Success in Germany is a learning experience

I finally received an answer from local archives in Kaufbeuren, Bavaria, Germany. I sent an e-mail message Sunday night and overnight I received a record documenting my mother’s brother birth.

Now, I know what it takes to receive an answer back from local archives in Germany. I sent EIGHT document scans to the archive office. I sent my marriage license, my birth certificate, my mother’s marriage license, an official statement my grandfather signed saying he married my grandmother and had my mother, a document showing the family’s address in Kaufbeuren to prove residency, my uncle’s birth certificate, my grandfather’s death certificate and my grandfather’s identity card from Kiev. I also included my home address, also something I did not provide in previous e-mail messages to the archive office.

Pretty much I gave all that was needed for someone to steal my identity. Ironically, Germans are touchy about privacy but they expect you to provide so much information about yourself that your own privacy is ignored.

After all this effort of scanning documents and e-mailing my family’s information, I am so happy to get an answer. The e-mail message I sent Sunday night was the fourth message since September 2010 to Kaufbeuren archives. I also sent messages in September 2010, March 2011 and September 2011.

I did not learn a lot about my family from the document I received, but I learned a few things. My uncle was first identified as Wilfried, not Wlodimir as stated on his birth certificate. Wlodimir is the German spelling of Vladimir. I do not think my uncle even knows about his “first” name.

The document also gave me the address of the hospital where my uncle was born and the time he was born- noon. My grandmother remembered a full day of labor and the unhappy German nurses who had to care for her. After my grandmother gave birth to my uncle, a nurse forcefully dropped my uncle onto her stomach. The nurse had no idea my grandmother was half German and Russian.

Now, if I only knew how my grandparents picked Wilfried. The name derives from will and peace, maybe something my grandparents needed during a world war and after famine and communist terror in Ukraine.

Now, my adventure in German archives continues in Kochel, Germany, near the northern border of Austria. I hope some documents are found in archives so I can learn more about my family’s life in Germany during the war.