New Series of Posts The Resettlements of Germans from Lithuania during World War II Post 11 By Piotr Lossowski

The following post contains significant information quoted and paraphrased from resources at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum Library and Archives. It focuses on the history of Germans in Lithuania and is shared here for the scholarly and historical perspective which may help provide a political and social history to the family history we all seek.
Part I INTRODUCTION
1. The Lithuanian Germans are separate from the Estonian and Latvian Germans.
2. The Germans were never dominant in Lithuania, but they influenced the economy more than the politics of the nation.
Part III GERMAN SETTLEMENTS UNDER PRUSSIA, FRANCE, AND RUSSIA: 1795 to 1918
3. Germans started to appear at the end of the 18th century, and their migration continued throughout the 19th century.
4. They settled mainly near the border of East Prussia. Sakiai with 4.2%, and Taurage with 3.4%. Specifically mentioned is Vilkaviskis with 12.5% of the population. This small agglomeration was a part of Lithuanian villages.
5. The land was fertile and communication network more advanced.
6. These Germans generally bought small or mid size farms, but did not develop whole villages. Craftsmen settled in the towns.
Part IV LITHUANIAN INDEPENDENCE: 1918 to 1940
7. In 1923 there were 23, 231 Germans in Lithuania not counting those Germans in the Memel (today Klaipedia) region.
8. Their religious and social life centered around the evangelische parishes. In 1923 there were only 16 pastors in Lithuania but their school system (centered around their churches) was substantial.
9. The Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Treaty on August 23, 1939, led to the evacuation of
Germans in Estonia and Latvia, but the Lithuanian Germans were not affected by this pact.
10. The small strip of land in the southwestern part of Lithuania (the part of Suwalki Province near the East Prussia border) mostly populated by Germans remained a center of Nazi interest. Vilkaviskis is specifically named. One third of Lithuania’s Germans lived in this exact area.
Part V GERMANIZED EAST: RUSSIAN CONTROL
11. German officials planned no political or social changes until the spring of 1940. The Lithuanian-German border remained undetermined so the removal of Germans in Lithuanian was not critical.
12. Meanwhile, the Kulturverband established numbers and lists of the Germans.
13. In June 1940 the German officials began specific plans to remove the German population from Lithuania, much to Russia’s delight.
14. The exchange of Germans, Poles, and Lithuanians began, but Lithuanians in the Memel and Suwalki regions were expected to come to Lithuania.
15. In July Himmler, “as the Commissioner of the Reich for the establishment of the German character” gave instructions on how to resettle the Germans from Lithuania through the Volksdeutsch Mittelstelle (VoMi) before the end of winter in 1940-41.
16. Very exact terms were determined by VoMI to insure that holding German evacuees was fairly evaluated.
17. Between February 2 and March 23, 1941, over 50,000 “Germans” were evacuated from Lithuania. Lithuanians became part of this evacuation because of the fear of Soviet repercussions. False documents or “family relationships” bolstered these numbers. German officials pretended not to notice the excessive number of “Germans” evacuating and Soviet officials could not prevent it.
18. Germans were sent to transit camps: 10,000 to Mecklenburg; 11,500 to Pomerania; 4,500 to Eastern Prussia, and 23,300 to Wartheland for their political and racial usefulness. Their several month stay provided an opportunity for Nazis to determine their political and racial usefulness.
19. The Third Reich in the East would ultimately determine the fate of the Germans from Lithuania.

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New Series of Posts Orderly and Humane: The Expulsion of the Germans after WWII by R.M. Douglas Post 10

The following post contains significant information quoted and paraphrased from resources at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum Library and Archives. They focus on the topic: the history of Germans in Lithuania. They are shared here for their scholarly and historical perspective and may help provide a political and social history to the family history we all seek.

Chapter 2: The Volksdeutsche in Wartime

Page 40: In the spring of 1939 Germany browbeat neighboring Lithuania into ceding the largely German Memelland to the Reich though 10s of thousands of Volksdeutsche were left in the areas remaining under Lithuanian control. (Note: This would be the area the Spurgats were from in Suwalki Province and extensively described in Himmler’s Auxiliaries.)

Page 41: The Soviets received a sphere of influence over (some other areas), but the Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania would remain a German concern (up to a point when Stalin decided that the narrow strip of land where most of the Lithuanian Germans lived would not be allocated to the Germans and they made plans to evacuate and resettle them in East and West Prussia.) See Himmler’s Auxiliaries.

