FEEFHS-L ArchivesArchiver > FEEFHS > 2007-11 > 1195328316
From: "Carol Menges" <>
Subject: Re: [FEEFHS] FEEFHS Digest, Vol 1, Issue 6
Date: Sat, 17 Nov 2007 12:38:36 -0700
I'm no expert in all this, but since no one's jumped in here to answer your
query, and since you're new here on the list, I didn't want you to feel
disappointed in the lack of response and possibly think no one of this
organization would have a clue to help you out. I think they're just quite
busy already in multiple organizations and their own genealogical work.
I've been doing a lot of reading and attending FEEFHS Conferences over the
past decade that have left me with enough basic information to suggest that
your mystery isn't particularly uncommon at all: children might be born in
an entirely different country from their parents, no matter whether the new
country was considered particularly friendly to Jews or not.
My genealogical leanings are more Galician / Ukrainian / Belorussian
oriented, but the history way back clearly has common ground with yours.
Even just beginning to study the history of Jews in general throughout
Europe helps a person see the necessity for various groups to migrate or
actually emigrate--legally or otherwise--to whatever new location would
allow them to survive, at least for awhile, until the heat would ratchet up
once again and make it imperative to move again.
My suggestion would be to begin, if you haven't already, a careful personal
study of the history of your areas of interest. It's a painful thing to do
because the history is rife with misery and unrelenting horror on a frequent
basis, but it will also likely clear up any questions you're asking.
Recently I watched a PBS video I'd had on hand for quite awhile on Jewish
immigration to the US during the 19th century. The patterns of congregation
and subsequent migration westward have a lot in common with your history.
The richer emigrants were more mobile from place to place even within Europe
before they got here, and they didn't cause the same kind of distrust for
doing so as those who were less well off. In fact, England and France often
welcomed them--I don't know much about Sweden, specifically. Sometimes
employment would cause their removal from one place to another, even to a
neighboring country that had previously been their sworn enemy not long
before, such as stories I've read concerning Russians going to Finland for a
time. This isn't unusual. Think of our own relations with Japan and
Germany since WWII as cases in point. Ever since the French Revolution of
the late 18th-century there was antagonism between the rich ruling class of
privilege and those who wanted a better life and more self-determination
than they were ever likely to be given. There were a series of uprisings
all over Europe, often instigated by student leaders, that tried to effect
change. None of them was successful, actually, but they brought to the
forefront of people's imaginations what might be possible if only things
were different. All this kept leaders edgy because the students often were
still fomenting revolutionary actions from new safe havens, while ordinary
citizens outside of that conflict were either ignorant of the events or were
alarmed for their own safety because of the resultant fallout.
Jews, basically, weren't well liked anywhere, so it hardly mattered much of
the time whether they traveled east or west. "The Holocaust" we're familiar
with is only one of *many* over the span of human history, the 20th-century
central European version. But, yes, Jews were sometimes lured eastward with
various promises of a better life because those who made the promises needed
their agrarian or financial expertise for a time, or they wanted that
expertise as well as a human shield with land to protect who would be the
first line of defense for the leaders' southern borders, or some other
useful, self-serving reason. Those promises were about as iron tight as the
person in charge: when he or she was out, the promises often went out with
him or her, too. If the new homeland became intolerable--and the family had
the resources to do so--they'd emigrate again. There are newer books
dealing with the subject, but the one I own that entirely blew me away is
called *The Unwanted* by Michael R. Marrus. It's still considered a classic
on the subject.
It wasn't until after World War I that refugees flooded Europe in ways never
known before. They went every known direction over the interwar years,
trying in desperation to find some place that would allow them to be safe,
back and forth, as borders became closed to them. They were not allowed to
emigrate, typically, without papers to allow them to cross from place to
place (passports), and passports were hard to come by for most of them.
Eventually they had no options remaining. The attention of the most of the
leaders of the world was brought to Paris to begin that convoluted process
of dealing with the situation, very badly. Politics intervened more often
than a caring for humanity. A fairly new book on that with all the gory
details is *1918*, I believe it was called. I don't have a personal copy
but I believe you could find it on interlibrary loan, at the very least.
Sweden was involved in this too, so I believe there might be something of
value to you in that book.
Did Karl and Hilma still have relatives in Sweden? That would be a good
reason to keeping visiting, if they could afford the travel.
I read the stories in genealogical journals or historical analyses of
families or individuals from the late 1800s or the early 1900s who thought
they were going to be better off in Russia or eastern Ukraine than they were
anywhere in central Europe. I can't help wishing they hadn't left then for
points west, considering my hindsight view of their later experiences. But
they had community and family closer at hand, languages and cultures in
common, possibilities for advancement--maybe--where they were, instead of
the super-hyped and quite fraudulent advertising offered by the American
agents sent to bring ever increasing numbers of workers to the coal mines
and factories of the eastern United States, or later to the farmland and
deserts of the mid- and western states. I can appreciate better now that
their options weren't as easy to define as I had previously thought. Even a
novel such as *My Antonia*, by Willa Cather, points out how desperate life
often was for those emigrants who came out west. Many left the Old Country
because they had no compelling reason to stay. But coming here was not an
easy thing either, especially for any traumatized adults who had likely used
up at least most of their emotional resources long ago.
All of this may not help you very much, overall, but I do believe the
self-study is warranted. There are well researched works out lately that
leave no illusions about what our ancestors faced, what they had to
overcome. I realize now that it was their children who actually had the
chance to succeed, the ones who still had hope in their future. Bless those
parents who brought them here, our grandparents or great-grandparents, the
ones who didn't want to talk to us about why they left.
