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.
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!
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.