What does “European Emigrant Heritage” mean?
Let's define each word separately:
Euro•pe•an Adjective A person who was born in, or whose family originates from, Europe. [As opposed to originating from Asia or Africa, for example.]
The continent of Europe presently contains the following countries: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.
Europe also has ethnicities, former nationalities, and cultures who do not presently have their own countries. These include the following:
Basque, Bavarian, Bohemian, Catalan, Castillian, Celtic, Chechen, Dalmatian, Karilian, Ladino, Moravian, Pilsner, Posner, Prussian, Ruthenian, Sardinian, Saxon, Scotch, Servian, Silesian, Slavonian, Tatar, Transylvanian, Tuscan, (and many others).
Em•i•grant Noun A person who leaves a country or region. ▪ Millions of emigrants departed from European ports between 1880 and 1920. — Compare immigrant: a person who comes to a country to take up permanent residence. ▪ His grandmother was an immigrant to Canada.
Her•i•tage Noun 1.) Property or other assets that have accrued to a particular family line, and which by law [should] descend from predecessor to living heirs. 2.) The traditions, achievements, beliefs, crafts, etc. that are part of the history of a group or nation. ▪ a nation with a rich heritage of folklore ▪ His Polish heritage was important to him.
Thus European Emigrant Heritage (EEH) is exemplified by the following:
a.) In 1943 a Polish woman died in a German labour camp. She owned farmland that had been abandoned since her death. Her forced permanent departure from Poland is regarded as an emigration, bringing the case within our purview.
Results: Through extensive research into old records such as church baptisms and marriages, cemeteries, military service, old telephone books, etc. (genealogical research), EEH identified and located her closest living relatives, many second cousins twice and thrice removed living in Poland, and secured their inheritance for them. The land was sold and each cousin received a fractional share.
b.) A German soldier died in the Siege of Stalingrad. 22 years later, in 1964, his mother died in Frankfurt, leaving valuable coin and stamp collections that should go to the grandchildren of the soldier who are living in Scotland. [Photo: Statues in Stalingrad centre which miraculously survived the siege.]
Results: EEH identified and located the family and secured their inheritances for them.
c.) In 1974 an Italian died in Rome, leaving bank accounts there. Six years later his sole sibling, a brother, immigrated to Argentina, knowing nothing of the bank accounts.
Results: In 2018 European Emigrant Heritage's genealogi-cal research discovered that the deceased Roman's closest living relatives were 11 grand-nieces & nephews in Argen-tina, who had never met their Roman great-uncle. Inheritan-ces for everyone, a trip to Italy, and a family reunion attended by the Argentinians and many Italian cousins.
d.) A French-Canadian man in Québec wished to learn about of his paternal grandmother (GM), who had lived in Marseille and gave her out-of-wedlock baby to a Catholic orphanage. GM's name and what became of her had been unknown to the man and his family for 99 years. This example of EEH's work did not involve money or property, it is the non-profit side of EEH, involving the 2nd definition of Heritage, above: the traditions, achievements, beliefs, etc. that comprise the history of (in this case) the GM. The client was born in Canada and had never been to France. He was elderly and living on a small pension, but had always wanted to know his GM's name, where she came from, and what became of her. EEH undertook the research at no charge.
Results: EEH was able to provide him with documents, newspaper items, and photographs of his GM's life, and a photo album to arrange them in. Included were documents and photos of his two half-uncles and their children, half-cousins he never knew he had. (GM had later married again and had two sons.) In the following year, two of his half-cousins visited him in Québec.
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Most of the examples used in our website come from our actual cases, with the names changed.
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Most of the photos of private living people in our website are representative. They are not photos of EEH's heirs, the heirs' families, or EEH staff, but instead are photos from the Internet public domain.
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Questions & Answers
What does the profit side of EEH do?
European Emigrant Emigrant Heritage (EEH) is constantly perform-ing widespread research to identify assets that are unknown to those legally entitled to them. EEH then performs genealogical research (documentary research creating family trees) to identify the entitled persons, i.e. the unknown heirs. EEH then offers to claim and recover the assets, in exchange for a contingent percentage fee. If there is nothing recovered, there is no fee.
