I am trying to find out more about a group of German prisoners of war who worked on my grandparents farm in the north of England in the late 1940s. I have letters which they sent from Germany in the late 40s/early 50s but nothing after that. I suspect all of them are now dead but I'd like to be able to tell their children/grandchildren more about their time in England. with just names and addresses from the late 1940s, how do people suggest I proceed?
It is a noble cause to inform family members about the wartime captivity of their ancestors.
However, it will be difficult. If none of the former prisoners later became a public figure, there will be hardly any publicly viewable information about them. Genealogical databases are not relevant in Germany for the period of interest. Civil status registers are only available online to a limited extent (almost exclusively Ancestry.com). The time span covered (births mostly only up to the beginning of the 20th century, marriages up to the 1930s and deaths mostly only up to the 1950s, more rarely up to the 1980s) then makes it difficult.
- I would search online for death notices (Google Images, Totenzettelsammlung der Westdeutschen Gesellschaft für Familienkunde, Familienanzeigen von Compgen). They often contain names of descendants. These cover only a small part of the deceased however.
- I would check if the streets with the given numbers still exist in the given locations (e.g. using OpenStreetMap, as they often list house numbers). In rural areas, there is some chance that a house is still owned by the family. In larger cities this is rather unlikely.
- If there are rather rare surnames, a search for surname + place using Google or in telephone directories (https://www.dastelefonbuch.de/, https://www.dasoertliche.de/) might help. Telephone directories contain mostly older citizens.
I would scan the letters and post them online (not behind a paywall) with the names involved and wait to see if they find anyone's interest. If there is a story to tell about the farm and the prisoners, I would put it online as well.