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WORLD WAR II AND THE EWZ RECORDS

(Vernetzung zum deutschen Text)

The Odessa Region lived under German Army occupation from 1941 until the spring of 1944. As the Russian military fought its way back from Stalingrad, it was clear that Germany's armed strength was in decline. The order was given to evacuate all the German villages. With little notice, people had to decide what to take and what to leave behind. They loaded essentials unto any available wagons and began a three and one-half month trek to Poland. The vast majority would never see their home villages again. When they arrived, they were registered and placed in holding camps. These records are referred to as the Einwanderung Zentralstelle or EWZ.

Most of the able bodied men and older boys were subsequently pressed into the German army. As the Russian army over-ran Germany in early 1945, the women and children fled the holding camps in panic and confusion, looking for refuge in Allied territory. Most of the men ended up in POW camps. But Stalin later reclaimed all former citizens of Russia according to the terms of the Yalta Agreement. About 250,000 German-Russians were exiled to the horrors of the "Gulag Archipelago", the network of prison-labor camps scattered throughout Siberia. Here they survived in sub-human conditions until Kruschev issued a General Amnesty in 1956. The German-Russians were "free" to leave Siberia for other parts of the USSR, but were not allowed to return to their original villages. Many Black-Sea Germans opted for Kazakhstan which at least provided for a warmer climate. Many of these people have now immigrated into Germany.

Because my Grandfather Conrad Weiss was the only one of his siblings to emigrate to North America, I often wondered what happened to his brothers and sisters. The EWZ Records showed that several of them had survived the forced trek to Poland in 1944. Furthermore the records gave me the names of their children and birthdates. I gave a list of these names to a church organization in Stuttgart, Germany and asked it to try to locate these missing cousins. In October, 2004, I established contact with several cousins to my Dad.

  Jakob Weiss (on the left), and Joseph Weiss, both born in Selz, returned to Germany in 1988. Jakob and Josef are first cousins to my Dad. Their mother and sister starved to death in Siberia in 1946/47. Joseph died in 1997.
 

This is Jakob Weiss, born 1894 in Selz. He was the son of Joseph Weiss and Fransizka Weichel. Jakob was a half-brother to my Grandfather Conrad Weiss. Jakob remained in Germany after the war and never saw his wife and family again. He re-married in Germany and died there in 1968.

Jakob's EWZ record.

 

Joseph Weiss and his wife Luise Haid of Grossliebental, their sons Jakob and Adolf, and Joseph's younger brother, Jakob (in the middle). This photo was taken in Kazakhstan.

 

Joseph and Luise Weiss in Germany.

Joseph and Luise were married in Siberia in 1948. See their wedding photo.

 

  Jakob Weiss and his wife Emma Klötzel, both born in Selz. Jakob and his wife have been living in Germany since 1989.
 

Michael Fetsch, born in Selz, brother to my Grandmother Brigetta Weiss. Michael married Katharina Baumann of Strasburg. This photo was taken in 1976 shortly before Michael died.

Michael's EWZ record

  Ida Vetsch, daughter of Michael Fetsch and Katharina Baumann. Ida is a first cousin to my Dad.
 

Edmund Wenz and his wife Mila, living in Germany. Edmund, born in 1928 in Elsass, is the son of Philip Wenz and Elizabeth Weiss. Elizabeth was the daughter of Johann Weiss and Catherina Fettig. Edmund's mother Elizabeth was a first cousin to my Grandfather Conrad Weiss.

Edmund's EWZ record.

EWZ record of Elizabeth (Weiss) Wenz
EWZ record of Franziska (Weiss) Stappler
EWZ record of Margarete Baumstark

Left to Right: Emma Weiss, nee Klötzel, born in Selz, Merv Weiss, Jakob Weiss, born in Selz, and Luise Weiss, nee Haid, born in Grosliebental. May, 2005.