The Ghost Captain of the kuk Kreigsmarine

FTB Bela and siblings hi-res cropThere are those things that we rarely think about when we are young but are more important to some of us when we get older. For instance, what were our parents lives like? Who were the people in their families?

My father escaped from communist Hungary in 1948, came to Canada and married my mother. His parents left after the 1956 uprising and came to live with us. We never met any other members of his father’s family. And now that I am older and they are all gone, I want to know.

Mom pestered everyone for details about all the branches of the family which she dutifully records in the book that my sister gave her for that purpose. Here is the page for dad’s father’s family. There are lots of dates missing. Over the past few years I have managed to fill in some of them. I know when and where all the other children were born. I know when and where their parents died.I found Otto’s marriage record to Erzsebet Klinghammer. Recently I even found the marriage record of elusive Cousin Margit.Marine_Österreich-Ungarns_(Meyers)

But great-uncle Imre has remained a ghost. He was my grandfather’s favorite brother. And a Naval Captain! How could he be so hard to find? I looked in all the places where the other children were born.  I searched every online Austro-Hungarian military database for every imaginable spelling of his name. And I came up empty every time.

The Austrian kriegsarchiv (military archives) require that you have the name, date and place of birth of any enlisted man that you want researched. But out of sheer frustration I finally gave it a try. I wrote and asked if they would be able to search for an officer without those details. Early the following morning the email response came back from the kuk Kreigsmarine (Austro-Hungarian Navy) archive;

KUK re Edes Imre box“ein Marineoffizier mit dem Namen EDES, Imre oder Emmerich ist nicht bekannt und auch in den Akten nicht nachweisbar. Es gibt überhaupt keinen k.u.k. Marineoffizier mit dem Namen EDES.”

I do not know any German but had a pretty good guess what it said. This was confirmed by one of the volunteers at the Facebook group Genealogy Translations;

“a marine officer with the name EDES, Imre or Emmerich is not known and in the records not found. There is not one marine officer known with the name EDES”

I feel like I smashed into a 3 foot thick brick wall. I will have to regroup and think of another way to approach this problem.

Until then, I will keep thinking of Imre as a ghost of the Navy that disappeared with the Empire he served in it’s dying days.

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Zsigmond Joins the Navy

Pola_Gruss_aus

Greetings from Pola

Zsigmond Édes was 17 when he went to Pola and joined the Navy. Military service wasn’t required until age 19 but my great-grandfather would have had good reasons to enlist. Joining the Navy allowed him to avoid being drafted into the army. He probably also wanted to “see the world” as promised by Navy recruiters.

The Navy would have been a good fit for him. Growing up in Vukovar along the Danube he would have had experience on the water. I imagine him as a young boy playing with toy boats with his older half-brother János, and watching the ships cruise by. He may even have worked on boats with his uncles.

The Imperial and Royal War Navy, as it was called, was established after the 1867 Ausgleich, which created the Dual Monarchy of Austria and Hungary. The name in German was kaiserliche und königliche Kriegsmarine, abbreviated as k.u.k. Kriegsmarine. In Hungarian it was Császári és Királyi Haditengerészet. Continue reading