There are precious few sources to answer this question, and they are confusing.
We know that David and Rosa were married in Odessa before emigrating in 1906. There had been pogroms in Odessa in 1905. These surely played a role in their decision to leave. David was 22, Rosa 21.
The ship arrival manifest required each passenger to list the place of their last residence. David and Rosa’s answer is shown below:
Despite a spelling which appears to be “Dwow” what David likely said was “Lvov”. In 1906 Lvov was an important city in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was on the European (as opposed to the Russian, which had a different track gauge) rail system. From Lvov a passenger could travel anywhere in Europe.
If David and Rosa departed (in their conception of last residence) from Lvov, where did they go next? How did they get to Liverpool, England, where on June 23 they boarded the Lucania which brought them to New York’s Ellis Island?
In his April 6, 1969 column, Ben wrote: I recall my father and mother telling us how they paid someone to sneak them across a river, how they made their way to Hamburg, Germany.
If they did go Hamburg, they would have had to find their way to England and Liverpool. A possible routing was to sail from Hamburg across the North Sea to England and board a train to Liverpool. Other emigrant memoirs mention this itinerary.
A search for David and Rosa’s names on Hamburg passenger lists has been negative to date (Feb. 2014).
In her Jan. 5, 1965 Application for Certificate of Citizenship, Rosa says the ship she took to the United States left from some port in France. Then a ? follows. It appears the question mark refers to the name of the port rather than the country, although it is possible she indicated uncertainty about France.
From France it would have been far more direct to get to Liverpool. Still, given Ben’s clear memory of the mention of Hamburg, that has to be considered more probable. The two accounts are consistent if the question mark noted above referred to a hazy memory of a country rather than which port in France.
Who paid for the passage? We have no direct knowledge. David and Rosa were both working in Odessa, but it is unlikely they could have financed the trip themselves. More probable is that Ida Cohen, “Tante Haike”, David’s aunt (sister of his mother) who had arrived in America around 1901 and to whom the couple went after coming through Ellis Island, bought the needed ticket. This was a common practice in the immigrant communities. Shipping companies competed for the business. Two of the main shipping companies were owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad, although the ship bringing David and Rosa was owned by Cunard.
A Hamburg-Liverpool-New York itinerary could have been the least expensive, similar to today’s experience of finding cheaper flights in exchange for the inconvenience of changing planes.
The ticket could have included travel from New York to Philadelphia. Philadelphia was a center for immigration from Ukrainian guberniyas of the Russian Empire. By contrast, New York was more heavily populated by immigrants from Polish guberniyas.
That the couple had to bribe their way out of Russia is consistent with accounts of other Russian emigrants, although there are also instances when departing was more routine.