Beyond History Blog

Sophie Scholl - Face of the Resistance

09. May 2021, Heike Leiacker - General, Anniversary, Germany, History, Knowledge, Personalities

Memorial for the White Rose on Geschwister-Scholl-Platz in front of Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich, photo by Amrei-Marie, CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0), via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Denkmal_f%C3%BCr_die_Geschwister_Scholl_und_Christoph_Probst_als_Teil_des_Wei%C3%9Fe-Rose-Mahnmals.jpg)

Sophie Scholl is one of the most famous persons of the German resistance against National Socialism - worldwide. She was born Sophia Magdalena Scholl in Forchtenberg on 09 May 1921 and was executed in Munich on 22 February 1943 - aged only 21.

Sophie Scholl - Face of the Resistance

Dancing into May on Walpurgis Night…

30. April 2021, Heike Leiacker - General, Germany, Holiday, Knowledge, Old Customs, Traditions

Maypole in front of the Lutheran church in Rieseberg, district Helmstedt, photo by Kirchenfan, Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication, via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rieseberg_Kirche.jpg).

The transition into the merry month of May in the night from 30 April to 01 May is until today celebrated in many places in Germany and Europe in different ways. The cold season is replaced by the warm season and "evil spirits" are supposed to be driven away.

Dancing into May on Walpurgis Night…

Day of Remembrance for the Victims of National Socialism

27. January 2021, Heike Leiacker - Anniversary, General, Germany, Hamburg, Historical Events, Judaism, Knowledge

„Stolpersteine“ (stumbling stones) in Hamburg on 27 January 2019.

Since 1996, every year on 27 January Germany commemorates the Day of Rememberance for the victims of National Socialism. Explicitly, in order to remember all victims of National Socialism. The commemoration day refers to the anniversary of the 27 January 1945, when the concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated by the Red Army. For the same reason the day was declared International Holocaust Remembrance Day by the United Nations in 2005. It is now commemorated in various European countries.

Day of Remembrance for the Victims of National Socialism

Sources for genealogy: Church books

24. January 2021, Heike Leiacker - Genealogy, General, Germany, Historical Documents, Knowledge, Tips and Tricks

German church books, Source and copy right: Archion.de (https://www.archion.de/en/). We would like to thank them for the permission to use the picture.

We did not forget our top 10 sources for genealogy. How could we? After all, we are working with them on a daily basis. Today we would like to share some information on church books in Germany.

Sources for genealogy: Church books

Florian Heyden - Walter Ulbricht. Mein Urgroßvater.

20. August 2020, Heike Leiacker - Archives, Societies, Museums, Family, General, Germany, Historical Documents, History, Knowledge, Literature, Personalities

Cover of the book „Walter Ulbricht. Mein Urgroßvater“ by Florian Heyden, copyrights by Eulenspiegel Verlagsgruppe.

Our job is very exciting and full of interesting stories: Long kept family secrets are uncovered, unknown family members found and many questions answered. A very special case was from the beginning the one of Florian Heyden. We have spent many years to search various archives worldwide for him in order to find new information on his famous great-grandfather - none other than GDR politician Walter Ulbricht. Today, a book written by Florian Heyden is published at the German publishing house Das Neue Berlin: „Walter Ulbricht. Mein Urgroßvater“ (Walter Ulbricht. My great-grandfather).

Florian Heyden - Walter Ulbricht. Mein Urgroßvater.

Stay clean (and most of all: healthy)!

25. May 2020, Silke Deeb - Anniversary, General, Germany, Hamburg, Historical Events, Knowledge, Personalities

A 500 ml bottle of the hand disinfectant Sterillium® Viruguard by the BODE Chemie company from Hamburg.

A birthday is usually a great opportunity to invite many guests, especially, if the inviting party has reached an admirable age. These days, due to the Corona crisis, these kinds of events are cancelled in large numbers. If people nevertheless get together, many are relieved if some disinfectant is available. It therefore makes for a nice change, if we talk about the birthday of something that would never invite anyone, but that is still worth celebrating - and especially in times of Corona.

Now, who or what is turning 55 years this June? Everyone here at our office is younger. We owe our age not least to the jubilee: the Sterillium disinfectant! It was the first marketable hand disinfectant worldwide and its name has become a generic term in Germany for any disinfectant just like the brand name Band-Aid is used generically for adhesive bandages or medical plasters.

Stay clean (and most of all: healthy)!

Emigration from Germany: Arrival in a new world – entering and arriving are two very different things

11. May 2020, Andrea Bentschneider - Emigration, General, German-American, Germany, Hamburg, History, Knowledge, Personalities

The immigration station on Ellis Island, New York, picture taken around 1896, source: unknown photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ellis_Island_First_Bldg_Burnt_15-June-1897.jpg).