What does the non-profit side of EEH do?
European Emigrant Heritage also operates a non-profit research and cultural exchange/ cultural promotion service. Through cultural, historical, ethnographic, and genealogical research, we aid in the preservation and appreciation of traditional European culture: the crafts, customs, community and family ties, and ethnic spirit that were prevalent in times past, some of which have survived until today.
EEH's non-profit services are available to everyone, regardless of where they live. Clients pay nothing but may make a donation to the cause if they wish to do so. Please contact us for further information if you have a specific need, request, or if you wish to help by donating time. EEH often needs cultural, historical, ethnographic, and genealogical research in one of the thousands of towns, cities, and provinces of the world. Some of the research is paid.
The remainder of this page deals with EEH's profit side.
How did you find me?
If we have contacted you regarding an inheritance, you are probably wondering how we found you. Here are the stages:
I.) EEH is constantly researching public records to find property or other assets of deceased persons, which are unclaimed and which are unknown to the lawful heirs.
II.) EEH then performs genealogical research to discover the names of persons who may inherit. This research discovers hundreds of small pieces of information, on three or more generations of the deceased owner's extended family. We must discover each of their dates and places of birth, and their life addresses, occupation, church, military, marriages, immigration, divorces, death, burial, and tombstone inscription. Each piece of information goes on a big heir chart (family tree), showing each person's relationship to the deceased owner. Some may inherit, others not, depending on the closeness of their relationship.
III.) EEH then attempts to locate and contact the living family members who may be entitled to inherit.
Unless and until said persons sign EEH's fee agreement, they are only potential heirs; EEH must still search for and purchase origin-al government certification-stamped genealogical proofs, to establish for certain the potential heirs' relationships to the deceased ancestor or deceased collateral relative.
Example: A 1972 Certificate of Naturalization from the US Department of Immigration & Natural-ization, showing town of birth, necessary to show the asset depository that the Albert COLLINS we we claim is our asset claimant's father is the same Albert COLLINS who was the cousin of the owner of the assets. There are many Albert COLLINS in the world and we must prove we have the right one in order to claim the property. Document components such as age and town of birth can establish that we are claiming from or through the right person.
What other documents do you look at?
The types of documents are too numerous to list here, but they may include the potential heir's great aunt's (GA's) marriage application for her 3rd marriage showing that her maiden name was KRAUS, and her great grandfather's (GGF's) Boer War pension record showing that he was born in Graz, Austria. Such documents may distinguish the potential heir's GA and GGF from the many other persons having their same first & last names. For example, there were probably several men named Alphonse KRAUS born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in approximately the same year as GGF, but hopefully only one of these was born in Graz.
EEH discovers information on many kinds of records. For example, sup-pose that property is accruing to you through your maternal grandmother (GM) from the death of her 2nd husband, and that all we have to begin our genealogical research is GM's married SURNAME. Her maiden SURNAME is needed to solve the case. GM may have registered to vote with the Labour Party in 1936, or received a pension from the American government for her service during the World War of 1914-18. These records may give her birthplace as Villefranche-de-Rouergue (VdR), photo ⟶
To trace your GM backwards in time to discover her maiden SURNAME, we search the records of the several parish churches in and near the VdR Commune and follow the baptismal records of the several girls with your GM's first name baptized in the month following your GM's date of birth. One of these girls should be your GM. Baptismal records give date of birth. Thus we may obtain your GM's maiden SURNAME, allowing us to find her 1st marriage to your GF, and so on, eventually leading to you, an heir.
Keep in mind, we don't expect you to believe that there is an unknown inheritance for you; that's why we never ask you to pay any money out of your own pocket. Not at any time, and not for any reason do you ever give us money. OUR FEE COMES ONLY FROM THE INHERITANCE. IF THERE IS NO INHERITANCE THERE IS NO FEE.
