholarly career in the U.S. to a critical study of nationalism. She was accompanied by our granddaughter Kelly who had received her B.A. from the University of Toronto in history and Bohemian studies. Wilma has been an avid reader and also keeps in touch with friends and scholars in Bohemia. The edition in English translation of the theoretical writings of the German historian Ranke which I mentioned in last year’s letter has been published this past October by Routledge in London . I thoroughly rewrote the extensive introduction keeping in mind the changed interpretations of Ranke in the past forty years not as the “father of historical science” as he was dubbed in the nineteenth century, but in terms of the aesthetic aspects of his writing. Since then I have worked on an essay for a panel which my friend Wang organized for the International Congress of Historical Sciences that met in Amsterdam this last August. The theme of the panel was the continuing relevance or the irrelevance of Marxist perspectives for historical writing at the beginning of the twenty first century from a global perspective. Papers included Marxist historiography in present day Japan, China, India, Greece and Italy, and Latin America. I wrote on Western Europe and North America. I was not able to go to Amsterdam but my paper was read there. My paper had to be short, twenty-minutes, but I am now extending it for a special issue of the Italian journal Storia della Storiografia which will include all the papers plus one which is being written now on Russian historiography today and possibly one on historical writing in SubSaharan Africa. I also have several projects ahead for this coming year about which I shall write in our annual letter next year. So I still keep busy in my retirement as does Wilma. I was just reelected to the board of the local chapter of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). This coming January it will be sixty years since Wilma and I joined the NAACP in Little Rock.
As to our children, there is little new since last year other than Jonathan’s health situation. We appreciate that we hear from Dan several times a week and that he frequently comes to Buffalo, alone or with Janet or one of his children. We, of course, also hear regularly from Jeremy and Carol. As to our grandchildren, Kelly and Adam have both begun their graduate studies. Kelly decided not to pursue a doctorate in Bohemian studies, at least for the time being although her professor urged her to do so, and is in a teacher training program at the University of Toronto which she very much enjoys. You may remember that Adam spent his junior year abroad in Ghana. He is now in the graduate program in developmental studies at York University in Toronto. We see Sarah and Phil and our great granddaughter Ivy fairly often. We really enjoy Ivy, who is now almost three and a half, and is articulate, enthusiastic, and affectionate. Our youngest grandson, Jeremy’s son Micha, in Vienna, just turned twenty. As for the political scene, I think you know how we feel. We are very worried about the way America is going, wondering how much democracy there is left in a country where almost all persons in politics are dependent on the money from corporate institutions and special interests to be elected. We are very saddened by what is happening in Israel. In comparison Germany today seems relatively sane, although there too the attitudes towards immigrants and the economic policies of the present government which have disadvantaged the poorer segments of the population worry us.
Wilma and I wish all of you all the best for the holiday season, Georg