Now What? A German Military Mystery

Now What? A German Military Mystery

Q: Three headstones in the German military cemetery at Belleau have my family name. My ancestors are from the town of Idar-Oberstein, Germany, which is close to this cemetery. How can I get information about these soldiers?   A: This cemetery was established in March 1922 by the consolidation of...

Q: Three headstones in the German military cemetery at Belleau have my family name. My ancestors are from the town of Idar-Oberstein, Germany, which is close to this cemetery. How can I get information about these soldiers?
 
A: This cemetery was established in March 1922 by the consolidation of 123 temporary burial sites. It’s the final resting place for more than 8,600 German soldiers killed between the Aisne and Marne rivers in 1918 (primarily from May 27 to July 18), along with 70 killed in 1914 in the First Battle of the Marne.
 

You could start by searching the National German Military Grave Registration Service website, a database of more than 2 million soldiers from both World Wars. It’s in German, but you can plug the URL into translate.google.com for a rough English translation.

Unfortunately, almost all Prussian military records, representing the bulk of the consolidated German army post-1867, were destroyed in Allied bombing during 1945. So if you can find possible ancestors in the gravestone database, you’ll next have to pursue civilian sources to determine whether the soldiers buried at Belleau are your relatives. The Family History Library doesn’t have civil registration records on microfilm for Idar-Oberstein at this time, however. See the December 2009 Family Tree Magazine for German research advice.

 
For more advice on how to get beat the brick wall in your genealogy research, see Family Tree Magazine‘s book 101 Brick Wall Busters: Solutions to Overcome Your Genealogical Challenges, the Family Tree Magazine webinar recording Brick Wall Strategies: Advice and Ideas for Getting Past Research Dead Ends, and the Family Tree Problem Solver, all available on Family Tree Shop.
 
Stumped? Ask our experts! Send questions to FTMletters@fwmedia.com or post them at familytreemagazine.com/forum. Sorry, we can’t respond personally or answer all questions.
 

From the September 2010 Family Tree Magazine

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