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Genealogy: Reference Table

German Illness Translations

The following is a compiled listing of illnesses and causes of death gleaned from three primary sources. They are posted here in the hopes that they may aid family historians and genealogists in interpreting the conditions in which their ancestors lived and died. My role has merely been the compiler. The credit for the translation work should go to Ann Rempel, Dora Epp, V. Lyle von Riesen, and Adalbert Goertz. Those who feel they have more to add to the list or important corrections may do so by notifying myself, Judith Rempel.

Reviewers who have suggested improvements:

Elli Wise, Alan Peters, Adalbert Goertz, Glenn Penner and an anonymous physician from Calgary, Alberta. Thank you. Edited by Marty McMahon (13 Apr 1997)

This work may be freely copied for non-profit purposes. No copyright is claimed. -jr

  • Abzehrung - emaciation; consumption
  • Altengeschwuern - varicose veins
  • Altersschwaeche & Altershalber - old age
  • Ausschlag - skin disease
  • Auszehrung - weakness - often tuberculosis
  • Blattern - pustules, perhaps smallpox or chicken pox
  • Blinddarmentzuendung - appendicitis
  • Blutsturz - violent hemorrhage
  • Blutvergiftung - blood poisoning
  • Brauene - diphtheria
  • Brechdurchfall - bloody diarrhea / perhaps bacillary dysentery (i.e. Shigellosis)
  • Bruch Schaden - hernia
  • Brustkrankheit - ?
  • Convulsionen - convulsions
  • Darmgicht, Darmkolik, & intestinal afflictions - one or more could be Darmsucht gastroenteritis caused by bacteria
  • Diphtherie, diphteritis - diphtheria
  • Druesenkrankheit - disease of the lymph glands - perhaps scrofula (an acute form of tuberculosis)
  • Durchfall - diarrhea
  • Durchfall und der Ruhr - dysentery
  • Engbruestigkeit - tightness of chest, asthma
  • Englischen Krankheit - rickets
  • Entkraeftung - weakness as found in old age
  • Enzuendungs Fieber - inflammation/fever
  • Epilepsie - epilepsy
  • Ertrunken - drowned
  • Faul Fieber - "rotten" fever
  • Flecken - spots / perhaps measles or typhus
  • Folgen chirurgieschen - operation result of a surgical operation
  • Fraisen - ?
  • Freasal und Fleck Fieber - fever and spotted fever
  • Friesel Pustules - could be chicken pox
  • Fruehgeburt - premature birth
  • Gallkrankheit - ?
  • Gallen Fieber - infected gall bladder - perhaps bilious fever or hepatitis
  • Gedaermbrand, Gedaermfrasz - intestinal gangrene (ulcerative colitis)
  • Gelbsuch - jaundice
  • Geschwulst - tumor
  • Gicht - gout
  • Gichter - convulsive fits
  • Goldene Ader - hemorrhoids
  • Halsbrauene - quinsy, suppurative tonsillitis - perhaps strep throat
  • Halsenzuendung - tonsillitis
  • Harnruhr - diabetes insipidus
  • Herz-Brustwassersucht mit hinzutrender Lungenlaehmung - pleurisy, emphysema
  • Herzerweiterung, Leber-Magenverhaertung - enlarged heart and hardening of the liver and stomach
  • Herzkrankheit - heart disease
  • Hitziges Fieber - typhoid fever
  • Husten - cough
  • Kaltenbrande - frostbite
  • Kaltenerkaeltung - influenza
  • Keuchhusten - whooping cough
  • Kindbette (in dem) - post partum illness
  • Knochenbruechen - broken bones
  • Knochenfaeule - osteomyelitis
  • Kolik - colic
  • Kraempfen - cramps
  • Krankheiten und Urin - illness of urine-producing organs
  • Krebs - cancer
  • Lebensschwaeche - frailty of life
  • Leibverstopfung - blockage of the belly (constipation)
  • Luftroehrenschwindzucht - bronchial (galloping) consumption - probably bronchial pneumonia
  • Lungenentzuendung - pneumonia
  • Lungenlaemung - disability of the lungs
  • Lungentuberkulose - pulmonary tuberculosis
  • Lungesucht (der taru) - tuberculosis
  • Magenkrebs - stomach cancer
  • Magenoperation - stomach operation
  • Magenverhaertung - perhaps hardening of the stomach
  • Masern - measles
  • Masern und Roetheln - measles and German measles
  • Melancholie und Wahnsin - depression and madness
  • Nerven Fieber - typhus
  • Nichtbestimte Krankheit - unknown illness
  • Niederkunft (bei der) - maternity confinement
  • Nierenkrebs - kidney cancer
  • Organ. Herzfehler - organic heart failure
  • Petechien - typhoid
  • Pocken - smallpox
  • Potatschen - spotted fever, spotted typhoid
  • Scharlach, Scharlach Fieber, & Schlarachriesel - scarlet fever
  • Schlag, Schlaganfall - stroke
  • Schlagflusz - apoplectic fit, stroke
  • Schleichendem Fieber - consumption, tuberculosis
  • Schwemmen - external growth (spongy growth)
  • Schwindsucht - acute tuberculosis
  • Selbstmoerder - suicide
  • Soropkeln (?) Verstopfung der Gekroesdruesen - blockage of intestines, tuberculosis of glands
  • Steckflusz - asthma, emphysema
  • Steinbeschwerde - kidney stones
  • Stickhusten - whooping cough
  • Tod durch Unschlingung der Nabelschnur um den Hals-Erstichung - stillbirth due to strangulation by umbilical cord
  • Ungluecksfaellen mancher Art - accidents of any kind
  • Unterleibsentzuendung - peritonitis due to intestinal bacteria released into the abdominal cavity
  • Unzeitig ad. Todtgeborene; in den Wochen - stillborn, or premature childbirth
  • Venerischen Krankheit - venereal disease, syphilis
  • Verunglueckt - accidental death
  • Wasserkopfe - hydrocephalous
  • Wassersucht - dropsy, congestive heart failure, edema
  • Weszerschen - ?
  • Windgeschwulst - chicken pox
  • Wuermern - worms
  • Zaehnen - teeth
  • Sources:

    (1) The Kirchenbuch prepared by Dirck Tiessen (1782) in Petershagen, Prussia. This is how the list started, from a single page entitled "Hauptkrankeiten" (main illnesses). It was translated by Ann Rempel and Dora Epp in 1996. They humbly requested that I qualify their work as follows. "Not all terms are translated or perhaps correctly translated. But, but the result is the best of our ability." For both Ann and Dora, German is their first language, but have lived in Canada and used English for 40+ years.

    (2) A monograph by Richard Ringenberg (1942), Familienbuch der mennoniten Gemeinde Eichstock. Schriften des Bayerischen Landesvereins fuer Familienkunde e. V., Heft 18. Verlag Michael Laszleben, Kallmuenz uebert Regensburg. The causes of death found in this monograph were extensively reviewed by V. Lyle von Riesen who holds a PhD and has taught in medical schools in the United States for 35 years. His published article is entitled "Causes of Deaths in the Eichstock [Baveria] Mennonite congregation" and can be found in Mennonite Family History, XV, 4, p. 151-155.

    (3) Another article published in Mennonite Family History, prepared by Adalbert Goertz. It appeared in the April 1991 issue as "Diseases in Prussian Church Records".

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