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Research not for the faint of heart....
Old 09-26-2002, 03:34 PM   #1
Rick White
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Default Research not for the faint of heart....

I posted this information in another thread but wanted to make sure that it was available to all. Thus, a new thread....

My approach is a bit more labor intensive but can meet with very good results - much better than the measly bits of information contacting the German Archives will net you! This is what seperates the MEN from the BOYS in terms of research

1. Go to one of the online German Telephone Book sites
2. Type in your man's last name
3. Write a letter (in German - don't be an "ugly American") to ALL of the people the search produces asking them if your man is/was a realtive of theirs. Make one "form letter" but be sure to individualize them by adding the person's name to whom you are writing in the greeting of the letter. Cut and paste the addresses from the search results into address label format. Make sure you state that you are a military researcher and have NO interest in the political aspects of National Socialism. Enclose copies of a document, photo, etc.
4. Pay your 11 year old nephew $20.00 to stuff the envelopes for you.
5. If you man's name is "Schmidt" get ready for a BIG job. Your nephew may ask for a raise. Pay him; it is worth it.
6. If your man's name is "Siebzehnrubel"...you are in luck. Give your nephew a tip!
7. Only collect militaria named to people with uncommon last names!

If you are willing to do the above, you are a REAL researcher!

This has paid off significantly for me. For example, I just received yesterday a Officer's Peaked Visor Cap, Overcoat (with Mountain troop patch and Lt. shoulder boards), EK2 and numerous letters and photos from the brother of someone whose other medals and documents I have in my collection. I have had several conversations with him via telephone. On top of helping my collection and research, my efforts have made an old man very happy to know that his brother's military effects are in appreciate hands.

Now...get to work!



Last edited by Rick White; 02-12-2003 at 01:40 PM.
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Old 09-26-2002, 03:56 PM   #2
Rick White
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Default Caveat....

Someone brought up some good points in a PM. Let me respond by stating the following:

1. DO NOT do this type of research if you are only interested in "GETTING MORE STUFF!!!" If your goal is to simply to acquire more things that belonged to the man, don't bother contacting the family. The point of this research method (in my opinion) is to fill in the gaps in terms of the man's military history.

My inclusion in the original post (above) about the items I recently received was not typical and was certainly not my goal in contacting the man's brother. He mentioned it to me, I did not ask him.

2. If you cannot be compassionate and understanding (think Archie Bunker) in that the family may have just lost a loved one, do not do this type of research.

3. Respect their privacy. If they do not send you a reply, do not contact them again.

I have used this method to find family members of US veterans whose military items I have, as well. Sometimes, I am lucky to find the man himself! That is always a surprise! Without exception, this process has resulted in great conversations and, in some cases, good friendships forming. See my website and the "Milke Szewyck" page for a good example. I have never had someone express anger that I contacted them.

Any other thoughts??

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Old 09-27-2002, 11:41 PM   #3
Akira Takiguchi
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Few do this; but whenever I read replies from family and soldiers shown by these real researchers, what I love most is the invisible linkage established between total strangers - different language, different country, different culture, still being the same race, human! Keep up good work, Rick!
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