2017 New Series of Posts Holocaust Museum POST 5 Part II Adolf Spurgat

May 2016: Day 1 Research  

 One of my burning questions was, “What was the source of the 1944 death record of Adolf Spurgat in Essen?

When I could not find very many other Spurgats, I asked about the source of the Adolf Spurgat (who died in Essen in 1944) record. My point was, “If he was in the ITS databases, why weren’t there records for any other Spurgats from Essen?“ On my first day the volunteer told me to ask the men the next day. Steve helped me in the morning, and Bill refined the answer in the afternoon.

May 2016: Day 2 Research

I found three more records related to this Adolf Spurgat: (1) a typed copy of the  Sterbeurkunde, death certificate from the City of Essen Archives, which I suspected was the source of the above ITS record as the information was similar.  An earlier copy of the death record from the Essen Archives through the efforts of a German researcher was handwritten with much the same information.

However, with the astute eye of my “young German cousin” 3 pieces of information were noted: (a) Bauhilfsarbeiter (unskilled worker in construction) was different than “the brewery worker” definition I had been given earlier. (b) the word “vestorben” (deceased) had been crossed out and replaced with tot aufgefunden” (found dead) (c) Stinneshafen was the port of a mine along the Rhein-Herne-Kanal (canal/channel) in the northern part of Essen.

The second record included the information: “Verz.(eichnis) d. Reichskriminalpolizeiamtes Berlin über Todesfälle von erkennungsdienstlich behandelten Personen, sogen. “Berliner Listen”, Gruppe P. P.” which translates as, “Register of the Criminal Investigation Department of Berlin about fatalities of persons submitted to criminal identification, so called “Berliner Listen”, group “P.P.”

My “young German researcher” also commented:

  • I have no knowledge of these Berlin lists and the group PP.
  • …The prefix ‘Reich’, probably… has a negative connotation in English, but it was very common for a lot of national government authorities and should not be seen as a [WWII] Germany term. Nowadays, ‘Bundes’ (Federal) is used instead of ‘Reich’; Bundespolizei, Bundesbank, etc.

The final record was the most interesting and finally answered my question. The first page is shown below.

Image (11)

The title translates as “Register of persons who died in May 1944 and of whom the Criminal Investigation Department has fingerprints.”

On the second page was the name of Adolf Spurgat!

Image (12)

This information was sent to Wiesbaden (where The German Federal Criminal Investigation Department still has a lot of offices today) and then to Berlin.

The two volunteers explained that this was a list of foreigners who were registered with the National Securities (spies) and that these people were considered a “threat recognition source.” The list includes people in Essen who died between 1939 and 1945 and forward.

Another way of stating this is that Adolf Spurgat was a “person of interest” because he was born outside of Germany (Russia) and he was not a laborer (he was disabled according to the archivist at the Essen Archives). If he had not been born in Russia and died, he would not have been on this list. So that finally explained why this one “miracle” ITS record helped me in ways I never expected.


The afternoon volunteer gave me a two page handout he had prepared just for researchers who might need further information from German archives. That list could keep me busy for a very long time as the sources are mostly German archives, but some are online.

It cannot be said enough times: The most important question in genealogical research is, “How do you know this? What is the source of the record?”

ITS opened up avenues I would never have explored without FEEFHS, Dr. Afoumado, Benjamin Hutop, and Ina Nanazelskis.

The volunteers’ explanation of the source led to my understanding that I had exhausted the possibilities of the ITS databases, and Bill recommended that I research scholarly articles and books in the 5th floor library

 End of Day 2 and 3

Late the afternoon of the second day, Bill took me up to the Fifth Floor Library and Archives. The reference librarian helped me to acclimate myself for the following day, and I researched in the library and archives on my last day, which will be the subject of the next several posts.

I did find 4 books, 1 article, and 1 thesis on the subject of what happened between 1941 and 1950 to Germans who lived in Lithuania and gave me a much needed understanding of the two German settlements in Lithuania.