Genealogy involves many areas of study, including history, geography, ethnology, calligraphy, and photographic analysis. To solve a recent case it was necessary that we discover that during World War II, while occupied by Nazi Germany, Villefranche, France housed the 13th Waffen SS Handschar - 1st Croatian Division, consisting mainly of Bosnians. Only this fact led us to the military records identifying the deceased Frenchman’s father in Bosnia. Bosnia at his date of birth was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
How can you have found something when I know all my relatives and all my inheritances?
The truth is that no one knows all their relatives. For example, do you know the father of your paternal grandmother? What town was this great-grandfather born in, and what were the names of his siblings, nieces, and nephews? If one of them died in Dover in 1994 with property, would you know of it?
Would your father’s cousins in Stuttgart or Cincinnati have found your father to give him his lawful share? How diligently would the local government have searched for living heirs?"
Simon Wiesenthal, mentor to
EEH founder Josef Hannum →
Who hires EEH?
No one hires us. We are a government licensed private company that investigates public and private records to find “errors, omissions, and frauds.”
What kinds of cases do you handle?
Here are some examples of the many types of unclaimed asset matters we handle:
1.) Sometimes a person dies without having time to make a will or property list for his family. We handle many cases of people who died unexpect-edly, often in wars and revolutions.
During WWII, many Jews opened accounts in Switz-erland etc., then perished in concentration camps. The governments of the several countries which became communist between 1917 (Russia) and 1948 (Czech-oslovakia) nationalised (confiscated) many private homes and businesses. In many of these cases, EEH has successfully claimed the assets for the living heirs.
2.) Many Europeans who owned rental property, both before and after the bank failures of the 1918 - 1940 depression in Germany and other countries, did not trust the banks and went around and collected the rents in cash. If his family did not know what property he owned when he died, his tenants may have stopped paying rent. If these tenants paid the property tax every year to prevent tax foreclosure, they could remain in the property and their children would continue the occupation. This continues indefinitely until a company such as EEH discovers it and locates the deceased owner's heirs.
The list of professions who don't care if non-entitled persons are living in property or holding assets that should go to others, is a long one, but includes: Magistrates, judges, law enforcement agencies, land offices, bank directors, banking commissions, fund managers, and estates offices.
No one inquires into whether real property occupants lack the legal right to possession. No one inquires whether a deceased account holder had any surviving next of kin. No one hires investigators or genealogists to look for next of kin. Banks keep abandoned accounts, and squatters reside in homes they don't own, all free from inquiry and molestation.
This is why European Emigrant Heritage has been in business for over 75 years to perform the above needed services.
Often real property owned by deceased persons is not occupied by squatters, but is vacant and abandoned. EEH solved a large case of that type in 2015. The property was a "palace" in the center of St. Petersburg, Russia, a city which has many dvoretsi (palaces), built by the aristocracy from 1710 when Peter the Great built the city, until the Rus. Revolution in 1917. During the Soviet Union, these palaces were divided into many small apartments and assigned to families. These families never paid any rent because housing was a free right to all under the Soviet system. Current case law is that the USSR had no legal right to take properties from 1917 owners, the Soviet residents did not acquire ownership, and the lawful heirs of the deceased 1917 owners are entitled to obtain title to the properties.
EEH located 19 descendants of said aristocrat living in Italy, to where their great-grandparents had escaped the Russian Revolution in 1917. Four of them came to St. Petersburg with their tools and renovated the building for sale. These descendants had a big celebration upon receipt the sales proceeds, which EEH attended. Quite a memorable experience!
IN BRIEF then, here is what EEH does: After locating property whose owner is deceased and the heirs are unknown, and after performing genealogical research & assembling a family tree, with your signed consent EEH will then claim the asset(s) for you. EEH's fees are 33⅓% of the amount recovered. You receive the remaining 66⅔%. If you receive nothing, so does EEH receive nothing. Win, lose, or draw you never pay EEH a penny.
In the ship painting below, you may imagine one of your ancestors emigrating from Europe. Or perhaps they emigrated by land from one country to another within Europe. Perhaps they came at a later date by steamship or airplane. By whatever method, emigration is a difficult and disruptive process which, together with the large distances involved and the death of older generation(s), can result in property whose ownership is unknown to the living family.
