Czech Republic Jewish Records

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Introduction

Brief History

From the Middle Ages to the 1800s, the lands that now make up the Czech Republic (Bohemia and Moravia) and the Sloavk Republic were provinces of the Hapsburg Empire (later known as the Austrian Empire). In 1867, the Hungarians gained greater autonomy and the territory of Slovakia. The Austro-Hungarian Empire lasted until the end of WWI, when Czechoslovakia was formed from Bohemia, Moravia, Sloavkia, and parts of Silesia. In 1993, Czechoslovakia divided into the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.[1] When searching for Slovak Jewish records, also search Hungarian Jewish records. Many can be found on the FamilySearch Catalog.

Maps of the Czech Republic

  • To view the present-day Czech Republic at Google Maps, click here.
  • For a Jewish population density map of Europe in 1900, click here.

Czech Republic Jewish History

  • To learn more about Jewish Vital Registers, Familiant Law, and Project Bohemia, Moravia et Silesia Judaica, click here.
  • Read the Wikipedia.org article History of the Jews in the Czech Republic by clicking here.
  • Explore The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe by clicking here.


JewishGen.org Family Finder

Find others, possibly cousins, searching for your family name in the same countries, cities, and villages. Search by clicking JewishGen Family Finder. Free registration required.

Czech Republic Jewish Registers

  • Records of the former Jewish communities of the entire Czech Republic are located at the National Archives in Prague. Some of these records are already on line. To learn more, click here.

The JewishGen Austria-Czech Database

  • More than 360,000 records for Austria and the Czech Republic, from a variety of sources, including: cemetery data, Yizkor books, and Holocaust sources. Requires free registration. To search, click here.

Help with Czech Republic Jewish Research

  • Access the JewishGen.org Austria-Czech Special Interest Group (SIG) by clicking here.
  • Access the JewishGen.org Hungarian Special Interest Group (SIG) by clicking here.
  • Access the Facebook Czechoslovakia Genealogy Research Community by clicking here.

Jewish Records [Židovské matriky]

Introduction

Jewish Records refer to records about Jews (non-vital) and records of Jewish births, marriages, and deaths (vital). Non-vital Jewish records were created as Jewish communities kept account books, bought property, or had dealings with rulers and local governments. Records pertaining to Jews and Jewish congregation exist from the 1500s. Jews in Austria generally did not keep vital records unless required to do so by law. Jews did not receive legal recognition until the Edict of Toleration in 1781. Beginning in 1788, Jews were required to keep records of births, marriages and deaths in German under Catholic supervision. Because these records were required for conscription and taxation purposes, Jews often evaded registration and but most Jewish communities did not actually start keeping records until the practice was again codified into law in 1840. The laws requiring records of births, marriages and deaths were reemphasized several times during the early 1800s and the practice was well established the 1860s. Jewish congregations continued to maintain registers into the 1930s when persecutions became severe. Most Jewish congregations were destroyed in the Holocaust but the records were preserved in archives.

Jewish communities are documented in the Czech lands since the tenth century, though Jews were likely present as early as the second century A.D. Most of the Jewish population was in the city of Prague which had both Ashkenazic and Sephardic communities. A Jewish charter was issued by the King of Bohemia in 1254 introducing some protection, but various forms of persecution existed for centuries. In 1726 Charles VI attempted to reduce the Jewish population by his Family Laws which permitted only the eldest sons of Jewish families to marry. This only encouraged Jews to disperse over the countryside. The Edict of Toleration in 1781 guaranteed freedom of worship but other modernizing policies associated with the reforms of the era cost the Jews their internal autonomy and forced Germanization. During the Nazi occupation of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, 78,000 out of the existing 92,000 Jews in the Czech Republic (85%) perished in the Holocaust. Most surviving Jews left after the war.

Content

Non-Vital:
These generally contain information about royal dealings with specific Jews; also information about Jewish congregations, rabbis, names of members of the congregation; and economic activities.

