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Help with a German Name Please


seaforths
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I would like to start some research into a German Officer and all I have at the moment is what I believe to be his name. He is referred to be his son sometimes as 'Papa' and sometimes as 'Opitz'.

If this is his name would it be his first or second name?

Any help appreciated so thank you in advance.

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Er, if I read you correctly, then gently so... I think Papa is a version of 'Vati' - so 'father'. but Opitz I don't know - except Opa is for grandfather...

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Thanks Trajan,

Well I was making an assumption which wasn't necessarily a correct one, that his son was referring to him but it could well have been a daughter. He was not a young officer and whoever was writing possibly older offspring...it is not the handwriting of a young child. I hoped that Opitz might be his second name which would help to trace him. Then again, wondered if it was maybe a term of endearment. I was hoping that I might be able to find out how the war ended for him. Initially, he was at the East Front and then he was in Elsass but after that I don't know.

PS. Trajan, I don't think he had a bayonet but he most definitely had a sword and liked to be seen with it.

Edit: typo corrected

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Brilliant! Thanks Charlie!

I was hoping it would be so. Next step, I will scan the photos and see if there is enough detail to be able to see any insignia or identify his uniform. Maybe his family would like the album back but then again if they had wanted to keep it, they wouldn't have let it go adrift...

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Oh dear. I think my chances of tracing any records for him are pretty slim. I have him now, he was 9th Grenadier Regt. 2nd AK, 3rd Guards Division. Unit is Pommern, Stargard. He was promoted from SNCO to a commissioned rank and quite possibly survived the war but could not say for certain. The photographs cease in 1917.

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As a german I can confirm. Papa is the familiar woird for father and Opitz is a surname

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Here's the roll of honor; my search returns no one with the name Opitz

http://www.denkmalprojekt.org/verlustlisten/vl_colbergsches_gren_reg_gneisenau_wk1.htm

More info about the regiment:

http://wiki-de.genealogy.net/Gren.R_9

There is a post-war regimental history:

J. Hansch, F. Weidling: "Das Colbergsche Grenadier-Regiment Graf Gneisenau (2. Pommersches) Nr. 9 im Weltkriege 1914-1918", Oldenburg 1929, G. Stalling, 686 Seiten.

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What was his first name? There are over 2000 entries for Opitz in the Verlustlisten, who knows you might be lucky.

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Wow - thanks folks.

I didn't have to analyse the uniforms too closely, which is just as well as my knowledge on uniforms is scant to say the least. But there were enough clues gleaned within captions and with a magnifying glass. I don't know what his first name was and as you can probably tell from my first post, I wasn't sure whether Opitz was a name. Could it be possible that it was his first name? It's not one of those names that could be used as either, such as Thomas or Duncan, is it? I've just gone through the album again and the reference to Opitz is made only once the rest of the references, where they are made are 'Papa'. Not only that, it's a group photograph so I am beginning to wonder if Opitz is someone else in the photograph other than Papa. I will post it when I can get onto my PC later.

Also, the images are not chronological they start 1915/16 and some are not captioned at all. Then they go into early 1917 then back to 1916 again. Perhaps it was not compiled while the war is ongoing but afterwards. On the other hand, if he was killed it might have been put together then...The last images of 1917 I would say are early on, possibly the spring before the images then cease. The reason being is there is a lack of leaves on a tree/shrub. Given their actions afterwards, and having second thoughts on his survival, he may well have been a casualty of 3rd Ypres.

It may have been the acceptable form at the time and for perhaps German culture but it struck me as a bit odd that you would refer to your father in photograph captions, by a surname only. I realise times have changed but it would be akin to me writing: McDonald in the snow and under another image; dad in Smelina. If anything, I would have referred to him as James not McDonald - if you see what I mean?

I'll see if I can get some images done when I get onto the PC, especially of the captions but dark blue ink handwritten on dark brown card...it's bad enough on the eyes with it in front of me so I will do my best. I might have to tinker with them a bit first to improve their readability.

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It's not at hand, but when I can get at it I will look in the

"Ehrenrangliste 1914-1918" and a few more reference books.

Presently hard to reach physically. A useful tip. You may find

that the album is actually partially made up of picture post

cards. If so, the addresses and unit stamps will provide a

wealth of information. Especially look for something called

the "Absenderblock", usually two lines of detailed info on

the sender that was written near the address. It was required

by Prussian Army postal regulations starting in early 1915.

Depending on how the pictures/post cards are attached to the

pages of the album, it might be easy or hard to get at the

reverse.

The German Armies were very sparse with using officers' first

names.

The unit history listed above would more likely than not mention

him at one place or another, and most likely would mention his

first name.

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Thank you bob lembke. I'll not likely get onto a PC until this evening. However, I can say this, they are not postcards they are definitely photographs. Some of them are not great quality - over exposed. They differ in size too. Some still retain their white border but even so, they are still smaller than postcards. Others seem to have been trimmed down and the border removed making them even smaller. One image is on a page of it's own with a caption and possibly another relative and that is a man of SMS Baden.

I too had thought there might be something on the reverse of them. Even it it was just a brief message or greeting. Whoever pasted them down, intended them to stay that way! I have tried carefully, to prize some of them away from the card but I ended up re-fixing them. The problem was that in teasing the image off, it was taking the top layer of card with it so the reverse of the image couldn't be seen anyway.

It would be a rather ironic if the poor man lost his life at Ypres given he would if I recall correctly, have been up against my grandfather's division.

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PS. Trajan, I don't think he had a bayonet but he most definitely had a sword and liked to be seen with it.

... He was promoted from SNCO to a commissioned rank and quite possibly survived the war but could not say for certain. The photographs cease in 1917.

A sword would go with either rank, although he should NOT be having one if in front line service after mid-1915 or so when bayonets (officially the 98/05, often in practice the 84/98) replaced swords - it will be nice to see these ones though! You say that the photographs cease in 1917: so you have dates on these? Whatever, it all sounds fascinating!

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Some captions are dated with the year only, some dated with the month and year. Other images just have an undated caption with them. Some have nothing at all. He seems to like his horses too. One of him looking very resplendent on horseback and another very endearing one of him with a horse and foal.

It almost seems as though it has been compiled retrospectively from memory, by his son/daughter. This might also account for the entries being out of sequence. If they pasted into the album and later found more photographs and then pasted those in too, it would knock them out of order. It might, thinking of Bob's comments earlier, be that they have used information written on the back of the image to create the caption when creating the album and if there has been no information on the back, so, no caption appears. Also Bob's comments: it might account for the use of the surname Opitz. If they have, in a lapse of concentration copied from the back of the image word for word and forgotten on that one occasion, to substitute Opitz with Papa...he might have referred to himself by surname on the back of the photographs. That might hopefully be resolved once I get of the lily pad and onto the PC and you can see what I mean.

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The Ehrenrangliste won´t help. You wrote, he was promoted to SNCO. In the Ehrenrangliste only those officers were mentioned, who were active in the last pre-war ranklist of 1914.

Probably he was an NCO before 1914 and promoted to officer during the war

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Thank you The Prussian, yes he was promoted from SNCO later in the war.

Thank you for your patience with this, I am scanning the captions and images on the PC and now taking a break downstairs. My arms are aching! I'm having to exert quite a bit of pressure on the pages and if I don't do it equally, I have to do it again. Some of them are taking 2-3 attempts. When the glue has dried, it has caused the card it is mounted on to shrink and this has caused ripples and blurs the images if I don't keep it pressed down. It is also hand bound in card much thicker than the thick card already used as mounting pages so it keeps trying to spring shut. I may only reach the half way point this evening with another two scans.

Another thing that makes me think the photographs are out of sequence is that he has a medal ribbon around 1916 going by the dates with some photographs. He then appears in other photographs without it and then again further on with the ribbon again. Perhaps his award was documented somewhere?

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I have not had much luck tonight with photobucket. This might be a bit slow because I've had to come out of their site several times and close down explorer. This is not the first photograph. The first two photographs don't show him they are two group photographs that have no caption to them. This is the 3rd image and the caption states simply 'Unser Papa 1915/16'. I have cropped this down in an effort to reduce the file size it is a small photograph with the usual white border around. Definitely not postcard size:

img003c_zps3qgmd2fd.jpg

Next image is another group of men playing cards by candle light and probably accounts for the quality of the image. Cropping and zooming into him, you can see he has a medal ribbon here:

img011c_zpsbmrmn5iq.jpg

Caption for the above image reads:

img011a_zpsmuskuie2.jpg

Here is the only reference to Opitz who I think is also Papa? I've left this intact to include the caption either side of the image. As you can see, this has been cropped before it was glued into the album:

img012_zpsupjgpgxg.jpg

I cannot believe it has taken so long to get these uploaded onto that site and get them onto here. The captions have turned out better than I expected but if a re-scan for clarity is needed for that last one, let me know and I'll have another bash at it. The flaws in the photographs are on the original images. I have tried to scan them at quite a high resolution but it also exaggerates any flaws as well. I haven't messed around with any of these images they are as they turned out on the scanner and all scanned at the same resolution.

Edit: I will upload more to the bucket tomorrow morning ready to post more tomorrow evening (I have work in the middle). My patience with the bucket tonight has expired!

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Hello!

