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Back home in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Paul helps ignite a war

January 9, 2010

A very pregnant Mary, her husband Paul and their young son Ludwig, left the US and arrived back in Soljani, then part of the Austro Hungarian empire, around April or May, 1913.  They were flush with the cash from their boarding house venture, and from the large factory bakery that Paul had successfully started and sold in Akron, Ohio. Ludwig would have been born a US citizen, and by 1913, Paul would have been naturalized. Mary, on the other hand, would have been just a month shy of receiving her US citizenship.  Why move back to a country full of political unrest when everyone else was leaving in droves, and when they had become well established in their new country?

Ludwig and Pauline Milec, 1914

The answer appears to be political.  Paul was a nationalist who strongly supported the independence of Slovaks and Serbia was a land his Slovak ancestors had migrated to some 150 years earlier, fleeing the cultural dominance of the Magyars. A large group of Slovaks had come to Balkans, at the time an undesirable mountainous region, for the possibility of a new self realization.   In 1913, Serbia was part of Austria.  Serbian nationalists wanted Serbia to be independent of Austria, and a semi-secret society, called Narodna Odbrana (Defend the People) had been created, with the main purpose of recruiting and training partisans to fight Austria to win independence.  It is rumored that Paul returned home to join this group.

Shortly after their arrival, in June on Friday the 13th, 1913, Pauline Milec was born.  Paul was a very enterprising young business man, and upon arrival in Soljani, he immediately started another bakery.  During the next year, a group of partisans in Serbia broke off from Narodna Odbrana to form the Black Hand, whose purpose was to win Serbian freedom through assassination.  On June 28, 1914, they assassinated Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria.  This assassination started a chain of international events, and within 37 days World War I broke out in Europe.

So Great Grandpa may have helped start World War I. And I thought this story was going to be a simple one about a cookbook.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 9, 2010 3:44 pm

    Oh. My. God. I remember studying the Black Hand in high school.

    And Gramma was born on Friday the 13th. Oh dear.

    I love this blog.

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