11. April 2017, Emigration, German-American, Germany, Historical Events, Literature, Personalities, WWII
United States Army portrait of Kurt Vonnegut Jr., by United States Army [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AKurt-Vonnegut-US-Army-portrait.jpg)
On 11 April 2017, author Kurt Vonnegut died in New York. Born on 11 November 1922 as the youngest of three siblings in Indianapolis, Vonnegut was a fourth-generation German-American. Both of his parents, his father Kurt Vonnegut Sr. and his mother Edith Lieber, descended from German emigrants, that arrived in America in the 19th century.
Kurt Vonnegut and Germany
26. March 2017, Family, General, Germany, Literature, Personalities
Cover of the book „Sie kam aus Mariupol“ by Natascha Wodin, copyrights by Rowohlt Verlag GmbH
In February 2017 the German publisher Rowohlt released the new book of writer Natascha Wodin. “Sie kam aus Mariupol” not only tells the moving story of her mother but also describes her ancestry research as such vividly. The literary biography was rightly awarded with the Leipzig Book Fair Prize 2017. We hope it will be translated into English one day.
Literature tip: „Sie kam aus Mariupol“ by Natascha Wodin (German language)
15. February 2017, Birthdays, Emigration, German-American, Hamburg, Personalities, General
Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg/Henry E. Steinway https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ASteinway_factory_Schanzenstrasse_Hamburg_Germany.jpg
On 15 February 1797, Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg was born in Wolfshagen/Harz in Northern Germany. Can you guess? Later known as Henry E. Steinway, the founder of one of the leading piano manufacturers of the world, Steinway and Sons, was a German emigrant.
To build the best piano possible
19. January 2017, Historical Documents, Personalities, General
Who would think that a painting from a church would reveal a complete family history?
In 2009, we researched the German ancestors of the popular Australian cook Maggie Beer for an episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?" in Budenheim near Mainz. The focus lay on the Ackermann and Krohmann family lines.
In the course of the investigation we came across a painting which had hung in the former Catholic church St. Pankratius in Budenheim. During reconstruction works a few years before, two portraits had been discovered: a woman and a child depicted as an angel hovering above a family father with 5 children. After they had been painted over for many years these pictures were revealed and renovated upon discovery.
The unexpected hiding places of sources in genealogical research
11. November 2016, Historical Events, Personalities, Traditions, Anniversary
November is the month in which the traditional lantern processions take place in Germany. Children walking through the streets with their parents and colourful, self-made lanterns in the early hours of the evening is a custom that - like many other customs - traces back to a clerical holiday. In this case the holy Martin of Tours is to be honored by the rite.
Walking with lanterns
30. August 2016, Family, General, WWII, Personalities
Back in 2011, we received an inquiry from an Australian client who had been born in Rotenburg/Wümme, Germany shortly after World War II. Her father had been stationed there as a soldier in the German air force. After a short British war imprisonment he decided to return to his wife and two children to his home town Vienna, Austria. This decision meant that he left the mother of our client and his illegitimate daughter, our client, even before she was born. After these events the family of our client never heard of the man again.
After 65 years, the daughter finally wanted to know who her biological father was - what kind of person had he been, had he lived a happy life, when and where had he died? She hoped to find answers to all these questions with our help.
2 Families, 2 Generations, 2 Continents, 1 Search, 0 Birth dates
26. July 2016, Hamburg, Personalities, Historical Events
During the air raids of "operation Gomorrha" in the summer of 1943, large parts of the animal park were destroyed. Luckily some of the animals survived and thus it was that elephants helped with the clearing work afterwards - not only at the zoo but also in other areas of Hamburg.
The walrus lady Antje is also unforgotten as she was both the mascot of Hagenbeck and of the NDR [North German Broadcasting Corporation] from 1976 until her death in 2003.
Hagenbeck - a long-term institution in Hamburg - Part 2
12. January 2016, General, Hamburg, Knowledge, Personalities, Professions
The Troplowitz street in Hamburg
Big company – tragic story!
Whether the cream “Nivea”, the adhesive film “Tesa” or a care lipstick called “Labello” – everyone knows the products, also the producer is known all over the world: the Beiersdorf AG. The persons behind those brands are known much less.
In 1880, Paul Carl Beiersdorf born in Neuruppin in 1836 settles down as a pharmacist in Hamburg and fiddles with the dermatologist Paul Gerson Unna (1850-1929) about an adhesive bandage for wounds – the patch as we know it nowadays is invented!
Series: Street names and their stories
27. October 2015, Emigration, Family, General, German-American, Personalities
When an American, John Brinkmann, contacted us a while back, we had the opportunity to look at a very exceptional family history. You see, John Brinkmann Sr., his father, was director of photography at NASA and as such was responsible for bringing us all of the spectacular pictures from the Gemini and Apollo space programs, in particular the first photos from the surface of the moon in 1969 - photos that went around the globe then and still do (and you are probably visualizing them while you are reading this). John recalled to us how his father shared these photos with the family around the morning breakfast table, before they had been revealed to the press. The collectively shared memory of history that manifests itself in these images stands in contrast to each individual life and its often unclear ancestral past. Now, with his father advancing in years, John wanted to help reconnect his father with his forefathers roots in Germany.
From Warburg to the Moon – a special family history
08. September 2015, Anniversary, Family, General, Historical Events, Personalities, Professions
Early on the 4th July 1885, the baker Joseph Meister sent his son of the same name to the next village to get yeast from the brewery there. When young Joseph entered the village center, he was attacked by a dog and bitten into his hand and his legs. Some villagers who had witnessed the incident came to hunt away the dog and wash the boy’s wounds with water from the village well. Then they gave him a coin to make him feel better. Little did they know the little boy would make history as the first person successfully vaccinated against rabies!
Rabbits and Rabies or The Story of Joseph Meister
03. September 2015, Celebrities, Genealogy, General, Personalities
Electoral campaigns often make weird headlines. When Barack Obama first ran against Hillary Clinton in the 2008 presidential elections in the USA, genealogy played a part in it as well. Everything of interest in the ancestry of the candidates was brought to the media’s attention. Obama and Clinton are, as it turned out then, distant relatives. The tabloids loved the fact that while Obama was apparently a distant cousin of Brad Pitt, Clinton was related to Angelina Jolie. Also, in Obamas ancestry there were connections to many presidents such as George W. Bush, Gerald Ford and Lyndon Johnson, while Clinton’s family history on the French-Canadian side shows relations to Madonna, Celine Dion and Alanis Morissette.
The Ancestry of Barack, Hillary and Co.
06. August 2015, Birthdays, General, Personalities
Sometimes you need a hero, an empowering story about courageous people. And where else should I look for one if not in history?