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2017 New Series of Posts Holocaust Museum Post 4 Part I

The Importance of Another Adolf Spurgat in Essen

 Summer 2014

At the Foundation of Eastern European Family History Societies (FEEFHS) conference in August 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah, I had the honor of an hour long one-to-one meeting with Dr. Diane Afoumado, Chief of the ITS Research Branch, to discuss the possibility of searching for the Spurgat name in their many databases.


A brief analysis of the holdings of the ITS suggests that at the time of WWII most of the people named Spurgat from the former Suwalki Province may have ended up in Soviet camps. If so, the International Tracing Service will not be able to supply any information about them. However, there were multiple entries for the Spurgat name from Wylkowiszki and the nearby area.

Because Dr. Alfoumado and the author started at the beginning of the alphabet with first names, one matching Spurgat data card was especially surprising. It read: Adolf Spurgat, born in Wilkowischen, Lithuania, son of Johann Spurgat! This Adolf Spurgat was born 1894 and died in 1944 in Essen, Germany. The location was also surprising! Eventually, the author was able to connect this Johann Spurgat and Adolf Spurgat with the Johann and Adolph Spurgat family.



Death Record of Adolf Spurgat from the International Tracing Service

Image (31)

 Summer 2015

In August 2015 in Salt Lake at the FEEFHS conference Dr. Diane Afoumado had Ina Nanazelskis, Program Coordinator, Oral History, interview me about how one Spurgat record Dr. Afoumado had given me in August 2014 led to research I never expected to do. Basically, I was able to tie Adolf Spurgat who died in Essen in 1944 to my Spurgat family. From Benjamin Hutop’s research with the city of Essen Archives I learned there were more Spurgats in Essen than anyone ever knew: Adolph’s older brother Johann, wife Maria, son Adolf born in Russia, and four more children born in Essen at the same time the Adolf Spurgat family was there.

This singular record also led me to https://suwalkigermans.wordpress.com/2016/09/30/research-2012-2015-essen-archives-part-iv/


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2017 New Series of Posts Holocaust Museum Post 3 Hutop Family

2010–2015 Background

In 2010 the author had written:

…The children of Pauline Spurgat Hutop reported that her father, Johann Ferdinand Hutop, was said to have had four wives…

After I started my blog in May 2012 I heard from a Facebook friend, Pajevonys Wizajny, named after the two locations in Lithuania of interest to him. He sent me a 1931 marriage record of an Emil Hutop/Emilas Hutopas in the same location, but I could not connect him to my family.

In November 2014 the professional researcher at the Lithuanian State Historical Archives added these notes about this marriage record which I brought to his/her attention:

…this Emilis Hutop could be: (1) a son of Johann Ferdinand Hutop from his third marriage. (2) a son of Johann Ferdinand Hutop with his first marriage to Dorota Cering or with his second marriage to Charlotte Simoneit.

We have looked through death records for this Johann Ferdinand but did not find any. We have looked for the death record of his wife Luiza Rigelyte Hutop until 1940 but did not find any.

This marriage had to be approved by the Bishop. We cannot locate a decree from the Vilkaviskis province to check the reason for a dispensa—a release from calling banns. Usually a dispensa is issued when newlyweds need to marry as soon as possible or when the marriage is between members of different congregations.

We did not check for births and marriages of Emilis and his possible siblings. We guess he and his father Jonas Ferdinand were members of a Hutop family who remained in Lithuania.

By December 2015 the author had written:

Perhaps there was a third marriage of Johann Ferdinand Hutop to Luiza Rigelyte circa 1905 in Pajevonis and a son, Emil Hutop, born to them circa 1906

(1) Research to determine the relationship of Emil Hutop to the above Hutop family has not resulted in a conclusive relationship.

(2) Microfilmed records of the Pajevonys parish appear not to exist. There is no record of a Lutheran church in Pajevonys.

(3) Existing cemetery records from the Roman Catholic Church did not reveal a burial for Anna Hutop, Johann Ferdinand Hutop, [second wife] Charlotte Simoneit Hutop, Emil Hutop, Luize Rigetyle Hutop, or any other Hutops.

(4) The author did not locate anyone with the Hutop surname or its various spellings from the [online] International Tracing Service in its records on displaced persons after World War II in Europe. ITS databases are housed in the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington D. C.

