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Can you please help me understand if my translation is correct:

... ich vermutete infolge einiger seiner Äußerungen, daß sie bei einem Überfalle ermordet worden waren

I guess:

I suspected due to his statements that they had been murdered in an ambush

I am particularly interested in the verbal tense "ermordet worden waren".

What's this verbal tense called by the way?

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    This is simply the combination of Plusquamperfekt (past perfect) and passive voice. It does indeed mean exactly what you suspect. – Kilian Foth Dec 2 '16 at 13:39
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Your quote is from Karl May, Winnetou Band 1, Erstes Kapitel:

Dieser Mann war ein außerordentlicher Menschenfreund, obgleich er das Gegenteil zu sein schien, da er außer der erwähnten Familie mit keinem Menschen verkehrte und selbst seine Kunden so kurz und schroff behandelte, daß sie nur der Güte seiner Ware wegen zu ihm kamen. Er hatte seine Frau und Kinder durch ein grausiges Ereignis verloren, über welches er nie sprach, doch vermutete ich infolge einiger seiner Äußerungen, daß sie bei einem Überfalle ermordet worden waren. Das hatte ihn äußerlich rauh gemacht; er wußte es vielleicht gar nicht, daß er eigentlich ein perfekter Grobian war; der Kern aber war mild und gut, und ich habe oft sein Auge feucht gesehen, wenn ich von der Heimat und den Meinen erzählte, an denen ich mit ganzem Herzen hing und auch heut noch hänge.

This is the bold marked sentence in an "official" English translation:

He had lost his wife and children under terrible circumstances, and never discussed the matter. But some allusions let me to the believe, that they had been murdered during an attack.

https://books.google.at/books?id=-Dk6SQAq7IUC&pg=PA4&lpg=PA4#v=onepage&q&f=false

Another translation, which is closer to the German original:

He had lost his wife and children in a terrible event, of which he never spoke, but from some of his remarks I guessed that they had been murdered during an attempted robbery.

https://books.google.at/books?id=xZB_z93mtsMC&pg=PA6#v=onepage&q&f=false


Let's look closer at

..., daß sie bei einem Überfalle ermordet worden waren.

In modern German the first word would be »dass« (ss instead of ß because of Rechtschreibreform 1996), and for about 100 years you don't have an »e« at the end of »Überfall« in dative case. (Just to let you know that you are reading outdated German, which is not the best choice to study German.)

Let's make a full sentence out of this subclause:

Sie waren bei einem Überfall ermordet worden.

The tense is Plusquamperfect. You use this tense to describe events that happened before an other event in the past:

  • Event in the past: A man made some remarks/allusions.
  • Event before that event: Wife and children had been murdered.

And this sentence is in passive voice. This could be an active version (still in Plusquamperfect):

Ein Verbrecher hatte sie bei einem Überfall ermordet.

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As it is written in the Comments, this is the past perfect, passive form (Plusquamperfekt, Vorgangspassiv)

To dissect this:

Ermordet

Of course means murdered in the past participle (Partizip des Perfekts)

Ermordet sein

Means to be murdered in Present passive form (präsens Zustandpassiv)

Ermordet werden

To be murdered or become murdered in Present passive form (Präsens Vorgangspassiv)

The verb "werden" forms its perfect tenses with "sein" not "haben", And the word order is as for a subordinate clause, with the finite verb last, thus:

Ermordet worden sind

Means have been murdered in the perfect tense passive ( Perfekt Vorgangspassiv).

Ermordet worden waren

Means had been murdered in the past perfect tense, passive form (Plusquamperfekt Vorgangspassiv).

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