These three letters probably were a major factor in finding my grandmother’s sister, who disappeared in 1945.
EWZ stands for Einwanderungszentralstelle, a document used by ethnic Germans living abroad for obtaining German citizenship from 1939 to 1945.
During World War II, times were desperate and my family needed to get out of Nazi-occupied Kiev. My great-grandmother was born in Bialystok, Russia, (now Poland), but her maiden name was Hoffmann.
Her German ancestry saved her family. She used her ancestry to obtain German citizenship for her Russian husband born in Kursk (central Russia) and her two teenage children and the family was able to leave war-torn Kiev safely.
It’s important to know the ancestry of all relatives. It makes a major impact on finding missing relatives, especially when there is a chance relatives used German ancestry to leave the USSR.
EWZ files are filled with information that detail life in the USSR and the family’s ancestry. EWZ files also have family trees to prove German ancestry and photos of the immigrant.
I obtained the EWZ files of my great-grandparents, grand uncle and grand aunt. I used my grand aunt’s EWZ number as an identification number when I made a tracing request with International Tracing Service- Bad Aroslen. I am confident that this information helped find her.
Here is how an EWZ typical appears. The document is translated into English for this sample.
There are 110,000 EWZ files on ethnic Germans who came from the Soviet Union and they are not hard to obtain.
The Family History Center at Mormon churches have access to microfilms of these documents. Anyone can visit the center to rent and review the microfilms, which cost about $7.50 for two months to rent. The catalog of microfilms are posted here. I have visited two family history centers, which usually have daytime, evening and weekend hours. The volunteers are friendly and helpful.
Anyone also can view the microfims at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.
The microfilms can be purchased for $65 per roll by contacting: National Archives Trust Fund, P.O. Box 100793, Atlanta, Georgia 30384-0793 or 1-800- 234-8861.
Several researchers can be contacted to review the microfilms. National Archives does not have a paid service to review these microfilms, but staff will review microfilm surname indexes to determine which individual microfilm roll could have a file. The College Park archives office can be contacted here for referrals of professional researchers who specialize in researching EWZ microfilms.
I am waiting to hear this month from the researcher who agreed to search for my grandparents in the microfilms. His fee is $40, plus copying and postage fees. I am hoping my grandmother used her mother’s ancestry to obtain citizenship for herself and her husband. EWZ files on my grandparents would provide information that I cannot find in Kiev state archives.
German archives also have microfilms of the EWZ files and perform a paid search service, but the cost of wiring money and the fees involved make this option more expensive than options available in the USA.