…There were centuries-old German speaking communities in the Baltics. (Note: Yes, 1300s in Latvia and Estonia; more like late 18th century Germans in East Prussia who ended up in the Russian Empire.)

Page 46: Note: Very similar to Himmler’s Auxiliaries on page 158. In 1939 a week after the USSR’s attack on Poland, Stalin notified Hitler that he intended to claim Latvia and Estonia (and the plan of the evacuation of Germans for those two countries was put in place. See Himmler’s Auxiliaries page 158.)

A “Back to the Reich” program, “Heim ins Reich”, was initiated on October 6, 1939.

Another agreement on September 28, 1939, transferred Lithuania with its substantial German minority to the Soviet sphere in exchange for the addition to the German portion of the districts of Lublin and eastern Warsaw.

Page 51: Summer of 1940: In June the USSR “absorbed” the three Baltic states resulting in the hasty exodus of 12,000 Germans in Estonia and Latvia and 48,000 more from Lithuania. (Note: this is the second evacuation of remaining Germans in Estonia and Latvia and the 1st and only evacuation of Germans from Lithuania discussed in Himmler’s Auxiliaries on page 168-169.)

Chapter 3: The Scheme

Page 68: WWI was a dress rehearsal for the gross displacements of populations that would take place later in the century (post WWII).

The Kaiser’s forces deported elements of the … Lithuanian population for strategic reasons, clearing the territories for use as specially prepared killing zones that Allied troops would be compelled to cross. (Note: the rest of the paragraph talks about WWI so this sentence and the term “Kaiser” probably refers to WWI).

Bibliography:

Page 381: A most valuable source of information came from Orderly and Humane: a reference to the Lassowski article “The Resettlements of Germans from Lithuanian during World War II.”  See the next two posts.

 

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IGGP: International Germanic Genealogy Partnership Conference

IGGP

International Germanic Genealogy Partnership Conference

From its inception at the end of May 2015 to the end of July 2017, the former American Germanic Genealogy Partnership quickly became the International Germanic Genealogy Partnership conference. Much credit must be given to the efforts of Kent Cutcomp and Kim Ashford of the Germanic Genealogy Society and Dirk Weisslader of the Deutsch Arbeitsgemeinschaft genealogischer Verbände e. V. (DAVG) of Germany.

https://suwalkigermans.wordpress.com/2015/06/29/german-american-genealogical-partnership/

Almost 700 German researchers from four continents, several Canadian provinces, and 41 states met for three days in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for over 70 presentations on a variety of topics, selecting one session from four or five topics six times a day.

https://ggsmn.org/cpage.php?pt=83

I was privileged to be accepted as a speaker for Genealogical Research in West Prussia, East Prussia, and Lithuania. My topic centered around the interconnected relationships of Political, Social, and Family History though artifacts, examples, experience, and records. Between 60 and 70 researchers attended my presentation early Saturday morning. More than 50% came to learn about West Prussia, about 25% East Prussia, and 15% Lithuania. Many hands went up when I asked about both East and West Prussia. As researchers in Lithuania, we know we represent a smaller number.

The conference subtitle was Connections: International, Cultural, and Personal so I organized this post around those topics.

INTERNATIONAL CONNECTIONS:

Dirk Weisslader’s inspirational opening remarks made us all realize the significance of this first ever event. His goal of connecting American and German researchers had moved from possibility to reality. For example, in May 2015, he gave me the e-mail of a German researcher who helped me with my Suwalki Province ancestors who lived in Essen, Germany, for five years before they immigrated to America. In July 2017, when I reminded Dirk of this connection, he asked to take my picture so that he could relay my satisfaction to his friend in Germany.

Timo Kracke of genealogy.net, the largest open access database for German speaking records, includes city directories, a genealogical wiki, the GOV, user-contributed GEDCOM files, heritage books, and the meta search at http://compgen.de/. A separate presentation concentrated on GOV, the 1 million plus gazetteer of Europe and beyond. I have used this website many times.

CULTURAL CONNECTIONS:

A biergarten Thursday evening at the German-American Institute in St. Paul provided German beer and wine, sausage, and music.

More than one visit to the vendor area, although enticing, did not add to my German genealogical library.

