I mainly know where my mother’s side is from. My great grandfather was from Croatia. At the age of either 14 or 16, his oldest brother died in a war for Hungary. His mother decided she was not going to lose another son so she gave my great grandfather and his younger brother money and told them to leave the country. My great uncle went to Argentina and my great grandfather came to Cleveland where he joined a Croatian Club and met my great grandmother who was also Croatian. It is crazy to thing how at such a young age he moved across the world to a country he knew nothing about nor could he speak the language. He started working in a mill in Cleveland but as the depression hit he stopped working there and became a farmer. This is where he raised his eleven children, my grandmother being the youngest. Since my great grandfather was now the oldest child, after his parents died, he was eire to his families land in Croatia which sparked conflict with his younger brother who wanted it all for himself. My great grandfather had to go back to Croatia and properly divide up the land amongst his younger siblings.
My family and I have had the opportunity to stay in touch with our family in Croatia. We have visited them a few times and hope to see them come to the United States for a time. My family still owns the land where my great grandfather started his life and for my grandmother it was satisfying to finally see the place her father had always talked about when she was a child. It’s crazy to think about the amount of opportunities my cousins and I have here is the U.S. compared to my family in Croatia where still today their economy and education system are far from the United States. It gives me a lot of respect for my great grandfather and his parents who overcome difficulties to find a better life for themselves and now for me and my future.
My great grandfather’s story of immigration is rooted in a pushing force of war that was brewing in Europe but also a pulling force from a growing United States. As the growth of empires in Europe was coming to a head, war began to define Europe. This forced him to flee the divided continent in homes for a more peaceful life.