Some of this information was revealed in https://suwalkigermans.wordpress.com/2016/07/15/2012-2015-research-post-7-passport-and-ober-ost/

May 2016 US Holocaust Memorial Museum: Survivors and Victims Databases

In the previous post I wrote:

…I now turned to my maternal line, the Hutop family, where I had listed about 30 names with extra space for any new names!

Included in this list as there were many records for Emilis Hutopas born 28 August 1906; his wife Anele Dainauskas born 3 March 1905, and two daughters Albine/Albina born November 1935 and Elena born February 1938. I also found records with the Dainauskas name that immigrated to Nebraska.

Many were the same forms kept on Anna Spurgaitis/Ona Spurgatiene:


I had: an AEF Assembly Center Registration Card, Deutschland records, documents from the Headquarters of the Third United States Army, and an Application for Assistance. Several records in German required Benjamin Hutop’s invaluable translations. One in Lithuanian was sent to my trusty family history tour guide.

This discovery happened on Day 1 and if I learned nothing else, the trip would have been a success. But there were to be even more discoveries.

Epilogue: 2016 and Forward

In the months following this discovery, with the help of both my fellow German researcher and Lithuanian Family Tour Guide, we have worked to determine the relationship to our family as well as what happened to this Hutop family and the possible whereabouts of the daughters. We are now quite certain that Emil is related to us through a third wife. Along the way, we discovered a brother Johann. Because there are contradictions in the records, and the search is incomplete at the time of the publication of this post, the results will, hopefully, be the subject of a not too distant future post.

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2017 New Series of Posts Holocaust Museum POST 2

Day 1: Experiences at the Victims and Resource Center:

By taking the metro on a Sunday morning, I was able to acclimate myself before the busyness of Monday morning rush hour might distract me. When I arrived at the museum before 10 o’clock, I wanted the guards to know my purpose was not the same as a museum visitor. The computer I carried  provided that explanation, and I became the first person at the head of the line.

The second floor Holocaust Survivors and Victims Center was smaller than I imagined, but quiet. The most adept volunteer quickly acclimated me to their system and explained how to look at two areas in the database: the middle section and the bottom section with additional information. I also learned about an exact and a “fuzzy” search. She made me feel welcome and no question was too simple for her.

I started with my printout of 50 Spurgat names and worked methodically through each name. I penciled in the notes quickly so I could review them and make a computer entry in the evenings as I planned my work for the next day. I wasn’t finding as much as I had hoped and penciled in DNFs (Did Not Find) very quickly.

Here is a sample:


1. 1903 Adam Spurgat (relationship unidentified) was living in Essen. JOHANN DNF
18. Grete Spurgat Sister of Eduard Spurgat born 1897. Do not know married surname


I was not finding any of the names of the Spurgats who had lived in Essen, but I did have the copy with me of the one Essen record from August 2014. Why was Adolf Spurgat the only Essen name in the ITS collection?

I asked the volunteer: How could I find the source a particular record from Essen? She referred me to the two gentlemen who would be there the next day. The rest of this story will be the subject of Posts 4 and 5.  Stay tuned!

The volunteer told me that Fanny Aizenberg, a 99 year old Holocaust survivor came to the Victims and Survivors Resource Center every Sunday at 1’ clock. Would I mind taking a few minutes from my research to visit with her? Would I ever!!!! She arrived with her guardian, who brings her in a wheelchair from a taxi. What a privilege it was to meet her, if only briefly. She is the first one on the list of Volunteer Survivors listed on the website. Later that day I would see my Spurgat aunt, also 99. What a day to be in the presence of such gracious ladies!

By mid-afternoon the area was quiet, and I was completing my 50some Spurgat names with many DNFs. I was adding several new Spurgat names in the blank spaces, especially records relating to the children of Anna Spurgaitis/Ona Surgatiene whom I had written about in


I did not stop to copy those 15 records as I had my story about Anna, and I still did not know the relationship. I would come back to them if I had extra time.

The volunteer offered me hot tea and some cookies during her break. She could not have been nicer!

