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, especially the second floor 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.

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.

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


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.


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

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

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

Christel Empire, born Mertinat, Heinrich Mertinat, Edith Mertinat, born Spurgat. Erhard grandson Thomas ….. Schmalleningken, East Prussia now Kirchheim-Teck, 21st – Profiles from the German Reich in 1901 www. 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

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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Konigsberg Administrative District

The northern half of the Kӧnigsberg Administrative District is now Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia. The southern half is now in Poland. The Russian-Polish border cuts through the middle of Prussian Eylau and other points east and west.

Kӧnigsberg is about 170 kilometers from Wylkowiszki. The greater distance makes it less likely that people with the Spurgat name from the western part of East Prussia migrated as far east as the Prussian-Russian border, yet the Spurgat name is found in five additional Kreise: the city of Kӧnigsberg, Kreis Fischhausen, Kreis Friedland, Kreis Ortlesberg, and Kreis Prussian Eylau.


Kӧnigsberg was the home of the Teutonic Knights, the first “German” occupiers of these Prussian lands. As the capital city, it was a strategic seaport from the early 15th century, and the cultural, educational, artistic, and political center of East Prussia. The Baltic Sea is northwest.

One Spurgat was listed in the Kӧnigsberg address book in 1888.

  Kreis Fischhausen

After the reorganization of Prussia after the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Kreis Fischhausen was created on February 1, 1818, in the Kӧnigsberg Administrative District. Kreis Fischhausen existed until 1939.

One man named Spurgat from the village of “Roughened” (most likely translated incorrectly) was wounded in April 1916 and died two months later according to a World War I Casualty List. The name of “Roughened” in the Kaliningrad Oblast was not identified, but a village named Rogehnen, four kilometers from Medenau was identified.

Today Rogehnen is known as Logvino in the Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia.

Kreis Friedland

After the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Kreis Friedland became part of the Kingdom of Prussia on February 1, 1818. It retained that name until 1927 when it was renamed Kreis Bartenstein. In 1945 it became part of the Soviet Union.

Two Spurgats were born in Puschkeiten, one before 1825 and the other in 1845, perhaps a father and a son.

Today Puschkeiten is known as Sosnovka. It is located about five kilometers from Domnau which is known as Domnowo. The Lutheran parish is in Stockheim.

The current border between the Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia, and Poland cuts through what was Kreis Friedland.

Kreis Ortlelsburg

Kreis Ortlelsburg is southwest of Kreis Goldap. Spurgats were located here in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Prior to 2010 a descendant of a Spurgat family who had lived in the city of Ortlelsburg contacted Mike Spurgat, another Spurgat researcher.  Spurgats were found in both centuries, certainly suggesting a pattern of family relationships.

The only other location, Schwentainen, east of Ortlelsberg, was the home of one Spurgat who was listed on a World War I Casualty List in July 1915.

Today Ortelsberg is known as Szczynto and is located in the Warminsko-Mazurskie region of northeastern Poland just south of Kaliningrad Oblast.

Kreis Prussian Eylau

Kreis Prussian Eylau is located just west of Kreis Friedland, later Kreis Bartenstein.

Spurgats from 1849 to 1874 were located in Abschwangen, today Tilsano/Kastanova, the  Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia.

The current border between the Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia, and Poland cuts through what was Kreis Prussian Eylau.


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RESEARCH 2012-2015 POST 19 SPURGATS IN THE 19th and 20th Centuries

Over 70 people with my -at name (and its few variations) in the 19th and 20th centuries have been located in the former East Prussia in the Gumbinnen and Konigsberg Administrative Districts. Someday there may be a connection to the three 19th century families from Wylkowiszki in the Russian Empire who immigrated to the United States between 1905 and 1908.

These sources include what was published in my 2010 book; this information has not been posted on the blog

 Many articles from German language genealogical publications from 1927 to the present time; see

The International Genealogical Index (IGI);

350,000 (mainly East Prussian) name index known as The Quassowski  Index;

A website of ten online German databases;

Books and other printed sources. See various posts

Specific locations in the seven kreise where people with my –at name lived in the Gumbinnen Administrative District are presented in the geographical proximity they were researched— Kreis Stalluponen, Kreis Gumbinnen, Kreis Insterburg, Kreis Darkehmen, Kreis Goldap, Kreis Ragnit, and Kreis Pillkallen.

Kreis_Ebenrode_%28Stallup%C3%B6nen%29.. This series of easy to read maps shows only the locations of the Lutheran church records for the parishes identified on each map and not all the locations in each kreis.

and a description of the Map Guide to German Parish Registers: Kingdom of Prussia—Province of East Prussia III REGIERUNGSBEZIRK GUMBINNEN. They are excellent.

