German Jewish Records
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- 1 Introduction
- 2 Research Strategies
- 3 Record Types
- 4 Locating Jewish Records
- 5 Jewish Records available Online
- 6 Collections in Archives and Societies
There are various types of records that can be used to find Jewish ancestry. In western and eastern Europe, records are kept primarily on a town (community) level, so it is necessary to know the ancestral place of origin.
Map of Germany
- To view present-day Germany at Google Maps, click here.
- For a Jewish population density map of Europe in 1900, click 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.
Understanding the history of the Jewish people in Germany can help you in your research. The following are good online references:
- Read the Wikipedia.org article History of the Jews in Germany by clicking here
- Explore The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe by clicking here.
The following are good reference books:
- Adler, H. G.The Jews in Germany: From the Enlightenment to National Socialism. Great Bend, Indiana, USA: University of Notre Dame Press, 1969. (FHL book 943 F2a.)
- Lowenthal, Marvin. The Jews of Germany: A Story of Sixteen Centuries. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1939. (FHL book 943 F2lm.)
The JewishGen Germany Database
More than 400,000 records for Germany, from a variety of sources, including: citizenship records, vital records, cemetery data, survivor lists, and Holocaust sources. Requires free registration. To search, click here.
Facebook Research Community
- Get ideas and help with Germany/Prussia Genealogy here.
Jewish records Jüdische Urkunden include records of Jews or Jewish congregations. The Family History Library has over 2,000 microfilms of German Jewish vital records that list births, marriages, and deaths. These vital records are an excellent source for accurate information about Jewish ancestors.
The Family History Library also has other types of Jewish records, including synagogue records, records of Jewish taxpayers, Holocaust victims, and censuses.
A gazetteer of places, sources and indexes can be found at:
Listed below are a useful resources in Jewish genealogy:
- Kurzweil, Arthur. From Generation to Generation: How to Trace Your Jewish Genealogy and Personal History. New York, NY, USA: William Morrow, 1980. (FHL book 929.1 K967f; film 1,059,468 item 4.)
- Wollmershäuser, Friedrich R. "Genealogical Sources for the Jews of Southern Germany During the Pre-Emancipation Period." In: AVOTAYNU Vol. XXIV, no. 3 (Fall 2008); pp. 31-34.
- Zubatsky, David S., and Irwin M. Berent. Jewish Genealogy: A Sourcebook of Family Histories and Genealogies. Two Volumes. New York, NY, USA: Garland, 1984. (FHL book 929.1 Z81j.)
Information about Jews buried in the Frankfurt am Main Cemetery for the time of about 1240-1900 can be found at www.lbi.org. Complete instructions in the use of this online database can be found in Avotaynu vol. 26 no 3. Page35-38. This is an article written by Arline Sachs.
Censuses were taken from time to time to identify Jews and other minorities, especially during the Nazi era (1938-1939). Many records of Jews who died in the Holocaust are now available.
Some church records include listings of Jewish births, marriages, and deaths. These are often, but not always, noted in the Catalog under "Jewish Records".
In the early nineteenth century, Jews in many parts of Germany were required by law either to register with Catholic or Lutheran parishes or to prepare their own civil transcripts of births, marriages, and deaths. These types of records, whether kept by a Christian parish or civil authorities, are called Jewish records.
With the introduction of nationwide civil registration by 1876, Jewish births, marriages, and deaths were recorded by German civil authorities. Jewish synagogue records and separate civil registers of Jews (almost all from before 1876) are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog under: JEWISH RECORDS. Mixed civil registration records are listed in the catalog under: CIVIL REGISTRATION.
Jewish civil registration records contain the same birth, marriage, and death information as civil registration records for Christians. They are used in the same way as church records or other civil registration records. See the search strategies included in the “Church Records” and “Civil Registration” sections.
See Germany Civil Registration for more information about civil registration records.
Most of the Jewish population of Germany either emmigrated or was killed during the atrocities of World War II. Below is a source containing a list of about 130,000 people from West Germany and Berlin, who died in the Holocaust, their birth and death dates, their places of residence before deportation, and the camps to which they were sent:
Gedenkbuch: Opfer der Verfolgung der Judenunter der nationalsozialistischen Gewaltherrschaft in Deutschland, 1933-1945 (Memorial book for the victims of Jewish persecution during Nazi despotism, 1933-1945). Two Volumes. Koblenz, Germany: Bundesarchiv, 1986. (FHL bookQ 943 V4g.)
The 2006 edition of this work was published in four volumes, with an accompanying CD. It covered both West and East Germany. However a more convenient source is the web site www.bundesarchiv.de/gedenkbuch/directory.html.en which allows searches on surname, maiden name, place of birth, place of residence and more. The database is based on the 2006 edition, but is regularly updated, and now contains the names of close to 150,000 people.
The address for the American Red Cross War Victims Tracing Center follows:
4800 Mt. Hope Dr.
Baltimore, MD 21215
The address for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
100 Raoul Wallenberg Place S.W.
Washington, DC 20024
The International Tracing Service
The International Tracing Service was established at the end of World War II to help people in Europe to find family and friends who had been lost as a result of the war. The archives of the ITS were opened to the public in November 2007. The collections of the ITS are written in German. Two of the collections of the ITS have information of particular value for researching Jewish families. These records are the T/D files, and the Central Name Index.
The T/D(Tracing Document) files contain inquiries made by individuals after the war seeking to know the fate of their friends or relatives. The writer often provides valuable information such as familiy relationships ages, birthplaces, and locations where the family lived. Any documents or future correspondence related to the initial inquiry are included in the file. Even if the missing person was never found, the inquiry and associated documents may provide valuable information and& lead the researcher to other relatives.
