I Found My Australian Cousin Thanks to a Smart Match™ on MyHeritage

I Found My Australian Cousin Thanks to a Smart Match™ on MyHeritage

Jürgen Franke, 76, from Germany, has been using MyHeritage for 13 years. Thanks to a Smart Match™, he has found his long-lost cousin Elke, who emigrated to Australia.

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Here is Jurgen’s story:

About 30 years ago, it didn’t even occur to me to research the Crasser family. My parents died in 1964 (father) and 1985 (mother). My mother was born in 1909, she was the youngest daughter and in 1911, two years after her birth, her mother died. She was raised by the eldest sister. Her eldest brother’s name was Hugo Crasser.

All were born in Hohenstein-Ernstthal. They were all baptized in the Hohenstein Church Christophori. You have to know that Hohenstein-Ernstthal used to be two independent places and also the birthplace of Karl May, the German novelist.

Crasser siblings in Rabenstein, wartime. Photo enhanced with MyHeritage.

Crasser siblings in Rabenstein, wartime. Photo enhanced with MyHeritage.

About 20 years ago, my 4 older siblings and I were chatting, and they mentioned that an uncle and aunt who had no children wanted to take my mother to the U.S. with them when she emigrated, but my father wouldn’t let them.

Jürgen's mother as a young woman in Hohenstein-Ernstthal. Photo repaired and colorized with MyHeritage
Jürgen's mother as a young woman in Hohenstein-Ernstthal. Photo repaired and colorized with MyHeritage
Jürgen's mother as a young woman in Hohenstein-Ernstthal. Photo repaired and colorized with MyHeritage

This was the beginning of my family history research.

Uncle Hugo’s story

I started with the church at Hohenstein and was lucky enough to meet Frau Weber there. She had found out a great deal of genealogical data about the family and handed it over to me. So I was able to trace the maternal side further towards Franconia (Ober Callenberg, Lichtenberg near Hof and Neudorf near Schauenstein), as well as in the direction of Austria and Transylvania.

In 1965, shortly after my father’s death, my mother was invited to celebrate her eldest sister Helen’s 70th birthday in Chemnitz, Rabenstein. I accompanied her and all the siblings who were still alive had also come. Also Uncle Hugo! He was the eldest brother and came from Paderborn. He was alone and it was said that he had a daughter by his second marriage. I had forgotten the daughter’s name, though. I never heard anything about it again. Later it turned out that Uncle Hugo had served in the First and Second World Wars and had also been wounded. There he had been taken prisoner and only later returned to Chemnitz. Before that he worked in a vegetable wholesaler. Around 1956 he went to Paderborn with his colleague (Lissi) to visit relatives whom he had met in Russian captivity.

Tante Helene, ca. 1975.

Tante Helene, ca. 1975.

The wedding of Lissi und Hugo Crasser, 1956. Photo colorized, enhanced, and repaired by MyHeritage
The wedding of Lissi und Hugo Crasser, 1956. Photo colorized, enhanced, and repaired by MyHeritage
The wedding of Lissi und Hugo Crasser, 1956. Photo colorized, enhanced, and repaired by MyHeritage

Our family, including my parents, had hardly any contact with him due to the difference in age.

My genealogical research continued. So I put the family tree together and entered it into MyHeritage.

‘Are you the cousin of Elke Brown?’

One day, I received a message through the MyHeritage messaging system — twice in English, which I ignored, and then in German, asking if I was the cousin of Elke Brown from Australia.

Elke emigrated from Paderborn to Australia after finishing school. Her mother and father — my uncle Hugo — also emigrated. He was older and passed away when Elke was about 14 years old. Her mother returned to Germany after a while because she did not speak English and therefore did not feel at home there.

My cousin Elke from Australia

My cousin Elke from Australia

Elke received a Smart Match™ to my tree and reached out to me through MyHeritage, and that’s how we got in touch. She and her husband Floyd came to visit us in late 2022 and we visited all the homes that were important to Uncle Hugo, Obercallenberg and the birthplace in Hohenstein-Ernstthal, as well as her grandmother’s gravesite in Mittelbach, which is not far from where we live now.

My cousin Elke searching for the grave of her grandmother, Helene Hunger, with the cemetery manager in Mittelbach/Chemnitz

My cousin Elke searching for the grave of her grandmother, Helene Hunger, with the cemetery manager in Mittelbach/Chemnitz

For Elke’s 60th birthday, her children commissioned a professional genealogist to research the Crasser family in Hohenstei-Ernstthal. I received a copy of these documents from Elke.

Elke has written two books. One of them is a story about her mother and her life in her first and second marriage. It also recounts the marriage of Lissi and Hugo, with pictures from Mittelbach near Chemnitz.

“The Hunger Girl”, Elke’s book about her mother Lissi

“The Hunger Girl”, Elke’s book about her mother Lissi

Even though we were sure that we are cousins, we also did a MyHeritage DNA test and to confirm our relationship. I am happy to have found Elke and to be in touch with her.

Many thanks to Jürgen for sharing his story with us. If you’ve also made an important discovery using MyHeritage, we’d love to hear about it! Send it to us via this form, or email us at stories@myheritage.com.

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