A agree with Ken with the names of the soldiers. It´s Vizefeldwebel (Vice-Sergeant-Major?) Opitz.

To the photos:

1) We see an officers sword-knot. That was worn by officers, vice sergeant majors and sergeant majors. So that fits to his rank. He has swedish cuffs and a cavalry belt and a non-infantry-sword. So he could have served with the Train (logistic), field-artillery or cavalry.

2) At his collar we see NCO´s galloons. That too fits to his rank "Vizefeldwebel". He also wears the Iron Cross 2nd class

3) I don´t agree with Imelina. Imelina was a slesian town and belonged to Germany. To me it´s Smelina. A town 15km southwest of Dünaburg. Unfortunately I don´t know the name of that town today.

I attached a map of march 18, 1916. West of Dünaburg was the Heeresgruppe Scholtz. Possible divisions were 107.Inf.Div., 77.Res.Div., 37.Inf.Div.

4) I can´t recognize anything according to uniforms. The one in the middle holds a "Sauschwanz" (pig-tail). That was used to connect telegraph- or barbed wires.

But without any number of an unit it´ll be hard to find out, in which one he served with.

Those facts doesn´t match with Gren.Rgt.9

post-35295-0-92906200-1463627454_thumb.j

post-35295-0-49403000-1463627483_thumb.j

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The 37.Inf.Div. was the only division of those I mentioned above, that served in 1917 in Alsace.

But maybe he served in a corps-attached unit of corps Eben or Lauenstein or directly to Heeresgruppe Scholtz.

post-35295-0-38195200-1463627875_thumb.j

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... 1) We see an officers sword-knot. That was worn by officers, vice sergeant majors and sergeant majors. So that fits to his rank. He has swedish cuffs and a cavalry belt and a non-infantry-sword. So he could have served with the Train (logistic), field-artillery or cavalry.

2) At his collar we see NCO´s galloons. That too fits to his rank "Vizefeldwebel". He also wears the Iron Cross 2nd class ...

Yes, he has a Portepee, as appropriate for a Vizefeldwebel, who was of the 'Unteroffiziere mit Portepee' grade. But, in addition to the 'cavalry' belt, he has spurs in the group photo, and so as a Vizefeldwebel with a horse I think that would make him a mounted member of a 'foot' artillery, Train, or pioneer unit? If he was with Cavalry he would be - if I recall properly - a Vizewachtmeister, not a Vizefeldwebel.

EDIT: Just to add that the style of Portepee is certainly not Bavarian, which has a narrow 'stengel' or stem. Oh, and Seaforths, what is your sources of evidence for him being with the 9th Grenadier Regt. 2nd AK, 3rd Guards Division?

Trajan

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Hello,

No, it's Vizewachtmeister (Vizew.). He is obviously in a mounted unit (Munitions-Kolonne perhaps?) which is clear by the buckle as well.

I agree with Smelina.

If he was in a Kolonne or something, it gets even more difficult to find out anything.

Jan

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Hello,

No, it's Vizewachtmeister (Vizew.). He is obviously in a mounted unit (Munitions-Kolonne perhaps?) which is clear by the buckle as well.

I agree with Smelina.

If he was in a Kolonne or something, it gets even more difficult to find out anything.

Jan

Ah, Vizew. - that makes sense now!

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My goodness. Thank you all for your help. First thing, an apology from me. I was using British reference to the area he is in later, as Elsass but actually I think Baden. One of the images has a caption i/Ba - I think is a reference. I could work out the ranks - I have come across those abbreviations before, but I could not work out all names Opitz and Raabe and I only got Opitz from another caption where the capital letter 'O' is identical and knew the location it refers to - I'll not say any more as I'm jumping ahead of myself and time is not on my side this morning. Blank - I had trouble with and read it as Blau? wasn't sure of the final letter.

The word as it looks Imelina/Smelina is mentioned more times but now that Skat abund has been mentioned, either the writer is not consistent with their letters all of the time or, it is not an 'S' the letters do not look the same (to me). In the snow photograph, he doesn't seem to have a medal ribbon but that image follows the card-playing photograph in the album. I had initially believed it to be Smelina but could find nothing for it in a search. Other locations come up later which may help to clarify or, as sometimes happens, muddy the waters. Also there are some photographs of a parade, officers taking the salute and the dedication of a monument - still to come.

Thank you too for the information on the tool you have satisfied my curiosity - I would have only asked the questions and you got there before I asked! I had wondered what it was and thought either something to do with the snow/ice or some seriously large bottles of wine to be un-corked :D so that gentleman, judging by his dress, has been out and about fixing wiring or barbed wire. It also addresses my thoughts that they might be way, way back from the line and in a rest area.

More later and thank you all again - must go.

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