Harry Schachner with parents Isaac and Sylvia, New York

These two larger cabinet cards managed to stay together, despite travelling almost around the world from the United States to Spain and then to me in Germany. Luckily, the persons in the photos are identified, how wonderful! Let’s get to work, shall we!

The first one shows baby Harry Schachner, 6 months old. The photo must have been taken at around New Year’s, assuming from the text on the photo mount in English and in German, and in Hebrew (I suppose, I can’t read it). This leads me to believe that perhaps the family were Jewish.

The second photo, taken in a photo studio in Lower East Side New York, shows the same Harry about one and a half years later, together with his parents Isaac and Sylvia Schachner.

I was able to piece together some of this family’s story:

Harry A. Schachner was born on April 18, 1921, as the oldest child of Isaac and Sylvia Schachner. I can’t get over how beautiful Harry’s mum Sylvia was! In fact, she reminds me of the actress Rose Byrne. Actually, Sylvia might have been pregnant with her second child in this photo. On October 27, 1923, Harry’s baby sister Tobie/Tillie Sarah Schachner was born in Yonkers, New York.

I find the Schachners living in Yonkers in 1925, including Isaac’s two brothers Louis and Nathan. Isaac and his brothers were farmers. The Census of 1925 also says that Isaac, his wife and his brothers had been born in Austria and by 1925 they had been in the United States for 4 years.

By 1930, the Schachners had moved to the Bronx in NY, residing at 747 East 181st Street. The 1930 Census gives another valuable clue regarding the “language spoken at home” – which says Yiddish for both Isaac and Sylvia. So that information ties together with the baby photo of Harry: the Schachners were Jewish. By 1930, Isaac had left farming. He would soon take up the profession of an insurance salesman. By 1940, the Schachners had moved to Greenburgh, Westchester in New York. Harry, 18 at the time, was now working in an ice cream shop.

Sometime in the 1940s, Harry married Edith Ludmer and the couple settled down in Queens, New York. Harry was a chemist by profession, working for an industrial medical supplier in 1950. I think Harry and Edith had two children, Susan C. Schachner (born in 1953) and Joseph Schachner, who I find living with their parents in Flushing, New York, in 1974.

Edith had been born in 1923 in Vienna, and I find her travelling alone from Europe to New York in February 1940 at the age of 17. The passenger list mentions her closest relative one Josef Ludmer in Vienna, and aunt Tilla Hefter to receive her in New York. I found a slideshow about an interview that was done with Edith in 1995. Unfortunately, I cannot access the full interview, but the bits and pieces I gather from the slideshow is that she had to leave her family in Vienna behind as a teenager in order to escape the Holocaust which killed her loved ones. The slideshow shows Harry and Edith together in 1995:

Harry passed away on October 5, 2013. Unfortunately, I have found no obituary for him which could have given us more insight into his long life.

I was also curious how it came about that Isaac and Sylvia ended up living and raising their children in the United States, and where in Austria they were born. One public family tree on MyHeritage mentions that the birth place of Isaac was Zmigród, which was located in the northern rural Silesia in Prussia, in today’s Poland. I googled the town and found this information:

“Zmigrod was located in Western Galicia that was economically very poor. It had a primitive agriculture that consisted of small and crowded farms. The region boasted excellent air that blew from the Carpathian Mountains and wonderful natural views. The region lacked roads, highways, natural resources and industry. The only area of growth was the population sector.” (LINK)

“In the 19th century, many Jews settled in the town (then called Trach(t)enberg), however, from the late 19th century, they emigrated, mainly to the west.” (LINK)

“World War I further polarized the existing tensions between the Jewish and Polish population in town. A pogrom began in Zmigród on November 1918. The pogrom started when a local mob with the help of outside villagers came to shop for ” bargains “. The mob broke into Jewish homes and stores and looted and destroyed everything of value. Some Jews were beaten and injured. The Polish population stood by or helped the mob. The local police disappeared and frantic calls were made to Jaslo [district police office] for help. Police units arrived and restored order. They then reported that things were peaceful in Zmigród except for some Jewish troublemakers who disturbed the peace.” (LINK)

In 1921, roughly 50% of the town’s 2,000 population were Jewish. “In 1939 there were no more Jews in the town. The 19th-century synagogue was destroyed by the Germans during the Kristallnacht in 1938.” (LINK)

I suppose Isaac saw no prospects in staying in Zmigrod, and like many before him and after him, took the leap of faith and moved to the West.

I don’t know if he married Harry’s mother Sylvia in Zmigrod or in America. I have found just one clue that Sylvia’s maiden name might have been Satzman (as mentioned in the death record of her daughter Tobie Sarah Schachner Clarke). But I have found nothing on either Isaac or Sylvia after the 1940 Census. Sylvia might have died in 1949, if this is her gravesite on FindaGrave.com.

I am not acquainted with Jewish genealogy, so perhaps I am missing some important information in this regard. The same public tree on MyHeritage refers to Isaac as Itsche which was probably his Jewish name if I’m not mistaken. Some other records refer to Isaac as Isadore Schachner.

I truly hope that I can return these two precious photos to Harry’s family. I will keep you posted!

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