Posted by: tabliope | September 17, 2008

Following the trail of my father (part 2)

Next week I was planning to travel to Boizenburg to visit the Registrar and look through the records to find some information about my father's family.    Because of something that my mother had told me many years ago I was doubtful that I would find anything recording my father's birth but I hoped that I may find a marriage certificate for my grandparents or a death certificate for my grandfather. 

Yesterday I decided to email the Registrar to check that it would be okay to visit because, after all, this is Germany and they are German civil servants.  German civil servants have a reputation for being both uncivil and discinclined to serve and coupled with the fact that Boizenburg is in the old DDR where there is a tendency to cling to the Stalin school of customer service I worried that I may not get very far without a prior appointment. Frau Pommer, the assistant registrar,  is someone who has bucked this trend and I'm now going to defend German civil servants to my dying breath.

She has replied to my email to confirm that my father's birth is registered although his forename is the german spelling Georg rather than the spelling he used which was Jerzy.  However, he was brought up in Poland where they wouldn't have been big on using German names.  She's gone further than confirming the birth records for my father and she has found that he had a sister, Anna, whose birth was registered in 1921.   What is a surprise is that my grandmother was unmarried and the father's name is unknown or certainly, unrecorded.  The only place I had ever seen a name for my grandfather was on my father's marriage certificate so whether my father knew who his father was or just made it up, I don't know.  The interesting thing about the marriage certificate is that it records his father's name and his mother's maiden name – both names are the same.  I had wondered when I read that if my father's english had meant that he hadn't understood what a maiden name was. 

I feel a bit excited about this but there's a lingering sense of unease because my mother told me a massive lie.  She didn't just say that the records had been destroyed in the war, perhaps repeating a lie that my father told to her to disguise the fact that he was illegitimate, she claimed to have been in contact with the registrar to see if there was any way they could produce a birth certificate and that this was impossible.  This was supposedly because dad needed a birth certificate to apply for a passport and this was why dad couldn't get a passport; a great family story busted.  I wonder if there will be more. 

Given that I have a name for my grandfather I will ask Frau Pommer to check the deaths for the years 1919 – 1921 because my understanding is that my grandmother was forced out of Germany because of the death of her 'husband'.  According to my father's marriage certificate his father had been a major in the german army so there's another possible contact.



  1. [this is good] This is fascinating.  Good luck on continuing your trail.  

  2. How exciting and intriguing.

  3. Frau Pommer sounds wonderful.  Could it be that your mother did try to get a copy of the certificate and the policy then was to not allow duplications?
    It must have been exciting to discover you have an aunt and maybe possible cousins knocking about – but as you said in your previous post, the excitement of any further discoveries may be fairly short-lived – or maybe not – you never know.

  4. Wow, this is all very mysterious, and must be fun researching it.
    My grandmother kicked up a right stink when my mum started researching the family tree – she kept saying that we should let sleeping dogs lie, and she didn’t want to find out any skeletons in closets… as it turned out her side of the family is pretty impeccable, but on my father’s side we think a great great grandfather was illegitimate, so we’re not even sure if our surname isn’t our surname!

  5. [this is good] Let us know how you get on. It’s intriguing looking back.

  6. I do wonder if it was the DDR thing and that the communists were just being difficult and told her that the records had been destroyed because they were too busy spying on each other to do any useful work.

  7. How exciting!
    My dad doesn’t know who his dad was – a terrible shameful family secret back then, of course.  He was 20 when he found out that his ‘mum and dad’ were his grandparents and an ‘auntie’ was his mum.  He was devastated – I have never met any of his side of the family as he broke off all contact.
    Of course, none his children are bothered by the ‘daddy is a bastard’ label – as my brother so thoughtfully put it one day.
    Looking forward to your next instalment!

  8. [this is good] How fascinating. I’m looking forward to more updates.

  9. [das ist gut] Wow!

  10. [das ist gut] Exciting. Hats off to Frau Pommer!

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