Really, my family is very close…
When people say they have a close family, they are talking about their living family. Most of us have a grandparent about whom we know little. Few of us can name the siblings, nieces, & nephews of our four grandparents.
Perhaps you remember when US President Clinton was surprised by a man who visited the White House without an appointment, claiming to be the President's half-brother! President Clinton said he had never heard that he had any such relative, and the man was sent away. He later returned with a solicitor and proved his relationship to the president's satisfaction:
[The green http link below is the People Magazine article about Clinton's brother. To avoid closing this European Emigrant Heritage website, right-click this green link and choose "Open Link in New Tab". Notice that you now have two tabs at the very top left of your screen. One is the EEH website, the other is People Magazine website.] https://people.com/archive/a-question-of-brotherhood-vol-40-no-1/
Unknown living relatives occur more frequently in non-famous families:
[The green http link below is the Vita Brevis article. To avoid closing this EEH website, right-click this green link and choose "Open Link in New Tab".] http://vita-brevis.org/2014/07/suspicious-first-cousin/?utm_source=twgnewsletter&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=twg699
Unknown deceased relatives occur in all families. Even if you can name your paternal grandfather's nieces (not granddaughters but nieces), you would need the neices' married names, locations, etc. to find their deaths, cemeteries, and offspring.
Why have I never heard of your type of business?
Unknown inheritances are rare events. Also, unknown inheritance genealogy is one of the few businesses that does not advertise. We start with the property or other assets, and then attempt to discover lawful heirs. We do not start with potential heirs, or people who believe they are entitled to an inheritance, so we do not advertise for such people to contact us.
The reason EEH does not attempt to find inheritances for people is that many people would want such a service, but very few of them have inheritances out there waiting for them. Many people will tell you that they were supposed to inherit from their GM's (grandmother’s) 10 Million Kroner estate, or that that their GGF was a New York banker who made $Millions and deposited it all in a bank in Dallas, TX before his untimely death. We learnt many years ago that most of these family legends are untrue, and that is why we always start with the property, not with the heirs.
A Letter from an Heir Client:
EEH I give you five stars! you obtained me a big inheritence from a onkel brother of my fathers father who died befor i was born i never heard about his name in my family. i was not believeing there was realy to be an inheritence for the long time until bank wire arrived at my acount. I was realy so surprised thenand happy what I was to be doing with such money! also EEH poeple are very freindly.Serious but freindly. i learned alot about my family from the talking with you people. Thank you!
Eva Sjöstrand, Stockholm, Sweden 2009
Can I lose any money?
A basic principle of our work is that our clients never pay any money. This assures our clients that we are honest. Dishonest programmes have one thing in common: You pay money.
Our only fee is a percentage of what we actually recover for you. You never pay any money, so there is no way you can lose any money. You can only gain.
Nor will EEH ever ask for your personal data, such as bank information, credit cards, social security number, passwords, or pins.
A Letter from an Heir Client
22 Mar 2019
I would like to thank for E. E.H. to have solve it, which became our grandfather Tiit Siimann who was of life 1916-1985. They are great that now we know where he lived and died and we could visit his grave. After 46 years we feel that he will again be with us and for this purpose we will indebtly forever of yours. If E. E.H. ever need genealogy or history research in the Baltics or in Finland or if you need to stay in Tallinn (please come with our family), we hope that you will be called to us for all helps with no doubts.
Do you take any fees & costs from the inheritance before comupting my 2/3 share?
No, we don't. This is a good question not often asked. EEH receives only its 1/3 fee. EEH's total expense averages over £5,000 on those inquiries that receive advanced genealogical research, mostly to purchase birth, marriage, death and other records, for remote research and researcher fees, travel expenses, etc. Rather than deduct these expenses "off the top" of the recovered inheritance, EEH pays them from its own funds, without reimbursement from anyone regardless of the outcome of the inheritance claim. These are our costs of doing business, investments we are willing to risk for inheritance claims we believe are valid. Like Mr. Bond, we must know when to bet and when to fold.
What fraction of the
inheritance will I receive?
It also depends on how many
other heirs there are.
