And here is the rest of what we think we know.
The Hirsch family is a long line of stubborn, difficult people who didn't always get along with others (or themselves for that matter) and didn't always do the right thing. For example, my grandfathers grandfather (or grandfathers grandfather, we don't seem to have anything straight), died in prison after an illustrious career as a counterfeiter. I can't say that currency debasement is the typical family trade. Most of the time, the Hirsch-folk end up becoming engineers. This is probably the result of what must be a specific strain of mild autism - Hirschpergers if you will.
|This photograph is of Morris and his Family.|
Morris is the fellow who looks exactly like someone
about to be sent in to the First World War. Pay
special attention to the little elf next to his left knee.
This was all as well as in 1915, Morris was drafted into the Army reserves where he served working in a Hospital, well away from the front lines and practically inundated with the very white sheets that his remotely deployed colleagues pined for so very dearly. He was known to read while walking, an apparently biological trait as his great grandson inherited the exact same aptitude. While I'm always careful when crossing streets, apparently Morris wasn't very careful when crossing officers. There was a teenaged, German speaking officer which he walked past without saluting, or in other versions, refused to salute, which seems the most likely scenario. It doesn't really do to be a Jew serving in the Austro-Hungarian Army to not play the game, especially as they tended to be quite keen on enforcing iron discipline. In this case, discipline meant being sent right off with one of his cousins to the Russian front, one of the many places you didn't want to be in 1915 (although apparently it might have been Italy - but let's just say it was Russia, because that had to be a lot more miserable).
Here is when portrayal of events becomes most diverging. There are two very distinct ways in which Morris was said to have been killed. The first way was a heroic death, one worth perhaps of King Albert himself. In this version of events, the cousin is wounded and Morris was killed trying to bring him back to the trench, saving his life.
Unfortunately, I prefer to believe the other variation of the story, which seems to be a lot more likely given what I know of the stubbornness of Hirschs (and every once in a while, even myself).
Morris and his cousin, alas, were captured by the Russians. This is not the ideal outcome for being a participant in the Great War, but neither is it the worst, after all, it's not yet the Second World War. A contemplative man might have thought about their situation and realized that it was a mistake to play arrogant with an obviously well connected superior officer of the juvenile variety. Best not to tempt fate and take your chances in a Russian prison camp, and go on living with your cousin and comrades in arms. But that's not the outcome he chose. In the words of my grandpa Milton, he "made a false move"... yeah, just like they used to do in the old gangster movies... or tried to escape. Whatever it was he did induced a Russian to shoot him. I've even heard that he would not be outdone by any normal fool who was capable of making two fatally bad life choices and may have tried to crawl away afterward. *sigh* A Russians work is never done. He was finally done in at the end of a bayonet.
The results was that my grandfather would not make it to gymnasium and would instead have to leave Hungary at the age of 15, build a railway across France and learn to play chess on steamer steaming for the US. Instead of engineering, he would become a fitter. He hated being a fitter, but he was good at it, enough so that he was fitting stars and starlets at Sax 5th Ave. While leaving Hungary meant he lost the opportunity to die at the hands of the Nazis in World War Two, it did gave him the opportunity to open up his own shop in Long Beach, New York and raise a family where he was mostly loved by his children and certainly adored by his grandchildren.
For me, the story of Morris Hirsch is a personal cautionary tale. I must always be aware of my surroundings, and always salute teen-age officers, because there is always just a little bit of Morris in me. Also, Morris died at the age of 41, the same age that I am now. Depending on how things go in the Ukraine, there's still time for me to be killed by a Russian.