Making another breakthrough with EWZ files

I finally have figured out how my Russian grandparents were able to live in Germany during and after World War II. My grandmother applied for German citizenship for herself, her husband and her daughter by using her mother’s German ancestry.

A Polish listserv member found my grandparents’ and mother’s Einwandererzentrale (EWZ) file numbers on Odessa. Strangely enough, the database also found files for parents of my grandfather. I thought my grandfather’s family was pure Russian. At least one of my great-grandparents had to have German ancestry to apply for German citizenship as a couple. I wonder who had the mystery German ancestry.

A cousin from my grandfather’s family has suspected the family is really German, not Russian, based on the first and last names not sounding very Russian. My grandfather’s family has been in Russia for generations but Germans and other ethnic groups have lived in Russia for a long time.

This mystery will be unveiled when I get my hands on these files stored on microfilm at National Archives in College Park, Maryland. I am still trying to figure out how I will get copies of these records.

National Archives does not rent the microfilms for the EWZ files. Each microfilm is sold for $85, way too pricey for me. I cannot travel to College Park right now. I am looking for a professional researcher or hoping National Archives will make copies for me. I have the exact film and frame numbers where my family’s records can be found. I’ve heard that the files listed on Odessa are not available on microfilm at the Mormon church’s family history centers.

While I figure out how to get the files, I am searching for other relatives’ records in the war records database on Odessa. I believe I have found records for relatives of a great-great-grandfather’s sister. A distant German cousin has information I want on these relatives but she refuses to help me. Germans are very touchy about privacy.

The search capabilities of the databases on Odessa are incredible. I have searched for relatives by town, last name, first name and country (Russland, Polen).  It is important to know German immigration officials changed how villages and towns were spelled like Kiew for Kiev, Suprosal for Suprasl and Choroschtsch for Choroszcz. 

EWZ files are goldmines of information on birthdates, birthplaces, children, spouses, education and employment and some have family trees. Learn more about these files by reading my last blog on these files.

3 thoughts on “Making another breakthrough with EWZ files

  1. Laila Morrero

    Hi, i feel that i noticed you visited my site thus i got here to “go back the want”.I am attempting to find things to enhance my web site!I suppose its ok to make use of some of your ideas!!


  2. Elizabeth

    No need to travel to College Park – go onto the website (run by the Mormon Church (LDS) – it’s a major part of their theology that a person has to know who their ancestors are). They’ve got copies of the EWZ files, and have ‘reading rooms’ all over the country. They will ‘rent’ you the correct film roll(s) for something like $5/each. (You don’t keep it – you’re basically paying the shipping from the main library in Salt Lake City.) If my understanding is correct, what is seen online is just an index – there’s actually a multipage document for each person indexed, which has a lot more information.
    Good luck!


    1. I tried the microfilms at my local Mormon church. I could not find where my family names would be located on the films. It became too frustrating so I hired a researcher, who was cheap. The German archives did not order the files by spelling, but by pronunciation. Nothing I do is simple.


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