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soc.genealogy.german Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), Part 3/4

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Archive-name: genealogy/german-faq/part3
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 2005/01/01
Version: 2.9

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     soc.genealogy.german Frequently Asked Questions List, Part 3/4
     Copyright (c) 2005 by Jim Eggert,
     Version 2.9, 1 Jan 2005.  All Rights Reserved.

Subject: 16. Where can I find German military records? All personnel rosters and card indices (Stammrollen und Karteimittel) of the Prussian Army, the transition army ("Ubergangsheeres), the Army (Reichswehr), and the Imperial Navy (Kaiserlichen Marine) were burned in an air raid on Berlin in February 1945. Preserved are medical records of those soldiers who were being treated in military hospitals (Lazarett). The records, most with personnel roster extracts (Stammrollenausz"ugen), for those born from 1890 on are stored at Krankenbuchlager Berlin Wattstrasse 11-13 13355 Berlin and for those born before 1890 are stored at Bundesarchiv - Milit"ararchiv Wiesentalstrasse 10 79115 Freiburg/Breisgau =20 <> Lists of Prussian and other German officers are generally available in book series with titles like _Rangliste der K"oniglich Preussischen Armee_. These books were published roughly annually since at least 1796; some have been reprinted. An overview of the Prussian army and its military church records can be found in Lyncker, _Die Altpreussische Armee 1714-1806 und ihre Milit"arkirchenb"ucher_, and _Die preussische Armee 1807-1867 und ihre sippenkundlichen Quellen_, and also in Eger, _Verzeichnis der Milit"arkirchenb"ucher in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland_. A list of pre-1914 Imperial German military units can be found at <> Many German state military records are available at their respective state archives. These generally cover up to 1920. World War II German military personnel may have service records at Bundesarchiv - Zentralnachweisstelle Abteigarten 6 52076 Aachen =20 < aachen_kornelimuenster/> or at Deutsche Dienststelle (WASt) Eichborndamm 179 13403 Berlin <> WASt holdings center on those reported to be prisoners of war (POW), missing in action (MIA), or killed in action (KIA), and also on members of the navy, though other records are also held. The Bundesarchiv has no records for navy personnel. Requests for information may be sent to either office; they will be forwarded as needed to the appropriate office. German military cemetery listings for World Wars I and II can be found online at <> For civilian records, one must write to the appropriate agency or ministry archives (e.g., justice, finance, railroad, post). Those who had relatives in NSDAP positions can request information from the Bundesarchiv or, soon, the US National Archives.
Subject: 17. How do I write to a German Standesamt, parish, or archive? For archive addresses, see the question on archive addresses. For most towns, the Standesamt or parish address would be simply Standesamt _or_ ev. Pfarramt _or_ kath. Pfarramt ????? Town-name Germany where the second choice indicates Protestant, the third choice Catholic. The five question marks need to be replaced by the correct postal code. For larger towns, there are likely to be several churches, but the above address will often work anyway. For cities, you will need to know the section of the city to find the correct Standesamt or church; inquiries at a main office are sometimes forwarded correctly. You should write in German and include 10 Euros to cover postage and basic fees. There may be further expenses billable to you; extensive research will not usually be performed for a small fee. Make sure you indicate how you are related to the sought persons. Sample letters are available from the German genealogy server at <> or make use of the German genealogy volunteer translation service (see below in subject 19). There is also an excellent letter- writing guide on the LDS site. Many local parishes have deposited their older church records in the corresponding church archives; in these cases communication with the local parish may be forwarded to the appropriate archive, answered with an indication of the appropriate archive, returned, or ignored, all at the option of the parish office. Furthermore, strict privacy protection laws in Germany very often prohibit official release of personal information to individuals unless they can demonstrate direct descendance from the person to be researched or unless there is a legal entitlement to the information, for example for matters of inheritance. Some archives may also have requirements on the age of the information before they allow release, even to direct descendants.
