Wedding Photo

Joseph Spreitzer & Kath. Judnich Wedding
Joseph Spreitzer & Kath. Judnich Wedding

My great grandparents were part of massive exodus from what is now Slovenia, but at the time was Austria.  Pre-World War I Europe found numerous conflicts, with citizens continually conscripted to fight war after war, which in the case was for the Austro-Hungary empire.   Some 40 years after Joseph immigrated to the United States his ancestral homeland, where Germanic people had lived for 600 years was taken over by Hitler with 12,000 German speakers repatriated back to Germany, with thousands of remaining people who spoke the indigenous language placed in work camps and others brutally murdered with many later found in mass graves.  Mussolini and the Italians went on to rule this part of Yugoslavia, torturing and killing thousands of Slovenian people. Sadly, their arrival in the United States found them privately keeping their culture but by day melting and becoming American, or at least trying to in the face of nativism and anti-Catholic hostility. Joseph and Katherine’s story is filled with irony as today, immigrants are facing a new nativism, where people are hated and harmed because of their country of origin, race and religion. Perhaps the greatest irony is while my ancestors were peasants who experienced centuries of being ruled by one conquering force after another, their arrival in the United States found them part of an unreconciled genocide and colonialization of this continents indigenous people.  I live with the struggle to reconcile these histories. 

Place(s): Austria, Slovenia and Gottschee

– Steve Spreitzer

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