 PERSONAL CONNECTIONS:

The Germanic Genealogy Journal published a special issue for all conference attendees: Stories of Connections between America and Europe. I was pleased to see my submission “Discovering Our Hutop Cousins” as one of several articles. It was an abbreviated form of the e-mails Benjamin Hutop and I exchanged from August to November 2014 as we discovered our relationship after contracting our Family History Tour Guide who found fifteen connecting records in the Lithuanian State Historical Archives.

I introduced myself to Shirley Reimer, author of The German Research Companion, who received an IGGP Lifetime Achievement Award and Ernest Thode, author of Address Book for German Genealogy and reintroduced myself to Dr. Roger Meinert, author of German Census Records.

On Friday afternoon I attended “Cyrillic Parish Records: A Guide to Documents by Sigrid Pohl Perry, Ph.D.“ in the same amphitheatre I would give my own presentation the next morning. As many times as I have attended sessions on this topic, this one inspired me to try harder. After the conference Sigrid translated a few words in three documents for me and is now following this blog!

https://suwalkigermans.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/sggee-org/

Her work with the SGGEE Lublin project became the subject of a luncheon speech for which I had registered that focused on her search to find her family “tribe” by researching people who immigrated together by careful examination of ships’ manifests, census records, witnesses on documents, etc. Examples were from Lublin, Poland, in the southern part of the Kingdom of Poland.

Nathan Machula spoke on a similar topic that I did: Researching Former German Provinces in the East. My conversation with him afterwards centered on DNAs from this area and the -is suffix of his name.

Three books he recommended may become topics of future blogs: The Polish -German Borderlands:  An Annotated Bibliography; Potatoes and Psalms; and The Heritage.

The introduction to the presentation “48er Democratic Revolutionaries and the German Mass Migration to the Midwest” by Yogi Reppmann brought another personal connection. Reppmann mentioned how Karl Mays’s books about the American West influenced him as a young reader in Germany. I knew he was talking about Winetou, the majestic “Indian” chief. I have a treasured photograph of Leo and Helga Spurgat’s re-creation of this scene in their body contortionist act. Although I did not get an opportunity to tell him this personally, I attached the image to an e-mail after the conference.

https://suwalkigermans.wordpress.com/2016/10/19/reseatch-2012-2015-post-13-my-heritage-com/

His reply was “GREAT mail – vielen DANK, liebe Cynthia. YOU made my day.“ He kindly attached a pdf of two of his latest books, but his gracious response resulted in my ordering them both—Crossing the Ocean: German American Friendships and The Holocaust Boxcar: A Powerful Admonition against Anti-Semitism. I have read both books and have a better understanding of the German view of the National Socialism response in the 1930s. This is no way lessens the sacrifice and the vital role the United States played in World War II and our country’s commitment to democratic principles which we treasure above all else.

ALL OF THE ABOVE:

The first ever IGGP conference was successful in many ways for many reasons. It meant an opportunity to hear nationally known speakers and to attend sessions of those who are not professional genealogists but who are dedicated family researchers. Sessions on the borderlands, Luxembourg in the west and East Prussia/Lithuania on the east were well-received. The dream of connecting researchers with  German Genealogical  Societies and American-German Genealogical Societies has been met.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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POST FEEFHS: What I Learned

RESEARCH:

Being overprepared to research at the FHL can bring great rewards.

I don’t know as much as I think I know.

Sometimes I am wrong (and glad of it).

One can still be successful even if one does not reach his/her research goals.

Look carefully at every detail, especially those you don’t understand. Then find someone to ask.

If you look at a document that you don’t understand, look at a similar document from another record to help understand the purpose of the record and compare information.

Working with others pays off.

Being prepared to ask the right question at the right time to the right person requires careful prep.

Asking the right question to the right person at the right time can lead to a major breakthrough.

Remember to search everywhere.

CONFERENCE:

The Feefhs Conference and two pre-conference workshops are still the best place to learn the intricacies of Eastern European research.

The young have the advantage of Internet research, but have to learn the “old” ways to research as well.

Researching 20th and 21st century records may not be easier just because of the Internet.

The more experienced (i. e. the “old”) know the thought processes behind onsite research and microfilm, but also have to learn the research techniques of productive Internet research.

The handouts provided by the young, highly-trained researchers contain listings and descriptions of websites, the first and highly recommended way to begin. The older publications in print are generally considered Tier II or even Tier III. They are to be used, but only after Internet research.

