Copyright © 2001. 2013
® Canada Copyright Registration  No. 490341
to William J. Milner, March 8, 2001.


Johann Altwasser

The Seventh Child of August Altwasser and Anna Hiller

Information about August Altwasser and Anna Hiller


Kadzilowa, Dabie, Poland

Composite image adapted from 36-52 and 37-52,
A Monarchia III. katonai felmérése, 1910

Johann Altwasser

Johann Altwasser was born on June 24, 1879 in Kadzilowa, Dabie, Poland, the son of Johann August Altwasser and Anna Hiller. His family moved to Kurhany in the Kostopol district of Volhynia between 1879 and 1882.


Kostopol District of Volhynia

Map by Jerry Frank ©

Pauline Labrenz

Pauline Labrenz was born in Pittschalowka (see Peczalowka on the map above), Tuczyn Parish, Volhynia, Russia, on January 1, 1879, the daughter of Michael Labrenz and Florentine Krueger.



Tauf und Familiennamen der Getrauten

Johann ALTWASSER and Pauline LABRENZ.

 oo 28. Aug. 1900 Tutschin;  

[Church Book Tutschin, Marriages 1900, Page. 143, No. 130]

Data courtesy of Regina Steffensen, nee LABRENZ


Transliteration by Jack Milner
Top row:
Middle row:
Bottom row:
Cursive Russian Cyrillic letters.
Printed Russian Cyrillic block letters.
Roman / Latin equivalent letters.
Note:  c sound = [ts]


Children of Johann Altwasser and Pauline Labrenz

Rovno Archives data courtesy of B. Voltermann, W. Köllner, F. Winkel and G. König, June 2008.
"Zabuzanski archive Warsaw" data courtesy W. Köllner and R. Steffensen nee Labrenz, April 2013.

Documents from the Rowno Archives "KB Tutschin, Geburten_Taufen", (Church Book Tutschin, Births_Baptisms retroactively issued) shows birth entries for Leocadie, Otillie and Olga, born to Johann Altwasser and Pauline Labrenz. Data from Zabuzanski archive Warsaw shows the births of another two daughters, Hulda and Emilie, not previously documented by church book records.

  • Hulda Altwasser born December 20, 1899, baptized 31 December 1899 in Kurhany by Küster E. Schulz;, God Parents Gottlieb Muth and Mathilde Sprenger.
  • Emilie Altwasser born September 25, 1901, September 25, 1901, baptized September 26, 1901 by by Küster Schulz; God Parents Julius Mund and Otillie Wilde.
  • Leocadie Altwasser born September 11, 1902; baptized September 14, 1902, by Küster Schulz; Godparents Gustav Wilde and Augustina Labrenz.
  • Otillie Altwasser born December 6, 1904; baptized July 12, 1904, in Kurhany by Küster E. Schulz; Godparents Julius Mund and Julianne Altwasser.
  • Olga Altwasser born October 20, 1914; baptized October 25, 1914, in Antonowka by Küster F. Kraft; Godparents Gustav Wilde and Olga Schmidtke.
  • Wilhelm Altwasser born 22 Dec 1917;   Orsk, Siberia.
    A 1905 Wedding

    In 1905, Johann's brother,   Gustav Altwasser,   married Pauline Langner in Wielkepole, a village about eight kilometers from Antonowka. All family friends and relatives were invited, as well as all the neighbors from both villages. The celebration lasted for three days with a lot of good food, cooking , baking and of course no shortage of schnapps. Johann and his wife Pauline were either in nearby Kurhany or in Antonowka at the time and probably joined the festivities.


    The family was in Antonowka on October 25, 1914 and their names were not found in later EWZ files or any known einwohnerliste for that area. They were probably deported to Siberia in 1915 when all the German families were ordered out of the area and the family didn't return later to stay in the Kostopol district.  


