Sunday, January 30, 2022

A coincidence of dates

Every few years I manage to discover something previously unknown in my genealogical meandering. Recently it was the children of Wilhelmine Elisabeth Havermann Rademacher on an Ancestry website. Note that the site incorrectly positions her among the children. Elisabeth (known as Sette) was a sister of my grandfather Friedrich (known as Fritz) Havermann (1869-1945).

Sette's children are welcome additions to my personal "Havermann" family tree. There was another piece of information on that Ancestry website: Elisabeth's death date is given as 17.05.1943, supposedly in Arnsberg. A search for that specific date yields a number of hits related to Operation Chastise, wherein the dam at the Möhne reservoir was destroyed. Many of the deaths from the resulting flood occurred in Neheim (which, since 1975, is a part of Arnsberg). Neheim is not only where I was born, but also (I believe) the hometown of my grandaunt Elisabeth Rademacher. If Sette was a casualty of that flooding, this was not something of which I had been previously aware. Mind, prior to my father's death, his aunts and uncles (and their offspring) generally were not something of which I recall being really conscious. If he had ever talked about any of them, it failed to make a sufficient impression on me (i.e., that they were his relatives).

My research associate, Marlene Frost, has Ancestry access and was able to dig up the 1928 and 1936/37 address directories for Neheim showing that Elizabeth and some of her children lived at Möhnestraße 11, not far from the Möhne river (downstream from the reservoir). The Möhne joins the Ruhr in Neheim. Sette's death informant, instead of providing particulars, had simply made a reference to the Möhnekatastrophe, hence the date.

Möhnetalsperre 17 May 1943 (Fotarchiv Ruhrverband)

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