Staying put and still having lived in many countries
May 22, 2010 10:34 AM   Subscribe

Looking for the quote about a man born in Austria-Hungary, growing up in Germany, coming of age in Poland, dying in Russia, who always lived at the same place.

At least that is how I remember it. It seems a nice metaphor for people at the bottom of the corporate ladder, while all above and around them is changing.
posted by Eltulipan to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Sorry I can't help directly with your question, but since the subject interests you, a data point: I once stopped for a coffee in Alsace and chatted with the bartender, who told me his grandmother was born French, became German, then French, then German again, and died French, without moving from her village. Or perhaps it was the other way round (this was nearly 50 years ago, so I might have switched the French|German bits in my memory).
posted by aqsakal at 10:46 AM on May 22, 2010

Sounds like someone who lived in Kaliningrad. But I don't think Königsberg was ever part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Could it have been "a man born in Prussia, growing up in etc."? If he was born about 1865, and lived 80 years, all those things would have been true.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:00 AM on May 22, 2010

...well, not quite. It would depend on exactly where he lived whether he was part of East Prussia or part of Poland between the wars. The timeline goes like this:

1255 Teutonic Knights
1285 Hanseatic League
1457 Teutonic Order
1525 Duchy of Prussia
1920 Creation of the "Polish Corridor" and isolation of East Prussia.
1945 USSR
1991 Russia

Königsberg was renamed Kaliningrad by the Soviets in 1945.

The Polish Corridor was one of the many wonderful things included in the Treaty of Versailles which virtually guaranteed another war.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:14 AM on May 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I remember reading something like this a few years ago, only it was a woman and I think it was somewhere near the black sea, or maybe the Balkans.
posted by charlesv at 11:18 AM on May 22, 2010

Best answer: Not really helping find the exact quote....but if you were in Lviv, the sequence would be Austria-Hungary > Poland > German (occupation) > Russia > Ukraine, within a potential lifetime.

If you go a little to the southwest to Khust, the sequence is Austria-Hungary > Czechoslovakia > Carpatho-Ruthenia (for a couple of days!) > Hungary > Russia > Ukraine
posted by gimonca at 11:34 AM on May 22, 2010

I heard the joke about a man who lived his whole life in Uzhhorod (Ungvár in Hungarian), who was born in Austria-Hungary, then became a Czechoslovakian, then a Hungarian, then a citizen of the USSR. Today I guess he would be a Ukrainian.
I think I read the joke in a Hungarian newspaper a while ago, however, and I can't find anything similar via a quick google.
posted by that possible maker of pork sausages at 11:35 AM on May 22, 2010

Related joke. Old woman has lived all her life in disputed territory that has changed hands multiple times between Russians, Poles etc. Finally Russians take over again. Little girl says to the old woman, her grandma:
- Grandma, the Russians have taken over again.
- Oh no!
- Why does it matter to you, grandma?
- I can't stand another one of those Russian winters.
posted by londongeezer at 2:02 PM on May 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

This sort of story is told of Bruno Schulz, I believe in a biography about him called "Regions Of The Great Heresy." If I'm not mistaken, his life sequence went along the lines of what gimonca says, except that he was killed while Germany still occupied it. But I've heard this "joke" numerous times in different formats and different ways (another variant is the person born in a German town who went to school in a Jewish town and married in a German town and had kids in a Romanian town and died in a Ukrainian town, all without leaving some town like Chernowitz - this takes into account the town's dominant culture more than the actual governance, but the idea's the same.)
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 9:07 PM on May 22, 2010

There's an old Soviet joke that came true (if you lived long enough):

Where were you born?
St Petersburg.
Where did you live as a child?
Where did you go to school?
Where would you like to live?
St Petersburg.
posted by Jasper Fnorde at 9:32 AM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The Lviv / Khust story seems to match it the best. I had never heard about Carpatho-Ukraine before, thanks for that. Other answers were also illuminating.
posted by Eltulipan at 3:51 AM on May 25, 2010

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