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The Game Ancestry - Second Edition - Part 1 - Chapter 4

Moritz Zwierzina, First Lieutenant

Moritz Johann Maria Zwierzina, Oberleutnant
16 May 1834 - 25 March 1900
Brother of the author's paternal Grandfather
Johanna Rainer's paternal Grandfather
Son of Johann Zwierzina1792 and Maria (née Biedermann)

Oberleutnant - Moritz Zwierzina c1859
Komissär der Finanzwache - Moritz Zwierzina
Picture courtesy Johanna Rainer (née Zwierzina)
Picture courtesy Johanna Rainer (née Zwierzina)

It should be pointed out that his first name is spelled three different ways among the old papers. The most authentic looking one spells his full name as "Mauritz Johann Maria" - other spellings we see are Moritz, and Moriz. I will use "Moritz" because the family seems to have preferred that. He was born in Neutitschein (now Navy Jicín) in Moravia, Czech Republic, a small town of about 11,000 mostly ethnic German inhabitants. He died in Prague (Praha), capital of the Czech Republic.

We know from his uniform in the picturen that Moritz was an officer in the military of the Austro-Hungarian Empire of Franz Joseph I. We also know that there was the huge and decisive battle Between Austria and Germany at Königgrätz (Hradec Králové) on 3 July 1866. The author's grandfather fought in that battle, so it is easy to assume that his brother, a fellow officer of the same army, would also have been somehow affected by that historic battle. But fate was good to Moritz Zwierzina - he wanted to get married.

Back then an officer in the Imperial Austrian army could not just go out and get married. An officer would first have to find a suitable wife, one the military would consider having the appropriate social status, which among others, involved bringing along a sizeable dowry (Kaution) to ensure that the couple could not only live according to the standards expected of an officer but to also ensure that the wife could continue to do so should she become widowed. The Army also actively discouraged marriage unless the officer had reached the ripe old age of 30. With at least the basic conditions met, the officer would still be required to obtain his regiment's permission to marry because each regiment was allowed to have only so many married officers. Once that number was reached, any officer wanting to get married had to stand in line and wait for an opening. There were normally several waiting their turn. (This is very evident from papers of our other cousin Alfred Schenk, who went around and asked his fellow officers on the waiting list to allow him to move to the head of the line. The ease with which Alfred Schenk's comrads agreed, makes one think that many officers were just as happy to stay on the waiting list and be single a bit longer).  All these preparations take time, and the conditions can often not be fulfilled. The biggest obstacle was often the bride's inability to come up with the Kaution. In those days the amount in question was something like 1,500 Florins (better known as "Gulden") which would be invested at the then going rate of 5% per annum and the resulting interest of 75 Florins would be used as a supplement to the officer's pay. It may not sound like much, but let us remember that his father, Johann Zwierzina1792 got into a big fight with the Imperial bean counters over 50 Florins because that was worth 3 months of living for his family (he had a pension of 200 Florins per annum).

Moritz had reached the required age of 30 by 1864, but as reported by cousin Wolfgang Rainer, the dowry seemed not to be readily available, and Moritz decided to leave the army. Perhaps it was easier than it had been when his father did exactly the same thing about fourty years earlier, and would have been able to give his son valuable tips on how to go about it. His basic army record (Grundbuchblatt) shows that on 10 February 1865 he was transferred to the k.k. Finanzwache (the tax-auditor/collector arm of the revenuers)fggdoc303, exactly as his father had been. This happened a year and a half before the big Battle of Königgrätz, so Moritz, unlike his brother Johann1825 was saved from being involved in one of the bloodiest battles. It was told to me by cousin Ida Birman whose mother was Johann1825's daughter, that he came home from the battle, sat down at home with his head bowed and cried while repeating "were we ever slaughtered". (Among other reasons, one of the main factors was the introduction of the breach-loading rifles the Prussian army already had while the Austrians still had to stand up to load their muzzle-loading rifles, thereby presenting a good target to the Prussians who were lying on the ground and picked them off like clay pigeons.)

By resigning his commission, the road to marriage was open for Moritz, and on 13 September 1866 he married Johanna Dohnal.fggdoc301

We next see him in a somewhat less military uniform, indicating employment with the tax authorities for whom his father Johann1792 had already worked almost 40 years by then. Moritz and Johanna had a son two years later and also named him Moritz ( see Moritz1868). He would become an exception to the large group of career officers customary in the Zwierzina family for generations yet. This son Moritz became instead a physician and had one daughter, my dear cousin Johanna Rainer, who so generously shared all this new knowledge and related documentation with me.

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Date last changed: 28 Oct 2007