Gumbinnen Administrative District

Kreis Stallupӧnen

Kreis Stallupӧnen is directly west of Wylkowiszki. The area to the east is present day Lithuania. Eydtkuhnen, the first clue I was given as to the possible East Prussian location of the birth of the father of one of the three  -at immigrants, and a location that was also known to her grandfather, is a border crossing.

A Spurga (no final t) was located in Kattenau, but no other people with my –at surname have been found in the following parish registers: Bilderweitschen, Eydtkuhnen, Enzuhnen, Goritten, Mehlkehmen, and Stallupӧnen. The result of this two year search appears to be a family story that cannot be proved with records.

Additionally, research including the maternal names of Ber (Berz), Gudat (Guddat), Henning, Keller, Kuczynska, Raudinat, and  Walat (Wallat) have not resulted in any direct leads.

Kreis Gumbinnen

Spurgats were located in the city of Gumbinnen, today Gusev, Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia, and two other locations in Kreis Gumbinnen in the 19th century.

In the Gerischkehmen parish two Spurgat names were also located on a marriage index in 1813 and 1815, (FHL INTL Film 1812746, Item 4), but not in the birth or death index. The marriage records were not on the film. Today Gerischkehmen is known as Priozernoe, Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia.

In the Nemmersdorf parish two Spurgat births in 1806 and 1807 (FHL INTL Film 1812658) and one death in 1806 (FHL INTL Film 1812660, Item 3) were located in Szublacken, today Luzki, Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia. A marriage in 1837 (FHL INTL Film 1812746, Item 2) was located in Tutteln, today Sycevo, Kaliningrad Oblast,  Russia.

Kreis Insterburg

The Spurgat name was located in the city of Insterburg and two other locations in the Insterburg parish: Kummetschen, today Zelenyj Bor, and Jessen, today Solovevo, both in the Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia.

In the Pelleninken parish two variations of the Spurgat name have appeared. In Pelleninken, today Zagorskoe, Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia, a Christoph Spurat (without a “g”) was located. In Neunischken, today Privolnoe, Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia, a Christup “Spurga” (no “t”) was also located. More research will clarify the pertinence of these surname variations.

See for  more information on Spurgats in Kreis Insterburg in the 18th century.

 Research in the Insterburg parish is ongoing.

Kreis Darkehmen

One Spurgat was located in Kreis Darkehmen.

Szilchen, the village associated with the Spurgat name, was not located on any map. (Two other nearby locations with similar spellings–Szallgirren and Szabienen– were determined not to be the correct village.)

Spurgats identified in nearby locations include: Didlacken, Kreis Insterburg, in the northwest and Goldap, Kreis Goldap, in the southeast, both sharing partial borders with Kreis Darkehmen.

Kreis Goldap

Two families of Spurgats were identified in the city of Goldap in the mid 19th century.

A Spurgat was also identified in Regellen. A third possible location of a Spurgat was Schillinen.

Tollmingkehmen and Gawaiten are now in the Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia. Gross Rominten and Goldap are now in Poland.

Kreis Ragnit

Kreis Ragnit has had many boundary changes: in 1818 the Congress of Vienna established borders from surrounding areas, north and south of the Neman/Nemanus (Memel) River. In 1875 and 1876 three more rural municipalities were added to Kreis Ragnit.

In 1920 after the Treaty of Versailles a Kreis Pogenen was formed from some areas of Kreis Tilsit and Kreis Ragnit. In 1922 areas south of the Neman (Memel) River were organized into Kreis Tilsit-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.

Spurgats have been located in Szugken and Schmalleningken.

Today areas south of the river are in the Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia.

 Kreis Pillkallen

The city of Pillkallen and the parish of Kussen are identified locations.

A few Spurgats lived in Kreis Pillkallen in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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Kreis Tilsit Tilsit was founded in 1365. Germans had been living there for a very long time. The borders of Tilsit as a city and a kreis changed throughout history. The district of Tilsit existed from 1818 to 1922. The district of Tilsit-Ragnit existed from 1922 to 1945. Tilsit is on the south side of the Memel (now the Nemunas/Neman) River with the  Queen Louise Bridge connecting to Lithuania. There was a Lithuanian Lutheran Church, a German Lutheran Church, and a Reformed church, perhaps suggesting a large number of Scots. The city of Tilsit is now known as Sovetsk, Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia.   1703 Hans Spurgait  

Altpreussische Geschlechterkunde is a German language genealogical periodical.  The title is variously translated as “Old Prussian Genealogy,” “The Study of Generations,” or simply “Family Research.” The online search engine on their website…/apgfa.php helps the researcher find articles of interest, many of which have lists of names, locations, and dates. Three articles contained the Spurgat name. Most prominent was Von Horst Kenkel, Volume 10, 1977-1978, pages 106 and 111.

