If you’re having trouble finding your German ancestor’s birthplace, it can pay to find their passenger list from when they departed Germany. Especially if they departed from Hamburg or Bremen, there is a good chance that their birth place or town of origin is listed on the passenger list. When an emigrant left Germany, they would have created two records–a departure passenger list at the port in Germany where they left, and a separate arrival passenger list at the port in America where they arrived (American arrival passenger lists only rarely list the birth town of the immigrant). Many of the German departure lists have been lost, or destroyed during the world wars, but there are still many surviving lists from Hamburg and Bremen. These departing passenger lists can be accessed on Ancestry.com.
Unfortunately, most of the Bremen records were destroyed by the Bremen government a century ago – not during a war or an uproar of the people, but because the authorities didn’t want to spend money for the storage of the records. What a pity.