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Genealogy at the Spy Museum!

Updated on November 27, 2008

Trip to Washington, DC

Yearly, I make a trek to Washington, DC to look up genealogy info at the National Archives. On one trip, I decided to spend an afternoon visiting the new Spy Museum in D.C..

So, I'm walking around listening to the audiocassette, and I come to an area about terrorist attacks on American soil. The first display explained that 9/11 was NOT the first attack we've had on American soil. Rather, there was an attack during World War I which was also in the New York City area. There was a small island called Black Tom Island that was a storage facility for munitions being shipped overseas to the soldiers- - - the island was wall to wall with assorted ammunition - - TNT, dynamite, etc..

Long story short, there were explosions on the island that were heard as far away as Maryland. Shards of shrapnel left pockmarks on the Statue of Liberty and many windows in Manhattan were blown out. About 50 people died. Then I read that one of the culprits / terrorists was a German agent named LOTHAR WITZKE. (My grandmother's maiden name was Witzke.) This museum was NOT where I wanted to find my family's name! [One of many sources to this story is at: Just do a search on Lothar Witzke and you'll come upon hundreds of articles.]

While I haven't found the direct link to Lothar in my family research, I just KNOW he must be the crazy, black sheep cousin no one wanted to talk about.

When I was shopping in the Spy Museum gift shop, I bought a wristband that reads: "WARNING: Everyone has a history." Isn't THAT the truth!!! I went to D.C. to research family history - - - I just wasn't expecting to find anything at the SPY MUSEUM!!!! (

The Black Sheep Cousin

Photo of Lothar from the book:  The Detonators
Photo of Lothar from the book: The Detonators


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    • profile image

      Lothar Schneider 5 years ago

      Lothar Witzke was the Brother of my Grandfather Guenther Witzke.

      I like to become morecontacts with other members of our familie.

      Lothar Witzke wrote a book about his adventures.

      Lothar Schneider

    • Canadian Rose profile image

      Canadian Rose 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great story! Thanks for pointing it out to me. It just goes to prove, you never know where a forebear/relative is going to come out of the woodwork!

    • Lidian profile image

      Lidian 9 years ago

      You never know who is going to turn up in the family, do you? I was so surprised at the number of misbehaving Victorian New Yorkers in my family!

      I liked this hub a lot, such a great story!

    • profile image

      desert blondie 9 years ago

      New to blogging but not to ancestor-tracking, never thought to check on genealogy blogs here. Enjoyed yours!

    • In The Doghouse profile image

      In The Doghouse 9 years ago from California

      Totally funny stuff. When you dig up the past, you just never know what kind of cool stuff you will find! Sounds like a fun trip to me! Thanks for sharing!