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“Vienna on the Vistula”

When Skotschau became Skoczów after 1918, my father and his older sister Helen were teen-agers. Even though they were living in a new country, their cultural orientation did not change. Their native language was German, their cuisine kept its decidedly … Continue reading

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Before the Dark

With the marriage of my parents, Sylvia Guttmann to Oskar Spitzer, on August 28,1937, the families I have been tracing on this blog are joined. Thanks to the success of their immediate forebears, the first generation of emancipated Austrian Jews, … Continue reading

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A Problematic City

The shifting world of postwar Europe was the background of my parents’ youth–Oscar Spitzer born in 1904, Sylvia Guttmann in 1915.  As described in my last post, the Spitzer family had to adjust to becoming citizens of another country– the … Continue reading

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From Austria to Poland

The effects of World War I were felt most keenly in Skotschau after the hostilities ended on November 11, 1918. At that time, grandfather Emanuel Spitzer was 54 years old and had been managing the tannery since his father’s death … Continue reading

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A Courageous Officer

When Lieutenant Bruno Guttmann was sent to serve on the Isonzo River frontier between Austria and Italy in January, 1915, it was not yet a war zone. The Italians were still maintaining a neutral stance in accord with an 1882 … Continue reading

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An Austrian Officer

Refugee Tales resumes again in the New Year. In the last post, dated August 2011, I concluded with what little information I could muster about the fourth of my quartet of great-grandfathers. The patriarch of the Mayer clan in Jemnice, … Continue reading

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Granny’s Tales

The fourth member of my quartet of great-grandfathers is the one I know least about. The family name was Mayer and they hailed from Jemnice, an old walled town in southern Moravia. There was a Jewish quarter nestled just inside … Continue reading

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