Departing from the German emigration ports Hamburg and Bremen resp. Bremerhaven, the majority of emigrants had in mind to reach North America. A significantly smaller number departed to Brazil, Australia, Argentina, Chile and various other countries.

Emigration from Germany: Arrival in a new world – entering and arriving are two very different things

International Workers’ Day and the role of a German immigrant

01. May 2020, Heike Leiacker - Emigration, General, German-American, Germany, Historical Events, Knowledge, Personalities

Photograph of August Spies from 1886. He is called a murderer on it.Source: unknown photographer, Public domain [PD-US-expired] via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:August-Spies-1886.jpg).

Every year on 01, May International Workers’ Day (or Labor Day) is celebrated in many countries in different ways. However, where does this tradition come from, why was a German-American in Chicago, Illinois (by the way a sister city of Hamburg) at least partly responsible for the introduction of this day and if this is so: Why does the US of all countries celebrate Labor Day on another day?

International Workers’ Day and the role of a German immigrant

Emigration from Germany: Going on a journey - costs, means of transport, and conditions of travel

24. April 2020, Andrea Bentschneider - Emigration, German-American, General, Germany, Hamburg, History, Knowledge

The passenger deck of the emigration ship “Samuel Hop“ on the journey via Rotterdam and Le Havre to the US in 1849, drawing by Leo von Elliot in “Leipziger Illustrierte Zeitung” from 10 November 1849, page 292, source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 137-041316 / Unknown / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_137-041316,_Auswandererschiff_%22Samuel_Hop%22.jpg).

Going on a journey can become adventurous! When talking about ship passengers of the third class and passengers in the times when a doctor was not necessarily on board, this can be taken literally. The conditions of travel were far from comfortable and safe. But let’s take one thing at a time; no one has gone on board yet.

Emigration from Germany: Going on a journey - costs, means of transport, and conditions of travel

Emigration from Germany: Ranging the fields – reasons for emigration and formal requirements to meet before leaving the country

11. April 2020, Andrea Bentschneider - Emigration, General, German-American, Germany, Historical Events, History, Knowledge

Mount Tambora’s eruption in 1815 resulted in massive famines in the subsequent years forcing large numbers of the suffering German population to emigrate. Source: Jialiang Gao (peace-on-earth.org) / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Caldera_Mt_Tambora_Sumbawa_Indonesia.jpg).

Globalization is one of these words that have been on everyone’s lips for the past years. Currently the worldwide spread of the Corona virus illuminates once again the global interlacing between countries due to trade and tourism, or any other kind of traffic and its consequences. 

That the whole world is linked and that events on the other side of the globe can have effects on other parts of the world is, however, nothing new.

Emigration from Germany: Ranging the fields – reasons for emigration and formal requirements to meet before leaving the country

Emigration from Germany

04. April 2020, Silke Deeb - Emigration, Family, Genealogy, Germany, General, Historical Documents, Historical Events, Knowledge

Advertisement for the emigration to America, source: United States Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division in Washington, D.C., LC-DIG-pga-13282, Auswanderung nach Amerika. Amerika und seine Freuden. Public domain, via Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2003691148/).

Those who engage in genealogical research will probably sooner or later discover that family members packed up and emigrated. Emigrants left Germany for overseas mostly from the cities Hamburg or Bremen. North and South America and Australia were common destinations. However, it was not unusual either to travel eastwards, all across the continent to reach Bessarabia (Southern Russia) for example.

Emigration from Germany

Beyond History - What’s that?

22. November 2019, Heike Leiacker - Anniversary, General

On 01 July 2019, Beyond History celebrated its 15th anniversary. A good reason to have a closer look at the company name! Actually, it does make our life a little harder in Germany. Especially when we are on the telephone, we often have to repeat the name and sometimes we even have to spell it. People in Germany obviously just do not expect an English name for a German company.

Beyond History - What’s that?

30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall - Sources on the East German past

09. November 2019, Heike Leiacker - Anniversary, Archives, Societies, Museums, Genealogy, General, Germany, Historical Documents, Historical Events, History, Knowledge

After the new travel regulations have been announced, thousands of GDR citizens cross the border at Invalidenstrasse in Berlin on 10 November 1989, Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1989-1110-041 / Hirschberger, Ralph / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-1989-1110-041,_Berlin,_Grenz%C3%BCbergang_Invalidenstra%C3%9Fe.jpg).

09 November is a special day in German history. In the year 1989 this finally meant something positive. On this day, the government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) announced a new and long-desired travel regulation. People now could directly leave the GDR in the direction of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). This caused the fall of the Berlin Wall and finally led to the German reunification.

For genealogy, the division of Germany plays quite some role, too. The foundation of two separate states and especially the construction of the Berlin Wall and the closing of the inner-German border tore families apart and led to very different living environments in East and West Germany. Until today this affects the German society. On the occasion of the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall we are having a look at the historic events and also discuss sources that can be useful for researching ancestors and relatives in the former GDR.

30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall - Sources on the East German past

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