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One of Hitler’s primary objectives was to control all of Europe by expanding his “livings space” (Lebensraum). He planned to accomplish this by unifying Eastern Europe and populating the area with Germanic-speaking perople.
When Germany invaded southern Russia in 1941, German authorities confiscated Russian passports from all ethnic Germans living in the area and issued German passports (Auswies) to them.
As the Russian Army advanced in 1944, the retreating German forces evacuated the German population from southern Russia. After making the long, harsh march known as the “Trek”, they were settled in western Poland in areas where the Germans had displaced the Poles.
In order to manage the documentation process of such a large number of people, German authorities set up immigration processing centers known as Einwanderungszentralstelle Anträge or Central Immigration Process Control (EWZ).
At the close of, or near the end of World War II, U.S. services captured many German military documents that were eventually microfilmed and the originals were sent to the Berlin Document Center. Included in the microfilmed documents are the EWZ files. Copies of EWZ documents are maintained at the U.S. National Archives in College Park, Maryland. The documents were also referred to as the Berlin Documents (BDC).
The Germans assigned a series of numbers to these EWZ files. A set of the EWZ numbers represented the geographic origin of the ethnic German people. Our main interest is in the EWZ-50, which was the assigned number for the Germans from the USSR. The EWZ files which had been assigned to the geographical areas and labelled as the Anträge (application) vary in content. However, they all contain a wealth of information, such as three-generation charts, lists of dependent children, new ID cards, passports, naturalization forms, and in some cases, life stories of the applicants. Family information included individuals’ names; birth dates; marriage dates; and names of spouses, children, parents, and grandparents; and whether they were living or deceased.
Our relatives from the Kutschurgan villages completed the EWZ applications while they were in the resettlement camps of western Poland in 1944. Due to the loss and/or destruction of some of the files, or the fact that some ethnic Germans did not reach an immigration control center, EWZ files do not exist for every ethnic German who had been living in southern Russia at that time. However, one cannot overstate the benefits of the information contained in the records that do exist.
My first exposure of these EWZ files was about 1995 or 1996, when the National Archives in College Park, Maryland under the Freedom of Information Act released this information.
The following is information typically found in the EWZ 50 and EWZ 57 packages.
EWZ-50 Anträge Card (Application for Naturalization of ethnic Germans from the USSR). Included are Stammblätter (Personal information, information for spouse and children, and family information), Einbürgerungsanträe (Naturalization application) and Umsidler (Description of property that was left behind at the evacuation).
EWZ-57 EWZ Karti (or e-Karti, a general information card) and Gesundhietskarti (or G-karti, a medical card).