Ivan L. Otto on Emigration to the U.S.

This clip relates to numerous content standards from the Ohio Department of Education curriculum for Social Studies education, including:

    • Modern World History Content Statement #9: Industrialization had social, political and economic effects on Western Europe and the world.
    • World Geography Content Statement #8: Physical, cultural, economic and political factors contribute to human migrations (e.g., drought, religious conflicts, job opportunities, immigration laws).
    • American History Content Statement #27: The collapse of communist governments in Eastern Europe and the USSR brought an end to the Cold War.



Ivan L. Otto is Hungarian native that works as a lawyer for the Cleveland firm Squire, Sanders & Dempsey. After World War II, Mr. Otto emigrated from Hungary to the United States and quickly became integrated into the Cleveland public school system. He experienced the polarization of racial tensions in the 1960s and 70s, as he lived in many diverse Cleveland neighborhoods and became deeply involved in local issues through his legal career. The most memorable case he worked on was the Doan Brook Watershed, which is vital to the communities of Northeast Ohio, and to the health of Lake Erie. In this interview from March 2014, Mr. Otto describes his emigration from Hungary to the United States and process of assimilating into the American way of life.

Potential Classroom Applications:

Educators can use this clip within the classroom to discuss the impact of World War II on the European population. The War, combined with horrific events such as the Holocaust, displaced many European natives and caused individuals and families to flee to other countries to seek refuge. This interview can be used as a primary source material to help students understand the circumstances in which many European immigrants came to find their permanent residence in the United States. Educators can use this clip in connection with immigration lesson plans, such as those provided by the New York Times, to also share with students the difficulty some immigrants faced in gaining citizenship and initial entrance into the nation.

Teachers can also use this interview clip to discuss and contextualize the Cold War. Many students do not understand who was involved in the conflict or exactly how it progressed, and thus this clip can provide an excellent introduction to a lesson on the topic. The Stanford History Education Group has provided lesson plans and primary source materials to introduce students to the origins of the Cold War and give them a detailed timeline of its events. In connection with the aforementioned materials, the interview with Mr. Otto helps students understand the Cold War as one portion of the larger story of world history.