Vital:

  • Births – name; sex; date and place of birth; parents’ names (sometimes grandparents) with occupation, age and residence; names of witnesses.
  • Marriages – names of groom and bride, date and place of marriage, age, place of birth, residence, previous marital status, occupation, often parents’ names for both groom and bride; names of witnesses.
  • Deaths – name of the deceased, date and place of death, cause of death, residence, age, occupation, marital status, spouses' name, often birthplace of the deceased.

Location

Jewish records for the entire Czech Republic were centralized in one location, in the National Archives in Prague:

Národní archiv
Milady Horákové 133
160 00 Praha 6 - Dejvice
CZECH REPUBLIC
e-mail: na1@nacr.cz

Contact:
PhDr. Lenka Matušíková e-mail: lenka.matusikova@nacr.cz

The archive will typically respond to a written request from an individual by providing basic information, advising on other archives or archival holdings that might hold the requested data, and recommending the use of private genealogical researchers or firms if more extensive research is required.

Vital and some non-vital Jewish records may be found in state regional archives [státní oblastní archívy]. Non-vital Jewish records may be found in district [okresní] and city [městské] archives.

Accessibility

Jewish vital records are accessible for research by visiting the archives in person or by hiring a private researcher. Other types of Jewish records are very difficult to access, even by on-site research.

There are many records available for Bohemia and Moravia. To learn more on how to find these records, see JewishGen: Getting Started With Czech-Jewish Genealogy. The main source of vital records, books of Jewish families in particular towns, and other records are available in the State Central Archives:

State Central Archives in Prague

Records up to 1850:

Statni ustredni archiv
Tr. Milady Horakove 133
CZ-1662 Praha 6
Czech Republic

Records since 1850:

Narodni archiv v Praze
Archivni 4
149 01 Praha 4 - Chodovec
Czech Republic
Website: www.nacr.cz

For addresses of regional Czech archives, see: JewishGen: The Gundacker List.

The Jewish Museum of Prague also holds many Jewish records:

Jewish Museum in Prague
Zidovske muzeum Praha
U Staré školy 141/1
Josefov
110 00 Praha 1
Czech Republic
Phone: +420 222 749 211
Email: office@jewishmuseum.cz
Website: www.jewishmuseum.cz

For a detailed listing of the museum's holdings, see Jan Herman, "The Jewish Community Archives from Bohemia and Moravia," Judaica Bohemiae VII.

Some sources are also available at the Center for Jewish History (see Jewish Archives and Libraries#Center for Jewish History).

  • Rabbinical and Historical Manuscripts Collection, 1567-1930. This collection contains rabbinic bound and unbound manuscripts, correspondence, responsa, and other documents. It also includes tombstone inscriptions from Mislic (1785-1877) and Prague (1740-1785).
  • Territorial Collection for Czechoslovakia. This collection includes documents and materials from the Theresienstadt ghetto (Terezin) in Czechoslovakia, including birth and death records for 1942. There is an inventory in English.

[2]

Research use

These records are a prime source for information about the vital events in an individual's life. They contain information that can be used to compile pedigrees and family groups. They identify children, spouses, parents, and sometimes grandparents as well as dates and places of vital events. They establish individual identity and are excellent sources for linking generations and identifying relationships.[3]

Other Record Types

1783 Jewish Census

For more information about 1783 Bohemian Jewish Census click here.

1793 Jewish Census

For more information about 1793 Bohemian Jewish Census click here.

Theresienstadt (Terezín) Concentration Camp Database

Terezín Initiative Institute made their data available through the online digital archive. Click here to access a short introduction in English.

The database is in Czech and may be searched by surname (Příjmení), given name (Jméno), date of birth in dd.mm.yyyy format (Datum narození), last residence (Bydliště), and address (Adresa), if living in larger town, such as Prague. For a given individual, one may find date of birth, date and code of transport to Terezin or elsewhere, date and place of death, last address before deportation, and other documents, if available. The database is meant to be as personal as possible, so the pictures of individuals often are included. Click here to access the database.