East European researchers have a special bond of knowing that their research is especially difficult because their heritage is one of hardship and poverty, sacrifice and courage. Every attendee has a story to tell of difficulty and pain, hope and determination. Those factors unite us in our search, and we rejoice when one finds a clue or major record. Others may call our history rich or colorful. Yet we know that our ancestors did not always discuss and rarely celebrated their family history.

RESULTS:

My search criteria for East Prussia still exists.

I am already partially prepared for my next trip to Salt Lake (the East Prussian research I did not get to this time) with an emphasis, perhaps, on the maternal lines of Ber/Bersz and Cering/Zering.

I have a new location to search for. The Lithuanian Gazetteer and the Lithuanian Postal Guide, both in the FHL, did not provide a listing for Janofka, but three researchers have shared their thoughts on the location, changed by temporary boundaries in a short period of time and spelled most likely in the German way.

I have a new book to read, Lithuanian DPs: Immigration to Canada after the Second Word War.

I used an incredible website and database, newspaperarchives.com. Blog posts on this topic will follow.

Find-A Grave can help as well.  Thanks to all the volunteers who have submitted information from their local cemeteries.

I have a whole new family to trace in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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East Prussian Websites

DURING FEEFHS

Dr. Roger Minert has been training a new generation of professional genealogists. I have heard three of them within the last year and am very impressed with their professionalism, knowledge base, and especially the fact that all of their handouts start out with websites as their Tier I research strategy.

Careen Barrett-Valentine, AG, presented a two hour session on the German Research Strategies and Sources for Eastern Provinces and kindly gave me permission to share her East Prussia websites with my readers in a slightly changed format. Many of you are already familiar with these, but I felt you might find them valuable. I have had experience with some of them. If readers contact me through the comment section of this blog, I could collect information on how these sites have helped you and share them in future posts.

www.ostpreussen.net/ostpreussen/orte.php Ostpreussen.net “Places” (Click on map to interact)

http://www.ahnen-gesucht.de/ostpreussen “On the Trail of your Ancestors”

o Left of page
→”Landkreise und Kirchspiele”
→Hover over a number to see Kreis name
→Click number to see parish map of Kreis
→Hover over parish to see alternate names and year of founding

http://wiki-de.genealogy.net/Ostpreußen/Kirchenbücher East Prussia Sources o You can find this by googling “ostpreussen kirchenbucher genealogy.net”
o Select a Kreis from alphabetical list left of map
→click on Kreis name
→For that Kreis, click on “Kirchenbuchbestände”
→select parish from alphabetical list left of map
→click on parish name

www.epaveldas.lt Lithuanian repository of digital information
o If there aren’t any surviving vital records for a town that is now in Lithuania, type in the name of the town on this website and go through everything you find. This stone is often left unturned.

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DURING FEEFHS: RESEARCH AND CONFERENCE

RESEARCH:

The EWZ research required a prior request for film stored at the Granite Mountain, a procedure that has recently disappeared in the age of digitization. By hiring a NARA II researcher near College Park, Maryland, I was able to compare that collection with the FHL collection. The photographs of the people are quite poignant. A volunteer at the FHL offered to photoshop several of the files saved in a .png or .tif format, certainly a lucky break for me!
I used my tablet to take images of each record and printed copies as well. Details will be the subject of a separate post.

FHL Films for Kybarti and Vistytis:
Locating a confirmation record and a marriage record of Emma Rabenstein and Johann Hutop was a great find, especially considering that that we had not known the exact relationship of Johann Hutop to our family until we received the records from NARA II just weeks earlier. Yeah! The confirmation record was a bonus! Good research techniques made this a speedy discovery. Another yeah!
A brief look at the film about a late 18th century Lithuanian congregation in Kreis Stalluponen convinced me that I did not have to spend a great deal of time on this. For only a few minutes, my curiosity overtook my logic to stick to my tasks at hand.
I was not able to complete the carefully laid out plan to continue my East Prussian research plan to re-examine Ber/Berz and Gudat/Guddat marriage records in Kreis Stalluponen. A future post will explain why this fell to the bottom of the list as other priorities came up.

BOOKS AND PERIDICALS:

I perused the two books on Lithuanians in Canada. I especially liked Lithuanian DPs Immigration to Canada after the Second Word War and have ordered it on Interlibrary Loan.

I also copied the remaining Landsmen and Alt Preussische articles for future posts.

PERSONAL CONNECTIONS:

The most incredible breakthrough ever will be detailed in a future post. It involved working with another researcher, newspaperarchives.com, and stunning results, too detailed not to be a separate post.

