The German Letter, Budapest 1939

I’m trying to keep  the Genealogy Do-Over instructions in mind as I review document images.

Handle a piece of paper once and get all the details the first time.
Rename the document using my standard naming conventions and file it in the Genealogy Images folder.

But it doesn’t work for some of my situations. I love the new improved Do-Over process but I need to adjust it to accommodate the odd bits and pieces in Grandfather’s box of papers.  Along with a priceless collection of birth/death and marriage certificates for his family line, there are fragments of stories, transcriptions of historical documents, handwritten drafts, and carbon copies of typed letters. They often lack addresses or return addresses or dates so I’m not quite sure if these were letters he was sending or receiving or someone else’s correspondence entirely. Most of these documents are written in Hungarian or Latin. But there is one German letter.Edes Bela German letter 1939

I can tell that it is a request for a copy of the marriage certificate of his parents in Pula, Austria (now Pola, Croatia) in 1885. But I don’t know what the rest of the letter says.

I tried transcribing the document and feeding it to Google Translate. Unfortunately, Google gagged on the letter and returned digital barf.

Fortunately, there are Angels waiting on the Facebook Genealogy Translations Group. I posted the letter and minutes letter got a response.

Me: Can anyone translate this letter from German. It was written by my grandfather requesting a marriage certificate copy for his parents. Google translate mangles this. Can you tell what happened in December 1888? What is Aria Legemitierung? TIA!    

Translating Angel 1:  I politely request the marriage certificate for my father, Father’s name Sigmund Eden, Roman Catholic, born in the year 1862, March 24, in Vukovar Slovakia. My mother: Anne Terk, Roman Catholic, born in the year 1864 in Bautisch. Muehren, now Germany. By my departure certificate listed as Polish on December 21, 1888.    

Angel 1: Apparently wherever this town is, it was designated as Polish in 1888, but is now Germany.    

Angel 1: I don’t know what Aria is, or WHO Aria is. It seems this person wants to legitimize their existence or ownership or citizenship.    …

Angel 1: And this was not written by a native German speaker, so the language is difficult because it is strewn with the grammar of another language.   …

Angel 2: Angel 1, the person needs this certificate to prove his Arian status for the Nazis. The letter is from 1939 when this part of Europe was part of the Gross Deutsches Reich.   …

Angel 1:  Gotcha! I didn’t pay attention to the date at the bottom. Of course!    

Me: OMG! I thought that was part of the motivation for his genealogy research. Grandfather owned a typewriter store. So it would be especially important for him as a business owner. I can’t imagine living through that horrible time. Thanks to you both for your help!! 

My grandfather with his poor German grammar wrote requesting an urgent response shortly after the German invasion of Poland. He did get a copy of his parent’s marriage certificate. As far as I know the family still kept their store and home through the war. His properties were confiscated by the Communists after the 1956 Hungarian uprising.  My grandparents emigrated to Canada in 1957.

Simple documents, when you have the historical context, can reveal so much about the lives of our ancestors.  I think I will keep a folder for the images of my grandfather’s correspondence.  And cite this letter for confirming  his place of residence at the time. And move on to the next mystery in his  box of papers.


One thought on “The German Letter, Budapest 1939

  1. That is such an amazing story, Diane. Like you, I cannot imagine what it would have been like. Very scary times indeed!


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