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Cemetery may have been located

He is The Legal Genealogist‘s favorite mystery correspondent.

I don’t know much about him, except that his name is Andrii, he lives in Kalush, Ukraine, and he speaks English and German.

Oh, and that he is systematically helping me find a solution to one of my paternal family’s biggest mysteries: where did my grandfather’s brother die and where was he buried?

Military cemetery

Arno Werner Geissler — called Werner — was born, the church records say, at 9 p.m. on the 27th of July, 1885, the third of the seven children born to Hermann Eduard Geissler and Emma Louise (Graumüller) Geissler, and their first son. He was baptized not quite three weeks later, on Sunday, 16 August, at the Lutheran Church in what is now Bad Köstritz, Thüringen, Germany.1 He married Erdmute Magdalena Hedwig Späte in Gera on the 9th of June 1908. He was a painter, she was from Kayna in next-door Sachsen-Anhalt.2

And he was a member of the seventh company, second battalion, of Reserve Infantry Regiment No. 83, part of the 50th Reserve Infantry Brigade and 25th Reserve Division of the German Empire — called up in the summer of 1914 for service in World War I. Because of records losses, there’s no individual record of Werner’s service, but we do know that his unit was heavily engaged on the eastern front in Galicia — present-day Ukraine — by December 1914, in the Battle of Lviv from 17-22 June 1915, and in skirmishes from Lviv to the Polish border through the middle of July.3

And it was there, in western Ukraine, on the 22nd of June 1915, that Werner died. Shown in the records of his unit as “gefallen” — killed in action.4 On his death record entered in his hometown of Gera, the place of death was recorded as having occurred near Zarndec.5

Except that there’s no such place. And despite lots of helps from lots of folks, including experts on Ukraine, we couldn’t find a good candidate.

So the first time I began to appreciate Andrii as my mystery correspondent was in August 2020, when he posted a comment to a 2012 post about Werner’s death on the eastern front. “The correct name of this place is not ‘Zarndec’, but ‘Zarudec’,” he wrote. “Now it is Ukraine Zarudtsi – a village in Zhovkva district of Lviv region.”6

I wrote about that at the time, and the folks who’d been helping me try to find it all agreed: that’s the most likely location.7

Then yesterday in came another comment from Andrii: “Ich glaube, ich habe den Soldatenfriedhof gefunden, auf dem Arno Werner Geissler begraben liegt.” In English: “I believe I’ve found the military cemetery where Arno Werner Geissler was buried.”8

He explained that he’s been working on locating military cemeteries from the First World War for some time, and often finds them on roughly contemporaneous maps done by Poland — denoted on the maps by a cross.

And there’s one at Zarudec. Modern Zarudtsi, in modern Ukraine.

Now with conditions being what they are it may not be possible to research this further, at least not until Russia gives up its pretensions to the land of Ukraine. Even if there is some local information about those buried in that cemetery, accessibility is likely to be a big issue for now.

But that doesn’t diminish one iota the gratitude of this American genealogist for the willingness of a man in Ukraine to take the time — especially now — to share information about Arno Werner Geissler.

And to help his family find where he lies.


Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Where he lies,” The Legal Genealogist (https://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : posted 25 March 2023).

SOURCES

  1. Evangelische Kirche, Kirchenbuch Bad Köstritz, Taufregister Seite 41 Nr. 45 aus 1885, Baptismal Record of Arno Werner Geissler; digital image of entry in the possession of Judy G. Russell.
  2. Ahnenforschung Familie Geissler u. a. in Gera, Stadtarchiv, Gera, 22 Jun 2009.
  3. Wikipedia.de (http://www.wikipedia.de), “25. Reserve-Division (Deutsches Kaiserreich),” rev. 12 Mar 2019.
  4. Verlust-Liste Nr. 0596 (20 Jul 1915), World War I Casualty Lists, 1914-1917, digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 Jul 2012); citing Deutsche Verlustlisten 1914 bis 1917, Berlin, Deutschland : Deutsche Dienststelle (WASt).
  5. Sterberegister (Death register) 1915, nr 8777, Arno Werner Geissler (22 June 1915); Standesamt, Gera.
  6. See Judy G. Russell, “Death on the Eastern Front,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 28 Jul 2012 (https://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : accessed 25 Mar 2023). Cursor down to the comments for Andrii’s post.
  7. See ibid., “The joy of blogging,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 15 Aug 2020.
  8. 6. See ibid., “Death on the Eastern Front,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 28 Jul 2012; cursor down to the comments for Andrii’s 2023 post.
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