With the Spurgats completed for the moment, I turned to my maternal line, the Hutop family, where I had listed about 30 names with extra space for any new names. I found a gold mine, exactly what I was looking for! These results will be the subject of Post 3 so stay tuned!

The next several posts will describe the rest of the research trip which on Day 1 had already taken an unexpected turn.

A Final Note for Researchers

The massive databases in the ITS collection are most impressive. The volunteers who know this collection are impeccable. For the experienced researcher, the search is promising. I prepared as best as I could. However, there is one thing that I would do differently if I were to return. Each part of the collection is labelled as a series of number (i. e. There may also be a folder number. Some records provide an image, some do not. As a researcher, I do not know what the source of records each sequence of numbers represents. The staff and volunteers do. For follow up questions and easy access, the volunteers would, I suspect, like to know the number sequence. I wish I had written it down for all the records I copied and notes I took. So if you go, make a table that has a cell for the ITS record number.


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New Series of Posts 1 Holocaust Museum


The 13 day 2013 Road Scholar Tour of all three Baltic countries and the subsequent 5 day Family History Tour resulted in a personal interest in what had happened to the people in the Baltic states after the three Spurgat families left between 1900 and 1908. Actually, this interest had started with the Essential Reading and Recommended Reading Lists Road Scholar provided and my own Internet search.

Links to Previous Blogs




Add to this list my Introduction to the International Tracing Service records and my meeting with Dr. Diane Afoumado in August 2014


and again in August 2015


When I learned that a research trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum would be necessary to complete my research, I scheduled it for May 2016. The next series of posts will examine the purpose and preparation for this research trip, the experiences, and the results.

My preparation consisted of 2 major steps: simultaneously mining the website and preparing printed tables for quick recording and reference.

Website Preparation

I mined https://www.ushmm.org/, especially the second floor Holocaust Survivors and Victims Resource Center https://www.ushmm.org/remember/the-holocaust-survivors-and-victims-resource-center.

By clicking on the drop down list at the left-hand side of the page, I found the most helpful sections to be Holocaust Survivors and Victims Database (search for name and search for lists), International Tracing Service, Resources for Information, References Services, and Plan Your Visit.

I did find some names of interest in the online database, but because I already had many ITS records, I knew there was more waiting for me. https://suwalkigermans.wordpress.com/2016/11/03/post-14-2012-2015-research-international-tracing-service/

Under Reference Services, I clicked on the email address, letter, fax, or telephone. Two carefully-crafted e-mails resulted in two telephone conversations with a volunteer extraordinaire, a week apart.

I also looked at the online 5th floor library information, but did think I had the time to work there. https://www.ushmm.org/research/research-in-collections/research-visit

I had done as much as I could online.

Research Log Preparation

I also made tables of all the people and places I wanted to find.

  • Family members and other relevant information (birthdates and sources of information) of Spurgats who I knew were still in Lithuania in the 1930s which I had recently obtained from my Lithuanian researcher.
  • Spurgat names and other relevant information in East Prussian locations.
  • Spurgat names and other relevant information who had been in Essen, Germany, for more than a generation.
  • Maternal names (Hutop) and other relevant information from Lithuania and of all married Spurgats in Essen.
  • These lists totaled over 80 names.
  • I could place Spurgats in about 25 locations which I wanted to check for any possible records.
  • Blank cells and rows to add any additional names that might be in the databases.

I needed to write my comments quickly on paper and put them in the computer during the evenings. I brought my laptop and a thumb drive (which I had been told to bring to save the records on). I just had to have it all organized in my head.

I planned for three days of research. I had been told not to come during the busy season of late spring, summer, and early fall. I had been told to come on a Sunday as that was not a busy day. I planned one day to get organized, one day to do serious research, and one day for rechecks.

