Ernst Mayr on getting American citizenship

When the war was ended I immediately said again to the naturalisation people "Now I want to have my citizenship," and they delayed it, and - there was several things happened during that time also. For instance, there were two people who were my sponsors. One of the was Professor Schraeder [of the Department of Zoology, Columbia University], whom you know of course, and - because he lived in the same town of Tenafly, and he asked the agents one, one day, he said "Well why don't you let Mayr, lift all these things, restrictions on him, he's as good an American as any of us?" And this agent said "Well, if he was a baker or butcher or some tradesman like that, that's what we would do. But we don't trust these intellectuals." And then, I say something which is the honest truth and it may be held against me when I say it now; my colleague Robert Cushman Murphy went down to the naturalisation office in New York and he complained. This was already 1946 or 1947, several years after the end of the war and said "What is holding it up?" And that office at that time was entirely staffed to the last man by Jewish agents, and one of them said to Murphy "As long as we are here, no God damn German is going to be naturalised." Now, this is an important thing to know because many people in America know that such things happen all over the world, but of course they couldn't happen possibly in America. Well, this has happened in America. I finally had to sue the naturalisation service for citizenship and I came to court case and I had to submit, my wife and I had to submit fifty statements from various American citizens among whom were, I think, seventeen Jewish friends of ours, saying that we were perfectly good material for citizenship and there was no reason to hold it up any longer. And finally we got - we got it in 1950, too late to go to the Upsala Congress and the office, the naturalisation office with these particular agents, urged me to go to Upsala on a German passport, and I said that's all they want in order to stamp again and say "See, he's used the German passport to travel. See, how much of a American citizen he is." And so I couldn't go to the Congress because it might have again jeopardised my becoming an American citizen. I'm glad I had an opportunity now to say all this, I have never said this in public before, but all these facts can be checked in official documents, and we - neither my wife nor I ? My younger brother for instance, when the Nazis came to power was immediately dismissed and put in the army, there wasn't anybody in my family who was a Nazi. I had been fighting with Nazis when I was a student, so there was no justification for this treatment.


Ernst Walter Mayr (July 5, 1904, Kempten, Germany – February 3, 2005, Bedford, Massachusetts U.S.), was one of the 20th century's leading evolutionary biologists. He was also a renowned taxonomist, tropical explorer, ornithologist, historian of science, and naturalist. His work contributed to the conceptual revolution that led to the modern evolutionary synthesis of Mendelian genetics, systematics, and Darwinian evolution, and to the development of the biological species concept.

No comments: