Researching Family History: Gathering the genealogy records in Germany that survived World War II

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 16 2012 10:00 a.m. MDT

On the second day, the truck and trailer made its way to the castles where the records were loaded by the missionaries. The third day, the train car arrived, one day late, with Langheinrich and the others getting all the records to the car in time. That night it snowed and the following day the roads were iced over as before, as related in "Hearts Turned to the Fathers." They knew the Lord was watching out for them and opened the way to accomplish this.

A few weeks later, Elder Ezra Taft Benson, then of the Quorum of the Twelve, met with some of the workers at the mission home in Berlin. He was taken to the building’s basement where he saw 5,000 books stacked one upon another and many scrolls. As Mehr notes, after Elder Bensen's inspection of them, he declared in a moving statement, "Wonderful!"

Langheinrich was given permission and funding by the German government to build an archive for the records, as detailed in "Hearts Turned to the Fathers."

As soon as he set up a microfilming program, he started providing films to the Genealogical Society. He later estimated he put more than 100 million names on film, not to mention his tireless efforts and the dedication of all the missionaries who worked with him, as recorded in "Hearts Turned to the Fathers."

These and other records ended up being moved around Germany and ended up in Potsdam, Germany, Mehr writes in "The Langheinrich Legacy: Record-Gathering in Post-War Germany." Right after the war, a vast treasure house of genealogical information was preserved for future generations.

These records are helping researchers and descendants today find ancestors and do for them what they cannot do for themselves.

Genealogy graduate Russell Bangerter is president of Ancestral Connections Inc., at ancestralconnect.com. He is a professional genealogist, author and speaker and adviser to Treasured Souls to Keep, at treasuredsoulstokeep.com.

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