I also had some burning questions:

  • What was the source of one particular record from Essen I had received in August 2014 in Salt Lake which had allowed to me make several unexpected connections a year later?
  • What information could I expect to learn about German civilians in Essen, Germany? (With regard to ITS records, what was the status of ordinary German civilians after the war?)
  • What did “turned over to the German economy” mean in the case of Anna Spurgaitis whom I described in https://suwalkigermans.wordpress.com/2016/11/03/post-14-2012-2015-research-international-tracing-service/


I was lucky enough to have a close relative in the area with whom I stayed for four nights and fairly easy access to the metro so I could plan to be at the museum when they opened at 10 A. M. Also, I had a Spurgat aunt, the last surviving member of that generation, who lived in the area. She had married into the Spurgat family and been a staunch supporter ever since, and I wanted to see her again.

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RESEARCH 2012 to 2015 POST 22 Epilogue

What started out in August 2014 to be an e-mail attachment to selected supporters of my research efforts resulted in December 2015 in a 200+ page addendum. After 800 pages on these –at families, one must rationally ask, “How much more information can there be?”

The simple answer is, “I don’t know.”

Six additional topics appear on the horizon:

Autosomal DNA: Using DNA from a female descendant of Adolph Spurgat and a male descendant of William Gustave Spurgat started this process to establish baseline data; more descendants on both sides, preferably one from each sibling, increase the likelihood of knowing the relationship between these two Spurgat families who lived near each other. In that generation Adolph’s nine children and William Gustave five sons attended school and church together. Those who lived near each other were friends as well as “cousins” and saw each other fairly regularly throughout their lives. If we are ever to know our “kin”, it is the present oldest generation who could expand this effort. Two first cousins on one side have submitted their DNA, three have refused, and six did not respond to the request.

Hutops in East Prussia: Benjamin Hutop and the author hope to identify earlier generations of Johann Hutop and Wilhelmina Stein, perhaps in East Prussia.

Hutops Post WWII: As previously stated, work continues on the relationship of Emil Hutop born 28 August 1906; his wife Anele Dainauskas born 3 March 1905, and possible whereabouts of his two daughters Albine/Albina born November 1935 and Elena born February 1938.

Spurgats in East Prussia: In her lifetime the author would like to continue her search for the origins of all great-grandparents and 2nd great-grandparents in the most likely places.

 Spurgats in Essen: The author has a few records of descendants Johann Spurgat and Maria Matutat who lived in Essen and Duisberg in the 20th century and has been working with a professional German researcher to attain others even though German privacy laws may prevent completion of this effort.

 Spurgats in Suwalki Province: In late 2015 a friendly researcher in Vilnius, Lithuania, used Facebook to inform me that he found the 1888 marriage record of an “Andrzej Sporgat” in Keturvalakiai, easily located southeast of Wylkowiszki on an online map. He was the son of Friedrich Sporgat and Kristina Gneszut. This bit of information is exciting because (1) it may establish an 1836 birth of a Spurgat in Suwalki Province and (2) the first name “Andrzej” is also the name of a 2nd great-grandfather born circa 1818 or, at the least, it could be a family name. Furthermore, the author thinks that the last name of the mother might very well be Gneszat, another /-at/ name.

Also the author has secured Spurgat records when Lithuania was independent 1923 to 1939 and still seeks to know what happened to these Spurgat whose records were not available in the ITS databases.

A new series of posts will be introduced next week.


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RESEARCH 2012-2015 POST 21 Spurgats in Kreis Pogenen and Kreis Tauroggen County, Lithuania, and Conclusion to Spurgats in East Prussia

Schmalleningken/Smalininkai, Lithuania

In 1920 after the Treaty of Versailles a Kreis Pogenen was formed from some areas of Kreis Tilsit and Kreis Ragnit. Areas north of the river became part of Lithuania where the villages of Szugken/Zukai, Wischwill/Viesvile and Schmalleningken/Smalininkai are still in what was known as Lithuania Minor.

Schmalleningken/Smalininkai is a small city in Lithuania on the right-hand shore of the Neman River.  It was part of German East Prussia.

See https://suwalkigermans.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/schmalleningkensmalininkai/

Although the following information, given to me by one of our local guides in July 2013, is about 20th century Spurgats, it reveals that people with this surname were connected to Schmalleningken after World War II to 1970. No online databases that the author had identified included any Spurgat names in Schmalleningken. Google Translate was used to interpret the original Lithuanian.

