25. May 2020, 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)!
11. May 2020, 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
01. May 2020, 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
02. September 2018, Emigration, General, German-American, Germany, Historical Events, History, Knowledge, Personalities
Colonel Friedrich Hecker, unknown author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Colonel_Friedrich_Hecker.png).
Friedrich Hecker was one of the faces of the German revolutions of 1848-1849. Like many of his companions he emigrated after the failing of the revolution or single uprisings. On 20 September 1848, he boarded a ship to New York in Le Havre and became a farmer in Illinois. Later, He fought in the American Civil War.
Friedrich Hecker, „Forty-Eighter“
11. April 2018, General, Germany, Historical Events, History, Knowledge, Personalities
Bike and briefcase of Rudi Dutschke after the attempt on his life on 11 April 1968. Picture by the police in Berlin [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:C_Polizei_Berlin_11.04.1968_Fahrrad_mit_Aktentasche_von_Rudi_Dutschke_am_Ort_des_Attentats.jpg)
Rudi Dutschke was probably the most known face and voice of the German student protests in 1967 and 1968. On 11 April 1968, he was shot three times in Berlin by the 23 year old laborer Josef Bachmann. Dutschke suffered severe brain damage and survived only just. Eleven years later, on 24 December 1979, he died of the long-term effects.
Attempt on Rudi Dutschke’s life, symbolic figure of the German 1968 movement
21. January 2018, General, Germany, Hamburg, History, Knowledge, Personalities
Aristide Briand and Gustav Stresemann, 1926. Photo [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aristide_Briand_and_Gustav_Stresemann.jpg).
If you haven’t noticed yet, our offices have moved within Hamburg in December 2017: From Cheruskerweg to Stresemannallee. That means, we are now just around the corner from the company Beiersdorf. In the first part of our series on street names, we already talked about its history. It is still located in Troplowitzstraße which is named after one of the owners of the company, Oscar Troplowitz.
Stresemannallee also commemorates a well-known person, the German politician Gustav Stresemann.
Street names: The Stresemannallee in Hamburg - Beyond History’s new address
25. December 2017, Birthdays, German-American, History, Knowledge, Personalities
Picture by Harry Pot [CC BY-SA 3.0 nl (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Conrad_Hilton.jpg).
He was born in San Antonio on 25 December 1887 as a son of a local businessman, but he became rich and famous as an hotelier. His father Augustus Halvorsen came from Norway and immigrated to the US in 1870. Here he adopted the now famous surname of the family. He married Mary Genevive Laufersweiler who was of German descent. Her father Conrad Laufersweiler was from the Hunsrück, her mother Caroline Wasem was also born in Germany.
An international hotel chain and many headlines
17. September 2017, Family, General, Genealogy, Internet, Knowledge, Personalities
Gravestone of the family Duden in Bad Hersfeld, Germany, an example of a famous German personality that might be of interest for a virtual cemetery. Konrad Duden had quite an influence on German spelling (more information: https://www.beyond-history.com/blog/permalink/191/). Picture by 2micha (Own work) [GPL (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Grabstein_duden_hersfeld.jpg)
In 2015, we addressed the value of cemeteries for genealogy in the context of German cemetery day. We referred to the cemetery 2.0 and the habit of putting QR-Codes on gravestones to allow people to access further information on deceased persons. But with advanced technology there is always something new.
25. August 2017, Emigration, General, German-American, Historical Events, Knowledge, Personalities
Neil Armstrong working on the moon near lunar module Eagle, 20 July 1969. Picture by NASA / Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:As11-40-5886,_uncropped.jpg)
The first man on the moon, a German? No, of course not. But Neil Alden Armstrong had indeed German ancestors.
He was born on 5 August 1930 in Ohio and died in the same state on 25 August 2012 when he was 82 years old. Inbetween Neil Armstron made history with one step on 20 July 1969 (American time). It is not surprising that Armstrong, sometimes compared to Columbus, descended from immigrants as most Americans do. His ancestors had the courage to take steps on unfamiliar ground. To start all over in a new country was certainly not an easy thing to do. Especially as keeping in touch with the people that stayed behind wasn’t as simple as today.
A small step for [a] man – From Germany to the moon
21. July 2017, General, Historical Events, History, Holiday, Knowledge, Personalities
Leopold I of Belgium, Picture by unknown (Zeno.org, ID-Number 20001849204) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AL%C3%A9opold_I.jpg)
Since 1890, 21 July is the Belgian National Day. This goes back to 1831 when the first King of the Belgians, Leopold I, took the oath on the constitution of the newly independent nation. He came from a German dynasty.
Why a German became the first King of the Belgians
23. May 2017, General, German-American, Germany, Knowledge, Personalities, Emigration
02. May 2017, Emigration, General, German-American, History, Knowledge, Personalities
American and Czech Budweiser, Photo: Dorisall at English Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ABud_and_Budvar.jpg)
Without question Anheuser-Busch is one of the best known breweries worldwide. Today the American company is part of the international corporation Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABInBev), just like the German beer brands Beck’s, Franziskaner, Hasseröder, Diebels or Löwenbräu. The brewery originated in the 1850s in St. Louis (Missouri). It was acquired by Eberhard Anheuser and a partner in 1860. Anheuser died 20 years later, on 2 May 1880 in St. Louis.
Germans and their beer – Part 3
28. April 2017, Emigration, General, German-American, History, Knowledge, Personalities, Professions
Frederick Pabst, Picture by S.L. Stein (The Pabst Mansion) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Frederick_Pabst_by_SL_Stein.jpg)
No more than Germans invented beer they were the first to brew it in the USA. Breweries are documented from the 17th century at the latest. Until the middle of the 19th century they mostly produced British-style ale. This changed with enhanced immigration from Germany and the associated higher demand for lighter lager. This was met by German brewers from about mid-century. Until the end of the 19th century lager had become the predominant beer in the USA. And especially German-American brewers like Busch, Pabst or Schlitz had made themselves known.
Germans and their beer – Part 2
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 2007, 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
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!
Street names: The Troplowitz street in Hamburg
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?