A photo, a pronunciation and a dream are all Nicole Schwirzinger of Gruibingen in southern Germany has in the search for her American grandfather— a soldier from Texas who served in World War II.
Schwirzinger, 32, has few pieces to the puzzle of his identity, only what her grandmother, Helene Happernegg, would reluctantly speak of before her death last year.
“In 1946 it was a very big problem for a young, unmarried lady in Germany to be pregnant, especially from an U.S. soldier,” Schwirzinger said. “It was not accepted from society. Therefore, she never said anything about my grandfather. Maybe she also wanted to protect him from sanctions from the Army by hiding his identity.”
The soldier’s name is pronounced something like “Isel Bollingshure,” Schwirzinger said, and he served April through December 1945 in the 100th MP in Geislingen/Steige, Germany. He worked as a farmer before joining the service and was born in 1925 somewhere in Texas.
While living in the Gasthaus Erzgrube, he met Happernegg. Their daughter, Schwirzinger’s mother, Leni Bolzmann, was born in May 1946.
“He doesn’t have a notion that he has a daughter in Germany,” Schwirzinger said. “I think this would be a very big surprise also for him.”
In addition to Schwirzinger, the soldier also has two other grandchildren: Markus, 29, and Sina, 30.
The search has gone on for 20 years, including many calls and inquiries into military communities, army lists and personal memories.
Bolzmann even visited the United States 10 years ago, with no success, and four years ago the family began scouring the Internet for clues to the soldier’s identity. They hope that he is still living, and that they will get the chance to meet him face to face.
“We decided to start looking because everybody likes to know his roots,” Schwirzinger said. “We don’t have any financial interests. We simply want to get to know him if he is still alive.”
Anyone with information on the soldier’s identity can contact Schwirzinger at firstname.lastname@example.org.