Episode 51 from the Prussian 22.12.1956- Archives Allgemeine Zeitung archiv.preussische-allgemeine.de/1956/1956_12-22-51.pdf

Frederick W. Spurgat from Gumbinnen now at his daughter, the man …. Schmalleningken, Memel, now with his youngest daughter Edith Kotthofer in…

Episode 37 of the Prussian 11.09.1965- Archives Allgemeine Zeitung archiv.preussische-allgemeine.de/1965/1965_09-11-37.pdf

5,028,920 Z Spitzer, Anna, Gr. Wersmeningken. 5039940 E Spurgat, Friedr., Dr. medical officer, Gumbinnen …… Schmalleningken.

Episode 19 of the 07.05.1955- Archives Allgemeine Zeitung archiv.preussische-allgemeine.de/1955/1955_05-07-19.pdf

Christel Empire, born Mertinat, Heinrich Mertinat, Edith Mertinat, born Spurgat. Erhard grandson Thomas ….. Schmalleningken, East Prussia now Kirchheim-Teck, 21st

Adelskartei.de – Profiles from the German Reich in 1901 www. adelskartei.de/054.htmIsversti si puslapį

Petschullat, Christopher, in Schmalleningken from Peucker, Marie, Controllmadchen out …. Spurgat, Joseph, from Old Wipes harrows, Spyra, Karl, from Bodziejowioe

Episode 01 from the Prussian 03.01.1970- Archives Allgemeine Zeitung archiv.preussische-allgemeine.de/1970/1970_01-03-01.pdf

1970 saus. 3 – Steinert, Karl, Zugfuhrer from Schmalleningken, district …. Knuth, Herbert (Otto Knuth) from Goldap, Memeler …. Annie Wilke, born Spurgat


The Gumbinnen Administrative District and Konigsberg Administrative District were not organized until 1815. The following location does not fall under either jurisdiction.

Miks Spurgatis was born in Oznugan, (today Ornugariai, Taurage County, Lithuania) in 1852. The city of Taurage is located northeast of the city of Tilsit, today Sovetsk, Kalinigrad Oblast, Russia. Taurage was and still is a center for Lutherans in Lithuania. Taurage was in East Prussia until 1793, and in 1795 it became part of the Russian Empire.


After five years of research I have eliminated a lot of possibilities, another way of stating that I have identified no single, solid connection between the possible origins of my -at family in East Prussia.

Another researcher explained:

As for your theory that there were four different families with the name “Spurgat”, I promise you that that would be impossible, given how small the population was.

The conclusion that I had drawn was that there were at least four different Spurgat families in the Wylkowiszki area in the 19th century based on an examination of every Spurgat record I could find. I did not mean to suggest that these four Spurgat men were not related to each other. The remaining existing records did not support any possible conclusions as to the relationship of these four men to each other. I certainly recognized that they were most likely related in an undetermined way.

There were no uncommon Lithuanian names… among different families in areas of such low population densities –and Spurgaitis is a very uncommon name. Furthermore, in the many scholarly journals that I’ve read, and in consulting with several linguists who specialize in the names of families from East Prussia and Lithuania, the assumption that is made ***without question*** is that all instances of a given surname in a given geographical area are references to the same family. In addition, I have come across countless records of countless different families in countless different towns in villages, some far apart from one another but still in the   same general region, and in the several cases where I’ve crossed referenced parents names, siblings’ names, etc. each family with the same surname was one and the same.  Not to mention that you can see this is the case if you have DNA testing done at, for example, Family Tree DNA, and then look at who matches whom. I’ve even had two different people tested in Europe who have some variation of my last name, and sure enough, were all from the same family. Of                 course, I knew that based on the similarity of the surnames, each Germanized Lithuanian, but I had the testing done anyway in order to see how closely related we are.

In the case of Spurgat, the branches you’ve found most likely originated from a common male who lived between 300 and 500 years ago. He probably emigrated from Lithuania to East  Prussia, and then perhaps one or more family members from later generations went back to  Lithuania.

If so, “wars and fires” may well have destroyed any possible evidence of any Spurgats before 1849. However, the search continues with the never-dying hope that ancestral dust may still reside in the next unturned page.




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