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Big Thoughts are Free

The Authorized Biography of Milan Panic

Mark Axelrod

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Chapter 5. Coming to America


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In many ways, Panić’s view of America was somewhat shaped by what he thought he knew of America and not what it necessarily was. “Where I was very much involved was in my view about America and my understanding of American life, which, in my view, was reasonably shallow. Of course, I understood the prices of food. I understood the cost of the cars, the cost of living, all of those things I easily analyzed and I calculated I could probably survive on minimum wages. So, in part, other than political matters, that was my decision to come to America.” And with that rather epidermal consideration of America, Milan Panić emigrated.

Legend has it that Panić and his wife Jelica arrived in New York with two suitcases and $20 in his pocket. Apparently, when they arrived in New York they were met by some church representatives. At least, that’s what he recalls they were. Before he left Germany, he was given some instructions as to who would be there for him. He indicated that he wanted to spend up to 3 days in New York, and they were put up in a hotel and given some spending money while they were there. Though Panić could not remember the exact name of the church organization, at the time he did “imagine” that, perhaps, they were a front for the FBI. His reasoning was rather simple: “My imagination...

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