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GUTZAT & OBEREINER and Suwalki/Wartele (DE),Valteliai areas

Replies: 9

Re: GUTZAT & OBEREINER and Suwalki/Wartele (DE),Valteliai areas

Posted: 6 Dec 2012 11:41AM GMT
Classification: Query
Cindy, I think some basic history might help your research. In the 19th century Central Europe was divided between the three great empires - German, Russian and Austro-Hungarian. Lithuania was in the Russian Empire but parts of it bordered on the German Empire so it is quite possible one ancestor came from "Germany" and the other from "Russia". Google up a map of the Russian Empire in 1900. You have to remember that there was a difference between nationality (citizenship) and ethnicity. A Pole or Lithuanian could be Austrian, German or Russian, but still Polish or Lithuanian by ethnicity. There were comparatively large German settlements in Russia because Catherine the Great invited the Germans to come and establish industries in the 18th century. After 1919 the empires all collapsed and the Baltic States and Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary etc., all gained independence. In 1939 Hitler invaded Poland and the Baltic States, with Stalin grabbing half of Poland. In 1945 with the collapse of Germany all German territory east of the Oder-Neisse Line (google up a map of Germany in the boundaries of 1937) was given to Poland to compensate for the part Stalin had grabbed and had no intention of giving up. A small enclave, the northern half of the previous German East Prussia was given to the Soviet Union because Stalin wanted an ice-free port - Pillau, now known as Baltijsk. All Germans, German speakers, were expelled from these areas. What was left of Germany west of the Oder-Neisse Line, was divided into four zones of occupation, Russian, British, American and French. The Yalta Agreement had said there were to be free elections as soon as was possible but Stalin had no intention of giving up control over the Soviet (Russian) zone. The destruction from bombing meant most cities were destroyed and the whole population was starving - a matter of concern to the western Allies, not so much to Stalin. In 1948 the three western zones got together and had a currency reform which kick-started the economy and the famous Wirtschaftswunder and in 1949, tired of trying to get the Soviets to agree to anything the three western powers supported the foundation of the Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Federal German Republic) The Soviets replied with the Deutsches Demokratisches Republik (German Democratic Republic) a communist state under the control of Moscow with a heavily defended border running right through from east of the Elbe on the Baltic to the Czech border. On March 5th, 1946, Winston Churchill made a speech in Fulton, Missouri, where he said, inter alia, "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an Iron Curtain has descended across the continent" - this was before it was realised EAST Germany would also be behind this "Iron Curtain" but the expression was coined then - so whatever your relatives were doing during WW2 they were certainly not sending anything to anybody "behind the Iron Curtain" because no such place existed, and the Federal Republic of Germany was not behind the "Iron Curtain" either. How could it be - it didn't exist either! I would guess your relatives were some of those expelled from the areas east of the Oder-Neisse who all had to settle in either the BRD or the DDR - the former if they had any choice - and may have been sending things to the few left behind, or in the DDR if they were lucky enough to have landed in the BRD, but they would not have been sending money to buy cows for the simple reason that collectivisation of agriculture was on the top of the communist agenda and everybody was pushed and coerced into collectives and would not have been allowed to own animals, land, equipment or anything else privately. In the 50s and 60s as things in West Germany boomed people were officially encouraged to remember those "druben" and it actually became a bit of a burden because some of the East Germans felt the West Germans owed them something because they had been lucky enough to escape having the Russians come in - but one thing was always clear - "things" got through, money almost never, partly because it was illegal and partly because if anyone tried it it would always be confiscated because the DDr was always short of a healthy currency - no one wanted East German Marks! Hope this helps explain a bit - but I do think it is important to get the basic history right, even if the finer details are not. Also, if you can, do get someone who knows the language to help with translations. Google Translate can be useful for the odd word, but in general these computer programmes are awful.
SubjectAuthorDate Posted
Tokorozawa60 17 Jun 2012 12:42PM GMT 
JerryFrank59 18 Jun 2012 6:03PM GMT 
Tokorozawa60 18 Jun 2012 9:20PM GMT 
bwartell841 19 Nov 2012 2:13AM GMT 
JerryFrank59 20 Nov 2012 5:30AM GMT 
halpark 6 Dec 2012 6:41PM GMT 
Tokorozawa60 8 Dec 2012 11:05PM GMT 
halpark 9 Dec 2012 11:52AM GMT 
Tokorozawa60 9 Dec 2012 1:00PM GMT 
halpark 9 Dec 2012 2:38PM GMT 
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