RESEARCH 2012-2015 POST 7 Passport and Ober Ost

2010: Because I had been writing a book about three immigrants with the –at name, I was only including my father’s maternal family in the appendices along with the spouses of the other two male immigrants with the same –at name.

An internal travel passport belonging to my great-grandfather, Johann Ferdinand Hutop , the original death record of a great grandmother in 1881, and a likely second marriage of my great-great grandfather from an FHL microfilm, was all the information we had on this family, and I scoured each one thoroughly, but apparently not enough.

The passport of my great-grandfather has been the subject of two previous posts. See

See and

I had always wondered why this passport was written in German during the “Russification era” when all records were required to be written in Russian. I didn’t pay much attention to the design of the stamp in the upper right hand corner as I could not see it very well. I did decipher the German words: Verwaltungsgebiet Suwalki” which means Administration (Verwaltungs) Area (gebiet) of Suwalki. And yet it turned out to be a major clue to this family.

2014: Early on Ben Hutop had written that he thought that the passport dated to the time of WWI as he noticed the Imperial German Eagle in the stamp. I had overlooked it.  A few months later he mentioned it again, and we both went to work. This was the best part –researching together.

When the microfilmed records from Gize in the Marijampole parish where Johann Ferdinand Hutop  was born did not contain any more confirmation or marriage records on his second family in the 1890s, the archivist at the Lithuanian State Historical archives, wrote that that he or she thought that the family might have left the area.

Using the date from birth record of the youngest child, we now realize that sometime between 1894 and 1899, Johann Ferdinand Hutop moved closer to East Prussia. See Shortly after, his two older daughters, my grandma and her sister, had married and moved to the US.

Benjamin found the German Imperial Eagle on a postcard from the WWI era online. He mentioned the Ober Ost, the military occupation authority of the German Empire on the eastern front. Wikipedia revealed that

  • The Ober Ost was created in 1914 and was dismantled after November 1918.
  • The Ober Ost divided the land without regard to the existing social and ethnic organization and patterns. It impacted the livelihood of many merchant Jews and prevented people from traveling to neighboring districts. Ober Ost also tried to integrate German ideals and institutions with existing cultures.
  • The abbreviation for Oberbefehlshaber der gesamten Deutschen Streitkräfte im Osten, the “Supreme Commander of All German Forces in the East” during World War I.
  • This military occupation authority controlled the Eastern front during World War I.

For complete details see

In 2015 I recorded:

Benjamin Hutop, great-great grandson, wrote, “This document is from the World War I era. This region was under German occupation in this time; the document’s main language is German,  and the stamp shows the imperial German Eagle.” This fact was confirmed (1) by comparing the  stamp on a picture postcard described with the following annotation: “German Reich, 1917,  administrative area…(imperial eagle) …army postal service” (2) in consultation with the editor of the Annaberger Annalen, a German-language magazine about Lithuania and Lithuanian-German  relations published annually since 1993, and (3) a response to an e-mail I sent to Dr. Vejas  Gabriel Liulevicius, Lindsay Young Professor and Director, Center for the Study of War and Society, Dept. of History, University of Tennessee.

For more information on Annaberger Annalen see

The archivist at the Lithuanian State Historical Archives had already performed an exceptional search. We tried to find records in Hassfortowo and Kunigiszki/Kunigiskiai (today Pajevonys, Lithuania) through FHL microfilmed records; a U. S. researcher, an expert on this region; through a Facebook friend called Pajevonys Wizajny who had found my blog in 2013 and contacted me about a Hutop record in this area which I could not connect to my family. (We still cannot conclusively connect him to our families, but there does not seem to be another Hutop family in the area); and through the priest at the local church who was thought to have some death and/or cemetery records. For the time being the search has stopped here.

So we know that Johann Ferdinand Hutop, born 1846, was still alive at the time of WWI. This was a major breakthrough after 21 years.


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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