Subject: 18. How do I find German postal codes? German postal codes (Postleitzahl or PLZ, equivalent to US ZIP codes) are available on the Internet from <> and <> They are also listed in German postal code books and in the various telephone listings. For towns with only one postal code, you can also consult the Michelin red guide, a good autoatlas, or Arthur Teschler's geographical server.
Subject: 19. I don't know German. What should I do? The best overall solution is to learn German. Often such a large investment offers rich rewards. You might consider taking courses at your local college or Goethe Institute <> In the meantime, you can make use of the German genealogy volunteer translation service administered by Arthur Teschler. Send e-mail to The first line of the message body should read: #GER>ENG (for a German to English translation,) #ENG>GER (for an English to German translation, or) #S (for a snail mail/fax translation, fee by arrangement). The rest of your message should be the text to be translated, no more than 40 lines. For the snail mail/fax service, you mail or fax a copy of the original document to the translator, and receive a translation by e-mail. For translations to German, please tell the translator if you want a formal (Sie) or informal (Du) form of address. For more information see <> For larger documents or for guaranteed precision, professional translation is recommended. Computer translation programs are normally not recommended; their clumsy translations usually require human correction. A good German-English dictionary, available in most libraries and bookstores, is usually needed for translations. Sometimes a good German dictionary or encyclopedia is a better resource. There is an online German-English dictionary at: <>
Subject: 20. I can't read German handwriting. What should I do? There is of course no one German handwriting, but often German documents are hard to read. It takes practice to read handwritten documents, and each hand is different, often requiring some study even for the practiced eye. Try to figure out words from context. Most genealogical documents have a limited vocabulary. Look at other entries in the same hand to help you decipher the hardest parts. Often the best approach is to ask another knowledgeable researcher at the library or archive where you encounter the difficult document. There are also several books that can help teach you how to read German handwriting; these are available from genealogical supply firms or good bookstores. Or use the German genealogy snail/fax translation service outlined above. The German genealogy server has examples of old German handwriting, Windows software for learning German handwriting, and a bibliography of texts on the subject at <> The Transcribe Group transcribes from scanned originals for free: <>
Subject: 21. What is the basic German genealogical vocabulary? birth; born Geburt; geboren, geb"urtig, geb. (il)legitimate (un,ausser)ehelich, (un)eheleiblich baptism; baptized Taufe; getauft, get. marriage Ehe, Heirat, Hochzeit, Eheschliessung, =20 Verm"ahlung, Trauung, Verheiratung, Verehelichung, = Kopulation marry heiraten, verheiraten, verh., verm"ahlen, = verm., trauen, getr., verehelichen, verehel., =20 kopulieren death Tod, Sterbefall, Todesfall, Ableben died gestorben, verstorben, gest. burial Beerdigung, Begr"abnis, Beisetzung, =20 (Erd)bestattung, Leichenbeg"angnis buried beerdigt, beerd., begraben, begr., beigesetzt widow; -ed Witwe, Wwe.; verwitwet, verw. divorce; -ed (Ehe)scheidung; geschieden father; mother Vater, V.; Mutter, M. parents Eltern husband Mann, Ehemann, (Ehe)gatte, Gemahl wife Frau, Ehefrau, (Ehe)gattin, (Ehe)weib, Gemahlin married couple Ehepaar, Eheleute son; daughter Sohn, S"ohnlein, S.; Tochter, T"ochterlein, T. child; -ren Kind, K.; -er male; female m"annlich; weiblich brother; sister Bruder; Schwester siblings Geschwister uncle; aunt Onkel, Oheim; Tante, Muhme (great-)grandfather (Ur)grossvater grandson; -daughter