Boldt Family

picture of Heinrich Boldt
Heinrich Boldt (at left) with business partner Albert Biermann
and helpers loading bales of paper onto a freight wagon.

Contents:

My Grandfather, Hans Wilhelm Joachim Boldt (1900-1981)

Hans BoldtHans Wilhelm Joachim Boldt (1900-1981)

Heinrich BoldtHeinrich Christoph Hans Boldt (1873-1957)

Hans and Anna BoldtAnna Ludwigs and Hans Boldt on the 25th anniversary of their wedding

Ernst BoldtErnst Boldt (1926-)

Anna SchmidtAnna Ludwigs' mother, Anna Schmidt (1877-1956)

FranconiaCunard White Star S.S. "Franconia"

Life in Germany during the 20th century (or any other century for that matter) was never very easy for the average citizen, especially for those who lived in the first half of the century. Two devastating wars, hyper-inflation, and recession took their toll. It's not surprising, therefore, that many Germans emigrated to other countries after the war.

My grand-father, Hans Boldt, was born 1900 in the village of Hindenberg, in the western part of the Grand-Duchy of Meclkenburg-Schwerin. His father, Heinrich Boldt, like most rural men of the region, worked as a day laborer (Tagelöhner). Heinrich had the misfortune of being rather clever in math. So he knew full well when the landowners cheated the workers out of their full pay (which was rather common). As a result, the landowners wouldn't hire him. So, in 1904 the family moved to Hamburg.

The first World War was hard on the family. Food was severely rationed. Some fortunate families received regular packages of food from soldiers. The Boldt family was sent packages from Heinrich Boldt, who joined the army in 1914. However, when Hans arrived home from work, all he found were the empty boxes. In order to avoid being hungry all the time, Hans joined the army in 1918. This would prove to help him later in life.

Since Hans was over two meters tall, he was able to join an elite regiment. He served on the eastern front as a motorcycle courier. Since the Russian Revolution was happening at that time, it is likely that contact with communists helped him form his political beliefs.

Other Boldts also served in the first World War, but they weren't as lucky. At the church in the village of Kirch Grambow today, you can find a number of stones honoring the fallen soldiers from that parish. The stone for the village of Hindenberg has two names: Ludwig Boldt and Martin Boldt. These two brothers were half first-cousins of Heinrich Boldt.

In 1925, Hans married Anna Ludwigs, who was born 1904 in Rostock. The next year, they gave birth to a son, Ernst.

The late 20's and early 30's were turbulent years, with Nazis and communists fighting openly. When the Nazis came to power in Germany, Hamburg was still predominantly left-wing. When the communists were rounded up, Hans helped one, the editor of a communist newspaper, to escape the country. Unfortunately, enough evidence was left to implicate Hans in his escape. Hans was sentenced to his first term in prison.

We don't know exactly why he was imprisoned the second time in 1940. However, it was common for neighbors and even relatives to provide evidence to the police. The fact that he was a veteran of the first World War meant that he was spared an even worse punishment. Hans was not a member of any left-wing group in the city, however, since he was well known in the dockyards, he may have acted as an informal liason between the various left-wing groups.

While in prison, his wife Anna still had to support her family. She first had some trouble finding work since the Nazis believed that women should stay home. After pointing out that there was no other wage earner in the household, they relented. Anna took a job as a crossing guard on the railway, which she enjoyed immensely.

When he was released after 9 months in prison, Hans couldn't go back to work in the dockyards of Hamburg, since that was considered too vital to the war effort. Instead, he took a job at a company that was developing pre-stressed concrete technology, which was new at the time. This provided him useful experience which helped him when he wanted to emigrate to Canada.

(During the development of the technology, that company constructed a building with a roof made from pre-stressed concrete. Since the technology was new and untested, the building inspector declared the roof unsafe, and told them to destroy it. But while the inspector was inside the building, other workers drove a number of heavy trucks on top of the roof in a demonstration of the roof's strength!)

By the end of the war, Hans and Anna were living in the village of Görnow, near Sternberg, in Mecklenburg. Since the Russians were on their way, most Bürgermeisters justifiably feared for the lives. Hans volunteered to take on the job of Bürgermeister for Görnow. He felt that with his political beliefs and experience, he could handle the arrival of the Russians better than the existing Nazi administrators.

After the war, they decided to emigrate to Canada. (Their home was destroyed in the bombing of Hamburg in 1943.) Since his crimes were political in nature, Hans was able to have his criminal record cleared, which was required before being admitted to Canada. Hans emigrated in 1949, first living in Belleville, Ontario. Later, in 1951, his wife and son joined him, coming over on the ship Franconia. They settled on a farm in the village of Odessa, Ontario, where they raised dairy cows. For the first time, he enjoyed living in a peaceful and politically stable land.

Some Recommended Mecklenburg Links

A useful source of information is Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Bundeslander Germany Queries.

Gedcom Data

File Boldt.ged is the gedcom file containing the results so far of my Boldt family research. It does not include any information on any person still living.

Check the index to view a list of people in the gedcom file and to browse their family groups. If you can add to this information, please e-mail me.