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Opa Geier’s AhnenPaβ

Kurt Willy Geier

The Ahnenpaβ was a standardized booklet that was issued during the reign of the Third Reich of Nazi Germany.  In this booklet the citizens were required to record their ancestry in order to prove their pure Aryan blood.  For the average citizen, usually no more than four generations were required to avoid being categorized as non-Aryan – in other words “non-Jewish.”  The word Ahnenpaβ  translates to “ancestor passport.”   

Front Cover of Kurt Willie Geier’s AhnenPaβ

Despite the atrocious and brutal purpose of this document, an Ahnenpaβ, as I have found out, can be an excellent source for genealogical data, because it forced the citizens to vigorously search for and document their ancestors.

I am so unbelievably lucky in that I have a color copy of my grandfather Kurt Willy Geier’s Ahnenpaβ.  It was given to me and transcribed by my uncle – Wolfgang Geier.  My grandfather’s Ahnenpaβ sources and documents ancestors back to 1773. 

The Ahnenpaβ confirms his full name:  Kurt Willy Geier
Born 12 Nov 1908 in Lengenfeld, Germany
He was the son of Johann Heinrich Geier, “Laborer/Worker”
and Anna Lina Geier (born Kutscher)
Kurt Willy Geier married:  Anna Martha Lipsdorf  (b. 17 Aug 1906 in Hohndorf near Wittenberg) on 3 Sept 1930 in Elster
(She was baptized 15 Sept 1906 in Hohndorf today Muhlanger)
Her father was Hermann Franz Lipsdorf (railroad worker)
and her mother as Wilhelmine Aguste Anna (born Rostel)
All Protestant

I am just now delving into the German family research.  I feel like I’ve become an old pro at finding ancestors here in Texas – but the German research is proving to be a bit more of a challenge for a variety of reasons. 

  • Locating records – Prior to 1871, Germany consisted mostly of “kingdoms” such as Bavaria, Saxony, Prussia, etc. – each with its own record keeping system.  After World War II Germany was divided up once again.  The end result is that records on my German ancestors may or may not even be found in Germany.  They could be found in Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, Poland or the USSR.  Then to make matters even more complicated – most German records (such as birth, marriage and death) are not centralized – they are kept on the local level – so it becomes nearly impossible to trace your ancestors in Germany unless you know their home town.  I’ve been told that the records are spotty at best.  Some date back to the Napoleonic era – but some others only date back to around 1870. 
  • Census records – Censuses were conducted, but again, the records are not centrally located.  Additionally, German law does not permit the release of the census information until 30 years after the ancestor’s death (or 110 years after the ancestors birth if you don’t have a death date). 
  • Church and burial records – Some church records date as far back as the 15th Century.  My next stop will be the nearest LDS Library to see what they have for me there.  Cemetery indexes from Germany are almost impossible to find and are not useful.  My mother has been telling me for years that the grave sites are “reused” in Germany.  I never really understood what that meant until I read in an article that most burial lots are leased to families for a number of years – and then if and when the lease isn’t renewed, someone else can be buried there. 

I would love to hear from any of you that are researching your German ancestors.  Any tips, success stories, encouragement and/or advice would be welcomed and appreciated !

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2011 in Geier, Lipsdorf

 

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Hohndorf, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany – Omi’s Birthplace

My grandmother (♥), Anna Martha Lipsdorf Geier, was born on 17 Aug 1906 in the small village of Hohndorf, Germany which is now known as Muhlanger, a part of the Wittenberg District in Saxony-Anhalt.  The village lies about five miles east of Lutherstadt Wittenberg on the Elbe River, where my mother was born.  This area was once part of Prussia. 

My Grandmother, Anna Marta Lipsdorf Geier

Hohndorf literally means “high village.”  The Saxony-Anhalt region has a very ancient history.  It is believed that Hohndorf came into existence sometime in the 12th century and was settled by Flemish immigrants.  However, various archeological finds seem to indicate that there were earlier settlers within the boundaries of “the high village.”  Examples of some of these finds include ceramic pieces dating to the Roman Kaiser era and glass and flint pieces dating to the Iron Age.  The earliest mention of Hohndorf in any archived record dates to 1349.  

Muhlanger, Germany

Hohndorf/Mulanger is very near the Harz, the highest mountain range in northern Germany.  The legendary Brocken is the highest summit in the Harz at 3,744 feet above sea level.  Settlement within the mountains began only 1000 years ago, as in ancient times dense forests made the region almost inaccessible.  The Harz are steeped in legend and superstition and tales of ghosts and witches.  In fact, do you know what a kitchen witch is?  A kitchen witch is a doll resembling a witch or a crone which is displayed in kitchens as a means to provide good luck and to ward off bad spirits which superstition found its origins in the Harz mountain region.    

Saxony-Anhalt Coat of Arms

Saxony-Anhalt, specifically Lutherstadt Wittenberg, is the cradle of the Reformation of the Church.  It was in Wittenberg in 1517 that Martin Luther made public his theses against the sale of indulgences by the Catholic Church by nailing the theses to the door of the Castle Church. 

About ten years ago I was lucky enough to go home to Germany – just me and my mother.  I had never been to “east” Germany – and it is very difficult for me to describe the swirl of emotions as I stood in front of the farm-house here my grandmother was born – and later as I stood in front of the house where my mother was born and where my grandfather was later killed during World War II.  

Imagine what a thrill it was for me to stand at the door of the Castle Church and place my hand upon it – 500 years after Martin Luther nailed the theses to it.  What history! 

Wittenberg

 

Castle Church Doors

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2011 in Geier, Lipsdorf, Times and Places

 

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