These are mathematical questions.
If a grandfather dies leaving
two daughters, and two grandsons
who are sons of a third daughter
who pre-deceased him,
the fractions taken by these four
heirs are set by law. Usually:
The daughters each take 1/3.
The grandson’s each take 1/6
because they divide the 1/3 share of
their deceased mother between them.
In some countries,
half blood relatives take half shares,
and in other countries full shares.
The son of your GM’s half-sister
is your half-great-uncle.
Many still emigrate to N. America, but far fewer are European emigrants,
compared to the number of Europeans who emigrated prior to 1960.
Is it land? Is it more than $5,000?
Is it in Germany?
European Emigrant Heritage (EEH) has a policy not to answer such questions until we have located all the heirs. The reason for this is to insure that we are paid for our work.
The motto of European Emigrant Heritage
What if I sign the Agreement but my sister doesn’t?
The majority of people offered our Agreement sign it. When someone declines to sign, they are left out of the inheritance. This makes the inheritance shares of those who sign larger. You may never have heard of many of your fellow inheritors.
Please be assured that you have never heard of most of your living relatives, and you know even less about your deceased relatives. This is true of everyone.
A Review by an Heir Client
My phone number is unlisted and I never answer calls from numbers I don't know, so its no suprise they showed up uninvited and unexpected at my door step. After James Hannum patiently explained the situation for over two hours I still didn't believe there was any inheritance for me but I figured I couldn't lose anything if I gave him no money. He said "don't give us any money" and I signed up. A few weeks later over $35 thousand is wired into my bank account, money from an aunt of my adoptive mother. This aunt had never married remained behind in Austria and died there in 1954 no will. i never heard of her. SoHow can I not give this company five stars? My only complaint is that I told them my grandfather was supposed to leave me some money but his last wife got everything, and they said they don't do that kind of research,family legends are unreliable. Their website tells about it.
Carter Sanderes 2018
How do I know EEH will give me my share?
European Emigrant Heritage (EEH) never handles your money. The administrator of the fund holds the money in a separate account he maintains solely for this purpose. He calculates the tax due, the calculation is ratified by the Collector of Taxes, and the tax is paid from the account, prior to calculating EEH's 1/3 fee and your 2/3 inheritance. The administrator then sends everyone his cheque or bank wire transfer.
And remember, since you never pay anything, you can never lose anything. You can only gain.
Are there any guarantees?
EEH can give no guarantee that our attempt to recover your family's assets will be successful, because unforeseen circumstances may prevent it. For example, a person or persons more closely related to the original owner of the asset may be found. Or a mortgage or tax lien may be asserted against the property. What we do guarantee is this: WE WILL DO THE BEST WE CAN TO PROVE, MAXIMISE, AND EXPEDITE YOUR INHERITANCE, AND AT NO TIME WILL YOU BE ASKED TO PAY A PENNY.
What if the debts exceed the assets?
Let's suppose that the asset accruing to your family is a parcel of land worth €100.000. If the land is encumbered by a €30.000 mortgage and a €40.000 lien for back taxes, the net recovery would be €30.000, and EEH's percentage would be calculated only on that €30.000. Supposing however that the back taxes were €120.000, so that there is nothing to recover. In that event, you would receive nothing, and EEH would receive nothing. Part of the taxes would remain unpaid, but neither you nor EEH would be responsible for paying them. One is not responsible for the debts of a deceased relative; debts are not inherited:
[The green https link below is a Huffington Post article. To avoid closing this EEH website, right-click this green link and choose "Open Link in New Tab".]
Nor would you be responsible for any money EEH invested in working on the case. That is EEH's business overhead, never reimbursed to them regardless of case results.
How does genealogical research work?
Here is a typical example. The research of a Philip LEOPOLD uncovers that his original surname was LEPAR and that he was born in Kriukai, Lithuania, the son of Yehuda-Leib LEPAR. This is confirmed by a search in the All Lithuanian Database and turns up several LEPAR families in Kriukai, Lithuania and neighbouring villages.
