Home       l       Site Map      l      Exhibitions      l     About the Museum       l      Education      l     Contact Us       l      Links


Family Portraits:
The Blitzer Brothers, 1908


Adolph Blitzer left Czernowitz, a city that he had loved for its cultural sophistication. He had worked there until he was "conscripted" into the Austrian army before WWI. As was possible in those days, he paid someone to take his place. That was the beginning of several bold decisions Adolph had to make to "escape" the country.

Adolph and his younger brother, Shabse, were running away together, rather "swimming" away. It was probably their only option. They decided to escape by way of the Dniester river. One side was Austria, the other bank, Russia.

The Austrian soldiers guarded the river day and night. The brothers planned a night escape. From childhood on, Adolph loved to swim--he was self taught. He swam with his head above water, yet apparently was quite proficient at the sport. He and Shabse began their swim; the soldiers, spotting them, began to shoot. Shabse was hit. Adolph made it across the river. I don't what happened to Shabse--whether he was killed, or was injured and survived. It's  regrettably one of those lost pieces of history.

Adolph prepared for the next phase of his journey--travel by train to Bremen, Germany where he would board the ship. His maternal grandfather, Efraim Zuker-Reinstein already living in Toledo, Ohio, sent him the ticket. The next obstacle: Adolph didn't have a train ticket! Methodically, he thought through a plan that might work.

Adolph sewed himself a fine looking suit and bought an appropriate dress hat. He purchased a newspaper to give himself an "aristocratic look," Adolph said. He understood the importance of having the "right clothes" and education that defined the upper class. Boarding the train, he sat down between two working-class men. The conductor came through the compartment. Adolph pulled his elegant hat down over his face and read the paper. The conductor asked the man sitting next to Adolph for his ticket, which he didn't have. The conductor threw him off. Adolph continued reading. The conductor passed him and asked the man on Adolph's other side for his ticket. When the man confessed he didn't have one, he was thrown off as well. The conductor continued collecting more tickets; Adolph read on; the train chugged on…carrying Adolph all the way to Bremen!


above left: Adolph and Shabse Blitzer, cir 1908

The picture above is of Adolph Blitzer, standing (about age nineteen), and his younger brother Shabse (about age
sixteen).  Shabse, it is told, always wanted to be a boxer.

The message on the reverse side of the photograph says "Greetings from Czernowitz--24/9" (no year). The guess is that the photograph was taken in 1908.

Adolph, who was born in Kudryńce, Galicia in 1889, had apprenticed at Fischel Reiter's tailor shop from about the age of nine until he was fourteen, at which time he left, seeking work in a larger city. 



from the Jeanne Blitzer Andelman  book, "The Tailor Shop, Threads of our Past," 1999.


What's New       |       Opportunities       |       Downloads       |      FAQs       |      Credits       |       Guestbook       |       Help

Copyright © 2007-8. Museum of Family History.  All rights reserved.  Image Use Policy.