WORLD WAR II AND THE EWZ RECORDS
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
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
Joseph and Luise were married
in Siberia in 1948. See their
||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
||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.
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.