In order to find the descendants of the original great-grandfather, Amiel LEPAR, it was necessary to hire the entire class of a professor of history in a nearby university, to locate the tombstones in question. These enthusiastic students walked hundreds of cemetery rows and transcribed over 8,000 tombstones! Even so, it would not have been possible to solve this case without an index, the Kovno-Slatis cemetery list, which was produced by the "Chevren Kadisha," the burial society of Viliampolka. This index does not cover the entire cemetery, but is an index showing the names, section and row numbers of those who died in the Ghetto between 1941and 1943, a period which contained many of the key deaths in the family.
The wedding photograph shown to the left was accepted as evidence in the Austrian court of inheritance as the wedding of Harry KOWEN and Dolly LEOPOLD, who were the grandparents of Mervyn ______, one of the heirs in the case. The seven LEOPOLD sisters are shown in the photograph. The face of the groom was adjudged to match the German work permit card.
Many of the genealogical records in the above LEPAR/LEOPOLD case were in German because those parts of Bosnia in which the family resided were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire prior to 1919. To understand these records one must acquire the ability to read Sütterlinschrift (Sutterlin handwriting), in which the German language of that period was beautifully written:
Another example is a case EEH recently worked in Siberia. The following is taken from a letter written by James Hannum of EEH:
...Our original proof packet translated the words село (selo) and деревня (derevnya) as “village.” Because there is an important genealogical difference between a selo and a derevnya, the words should not be translated but should instead be transliterated into the Roman Alphabet and separately defined. According to Vladimir Dahl’s magnum opus, Explanatory Dic-tionary of the Living Great Rus-sian Language, which was pub-lished in 4 huge volumes in 1863, the definition of “selo” is “A place built and settled by peasants in which there is a church, and sometimes selo consists of many scattered derevnyas all belonging to one congregation and one church.” The definition of derevnya is “Peasant settlement in which there is no church.” As you will note from the enclosed revised proofs, the phrases “Village of Petroselki” and “Village of Molotychi ” have been changed to “Petroselki Derevnya” and Molotychi Selo. Given that they are only three miles apart (Our Proof #25, Petroselki and Molotychi Satellite Map), the fact that all derevnyas had to belong to a selo so that its residents would have a church, and Dahl’s above definitions, we conclude that Petroselki Derevnya belonged to Molotychi Selo. Thus Grigoriy could say he resided in either place.
It is obvious that Grigoriy KORNEEV and Grigoriy ABALMASOV are the same man. Consider:
Grigoriy KORNEEV and Grigoriy ABALMASOV are both shown in the above records having the same patronymic name, Kuzmin, meaning “son of Kuzma.” The given name “Kuzma” is now, and was in 19th Century Russia, a fairly rare name.
Grigoriy Kuzmin KORNEEV came from Petroselki Derevnya, Fatezhskiy Uyezd, Kursk Guberniya. (Our Proof #1).
Grigoriy Kuzmin ABALMASOV came from the Molotychi Selo, Fatezhskiy Uyezd, Kursk Guberniya. (Our Proof #2).
Since Petroselki Derevnya belonged to Molotychi Selo, a man from Petroselki Derevnya could say he was from either place.
Grigoriy Kuzmin KORNEEV and Grigoriy Kuzmin ABALMASOV both arrived in Siberia in 1896.
Grigoriy Kuzmin KORNEEV and Grigoriy Kuzmin ABALMASOV lived in the same tiny place, Belovodovskoye Settlement, Mariinsk Okrug, Tomsk Guberniya, Siberia.
After 1896, Grigoriy Kuzmin ABALMASOV never again used the surname KORNEEV, and the name Grigoriy Kuzmin KORNEEV never appears again in the record books.
In the 1916 Agricultural Census (our Proof #24), taken twenty years after the above Petition for Money, Grigoriy’s family is listed as ABALMASOV; there is no Grigoriy KORNEEV or Petr KORNEEV in the 1916 Census...
Examples of proofs EEH (European Emigrant Heritage) presented in the above case:
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This is the end of Page 2 of the EEH Website. In Pages 3 through 8 you will find further details and examples of our work. Select from the below green Contents to move from page to page: