An interesting story in the Concord Monitor (New Hampshire) by Peter Bakke about a trunk that he and his wife inherited from her grandfather that contained, among other things, five German “soldbuchs” (soldier books), – books that were used by German soldiers in World War II to track their pay, decorations, units, locations, etc. His wife’s grandfather had been a reporter during the war, and found them around Leningrad in 1944.
He decided to try and return them to the soldiers or their families, and has been successful in returning one (he is still seeking out relatives for the other four).
From the article:
Using the Web was my first thought. The Internet has obvious communication capacities that were not available even a decade ago. It now has worldwide reach and includes many sites devoted to genealogy, history and war.
I know a bit of German, so with the help of a free online translation service at babelfish.altavista.com, I was able to glean from the soldbuchs each of the soldier’s names, birth dates and birthplaces. I posted this information on a genealogy Web site, crossed my fingers, and waited.
Within a few weeks I got a reply.
Annelies Windisch (Lutzky) of Bernhardsthal, Austria, wrote me an e-mail indicating that a friend had told her about my posting. We corresponded for several weeks. Working together, we finally determined that the soldbuch of “Obergefreiter” Franz Lutzky was indeed that of her mother’s first husband.
Lutzky was killed Sept. 21, 1944, in “Estland,”or Russia, and was buried in Abja-Paluoja in present-day Estonia.
It seemed like a miracle. Contacting Annelies was like getting a reply to a message in a bottle tossed into the Atlantic.
Within hours I had packed the soldbuch to send to her family