Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Family Legend, True or False? Part 4: Endings and Beginnings

Last time I talked about what I’d found out about my grandfather (and grandmother) in relation to the research questions I had when going to the archive. But of course, there was a lot more in those files than I could have hoped for. A small summary of the information I found and the research questions it raised.

My grandfather’s childhood in Germany was completely unknown to me up until now. However, some light was shed on this by data provided by my grandfather about his schooling in Germany and the sketch L.J. van Aken made about the situation of the Polish immigrants in Bottrop in that time period.

My grandfather’s immigration is said by both him and L.J. van Aken to have been in 1928, when he was 14 or 15 years old (depending on which of the two are talking). This is a subject I’ve written about before here, here, and here. However, in spite of family stories that he came to the Netherlands when he was 16, I had only been able to find him coming into the country in 1932, at 17, or even later when he was 18. A puzzle to be sure and I want to check some last sources before coming to a final conclusion about this, although at the moment I am tempted to go with the 1928 date.

My grandfather’s life pre- and post-war was enlightened by several facts and tales in the file. It’s something that will give his biography just that much more life to it and I’m very happy about it.

My grandfather’s time in the German military got a lot more clear due to this file. The family story about his injury in the war is fleshed out by his own words and I now know where he served. Of course, the further proof of his time at the Eastern Front only makes me want to find the book my aunt told me about so much more. Apparently, my grandfather is named in that book. I’m still looking for it, as she’s forgotten both the title and the author.

My grandfather’s naturalization was always a bit of a mystery to us, as he became a naturalized citizen quite late, in 1957. This file held the answer to his late naturalization, but it also raised a new question. Apparently, he’d tried to get naturalization in 1937 but was rejected. I hadn’t check the records for naturalization yet, so when I do I’ll make sure to search for that rejected request to see if I can’t find a reason for it.

But the real gem, the one that made me certain that yes, there is a genea-Santa and yes, I had been a good girl, was the information about Adolph Knura’s parents. Until then, I only had their names, which is not a lot to go on. Now though, I have information about why and when his parents came to Bottrop, and their birthplaces in Poland! Well, I’ve got a great lead to their birthplaces, but no actual clue as to where it is yet. But that’s enough to write a whole separate post about, which I will do in the near future. Suffice to say it is a whole lot more than the nothing I had.

All in all, this file gave me a lot of information. It ended my search into several big questions and opened up whole new questions with the information I found. A search that started out with merely trying to determine the truth of a family story ended up giving me the pieces of the puzzle that might get me over the border and a generation further. So you see, no story is too small to check out. You might never know what unexpected gems you’ll find!


  1. How nice to find such illuminating information about your family. It's been an interesting story.

    [There were no working links in your My grandfather's immigration paragraph]


  2. Thanks for the heads up on hte links, I've fixed it now. And thanks for visiting.