…at the Mother’s Day table

It’s only fitting, this Saturday before Mother’s Day, to focus on one of the women in The Legal Genealogist‘s family.

And to wonder how anyone survives giving birth to — we think — eight children … and burying five of them as infants.

It’s been 98 years to the day, today, since Lina Sophie Henriette Blanke married Gerhard Nuckel, my paternal grandmother’s brother. They were married in Bremen, Germany, on 9 May 1922.1

We think their first child was a daughter, known to us only as Wilma. That’s just a theory: my father had a family photo of his mother’s family gathered in Bremen in 1932, and he labeled the photo in family groups. Gerhard, called Gerd, and his wife, called Sophie, were grouped with two children: an older girl perhaps eight or nine years of age, identified as Wilma, and a toddler boy, identified as Friedel.

We don’t know anything more about Wilma because (a) there’s no one alive today that we know of to ask and (b) German birth records are sealed for 110 years and marriages for 80 years.2 Death records are open after 30 years, but there’s no burial record for a female born with the surname Nuckel through 1975 in Bremen.3 So there’s no way to identify Wilma through public records.

We have the same basic problem with Friedel: we’re guessing at a birth year around 1930, so birth records aren’t available, any marriage would be too recent to be public record, and there’s no burial record for any male Nuckel in Bremen born anywhere near 1930 through 1975.4

But then come the records we can find for children we can identify.

• Klaus Heinz Nuckel, born 22 March 1925, died 21 July 1925, buried at Walle Cemetery on 23 July.5

• Hans Nuckel, born 2 April 1926, died 3 April 1926, buried at Walle Cemetery on 8 April.6

• Hermann Nuckel, born 4 December 1927, died a half-hour after birth, buried at Riensburg Cemetery on 12 December.7

• Gerhard Nuckel, born 15 June 1929, died 15 November 1929, buried at Walle Cemetery on 19 November.8

• Gustav Nuckel, born 25 September 1938, died 13 November 1938, buried at Walle Cemetery on 17 November.9

Four months old. One day old. One-half hour old. Five months old. Two months old.

Ouch.

That much loss, that much grief, is almost unimaginable.

And you have to think that every single Mother’s Day of Sophie’s life — and Mother’s Day (Muttertag) was celebrated in Germany starting in 192210 — she thought about every one of those babies.

Oh, if we’re right about her other children, I’m sure she cuddled Wilma and Friedel and that they brought her flowers and chocolates. And there is one other hopeful note in the records: Gustav’s birth record indicates that he was a twin,11 and there is no death or burial record for any other Nuckel child born in 1938. That’s why we think Sophie had eight children.

But — at best — only three lived to celebrate their mother on Mother’s Day.

And you know there were always those empty chairs at the Mother’s Day table in her heart.


Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Empty chairs,” The Legal Genealogist (https://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : posted 9 May 2020).

SOURCES

  1. Bremen Standesamt, Zivilstandsregister, Heiraten (Bremen registry office, civil status registers, marriages), Gerhard Nuckel and Lina Sophie Henriette Blanke, Heiraten 1922, Reg. Nr. 815 (9 May 1922).
  2. FamilySearch Research Wiki (https://www.familysearch.org/learn/wiki/), “Germany Civil Registration,” rev. 18 Dec 2019.
  3. “Die Leichenbücher der Stadtgemeinde Bremen von 1875-1975” (Funerary Records 1875-1975); database, Die Maus – Family History and Genealogical Society of Bremen (https://die-maus-bremen.info/ : accessed 8 May 2020).
  4. Ibid.
  5. For the birth, Bremen Standesamt, Zivilstandsregister, Geburten (births) 1925, Reg. Nr. 1132. For the death, Ibid., Todten (deaths) 1925, Reg. Nr. 1821. For the burial, “Die Leichenbücher der Stadtgemeinde Bremen von 1875-1975,” entry for “Nuckel, Klaus Heinz.”
  6. For the birth, Bremen Standesamt, Zivilstandsregister, Geburten 1926, Reg. Nr. 1207. For the death, Ibid., Todten 1926, Reg. Nr. 923. For the burial, “Die Leichenbücher der Stadtgemeinde Bremen von 1875-1975,” entry for “Nuckel, Hans.”
  7. For the birth, Bremen Standesamt, Zivilstandsregister, Geburten 1927, Reg. Nr. 4385. For the death, Ibid., Todten 1927, Reg. Nr. 3060. For the burial, “Die Leichenbücher der Stadtgemeinde Bremen von 1875-1975,” entry for “Nuckel, Hermann.”
  8. For the birth, Bremen Standesamt, Zivilstandsregister, Geburten 1929, Reg. Nr. 2413. For the death, Ibid., Todten 1929, Reg. Nr. 3175. For the burial, “Die Leichenbücher der Stadtgemeinde Bremen von 1875-1975,” entry for “Nuckel, Gerhard.”
  9. For the birth, Bremen Standesamt, Zivilstandsregister, Geburten 1938, Reg. Nr. 5535. For the death, Ibid., Todten 1938, Reg. Nr. 3486. For the burial, “Die Leichenbücher der Stadtgemeinde Bremen von 1875-1975,” entry for “Nuckel, Gustav.”
  10. See Teri Weiss, “Mother’s Day or ‘Muttertag’ history in Germany,” Stuttgart Citizen, posted 12 May 2017 (https://www.stuttgartcitizen.com/ : accessed 8 May 2020).
  11. Bremen Standesamt, Zivilstandsregister, Geburten 1938, Reg. Nr. 5535.
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