For the very first time, I met another Suwalki Province researcher at Feefhs, the first in 15 conferences. I also learned that Suwalki Province was not only divided between Lithuania and Poland but also a small part of Belarus, south of Lithuania. A researcher relayed his experience to me of getting help from two Polish men to gain access to his village in Belarus. I have to redraw my map!

PRESENTATIONS:

I was scheduled to make three one-hour presentations at the Feefhs conference–
• International Tracing Service Records

https://suwalkigermans.wordpress.com/2016/11/03/post-14-2012-2015-research-international-tracing-service/

https://suwalkigermans.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/2017-new-series-of-posts-holocaust-museum-post-4-part-i/

https://suwalkigermans.wordpress.com/2017/05/15/2017-new-series-of-posts-holocaust-museum-post-5-part-ii-adolf-spurgat/

• Germans in Lithuania: Migrations and History, the subject of recent, current, and future posts.

• Results of Creating an Ethnic and Geographical Genealogical Blog, this blog, including a live demonstration of posting the title, text, media, and a link to the July 15 blog, actually posted live during the conference on Friday afternoon, July 21. Dear Readers, you were part of this presentation along with some of your comments.

The first and third presentations had good attendance, with the second one having a very limited audience—a young woman who does Armenian research and a young Lithuanian woman, a professional genealogist in Salt Lake. It was a topic I wanted to do and do not regret the time I spent organizing it. The posts I am making now on the end of the German era in Lithuania enabled me to tell the complete story. As readers of this blog, you have the opportunity to learn the story yourselves.

 

 

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Feefhs Preparation

The next five posts include a break from the series of posts about the resources in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Library and Archives on the Fifth Floor, specifically describing the best resources for understanding the end of the German population in Lithuania in July 1944.

Instead I will focus on my preparation for the Feefhs conference in Salt Lake July 17 – 20, the actual conference, and the follow up. The fifth post will describe the International, Cultural, and Personal connections I made at the first International Germanic Genealogy Partnership Conference (IGGP) in Minneapolis July 27-30. Both conferences were exhilarating experiences for difference reasons. All of this information will be directed to East Prussia and Suwalki Province as much as possible.

First, Feefhs prep:

  1. For many years I had wanted to investigate the EWZ records the Nazis created to record the details of Germans in Eastern Europe. Details about these records will be the subject of future posts in late 2017 and 2018. Suffice it to say, I hired a researcher at NARA II in Salt Lake to obtain the Control Numbers for the individuals I was seeking so that when I went to Salt Lake, I would be able to pull the records fairly easily.

Part of this prep would lead to an understanding of what many of you already knew: many, many films have and are being digitized so I could do some of the EWZ research ahead of time at my local Family History Center and the recent information that all film orders have to be placed by August 31, 2017. Starting September 1, 2017, no more films can be ordered as Family Search moves to digitization of all films by 2020. Some are and will be available on your home computer, some only at Family History Centers depending on the contract made with the archives, parish, or municipality, etc. but especially German and Swiss films.

I also wanted to continue my research in East Prussia for the maternal families – great and great grandparents to see if I could find a name in neighboring East Prussian kreise even though I did not have a specific place to look: Spurgats but also Ber/Bersz, Gudat, Keller, Kuczynska, Walat, and Wellert.

This search would also include the Hutop ancestors– Cering/Zering, Simoneit, and Stein.

I also spent a great deal of time looking at the possibility of additional records for Kybarti, Virbalis (aka Wirballen, Wierzbolowo, and Verzhbolov), and Vistytis (aka Wischtiten, and Vyshtynets) to aid in the Hutop research.

I also wanted to update my findings in the most recent Landsmen articles of interest to my blog followers, and to copy a few more articles from Altpreussische Geschlechterkunde that might include translatable material for my readers and my own research.

I also wanted to check and recheck a few books.

Because the International Tracing Service records about Emil Hutop had led us to consider both Belgium and Canada as possible destinations, I wanted to peruse two books on Lithuanians in Canada, especially one on DPs to Canada post WWII.

All of the above resulted in the reorganization of computer files and notebooks so that I could pinpoint exactly what I had to prepare in order to complete what I wanted to do.

Much of my research time in 2017 had been devoted to three presentations I would make during the Feehfs conference.

If I had time, I would like to use some of the many databases available only at the Family History Library.

If it sounds like I had enough to do, you are right!

 

 

 

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