The Bavarian Military Rosters – What were they? What does it say?
In Part 1 – Cousins, Countries, and War – I spoke of the discovery of a German soldier with my great-grandfather’s name – Josef Bergmeister. This particular Josef came from the same town my great-grandfather was born in – were they related? Thanks to a new group of records available on Ancestry.com, I was about to find out. But first, what are these records? What information do they have? And more importantly – what do the German words mean?
The main search page (image shown above) for the Bavaria, Germany, WWI Personnel Rosters, 1914-1918 is found here. Whether you search for a surname or for a particular individual, you will notice what appears to be more than one entry per person in the search results. For example, a search for “Josef Bergmeister” resulted in the following hits:
Based on the birth dates and town names, there appear to be records for two different men named Josef Bergmeister. Why are there several records for each? Because these personnel record books, or Kriegstammrolle, were kept for each military unit. If a soldier was transferred to another unit, he was recorded in the personnel records for the new unit as well as the old. In addition, there is a separate roster for the soldiers who died. To get a soldier’s full story, you should look at each of the search results.
Fortunately, the personnel rosters seem to follow the same format. Each book has two pages with fifteen columns of information. The following images show the column headings and the English translations.
1 – Iaufende Nummer – Seriel Number
2 – Dienstgrad – Rank
3 – Vor- und Familienname – First and Last Name
4 – Religion – Religion
5 – [top] Ort (Verwaltungsbezirk, Bundesland der Geburt) – Location (County, State of Birth)
[bottom] Datum der Geburt – Date of Birth
6 – [top] Lebensstellung (Stand, Gewerbe) – Occupation (literally „position in life“) (Profession, Company)
[bottom] Wohnort – Place of Residence
7 – Vor- und Familiennamen der Ehegattin; Zahl der Kinder; Vermerk, dass der Betreffende ledig ist – First and Last Name of Wife; Number of Children; Note that the person is Single
8 – Vor- und Familiennamen, Stand oder Gewerbe und Wohnort der Eltern – First and Last Names, Occupation, and Place of Residence of Parents
9 – Truppenteil (Kompagnie, Eskadron) – Military Unit (Company, Squadron)
10 – Dienstverhältnisse – Service Relationship
a) frühere – earlier
b) nach Eintritt der Mobilmachung – after mobilization
11 – Orden, Ehrenzeichen und sonstige Auszeichnungen – Orders, Decorations, and Other Awards
12 – Mitgemachte Gefechte; Bemerkenswerte Leistungen – Battles; Remarkable Acheivements
13 – Kommandos und besondere Dienstverhältnisse. Kriegsgefangenschaft. – Commands and Special Service Conditions. Prisoner of War.
14 – Führung. Gerichtliche Bestrafungen Rehabilitierung. – Leadership. Judicial Punishments Rehabilitation.
15 – Bemerkungen – Remarks
Now that we know what the columns mean, how do we actually read a handwritten record?
Coming up in Part 3 we’ll transcribe and translate the service record for Josef Bergmeister. As you can see from the information above, the record will tell us quite about about his life as well as his death.