Annual Letter 1962

3582 Virgil Boulevard

New Orleans 22, Louisiana

December 17, 1962

 

Dear Friends:

Our last annual letter came from Germany. We shall not repeat our analysis of German political conditions which it contained, suffice it to say that we arrived in Germany in May 1961 with a good deal of mixed feelings – it was difficult to forget what had happened – and that we left with a good deal of regret. As regards the political scene, we continued to see both the encouraging and the discouraging signs we described in our last letter although we remained moderately optimistic regarding the stability of democratic institutions in Germany. The arrest of the Spiegel editors occurred after our departure from Germany. In retrospect neither the highhandedness of the government in the case nor the strong public reaction in defense or freedom of the press and legality surprise us. On the personal level, however, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay. The queasy reeling in our stomachs with which we entered the former Vaterland soon disappeared. We met not only an awful lot of people of whose decency we were convinced but also many more kindred souls than at home. We were surprised at the cordiality we met at the university and among neighbors. We soon became convinced both from conversations and from watching the mass media that despite apathy among some what happened during the Nazi period has been a matter of soul searching for many more Germans than we had thought. We left Germany missing the conversations, the walks in the forests surrounding Göttingen, the town, its bookstores, its theater, and particularly the friends and acquaintances we had made.

From Göttingen we drove via Marburg, the Rhine and Moselle valleys and Luxemburg to Paris where we once more visited friends from our previous year's stay in France. On August 15 we sailed to New York and after a brief visit with Georg's parents in Richmond arrived in New Orleans on August 31 after an absence of almost twenty—seven months. At the station we were met by the heat and a delegation of mosquitoes.

Our first few weeks at home consisted of a series of minor calamities, none of them serious fortunately. Wilma became sick the first day we were back. The storage people returned our furniture broken, promised to replace our refrigerator and let us sit without refrigeration in the heat until we finally handed the matter over to a lawyer. Our car was still on the ocean. Our children were denied admission to the schools for several days because their birth certificates stating their racial identity required by Louisiana law were among our baggage which had not yet arrived. They finally were admitted with an affidavid from A.P Tureaud, the NAACP lawyer, that they and their parents were white.

However, these initial difficulties were soon overcome and Wilma back on her feet again. Slowly we returned to our old routine. Georg by previous arrangement taught a reduced load at Dillard University to enable him to finish his book manuscript.

Wilma to her delight vas invited on short notice to teach a graduate seminar at Tulane on Karl Kraus, the Viennese literary and cultural critic on whom she had written her dissertation. Next semester she will teach a seminar on "The Literature of Social Protest in Germany." In addition she also teaches elementary and intermediate German at Dillard.

Jeremy and Danny complain how easy school is in comparison with Europe but actually keep quite busy with Hebrew school several afternoons a week and Jeremy with clarinet lessons besides. Jonathan is enthusiastically pursuing the studies of the first grade.

On the racial situation, there have been significant changes since our departure, We left in the early summer 1960 as the sit—in movement was in its beginning. The token inte- gration of New Orleans schools began while we were in France in 1960 accompanied by riots. The week after our return to New Orleans this fall, we witnessed the integration of the Catholic schools. Two days later approximately 100 Negro children were admitted to the first three grades of previously all—white public schools without incident. Lunch counters in chain stores desegregated a few weeks later. This past week Tulane University announced that it will accept qualified Negro students beginning this coming February. There is still quite a bit or tension in the commnunity but nevertheless a turning point seems to have occurred during the two years we were away. We have taken up our old activities again.

Georg has been reelected to the board of the local NAACP and as chairman of the education committee of the local branch and a member of the education committee of the local Urban League is again engaged in studies of inequalities in the school system. However, even more important than the solution of racial problems appears to us at this point the problem of preventing another world war. We have both been active therefore in the recent formation of the New Orleans Council for peaceful alternatives which is to serve as a forum on questions of foreign policy and nuclear disarmament.

It's time to close this letter. We wish you all the best during the holiday season and the coming New Year and hope that we shall hear from you soon.

Sincerely,

Georg, Wilma, Jeremy, Danny, and Jonathan Iggers

 

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