Julia Slezak's U.S. passport, 1938
Julia Slezak's U.S. passport, 1938

My maternal grandmother, Julia Slezak (born Wagner) came to the U.S. from Czechoslovakia in 1927 when she was 22 years old. Julia was the youngest of seven children. Her oldest sister Vilma had moved to the U.S. years earlier so she could marry her sweetheart. Julia and another sister set out together to visit Vilma, with the intent of returning to Czechoslovakia. They left the family farm in Eastern Europe together, but Western European emigration officials would not allow the other sister into the U.S., claiming she had a bad heart. Julia continued alone to Vilma in Chicago. Julia's trip had been paid for by her uncle, and she worked cleaning houses and caring for children in Chicago to pay him back. For this, and other reasons that aren't clear, Julia ended up staying in Chicago and becoming a citizen; an accidental immigrant. 
She married Anthony Slezak 1937. In 1938, Julia's mother fell ill, and she traveled back to Czechoslovakia for the first time. 1938 was also the year that Adolf Hitler annexed Austria and claimed parts of Czechoslovakia for Germany. Julia was nearly trapped in Europe since finding safe passage out was very difficult. Travel plans kept changing, and her husband waited for her anxiously in Chicago, unable to get updates. Eventually, after a brief stop in Paris, Julia made it back to the U.S.  This passport records a significant event for my family and a significant moment in history.

Place(s): Czechoslovakia,Chicago,Paris
Year: 1927

– Juline Chevalier

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant