Searching for half-brother, born in the 60s, to my Army dad stationed in Göppingen

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My dad served in the United States Army in 1966-1969, stationed in Goeppingen, Germany.  He does not talk about his time there and refuses to answer questions. My aunts and uncles all state that my dad lived with or was married while he was in Germany. They say that I have a brother who was born in 1968 possibly earlier and that the United States Army would not recognize the marriage and shipped my father home after stripping him of his Sergeant rank down to a private. He was then shipped home to Missouri and never talked about it again. They do not know a name of the woman he lived with but think the baby might have been named Marvin Lee Lawrence Jr. I have talked to several retired military officers and none of them can give me direction on how I would even go about finding this woman or my half-brother because there is nothing in my father's discharge papers stating why he was demoted and immediately discharged once he got back to the States. Any advice or help would be appreciated. Thank you.

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Have you asked the "Standesamt" in Göppingen? That´s the authority which keeps the birth registry and they also register marriages. Not sure whether they will give you any information. After all it seems to be a violation of your dad´s rights for data protection. I doubt that under German law you have a claim for that kind of information.

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Children have a right to inquire of their parents, so if you were a son of that woman you could find her. In this case it will be difficult with the Standesamt.

 

One solution: in our town the local newspaper publishes "babies of the week", photos of all babies born in a local clinic. Also, congratulations are published in this paper.

So, whatever local paper Göppingen has, it makes sense to ask if they publish this kind of information. And if yes, ask for help, they might look into their archives.

 

Also

Quote

Marvin Lee Lawrence Jr

That does not seem a legit name under German name law (of which I have no expertise, only anecdotal information). Marvin, maybe.

 

 

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3 hours ago, hemmingaway said:

My dad served in the United States Army in 1966-1969, stationed in Goeppingen, Germany.  He does not talk about his time there and refuses to answer questions. My aunts and uncles all state that my dad lived with or was married while he was in Germany. They say that I have a brother who was born in 1968 possibly earlier and that the United States Army would not recognize the marriage and shipped my father home after stripping him of his Sergeant rank down to a private. He was then shipped home to Missouri and never talked about it again. They do not know a name of the woman he lived with but think the baby might have been named Marvin Lee Lawrence Jr. I have talked to several retired military officers and none of them can give me direction on how I would even go about finding this woman or my half-brother because there is nothing in my father's discharge papers stating why he was demoted and immediately discharged once he got back to the States. Any advice or help would be appreciated. Thank you.

 

I have some ideas, which could assist you to a degree.

 

First, the marriage.  The US Army does not control marriage recognition, that is done by governments.  However, your father would have needed permission to marry from his commanding officer.  Mind, this was during the Vietnam War.  I cannot recall the exact dates, but compared to today, only certain service members (rank wise) were allowed to be stationed in Germany with families.  A soldier's life was controlled entirely by his unit.

 

Stripped of his rank:  Could be a myriad of reasons, but based solely upon the information you provided, it would seem he went against his CO's direct orders, married this woman and hence underwent non-judicial punishment from his battalion or brigade commander - not his company commander.  Only a Lt. Colonel or Colonel could reduce his rank from E5 to E1 (Sergeant to Private).   That would be an educated assumption.

No, his discharge papers would not state why he was demoted.  What type of discharge did he receive?  Honourable, Bad-Conduct, Other than Honourable?  Dishonourable is for extreme cases, which his, it sounds, was not.  If he was immediately discharged upon returning to Missouri, it sounds like this marriage occurred near the end of his four-years contract (this was during the draft era) and the army decided to not allow him to continue and barred his reenlistment options or he decided to not reenlist.

Depending upon where he was when the child (your brother) was born is important.  Was he here in Germany or in the states?  The mother might have hidden the truth from the hospital or if born while your father was here, the army might have barred him from leaving his barracks to attend the birth.

What you could do in regards to the army is contact the Records Center in St. Louis Missouri.  This is the holder of all files for retirees - yes, even from the 1960s.  I seem to recall they have records back prior to WW2.  Some were lost to a fire in the 1970s, but not all.  They are slowly digitizing the records, so it could be done, but will take time.  Ask for everything.  You are the next of kin and want your father's records, to include all medical and NJP (non-judical punishment) information.  This could help as the Article 15 records could mention the woman by name - could, but might not.  The medical records might also mention her name.  Doctor's will do odd things at times, like write verbatim what a service member states - mental health - I met this woman, she's pregnant, etc., her name is...  you get the idea.

 

If he did indeed marry this woman, there might be official military documents with her name or even the child's name.  While he did not follow the order's of his commander, he possibly fathered a child and married a woman, so he did assume monetary responsibility.  His official records in St. Louis could reveal this. 

While Jeba is correct about privacy, which is a large matter here, it never hurts to ask.  Inquiring through emails or phone calls will lead you nowhere.  If you were here in Germany and asked personally, one never knows what one might find.

Good luck!

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2 hours ago, jeba said:

Have you asked the "Standesamt" in Göppingen? That´s the authority which keeps the birth registry and they also register marriages. Not sure whether they will give you any information. After all it seems to be a violation of your dad´s rights for data protection. I doubt that under German law you have a claim for that kind of information.

 

He's a blood relative of the father and the child, so I'm wondering if he could ask to see into the Geburtenregister. If the mother has named the father of the child, his name should be registered there. 

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An absolute long shot...assuming Lawrence is a surname that may have changed, there are only 3 Marvin Lees that show in a standard telephone book listing. One is quite close to Göppingen...

 

https://maps.dastelefonbuch.de/DasTelefonbuch/kartenfinder.html?was=marvin+lee&wo=&y=&x=&y1=52.61771&x1=10.254024&y2=48.92439&x2=6.971802&projection=wgs84&id=FMV6KIOQXBTEUUSO2L7ZVJ55FCKAVAPE73GIYJIC

 

Good luck

 

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I worked at the University here for a while and we got a lot of requests for information about students (most where "A beautiful blonde girl named Sonja said she studied at your university but the number she gave me doesn't work, can you help? - Um, no.")

 

We were not allow to say anything.  Not even to parents calling to ask about their kids.  (We would offer to send the kid a post card asking them to call home, but nothing more).  Giving out personal information was a sure way to get yourself immediately fired. 

 

I doubt calling and asking anyone in Germany is going to be terribly effective unless you have a very strong reason and a lawyer.  

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While this is true ^^^

A phone book is actually a good shot as suggested by emkay.

 

Once you used advice by BayrischDude and find out first and last name of the brother, next step will be inquiry of the residence register (Melderegister). In contrast to the University, hospital etc., it's public, everyone can find out another person's residence address if they can show "justified interest" (here there will be no problem).

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If there if there is a sibling, they may not know about  you. If they do know , they may not wish to connect.  

Telephone search is a good first step. Maybe contact local paper and see if they will cover your search. Even in magazines like "Tina", people search!

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