One thing that my Grandmother would tell me when I asked her about researching her Germany family was all the records were destroyed during WWII. She once told me that she had tried to research in Kassel and what we had was all that there was. She even said that what she had, she gave to the archives, so they had no more information on our family.
I was grateful because I did have a several generations of information. Starting with my grandmother Anne Burghardt (born 1928), I had her father August Heinrich Burghardt and mother Erna Lena Gossmann(my great grandparents. I had my 2nd great grandparents, Heinrich Burghardt and Marie Klapp (August Heinrich Burhardt’s parents) and Wilhelm Gossmann and Anna Elisabeth Brand (Erna Lena Gossmann’s parents. I also had the 3rd times great grandparents as you can see below in n the pedigree chart.
This is my 2nd great grandmothers, Marie Klapp, baptism record and death record. I received these documents from my grandmother, who translated some of the information, for me.
My 3rd great grandfather, Heinrich Burghardt, confirmation and death record. I have seen Burghardt with and without a t on the end of it. This seems to be common in my family names from Germany.
Like I said, these are examples of the documents and the information I received from my grandmother. I was not sure where my grandmother found these records so I called and asked my mom. She told me that these records are with a family book my great aunt has and that after the WWII, families were asked to bring family information in to the government. So this is the information my grandmother and her parents took to the local offices and they created these documents. This explained to me why my grandmother always said this was the only information they had on our family. It also explains why it was filed in 1944, as it is stated on the back on the documents.
When I started my search my goal was to find the original church records and add to our family. I have found most of the original church records. I have also added almost 2 complete more generations to my family tree. So there are still records available to find.
I have also found that in the village of Kirchtditmold, Kassel, Germany that records were destroyed from about 1753-1830. This has almost stopped me from furthering my tree until I learn if there are any other records that may help in my search. Kirchditmold records on archion are available back to the early 1600’s so I could trace my family further back if the records were not missing. I know one day I will be able to figure out how to research in Germany with other records.
As I search on archion.de for Lutheran church records I often see years of records that are missing and I am sure these mostly were destroyed during WWII. While there are still records available to add to your family tree, most of us will come across records that are gone.
I have also found documents on ancestry that record(image below) that were typed up in the 70’s, I believe from the original records. When I find records like this I always try to find the original.
As I have struggled to find any records for my German, I started to believe what my grandmother had told many years ago, that all the records had been destroyed during WWII. I am glad to report that is not the case, you can still find lots of records in Germany.
9 thoughts on “Records and WWII”
Great post! And a good reminder that assertions made by family members and our own assumptions need to be checked 😉
Thank you and yes I have had lots of family stories that I have had to prove.
This is a great postJennifer. My partner has Germán ancestry on one of his lines. I’ve been putting off Germán research as I’d expected it to be difficult. Your post gives me encouragement #gebeabloggerstribe
Great to know there is hope! So many periods have been wiped out all over the world. I’m glad you were able to find more about your family.
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Good for you for not giving up! Have you found anything for your German families on FamilySearch? I have learned a lot from the Research Wiki pages there.
I have not found much on my German families in family search. I love family search and have used it a lot.
You are right, there have been big losses to church documentation in Germany:
1) bombing of Germany during WW 2, at the same Nazis started to destroy a lot of administration documentation (as preparation for victory of allied forces over Nazi-Germany)
2) the 30-years war 1618 – 1648 when German shires/kingdoms of Lutheran/protestant faith did fight against those of Catholic faith. This war was fought mainly in central regions of Germany, including Kassel. (Lutherans were supported by king of Sweden, and later by king of Denmark. The Catholics were supported by King’s of Austria and the Netherlands. Not sure whether France and Spain got involved on Catholic side too). My home village in Hesse had prior to war ~250-300 residents, somewhen in 1630s residents were documented as 3 cows, 2 horses, a dozen of chicken and 3 pigs. During this war lots of chruch documents of midages till 1618 got lost
I found for you 2 more marriage certificates which might be interesting for you, 2 sisters of Wilhelm Goßmann. Copied Wehlheiden City records for you from Landesarchiv Hessen (search with arcinsys). I will send you copies by email later