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
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
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.