    History 1915

    1915 saw disaster strike the Russian army, which from June to September was forced to retreat up to three hundred miles back into Russia, abandoning Russian occupied Poland. Ethnic Germans living in these border areas were Russian Citizens, but for years had been subjected to political, bureaucratic and military thinking against them. In June 1915 all the German families were ordered out of the area and deported to Siberia, presumably because they were considered as enemy aliens in a war zone and perceived to be a threat to the future security of Russia. They were not allowed to return to their homes until after the Czarist government collapsed in 1917.

    The Peace Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

    On the 3rd December 1917 a conference between a Russian delegation, headed by Leon Trotsky and German and Austrian representatives began at Brest-Litovsk. Trotsky had the difficult task of trying to end Russian participation in the First World War without having to grant territory to the Central Powers. By employing delaying tactics Trotsky hoped that socialist revolutions would spread from Russia to Germany and Austria-Hungary before he had to sign the treaty.

    After nine weeks of discussions without agreement, the German Army was ordered to resume its advance into Russia. On 3rd March 1918, with German troops moving towards Petrograd, Lenin ordered Trotsky to accept the German terms. The Brest-Litovsk Treaty resulted in the Russians surrendering the Ukraine, Finland, the Baltic provinces, the Caucasus and Poland. Occupation by German troops was short lived however, and in November 1918, the armistice Treaty of Versailles forced German troop withdrawal.


    Throughout 1919, Ukraine experienced chaos as the armies of the Ukrainian Republic, the Bolsheviks, the Whites, Poland, the foreign powers of the Entente(France, Britain, Russia), as well as other anarchist forces tried to prevail.

    • About 98 per cent of the old Volhynia gubernia is in present-day Ukraine.

    • In the 19th century, Poland and Ukraine came under the Russian Empire, and were not independent countries as they are today.

    Polish-Soviet War

  • Between the First World War and WW I I, Western Volhynia came under Poland, Eastern Volhynia came under the Soviet Union.

    The frontiers between Poland and Soviet Russia had not been clearly defined after WW I and the Poles held control of most of the disputed territories in 1919. The war had been precipitated largely by the demand of Poland that its eastern border of 1772 be restored. Following a Polish attempt to take advantage of Russia's weakness with a major incursion into Ukraine in early 1920, border skirmishes then escalated into open hostilities between Poland and Soviet Russia. The Bolsheviks mounted an April counter-offensive which was very successful. By mid-August, the Polish forces had retreated westward to the Polish capital of Warsaw. The Polish forces then achieved an unexpected and decisive victory during the Battle of Warsaw and began their advance eastward. The war ended with ceasefire in October 1920 and a formal peace treaty between Poland and Russia, the Peace Treaty of Riga, was signed on March 18, 1921. The treaty terms, which fixed the Russo-Polish border, did not satisfy the claims of the victorious Poles, but they awarded to Poland large parts of Belorussia and of Ukraine. The Peace Treaty of Riga lasted until WW I I began in 1939.

    In 1940, a nephew, Edward Altwasser wrote:
    [Translation by Jack Milner]

    "During the transition from Russian to Polish rule 1917/18, whole families had to hide to escape being killed. Only when the Polish government actually occupied the territory could they return to their property."


    A refugee is a person who flees for refuge or safety, especially to a foreign country, as in time of political upheaval, war, etc.


    October 9, 1919
    Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany,

    Residence: Tönchow, mit Wunderfeld, Ritteramt Mecklenburg

    On October 8, 1919, in the Mecklenburg-Schwerin census enumeration district of Tönchow, mit Wunderfeld (Tönchow town with farms), the names of Johann Altwasser, his wife Pauline, a daughter Hulda and a son Wilhelm appeared on Tönchow Haushaltungsliste Nr. 4 (Tönchow Household List Number 4) with eight other unrelated persons showing a variety of citizenships. Three of the family members had a birthplace, either in Russian Poland or Volhynia; the exception being Wilhelm, born 22 Dec 1917 at Orsk, (Orenberg Republic), Siberia.

    JOHANN ALTWASSER born "2 Jan 1879" [sic];   Kalisch, Kalisch;   Citizenship:   Prussian.

    PAULINE ALTWASSER born "20 Dec 1879" [sic];   Antonowka, Ukraine;   Citizenship:   Prussian.

    HULDA ALTWASSER born 20 Dec 1899;   Antonowka, Ukraine;   Citizenship:   Prussian.

    WILHELM ALTWASSER born 22 Dec 1917;   Orsk, Siberia;   Citizenship:   Prussian.


    The family was deported to Siberia in 1915 by Russian authorities, subsequently became refugees after the 1917 Revolution and were possibly assisted by the  "Fürsorgeverein deutscher Rückwanderer"   (Welfare Association for German Repatriates).   A Rückwanderer is a citizen returning to his home country after being abroad. This association helped ethnic Germans return to Germany and aided with their naturalization process until 1918, perhaps later.

    Four of their daughters born in Kurgany/Antonowka are not listed at Mecklenburg-Schwerin. No other information about the family has been found.



    Caucasus Germans

    By the time of the October Revolution in 1917, there were over 200 German colonies in the North Caucasus; of those over 100 were in Rostov Oblast, 60 in Stavropol Krai and around 20 in Krasnodar Krai. In a matter of one week after the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, almost 200,000 Caucasus Germans were deported from these entities to remote regions of Kazakhstan and Siberia.

    The removal of potentially trouble-making ethnic groups was a technique used consistently by Joseph Stalin during his career. Soon after his death in 1953, the ban for the majority of the deported peoples to return to Europe was lifted, but relatively few returned.

    Source Wikipedia

    Listed as a Victim

  • Johann Altwasser was criminally prosecuted in 1941 without due basis and is listed as a victim of political repression in the USSR. He was rehabilitated to the state of acquittal in 2006.

  • Translation

    Altvasser Ivan Avgustovich

    Born in 1879, the Chuvash Autonomous Republic of Chuvashia; Lived: Ordzhonikidze Krai.

    Sentenced: in 1941.

    Sentence:   banishment - Tashkent region. Rehabilitated on 5th October,

    Source: Department of Internal Affairs of the Stavropol Territory.

    Notes of Interest

  • In Russia it is obligatory for people to have three names: a given name, a patronymic, and a family name, where "Ivan" (Russian equivalent to Johann) is the given name, "Avgustovich" is the patronymic (after his father's name August), and "Altvasser" (Altwasser) is the family name.

  • Johann Altvasser was deported soon after Germany broke the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact in June 1941 to start the war with Russia. He was rehabilitated on 5 October 2006.

  • Rehabilitation, in this context, means to reinstate the good name of a person who was criminally prosecuted without due basis;   acquittal.

  • We do not know the circumstances to determine whether this is our Johann Altwasser or another person.

  • The Autonomous Republic of Chuvashia, given as his birth place, did not exist in 1879.  

    In 1918-1919, the Russian Civil War encompassed the area. This ended with victory for the Bolsheviks. To gain support from the local population, Lenin ordered the creation of a Chuvash state within the Russian SFSR. On June 24, 1920, the Chuvash Autonomous Oblast was formed, which was transformed into the Chuvash ASSR in April 1925. In June 1925 Alatyr city also became the part of the Republic.

  • Ordzhonikidze Krai, given as the place where he lived, is a region located in the central part of the Pre-Caucasian territory and on the North Slope of the Greater Caucasus.

    In March 1936, North-Caucasian Krai was reorganized and separated from its Ordzhonikidze Krai which had the center in Stavropol.  In 1941, Ordzhonikidze Krai was renamed Stavropol Krai. (Stavropol Territory)

  • The Autonomous Republic of Chuvashia

    Ordzhonikidze - Stavropol Krai






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    ® Canada Copyright Registration  No. 490341
    to William J. Milner, March 8, 2001.

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