The oldest record with the Spurgat name was located in a “List of the young [body of men or troops], who have been found, recorded and enlisted* in the month of July 1703 at the Royal City Tilse.”  The entry of Hans Spurgait is significant because it is the earliest Spurgat entry found to date, the record of a Spurgat born in the 17th century, circa 1684, and perhaps an indication that some people named  Spurgat were of the craftsmen class. The list is broken into groups where the employer is listed first. In Hans Spurgait’s case, his employer was George Hintz, jun. who had two apprentices enlisted.

The entry looks similar to a baptismal or marriage record. The abbreviation S.d. means Sohn des Bleichers Joachim S., son of the bleacher Joachim S.[purgait]; the abbreviation gb. Tilse means geboren Tilse, born in Tilse, i. e. Tilsit; 19 J. means 19 Jahr, that he is 19 years old; Hutmacherjunge means his profession is that of a hatter youth, helper, or apprentice.

Most of the locations included above are easily located on which provides a brief history of the location, the nearest Lutheran parish, the kreis (county), and a link to Google Maps at which shows the current locations in Lithuania, Poland, and the Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia. See

The –at Name in the 19th and 20th Centuries The next posts will examine the results of locating the  –at name in the 19th and 20th centuries. These are less likely to be the ancestors of my -at family, but for researchers these locations are clues to collateral lines.

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Kreis Insterburg

 1736 Pritzkus Spurgatis

 Peasants and Tenants of Northeast Prussia about 1736 is an indexed publication by Horst Kenkel which lists groups of individuals recorded in June 1736 in the four Hauptamter (Main Offices) in the District Litauen (Lithuanian District) in the Gumbinnen Administrative District of East Prussia.  The original title Amtsbauernund Kӧlmer im nӧrdlichen Ostpreussen um 1736: nach der “Repeuplierung” des Distrikts Litauen. Nach der Generaltabelle und den Repeuplierungstabellen translates as “Peasants [statute farming laborers] and tenants [free landholders] in northern East Prussia for 1736 after the repopulation of the Lithuanian districts from the general table and the repopulation tables.”

The book also included a General Table of those charged [taxed] until the last of June 1736 in the Lithuanian Department on the hides of land [of] the Salzburgers, (The “recognized” Salzburgers in the Prussian-Lithuanian district are listed first.) then the Swiss, the Nassauians [Nassau-ites?], and other Germans as well as Lithuanians by how many were good or bad managers [or house/land keepers or hosts]. The numbers indicate the ownership of land in hides and morgens, e.g., 1.20 = 1 hide and 20 morgens; the “g” means “good host”; the “s” means “bad host.”

A ‘hide’ was the amount of land that could be cultivated by a single plowman and was considered to be the amount of land needed to support a family. It was more or less standardized to be around 120 acres but could vary widely depending on local land conditions. Listed under the General Table of Hauptamter (main offices) in (Kreis) Insterburg in the Amt. (office) of Gaudischkehmen, also known as Didlacken ( 23.6), was Pritzkus Spurgatis. Pritzkus Spurgatis is listed as living in Kraupischkehmen along with nine other men, five of whose last name is written as –atis! He had 15 Morgen and was a poor (or bad) manager of the land.                                                                            

The quality of the land Pritkus Spurgat owned may have been a factor in whether or not it was well-managed.  The description of the land of Pritzkus Spurgatis is given as 0.15, the least amount of land recorded. (Many entries described the amount of land as between 1 and 2.) Of the 93 men listed in the Amt. (office) of Gaudischkehmen (Didlacken 23.6), the surnames of 41 men (a substantial minority of about 40 %) were spelled either –at, -atis, -ait, or -aitis.

An astute observer noted:

Pritzkus is the Lithuanian version of Friedrich and the short variation of “Fritz.” It does not sound German at all. Other entries from the same 1736 Famers and Tenants list included the Spurga name. Because the sources consulted do not list the –a suffix as a Baltic name, those individuals are not included here as a variation of the Spurgat name. Today Didlacken is known as Svoboda, Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia.  1740 to 1758 “Spurgatis “from Kraupischkehmen FHL microfilm revealed that the “Spurgatis” name (no first name or initial) from  Kraupischkehmen in the Insterburg parish in Kreis Insterburg was listed from 1740 to 1758. A “Spurgatis” from Jessen was listed in 1740, 1741, 1750, and 1754.  A “Spurgatis” from  “stadt” or city was listed in 1745, 1753, and 1758. Because of the lack of overlap of these years, it is not possible to determine if these listings are of the same man whose labors took him to nearby locations. Further research may provide more details. 

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