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Category: Military Research

Researching Ancestors In The German Military

Researching Ancestors In The German Military

Anyone with German Ancestors know that German Research can be at times, very tricky but once you’ve got the people you’re after you can find lots of very interesting sources. One of the most important sources beyond Birth, Marriage amd Death records are Military records. Below are some great resources for finding anyone that was in the German Military.

1 –  Deutsch Dienststelle (wasT)

Probably the most important German Military Collection around is the Deutsch Dienststelle (wasT) as it allows you to request the records for any German that was a member of the Wehrmacht. This however comes with a few hoops to jump through for obvious reasons. You cannot request any records of someone that was a member but is still alive without their permission. You can also not get any record of someone unless they died in the field or as a prisoner of war without the permission of their next of kin. It is worth noting however that some members of the Forum der Wehrmacht state that the archive are still likely to release documents as long as the person has been dead longer than 10 years and sometimes without the permission of next of kin depending on circumstances.

This is however not a free resource and records cost around 20 Euros, which depends on the amount of time taken, difficulty and number of records. Of you are requesting a full genealogical enquiry the waiting time can be up to 24 months so its good to get as much information as humanly possible before sending it off. Make sure you state your goals in the form and that you’d like copies of all sources found.

2 – German Red Cross Tracing Service

The German Red Cross Tracing Service is a great resource for finding people if they seem to have fallen off the face of the earth. It’s primary use is not for Military records but its so simple to use that it’s worth a punt every time. It also includes a Missing Person Photo Search feature that requires little information but can yield great results.

3 –  Federal Archive – Military Department

These archives include loads of records relating to: The Prussian army from 1867 onwards, The Army of the North German Confederation, The Imperial Navy, The Colonial Protection Force and the Freikorps, The Reichswehr, Wehrmacht, and Waffen-SS, The German Work Units in the Service of the Allied Forces
the National People’s Army including any border troops and The Bundeswehr. However although they house a lot of records, a lot of records have been lost due to war.



4 –  Federal Archive – Branch Office Ludwigsburg

This is the Central Office for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes. It can be an incredibly interesting resource although be it a rather dark one and holds information on units and people involved with War Crimes. Data can include Scenes of crimes, suspects and culprits. The majority of the time this also includes anyone mentioned in the cases. It’s worth searching these archives if you suspect that you have an ancestor that might have been in a unit that was involved with any war crimes.

5 – Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge

This site is a lot like the German equivalent of The Commonwealth War Graves Commission. It can help you find fallen or MIA soldiers. This can be searched using cemetery search and they even offer photo services on the contact form where you can request photographs of any of the graves.

 

How To Find Out About A British WWI Veteran In Your Tree

How To Find Out About A British WWI Veteran In Your Tree

Almost everyone will have someone in their tree that fought during the First World War (Or Great War). Naturally people we love finding these ancestors as it tends to fill us with a massive sense of national pride. Especially on Remembrance Day in the United Kingdom. Finding more out about these ancestors can be challenging but if you know the right places to look you can get a lot of information if you’re lucky.


Service Records

(National Archives Link & Ancestry Link)Joseph Thompson Service Records

The first place you will want to look is either on a paid service such as Ancestry or FindMyPast for their service records or directly in the National Archives First World War ‘Burnt Documents’ collection. Unfortunately approximately two thirds of these were destroyed or damaged during the Blitz in World War Two. If you are lucky enough to find their service records then it can be an absolute gold mine with regards to information about family as well as where they were stationed and what campaigns they were involved in.


Pension Claims

(National Archives Link & Ancestry Link)William Cane Pensions Record

If you haven’t had much luck with Service Records another place you can look is the Soldiers’ Documents from Pension Claims Collection at the National Archives. This is a particularly good source if your ancestor was injured during the First World War. The collection consists of microfilm copies of service records of non-commissioned officers and other ranks who were discharged from the Army and claimed disability pensions for war service between 1914 and 1920 and did not re-enlist prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. The records are unlikely to contain information on individuals who did not claim a war pension.


Medal Index Cards

(National Archives Link & Ancestry Link)John William Barber Medal Card

This collection contains microfiche copies produced at the Army Medal Office, Droitwich, of that office’s alphabetical card indexes to recipients of the Distinguished Conduct Medal, the Military Medal, the 1914 Star (also known as the Mons Star), the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal, the Allied Victory Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Silver War Badge for Services Rendered, the Territorial Force War Medal and the Allied Subjects Medal. Also included are indexes to mentions in dispatches and women’s services’ awards.

On the subject of Injured ancestors, The Silver War Badge is one that might help if they were discharged due to their injuries. The Silver War Badge for Services Rendered was authorised on 12 September 1916 for officers and men of HM Forces who had been retired or discharged on account of wounds or sickness caused by war service, at home or abroad from 4 August 1914. The regulations were extended on several later dates to include wider categories, including women.


 

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

cwgc

“The Commonwealth War Graves Commission ensures that 1.7 million people who died in the two world wars will never be forgotten. We care for cemeteries and memorials at 23,000 locations, in 154 countries. Our values and aims, laid out in 1917, are as relevant now as they were almost 100 years ago.”

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is a great website if you want to know about an ancestor that died during a war. It has an easy to use search feature and is completely free to use. The results you get can list family members as well as the usual name and rank. It also contains civilian deaths, so a lot of people who died during the Blitz for example can be found in this database.






The Long Long TrailThe Long Long Trail Header

If you know the regiment your ancestor served in then The Long Long Trail can tell you a lot about what they did and which battles and campaigns they were involved in. While it is rare unless you have a particularly prominent ancestor such as a high ranking officer then you wont find much on individuals on this site. It does help paint a picture of what you ancestor might have experienced though.


Prisoners of WarPrisoners Of War Header

Your ancestor might have been a prisoner of war, in which case the Red Cross has a database dedicated to the soldiers that were held captive. It is fully searchable and the potential information available includes: The Reference number of the original letter sent by the family, First and Last name, Service Number, Missing circumstances and The address of the family. Whilst it isn’t a very large database comparatively, it still might be of use.