Friday, 8 April 2016

G is for great grandmother from Germany

My great grandmother, the mother of my maternal grandfather, was Hedwig Anna Bertha (known as Anna) Boltz née Bertz (1885 - 1961).

Anna was born at Trechwitz near Götz fifty-five kilometers east of Berlin and about seventeen kilometers west of Brandenburg an der Havel. Her father Karl Bertz (1854-1932) was a bricklayer. Her mother was Henrietta Bertz née Ritter (1862-1942).

Anna had one brother, Paul, born in 1888.

In 1909 she married a soldier, Fritz Herman Boltz (1879-1954), at Brandenburg an der Havel. They had one son, my grandfather, Hans (1910-1992), who was born at Brandenburg.

Anna Boltz née Bertz, Hans Boltz, Fritz Boltz in 1911. Fritz Boltz is in the dress uniform of an Unteroffizier (NCO) [lace at collar, single cuff stripe] of the 35th Prinz Heinrich von Preussen Fusilier Regiment.


When Fritz left the army in 1912, Fritz and Anna lived in an apartment in Florastrasse, Berlin Steglitz, attached to a public school, where he worked as a caretaker. This was his address when he was called up in 1914. He returned to the same address after the war and Fritz and Anna were still living there in the 1940s [as recalled by their grand-daughter, my mother]. Fritz retired about 1949, aged 70. He died 6 April 1954 at Berlin Zehlendorf.

Easter 1941: My mother sitting on the knee of her great grandmother Henrietta Bertz née Ritter. and with her mother and her Boltz grandparents.

My mother with her grandmother outside the Sommerfeld bakery shop in Berlin in November 1943.


In 1949 Hans, the only child of Fritz and Anna, emigrated to Australia. His wife and daughter followed him a year later.

In 1960 my great grandmother emigrated. Anna Boltz came on the Australia probably embarking at Genoa and arriving on 29 February 1960. The MS Australia belonged to the Lloyd Triestino line..



The shipping list records Anna as German, travelling tourist class . Her port of landing was Sydney, and her address in Australia was 19 Ridley Street, Turner, Canberra, A.C.T. This was the address of my grandparents.

Anna was 75 when she made this journey to the other side of the world. After she had sold and packed all her possessions in Berlin, she made her way from Berlin to Genoa at a time when Berlin was isolated in East Germany (although the Berlin Wall had not yet been built). This was quite an undertaking for an elderly woman travelling by herself. She had little English or Italian.

I looked at the other passengers on the "Australia" and found that Frieda Gunther, passenger 269 on page 9, also disembarked at Sydney. Her address in Australia was 3 Myall Street, O'Connor, Canberra, ACT. I recognised both the surname and address. Hans Gunther, like my grandfather, was a cartographer from Germany, and in fact I think from Berlin. My grandparents were good friends with the Gunthers. We often visited them at their house and they came to the Boltz's.

Frieda died in 1982 aged 87 years. (Family Notices. (1982, November 16). The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995), p. 15. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article130829619) This means she was born about 1895 and ten years younger than Anna. It seems likely that Hans Boltz and Hans Gunther made plans for their mothers to travel together from Berlin to Australia.

My mother remembers that Anna brought a tea chest of possessions. They included:
  • a tea set with a rose design and also a white china dinner set;  I can remember my grandparents using these in later years
  • an ashtray with the shoulder strap of the 35th Prinz Heinrich von Preussen Fusilier Regiment, the regiment of my great grandfather
  • a device in the shape of an owl which was meant to remove the smell of cigar smoke from a room. My great grandfather had liked to smoke cigars. My grandparents however did not smoke so I think it did not get much use in Canberra.
The ashtray with the shoulder strap of the 35th Prinz Heinrich von Preussen Fusilier Regiment

Anna died on 29 April 1961, a year after arriving in Canberra to be with her son. She is buried at Woden Cemetery, Canberra.

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