2 Replies Latest reply on Aug 26, 2021 8:06 AM by Lisha Penn

    Seeking information on death of Clara Gordon (Orr) Zenner

    Calvin Wylie Newbie

      Seeking information on the death of Clara Gordon (Orr) Zenner who died near Torgau, Germany 1 May 1945.  Given the date, I assume it could have something to do with the linkup of American and Russian soldiers in WWII.  A family story says she was "shot outside home by Russian soldier."

        • Re: Seeking information on death of Clara Gordon (Orr) Zenner
          Sabine Gorgas Adventurer

          Hello Calvin,


          a way to start to find out about the circumstances of Clara's death can be to get her death certificate. The German death certificates contain also the cause of death, so if she got shot it should be in the record.


          In Germany you find records like death records (German: Sterbeurkunde) in the civil registry office (German: Standesamt) of the town were the person died.  So when Clara died in an area which belonged to Torgau the record should be in the Standesamt Torgau (https://www.standesamt.com/Standesamt-Torgau/4321 )


          A problem could be in Germany, that in order to receive these records you have to prove a justified interest. So you have to prove that you are related to the person whose records you request. I am not sure whether these records are already online, then you would not need to prove anything to get the record.


          The family story about her being shot by the Russians could be a real possibilty. The people feared the Russians and around Mai 1, 1945 there were a lot of Russians in this area. Many girls and women got raped or killed when they resisted. This went so far that German women committed suicide after even killing their children, just to escape the Russians. The Russians also picked up people they suspected being involved in the Nazi movement. They put them in these NKVD Camps where many of the people died. So there are several scenarios or reasons that Clara Gordon could have maybe resisted to be picked up or maybe to hand over things, like food, when she lived on a farm and it was needed by the Red Army.


          I guess to really find out what happened will be not that easy, but maybe this is a start:

          Torgau had a newspaper, the "Torgauer Zeitung". Maybe they reported incidents like that?

          Another chance could be the Documentation and Information Center Torgau (https://en.stsg.de/cms/node/876 ). I guess they could at least know whether these cases were reported and in which archive records could be.

          Another chance could be the City Archive (Stadtarchiv) in Torgau (http://www.torgau.eu/1_module/bgi/department.asp?lev=144 ).


          I hope it helps.


          Sabine Gorgas

          • Re: Seeking information on death of Clara Gordon (Orr) Zenner
            Lisha Penn Pioneer

            Dear Mr. Wylie,


            Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


            According to the U.S. Army Center of Military History pamphlet titled Central Europe, the 69th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army met the 58th Guards Infantry Division of the Russian Army on 26 April 1945 in Torgau, Germany.


            We searched the National Archives Catalog and located the World War II Operations Reports, 1940-1948 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1917 - 1985 (Record Group 407) that includes records of the 69th Infantry Division during WWII. For more information about these non-digitized records, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email at archives2reference@nara.gov.


            Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT2. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.


            Since it may have been a Russian soldier from the 58th Guards Infantry Division that killed Clare Zenner, we suggest that you contact the Federal'naia arkhivnaia sluzhba Rossii (Rosarkhiv) [Federal Archival Service of Russia], ul. Il'inka 12, 103132 Moscow, Russia.


            We suggest that you search Historic German Newspapers and Journals Online and Germany Newspapers websites to obtain information that you are seeking about the death of Clara Gordon (Orr) Zenner outside of her home on May 1, 1945 in Torgau, Germany as noted.


            Also, you may wish to search Germany Online Genealogy Records websites for resources to obtain a copy of her death certificate in Torgau, Germany.


            We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!