Oszurty/Opsrutai

Two women who married into the Spurgat families were born here: Karolina Raudonat, 2nd wife of Johann Spurgat in 1847 and Wilhelmina Kaptain, wife of William Spurgat, 20 March/1 April 1877.

We continued on the highway toward Pilviskis/Pilviskiai and turned right toward Oszurty/Opsrutai. When we approached the village the first time, we saw three men sitting on a bench alongside the road, most likely imbibing a refreshing drink. They told us that the village had German origins, and they directed us to an old German cemetery across the highway. (See the nest post.)

On our first trip through Obszurty/Opsrutai we were unable to find anything of “German” significance to photograph. Every home appeared to be from the 50 years of Soviet occupation. This was somewhat of a surprise as up to this time it seems I had found at least one building or scene to photograph in several villages besides the village sign.

We left, visited the cemetery (See the next post.), and then I asked Vilius to go back to the village, and drive down a different street. As we were once again disappointed and ready to leave, Vilius spotted an older woman and a younger woman standing by the side of the road. The younger woman had a suitcase and appeared to be waiting for a ride. Vilius spoke with the older woman who told him this story.

This indeed had been a German village, but all the Germans had left by 1944. Lithuanians remained, but any empty houses were taken over by the Soviet military. One day the Lithuanian freedom fighters (aka forest brothers) attacked the villages and killed 27 Soviet soldiers. In retaliation the Soviet soldiers burned down all the houses in the village. After that, there was not much left. The parents of the woman knew all the German families. The woman knew a few names of German families who had lived there—some names were in the cemetery—Kubat/Kubaitis, Reiss, Trump, Schroeder, of whom there were three brothers. Another German family named Schmidt has descendants who visit here as do descendants of other families who live in Germany.

The Spurgat name was not familiar to her nor to anyone on the trip whenever, wherever, whomever, Vilius asked. The realization that almost all of “our” Spurgats had immigrated between 1900 and 1908 or, in the case of the August Spurgat (half-brother of Adolph) family were forced to leave before the Soviet occupation in 1944 helped me understand, once again, how lucky my family had been to immigrate to the United States. In the August Spurgat family a descendant reported that one great- uncle, Oskar Spurgat,  had ”died at the end of the last century in Lithuania.”

About suwalkigermans

I started family research in 1993. My first two books focused on my maternal grandparents. Both families came from Kreis Rosenberg, West Prussia, to Big Rapids, Michigan. I left the Spurgats from Wylkowiszki in the Russian Empire as the third book because of the difficult and challenging research it required. After I published the book in 2010, I wondered what to do next. I thought I might try to share some of my research with others and maybe at the same time, by going digital, someone would find me. When you read the comments, you will see that happened. The best part of all this is helping others.
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