Imagine living in 19th century Germany and having to adjust to a different time zone every time you travel within the country. This was reality until the introduction of a single time zone exactly 130 years ago. But how did it come about?
The Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e.V. (German War Graves Commission) is probably known to most German genealogists - or it should be. Mainly, because information on fallen or missing persons from the First and Second World Wars can be found via an online searchable database or a search request.
But the War Graves Commission also looks after German war grave sites abroad, supports the institutions looking after the ones in Germany, is involved in the culture of remembrance and offers educational programs for young people.
The regional association in Saxony is currently pursuing a very special project. And perhaps you can help with it!
If you have found among your ancestors some who dared to emigrate despite all the risks of the journey and adversities of arrival, you may want to shed more light on their path. But how do you go about it? Here, as in other genealogical researches, there are always various possibilities, depending, among other things, on the circumstances in the various states and countries.
Today we would like to address a frequently asked question from our foreign clients, the answer to which always causes astonishment.
In the USA and also in other countries, graves are usually laid out for eternity. In Islam or Judaism, too, eternal rest for the deceased is supposed to be guaranteed. Accordingly, we often receive inquiries about the resting places of ancestors to be visited during a trip, or requests for photos of the gravesites. Unfortunately, this is often not possible in Germany.
Of course we can try to find out where an ancestor was buried, but whether the grave still exists is a completely different question.
On 01 July 2004 I started my own business with my hobby, genealogy, and founded Beyond History. Looking back, this was one of the best decisions I ever made - even though it was not always sunshine and roses. I always like to remember the beginnings and would like to take you with me today on a short journey through the history of our company.
Finally being an adult and thus beeing self-determined! The age of majority is often longed for. In Germany, for example, you have then full legal capacity to conclude contracts of all kinds, the ability to legally buy alcohol and tobacco products, to go to nightclubs, to vote, to freely determine your place of residence, and to marry without the permission of your legal guardians or a family court. However, you also have to live with the consequences of your own actions.
To be considered legally as an adult has therefore advantages and disadvantages (even if there are still transition periods e.g. in the criminal law). In the last 150 years or so, the legal age of majority in Germany has been lowered several times. Today it is 18 years.
For genealogy the age of a person and especially the age of majority play a not unimportant role, too. Depending on the age of a person, other sources may become relevant for the research. Also additions like "volljährig" (of full age), “grossjährig” (of “great” age), "majorenn" (from Latin majorennis which comes from maior annis, meaning greater in years), "major" or, in contrast, such as “minderjährig” (minor), “halbwüchsig” (half-grown), "minorenn" or "minor" can also help to determine the approximate age of a person and thus, for example, to find out (or at least to find a hint) which of potentially several persons with the same names a particular one might be.
On 30 November 1676, the General-Feuer-Cassa - the world's first insurance company still in existence today - was founded in Hamburg. The city's pre-existing fire contracts were combined and a public insurance company was created, which still exists today under the name Hamburger Feuerkasse, albeit now as part of a large insurance group. The historical holdings stored in the State Archive Hamburg are also relevant for genealogical research.
Memorial plaque at the birthplace of Karl Pfizer, photo by Florian Hoffmann, 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:Gedenktafel_Pfizer.jpg)
The pharmaceutical company Pfizer is one of the largest in the world and internationally known - currently especially due to the cooperation with BioNTech in the development, production and distribution of the first vaccine against COVID-19 "Comirnaty" (usually better known under the company name BioNTech), which was approved in the US, Europe and many other countries. But did you know that the company was founded in the US in 1849 by two people from Ludwigsburg, Germany?
Florian Heyden: "Walter Ulbricht. Mein Urgrossvater" (Walter Ulbricht. My great-grandfather) published on 09 September 2021 as a revised and expanded new edition.
On 29 September 2021, the revised and expanded new edition of the book by our client Florian Heyden is published in German: “Walter Ulbricht. Mein Urgrossvater” (Walter Ulbricht. My great-grandfather). It was an honor to be part of the research for this book.
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.
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.
„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.
What a great story! In our line of work, interesting first names are not uncommon - we often ask ourselves what parents might have thought when naming a child. In this case we know it exactly and it is a very nice appreciation of the family’s German ancestors and of the birth date of the child.
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: „Walter Ulbricht. Mein Urgroßvater“ (Walter Ulbricht. My great-grandfather).