Mine came with nearly nothing. Yours apparently had a better financial time
of it, at least until your great-grandfather left the family. My
grandparents weren't Jewish but they had their own horrors because they were
amongst the lowest of the low on the pecking order once they got here
anyway: eastern European Galicians.
There is a wealth of experts in this as well as other organizations within
FEEFHS' umbrella group. I suggest that you come to as many of their
conferences as you can and pick their brains. Also, that you attend
the International Conferences on Jewish Genealogy when you can make those,
too. I did my first one this past July and found a new source for help in
learning about paternal lines of long ago. Unfortunately, this mailing list
is very quiet most of the time.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, November 15, 2007 1:05 AM
Subject: FEEFHS Digest, Vol 1, Issue 6
> Today's Topics:
> 1. New To List...Gen. Query...Gettner... ()
> Message: 1
> Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2007 20:06:54 EST
> Subject: [FEEFHS] New To List...Gen. Query...Gettner...
> Message-ID: <>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="UTF-8"
> Dear Listers,
> I am very glad to have found this list! I have what I think is an
> interesting genealogical puzzle that I have been working on for years.
> Perhaps folks
> on this list might have some input that would assist in putting the
> pieces together.
> Here is what I have thus far on my great grandparents:
> * Karl Hugo Gettner and Agda Charlotta Wengelin/Wivert (who was born
> in Uppsala, Sweden ? not far from Stockholm) had a daughter, Anna Sonja
> Elisabet Gettner, March 14, 1897 in Moscow, Russia.
> * Karl and Agda were married May 7, 1898 in St. Petersburg, Russia.
> * Karl and Agda had a son, Carl Rynow Gettner (my grandfather),
> 03, 1899 in Stockholm, Sweden.
> * Karl, Agda, Sonja (the name she went by), and Carl came to the US
> on board the Ivernia in June 1901. The arrival port was Boston, MA.
> However, they ended up in NY City where they lived. The ship record
> states that
> their last residence was Christiania. In fact, we have a photo of my
> grandfather as a baby that was taken there.
> * My grandfather, Carl Rynow Gettner, always said that the family
> rich until his father, Karl Hugo Gettner, ran off with the nanny and
> out west. Also, Gettner is a Jewish surname and, apparently, my great
> grandfather was a Russian Jew. Since my grandfather, Carl Rynow Gettner,
> did not
> practice the Jewish faith I assume either he or his father, Karl Hugo
> assimilated as did many, many Jewish families to avoid persecution. The
> Russian Pogroms are an example.
> * According to a WWI Draft Registration Card dated Sept. 11, 1918,
> great grandfather, Karl Hugo Gettner, was born April 29, 1874 and was
> at ?54 High E., Detroit, Wayne County, MI.? His occupation is listed as
> surveying, instrument making.? His nearest relative was Hilma C.
> His eyes were listed as gray and his hair was listed as gray.
> * In the 1920 census Karl and his wife, Hilma, were living with
> s brother, Albert Gettner ?at 111 Seamore, Detroit, Wayne County, MI.?
> that time Albert was 52 years old. According to the census record he was
> born in Russia and his parents were born in Germany. Albert?s wife,
> Louise, was
> 53 at this time. The census record states that she was born in NY and
> parents were born in Germany. At this time Karl (Carl on the census
> was 45 years old and was born in Russia. Karl?s wife, Hilma, was 44
> years old
> and was born in Sweden.
> * Apparently Karl and Hilma sailed across the Atlantic several
> to and from Gothenburg (G?teborg), Sweden and NY City. On one of the
> records in 1955 Hilma is listed as Hilma Carolina Gettner.
> * About Gothenburg, Sweden: ?The harbour developed into Sweden's
> harbour for trade towards the west, and with the _Swedish emigration to
> North America_
> increasing, Gothenburg became Sweden's main point of departure. The
> of Gothenburg as a main port of embarkation for Swedish emigrants is
> reflected by _Gothenburg, Nebraska_
> (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gothenburg,_Nebraska) , a small Swedish
> settlement in the United States.?
> * My grandfather, Carl Rynow Gettner, often wrote to a Berger and
> Hammaren. They lived in NY City and Berger was an architect. Berger was
> born in Sweden. Berger and Beda also lived in Stockholm, Sweden.
> I am very interested in why the brother's, Karl and Albert Gettner, would
> have been born in Russia while their parents were born in Germany.
> Was there some sort of work related issue going on in the late 1800's
> would have prompted a German couple to move to Russia.
> If they were Jewish, why would they have moved to Russia where Jews were
> well liked?
> How would the Russian, Karl Hugo Gettner, have met a Swedish girl from
> of Stockholm?
> Was there a typical sort of business that a young Russian Jewish man
> have been involved with that would have caused his travel to and from
> Would there have been some reason why Karl and Agda would have had a
> in Moscow in 1897, married in St. Petersburg in 1898, then left the
> for Sweden where they had another child in Stockholm? Then for them to
> emigrate to the US two years later?
> Why would Karl and his second wife, Hilma, have traveled back to Sweden
> several times?
> Any input is welcome, especially from anyone with Gettner relatives.
> Thank you very much for your assistance!
> Best Wishes,
> Sheila Andersen
|Re: [FEEFHS] FEEFHS Digest, Vol 1, Issue 6 by "Carol Menges" <>|