Eylenburg Family History

My "real" name is Ashley Eylenburg




This web page has been created in the hope that in the unlikely event that anyone is searching the Internet using the extremely rare surname "Eylenburg" that they will come across this website.

My name is Ashley Burke, however I am a direct descendent of the Eylenburg family. My tiny family are possibly (unconfirmed) the last people left alive with a claim to Eylenburg as our "real" or "legitimate" surname. Allow me to briefly explain.

Heinrich Eylenburg, b.1843 d. 1939

My great great grandfather was Heinrich Eylenburg. We know that he was born in 1843 and died in 1939. We know that from as early as 1884, Heinrich owned a shop that sold sewing machines in Waldenburg in what was then eastern Germany. Waldenburg is now in Poland and is called Walbrzych.

Heinrich was married to Philippine Thomas and they had two sons, Paul Wilhelm Eylenburg and Richard Eylenburg.

In around 1905 the family moved to Breslau, now Wroclaw in Poland. Paul Wilhelm was a district court judge and Richard was a solicitor.They lived in Breslau until the 1930s and then rise of Nazi Germany changed things forever.

Paul Wilhelm Eylenburg. b, 1875 d. 1938

Richard Eylenburg, b. 1881 d. 1969

Paul Wilhelm perished in the Buchenwald concentration camp in 1938. Richard somehow managed to escape from Buchenwald or whilst on the way there and survived the holocaust. He lived in Germany until 1969. I met him in 1968 when I was just 2 years old.


Hans Wilhelm Eylenburg, b. 1907 d. 1979

Before he was killed by the Nazis, Paul Wilhelm (Willi) had married Magda Walter and they had one son, Hans Wilhelm Eylenburg, who was born in 1907. He was my grandfather. Hans married my grandmother, Johanna Richards in 1933. In 1935 they had just one son, Klaus Peter Eylenburg, my father.

Hans Wilhelm Eylenburg and Johanna in the 1970s.

Klaus Peter Eylenburg, b. 1935, d. 2011



In 1939, just before the outbreak of World War II, Hans, Johanna and the 4 year old Klaus fled Nazi Germany on a little plane headed for England. There they were interned, Hans and Johanna had itinerant jobs and Klaus, my father, was separated from his parents and shifted from school to school, eventually ending up in a boarding school in Shropshire.

Due to his German accent and German sounding name, Klaus had a difficult childhood and suffered bullying at boarding school during the height of World War II. The family wanted to integrate into their adopted country England, and wanted to shed the stigma of their German heritage and the resultant bullying and shunning from society that German expats suffered during and for a period after the war. They became UK citizens and then, in 1948, changed their names by deed poll.

My grandfather Hans Wilhelm Eylenburg thereby became John William Burke and my grandmother became Johanna Erica Burke. My father's name became Claus Peter Burke and thereafter he became known by his middle name, Peter.

Peter married my mother in 1960.

I was born Ashley Peter Burke in 1966 and my brother, Nicholas (Nick) Burke, was born in 1969. You can find out all about me on my home page.

On 20 December 2011 my father died suddenly and tragically from a brain haemorrhage. As I continue to try to come to terms with this loss I have given thought to the family history that I have briefly presented here and am considering whether the 1948 name change from Eylenburg to Burke should be reversed. Should the Eylenburg name disappear into history due to the vilification, war crimes and schoolyard bullying of the 1940s? Or should my tiny family restore the name Eylenburg, thankful that we live in an age free of such prejudice, and where we can be known by the names of our ancestors. After all, isn't this our real identity and roots?


Unsolved Mysteries

The above people then, are the Eylenburgs who I know about with absolute certainty from my own family records. There remain some unanswered questions regarding others with the name Eylenburg of whom I know very little. Here are some open questions.

Who was Erna Eylenburg?

Records from the Loewenstein Family Holocaust Papers show that Erna Eylenburg, daughter of Ernst and Elizabeth Eylenburg was killed in the Holocaust in 1939. Her parents, Ernst Eylenburg and Elizabeth Eylenburg, were killed in the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944. Was this family related to my ancestors? Was Ernst a son of Heinrich Eylenburg or possibly a nephew? My family records make no mention of this family but the name Eylenburg is so rare it is highly possible, even more than likely, that Ernst and his family were related to mine.

Who was Pauline Eylenburg?

Pauline Eylenburg (born 1853), married to Heinrich Thomas. My great great grandfather, Heinrich Eylenburg (born 1842), was married to Philippine Thomas. This crossover of surnames is almost too coincidental. Were Pauline and Heinrich Eylenburg brother and sister? We don't know. Discovery of any records of their parents would be revealing.

Who was Martin Eylenburg?

Even more mysterious is Martin Eylenburg, date of birth unknown, but believed to be related to me by marriage by several steps.

Who Were Heinrich Eylenburg's Parents?

This is, I believe, an important question which may help answer the others. I am currently researching this question.


This web page created on 21 May 2013, last updated 22 May 2013.