Enkel; Enkelin grandchild Enkelkind, Grosskind nephew; niece Neffe; Nichte cousin (m;f) Vetter, Cousin; Kusine, Cousine, Base cousins Geschwisterkinder sponsor, godparent Gevatter, Gev., (Tauf)pate, Taufzeuge day of the week Wochentag days of the week Sonntag, Montag, Dienstag, Mittwoch, Donnerstag, Freitag, Samstag (Sonnabend) month Monat months Januar (J"anner), Februar (Feber), M"arz, April, Mai, Juni, Juli, August, September, Oktober, November, Dezember year Jahr, Jahreszahl date Datum place Ort residence Wohnort, Aufenthaltsort, Wohnst"atte village Dorf town (Land/Samt/Gross)gemeinde city Stadt county (Land)kreis (modern), Grafschaft (noble) (grand) duchy (Gross)herzogtum principality F"urstentum kingdom K"onigreich A more complete vocabulary guide can be found on the LDS website.
Subject: 22. What are the German umlauts and genealogical symbols? Umlauts, etc.: German vowel umlauts (the two dots over an a, o, or u) represent a different vowel sound than the un-umlauted letters. A umlaut is pronounced like a long a in English (weigh). O umlaut makes a sound where the lips are pursed as to make a long o (nose), but the tongue is forming a long a. U umlaut has the lips making a long o, but the tongue is forming a long e (cheese). Eszet is a regular English s sound. Any German should be able to understand the ae, oe, ue, and ss equivalents for the umlauts. For family names and place names, however, these equivalents are often not considered identical. ASCII TeX 850 8859 Mac HTML Postscript Name _____ ___ ___ ____ ___ ____ __________ ____ "A,Ae \"A 142 0196 128 &Auml; Adieresis A umlaut "O,Oe \"O 153 0214 133 &Ouml; Odieresis O umlaut "U,Ue \"U 154 0220 134 &Uuml; Udieresis U umlaut "a,ae \"a 132 0228 138 &auml; adieresis a umlaut "o,oe \"o 148 0246 154 &ouml; odieresis o umlaut "u,ue \"u 129 0252 159 &uuml; udieresis u umlaut "s,ss,sz \ss 225 0223 167 &szlig; germandbls eszet "y,y,ij \"y 152 0255 216 &yuml; ydieresis y dieresis "e \"e 137 0235 145 &euml; edieresis e dieresis 850 refers to the IBM code page. IBM code page 437 is identical for these characters, except it lacks the eszet. IBM code page 819 is ISO 8859-1 compliant, while Windows code page 1252 is a ISO 8859-1 superset. All numerical codes shown are decimal. The y dieresis is really a keyboard shortcut for an ij ligature. To type these characters on a PC, hold down the alt key and enter the 850 or 8859 keycode on the numeric keypad. On a Mac, for umlauts type option-u and then the letter to be umlauted. For eszet, type option-s. Genealogical symbols: ASCII Typeset Meaning _____ _______ _______ * asterisk Born (*) asterisk in parentheses Born illegitimately +* cross and asterisk Stillborn ~,=3D single or multiple water waves Baptized Y communion cup Confirmed o ring Engaged oo,& linked or touching rings Married o|o separated rings Divorced o-o separated rings Illegitimate union !! two exclamation marks Pastor + cross or vertical dagger Died X crossed swords Died in battle +X cross and crossed swords Died from battle wounds [],=B1,# box Buried ++ two crosses This line extinct ------------------------------ Suggestions for additions or improvements should be sent to the author, Jim Eggert

User Contributions:

I'm trying to find German Naval records (Prussian navy I believe) for my Uncle who served in Trieste, Italy from approx. 1879 to 1890 from that port. (and he traveled around the world). I need some advice, any advice, on how I could find a record of him being there or even any record of him being in the German Navy there. A genealogist that could help, or where the records might be housed. I did see on another post that some German records were destroyed in Berlin in 1945, but I don't know those details. I appreciate any comments. Thank you.
Sep 6, 2021 @ 7:19 pm
I think I am looking for a needle in a haystack. Want to find my ancestor, name is Wolfgang AUMANN, of Grafenkirche, Germany, who fought with Napoleon as a mercenary. Maybe a book titled Koniglich-Baierisches Reigierungsblatt.
Thank you
Doris Dunlap
Oct 30, 2021 @ 3:15 pm
How do I find my Father's POW records. He was in WWI, Prussian military. Infanterie Regiment 140. He was captured in France, but said the POW camp guards were British.
Dec 21, 2021 @ 5:17 pm
How do I find my grandfathers war records. He was stationed at the eastern front in WW2 then captured and was POW in England

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