Posts Tagged ‘family research’

Wasyl Iwaniw

I decided to write a short story of what I have been able to find during my family research. I will start with my father’s oldest brother, my Uncle Wasyl Iwaniw, because it’s essentially because of him that I started researching my family history.

My Uncle Wasyl, pictured here, was born in Lutowiska, Galacia (a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in what was Western Ukraine and now a part of Poland) on 20 April, 1903 to Michael Iwaniw and Matrona Iwaniw (nee Smoliw). When I was growing up I was told that Uncle Wasyl disappeared during the German occupation of Ukraine during WWII. My father told me that no one knew what happened to him or ever saw or heard from him.

I started my family research in hopes of finding out more about my Uncle Wasyl. I started by building a foundation of information and always keeping an eye out of new resources and sources of information. In conducting my research I was able to locate embarkation information for my parents when they left Germany after WWII and the address where they lived in Ulm Germany while they were waiting approval to enter either the United States, Canada, or England.

Some time ago I was made aware of a source of data records pertaining to labor camps from the WWII period. I started out by searching out any information pertaining to my parents, specifically, my father. What I ended up finding was information about 2 of my father’s brothers, one of whom was my Uncle Wasyl. I detailed it in a previous post on this blog. I was rewarded with information about both of my father’s brothers, Wasyl & Mykola. But let’s focus on what I found out about Wasyl.

The record (shown above) that I found was for Steinberg Germany. The description of the record is “List of all allied Nationals and all other foreigners, German Jews and stateless etc. who were temporarily or permanently stationed in the community, but are no longer in residence.” So, I took this to mean that my uncle resided there but as of 27 March 1947 was no longer living there. The records give the person’s surname, first name, place of birth, date of birth, type of housing unit, date of sojourn (stay or visit), and other details which are not completed. It looks like this information was compiled from other German records that only gave partial information.

This record shows that my Uncle Wasyl (record #7) was listed as Iwaniw, Basil (another version of Wasyl), lists place of birth as unknown, born on 20 April, 1903. It also shows he was in Steinberg as of 29 April 1943. It also shows him listed as a civilian but says his usual place of residence was unknown. The record give no indication of what happened to him after he left or was removed from Steinberg.

This now gives me another research project to find out whatever I can about the area around Steinberg to get a better idea of what other records may be available. This is in addition to find out what I can about the area around Sumingen Germany. I will next detail the record I found on my other uncle, Mykola Iwaniw.

Back last September I wrote about getting some verified information that did not support what I was told verbally or contained additional details.  Although I’m still waiting to get a response from my request to the International Tracing Service about details of my parents’ time in the labor camp in Germany, I was finally able to verify a few details about my grandparents.


First of all, I found out my paternal grandmother’s name along with my exact spelling of my maternal grandmother’s last name.  In both cases it was not what I was told.  They did provide the information for official purposes.  It seems that verbally these sources were reluctant to divulge the information or were very ambiguous when divulging it.  I can’t figure out why and this is another example of why you need to verify and document any information that you receive verbally.

With this new, updated information I can now move forward with my family research. Additionally, I was able to update my genealogical files and the online family tree information.

In my last post I stated that I had sent a couple of requests to the International Tracing Service for my father and a Micola Iwaniw.  That was back toward the end of September.  As of today I haven’t received any response to those requests.  It could be that there are manual searches being conducted to get the information.  One can hope.  

I’m also still waiting to hear back regarding my inquiry about labor camps in the Maselheim/Surlingen area of Germany.  Anyone that can offer any help or information on expediting these requests & inquiries would be greatly appreciated. 

In any genealogy research one thing is always consistent.  Waiting,  We do spend a lot of time waiting.  When I posted previously that I had received some documentation about my parents while they were living in Ulm, Germany and that information stated that the labor camp they were interred at was not in Ulm, I ended up e-mailing a couple of other people to see if they could give me information about the labor camps around the Sulmingen area of Germany.

Well, that is the point at which I find myself…waiting.  Waiting to hear back about my inquiry.  Waiting because I don’t know if they have put my inquiry in their queue for researching or did they just discard and ignore it.  Will I hear back from them in the next few days, next few weeks, next few months, or longer?  The worse part of waiting is not knowing.

I also submitted a research request to the International Tracing Service for my father and a Micola Iwaniw.  I included Micola because my father had a brother by that name and according to information from my father he was born in 1910, just like the Micola shown in the ITS records.  Could this be the long lost brother that my father said they lost touch with during the war?  Because there was little detail from the online record I had to request the hardcopy in order to see what other information can be found there.  Again, waiting.

In doing my family research I have had to rely on verbal information I have received from my parents.  One of the things that I was told was that my parents came from Ulm, Germany to America.  I presumed that they were interred in the labor camp there during WWII.  I presumed that there time in Germany was spent in Ulm, that they met there, got married there, and my sister was born there.

Again, verbal information.  I decided to search and find any and all documents pertaining to my parents time in Ulm, Germany.  To that end I made contact with someone working a the city archives in Ulm, the deputy director Ulrich Seemüller.  I gave him as much information as I knew but he wasn’t able to locate any information.  He e-mailed me back asking for the name of the companies that my parents worked at while in the forced labor camp.  That information I didn’t have.  I replied that all I knew was that my father said that he was a cobbler (shoemaker) while in Germany.

So I was pleasantly surprised when Mr. Seemüller sent me another e-mail providing me with documentation of useful information.  What his information provided was that 1.  yes, my sister was born in Ulm, Germany, but 2.  while my parents were living in Ulm, Germany at that time, they were married in Sulmingen, Germany.  Wow.  I didn’t know that.  Now, I get to update the information I know and have a whole new locale to search.  

My next step will be to contact Mr. Werneke in Germany pertaining to this new information that I got.  Mr. Werneke has done extensive research on labor camps in Germany.  Hopefully, he can help me research those in the Sulmingen/Maselheim region.