For privacy reasons, the database does not include survivor data. However, information about surviving relatives may be requested by sending an inquiry to <database@terezinstud-ies.cz>.

The database includes information about all those deported to Terezín ghetto from Austria, Bohemia, Denmark, Germany, Moravia, Netherlands, and Slovakia, as well as those sent to Terezín on death marches at the end of World War II. Information about the Jews who were deported from Bohemia and Moravia to Łódź, Minsk, Oświęcim, and Ujazdów is also included.

Finding a Professional Genealogist

JewishGen now has a list of professional genealogists who do research in Central and Eastern Europe. Most live in their native lands. Included with the name of each person is the name of the individual doing the recommending along with their e-mail address. Click here to see the list of genealogists recommended by the JewishGen users.

Websites

Helpful Resources

  • Auslander, Jordan. Genealogical gazeteer for the Kingdom of Hungary. Bergenfield, New Jersey : Avotaynu. (FHL call no. JGS 943.9 E5aj)
  • Czechoslovakia: Official Standard Names. Division of Geography, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1955.
  • Dvorzsák, János. Magyarország helységnévtára tekintettel a közigazgatási, népességi és hitfelekezeti viszonyokra / szerkesztette Dvorzsák János = Ortslexikon von Ungarn mit Bezug auf die politische und kirchliche Eintheilung der Bevölkerung. Budapest, Hungary : Havi Füzetek Kiadóhivatala, 1877. (FHL call no. 943.9 E5d)
  • Gundacker, Felix. Matrikenverzeichnis der Juedischen Matriken Boehmens (Register of Jewish Vital Statistics in the Czech State Archives pertaining to Bohemia). Felix Gundacker, 2000. In German and English.
  • Gundacker, Felix. Matrikenverzeichnis der Juedischen Matriken Maehrens (Register of Jewish Vital Statistics in the Czech State Archives pertaining to Moravia). Felix Gundacker, 2000. In German and English.
  • Heřman, Jan. Jewish cemeteries in Bohemia and Moravia. [S.l.] : Council of Jewish Communities in the ČSR, 1980s. (FHL call no. 943.7 V3)
  • Heřman, Jan. Jewish community archives from Bohemia and Moravia : analytical registers to the catalogues of archive materials from Jewish communities with the exception of that of Prague. Prague, Czech Republic : Státní Židovské Muzeum, 1971. (FHL call no. 943.71 A3h)
  • Iggers, Wilma Abeles, editor and translator. The Jews of Bohemia and Moravia: A Historical Reader. Wayne State University Press, 1992.
  • Lelkes, György. Magyar helységnév-azonosító szótár. Baja, Hungary : Talma, 1998. (FHL call no. 943.9 E5Lg 1998)
  • Magocsi, Paul Robert. Historical atlas of East Central Europe. Seattle, Washington : University of Washington Press, 1993. (FHL call no. 940 H2ho)
  • Majtán, Milan. Názvy obcí slovenskej republiky : vývin v rokoch 1773-1997. Bratislava, Slovakia : VEDA, vydavateľstvo Slovenskej akadémie, 1998. (FHL call no. 943.73 E2m 1998)
  • Mokotoff, Gary and Sallyann Amdur Sack. Where once we walked : a guide to the Jewish communities destroyed in the Holocaust. Teaneck, New Jersey : Avotaynu, 1991. (FHL microfilm 940 E5ms)
  • Society for the History of Czechoslovak Jews. The Jews of Czechoslovakia. 3 volumes. Jewish Publication Society, 1968-1984.

References

  1. "Czech and Slovak Republics: Jewish Family History Research Guide". Center Genealogy Institute (March 2006), www.cjh.org.
  2. "Czech and Slovak Republics: Jewish Family History Research Guide," Center Genealogy Institute (March 2006), www.cjh.org.
  3. The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Czech Republic,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1999.