Central Name Index
This file indexes the over 17 million names found in the collections of the International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen. Most of the documents in the ITS are World War II era documents such as arrest papers and concentration camp lists. Names from these lists, along with the those in the T/D, are contained in the Central Name Index. Genealogists with a rare surname may even want to do a general search in the Central Name Index, as this may provide a more complete picture of the family.
The Address for the International Tracing Service is as follows:
International Tracing Service
Grosse Allee 5-9
34444 Bad Arolsen
The German Red Cross Tracing Service in München can be found at this site
Sources: Sallyann Sack ed. and Gary Mokotoff pub. "What we learned in Bad Arolsen." AVOTAYNU Volume XXIV, Number 2 Summer 2008
Minority Census of 1938/1939
- The 1939 German "Minority Census" Database as part of the Mapping the Lives project, provided by Tracing the Past. Microfilm of the actual census might be found in the Family History Library catalog and copies ordered to local family history centers.
- Census Description:
The Nazi minority census of 1938/1939 lists given names and surnames, birth dates, birthplaces, education levels, and which grandparents were Jewish. It is available for many major cities and several regions. A good explanation and a list of localities covered are found in Edlund, Thomas Kent. The German Minority Census of 1939, published as part of the
Avotaynu Monograph Series, Teaneck, New Jersey: Avotaynu,1996. [FHL call # 943 X22e 1996]
At the following link you will find both a translated format of the census form and also a pdf file of cities for which there are census records and their microfilm numbers.
From 1809 to 1812, lists of surname changes for Jews were created in several German states. Further lists of this kind were published at various times until 1846. Although formats vary by area, most show each person's residence, patronymic surname, new surname, and birth date. Some lists have been extracted and published in book form. These records may also be cataloged under NAMES-PERSONAL or MINORITIES
In Alsace-Lorraine different records are listed under the German [Elsass-Lothringen] and French catalog entries. A search by current French department [Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin, Moselle] yields different entries.
The earliest German Jewish records are synagogue records, but these were not kept by all congregations. The German Jews did not usually keep registers of births, marriages, and deaths unless required to do so by law.
Information recorded in synagogue records may include the following:
- Financial accounting records. These records sometimes list the names of contributors.
- Circumcision registers (“Mohel” books). These registers include the Hebrew given name for the male child, the date of circumcision (Hebrew calendar), the father's given Hebrew name, and sometimes the father's surname.
- Marriage contracts. These contractual agreements include the names of the bride and groom. They may also give the marriage date and the parents' names. In cases of second or later marriages, names of previous marriage partners and their death dates may be included.
- Lists of deceased persons. These lists give the name of the deceased person and the death date.
Locating Jewish Records
The Family History Library has Jewish records from many German places, but there are also many places not yet represented in the collection. The Library has very few synagogue records. Most of the Library's Jewish materials are records created by civil authorities.
Civil Registration Records
Civil registers of Jews and civil registration records that include Jews along with the rest of the population are available beginning in 1795, depending on the area. Because of privacy restrictions, the library has few records for events that occurred after 1875. Records created after 1 Jan 1876 are usually kept at the local civil registration office [Standesamt] in each town or city. In some areas, civil registration records began earlier. You need to know the town where your ancestor lived before you can look for these records. For more information, see Germany Civil Registration.
Records created before 1876 may be kept at the respective county or state archive.
The FamilySearch Catalog may have some Germany civil regsitration.
- Juden und Dissidenten-Register, 1812-1874 (Register of Jewish births, marriages, deaths, and indexes for Berlin, Brandenburg, Germany)
Jewish Records available Online
Northern part of the German Empire
“Family data base of Jews in the Northern part of the German Empire” with 60,741 persons compiled by Ingo Paul (site in German).
- Brandenburg with communities located east of the Oder River
- Sachsen with areas east of the Neiße River
- Schleswig-Holstein with Nordschleswig
Prussian Poland and the former East Germany
Gatermann films (see below under Baden, etc.) for these regions are kept at the Saxon State Archive in Leipzig, and have been available through familysearch.org for decades.
Baden, Wuerttemberg, and Hohenzollern
Until their on-line publication in March 2009, the Landesarchiv Baden-Wuerttemberg's collection of microfilmed images of Jewish records could only be viewed on microfilm at the State Archive in Stuttgart. The collection includes birth, marriage, and death registers, family books, and other lists, mostly from the 19th Century. This collection, part of the "Gatermann films", complements the records available at the Family History Library and elsewhere for this area.
The Gatermann films: During the Nazi Era, Jewish communities all over Germany were required to give up their records to government authorities. This included births, marriages, deaths, circumcision records, cemetery registers, and membership lists. The collected material was microfilmed in 1943-1945 in different sets. The original records are now presumed lost, but the films survived the War and eventually ended up in different archives. The Central Office for Genealogy in Leipzig has films from Prussian Poland and the former East Germany, and the Landesarchiv Baden-Wuerttemberg in Stuttgart has those for the area now called Baden-Württemberg. Bavaria, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony also hold regional collections of these films. Those from Hesse (mostly the former Hesse-Kassel) are on line, and the post-1824 Hesse-Kassel records are indexed as part of the JewishGen Germany Database.
In March 2009 the Landesarchiv in Stuttgart made digital copies of its Gatermann films (Bestand J386 in 126 rolls of microfilm) available on the Interrnet, accessible through an alphabetical list of these records for localities in Baden, Wuerttemberg, and Hohenzollern. This inventory also lists regionally relevant records available at the Central Office for Genealogy in Leipzig, but digital images are only available for the records kept in Stuttgart [Bestand J386]. Microfilm copies of the few records kept in Leipzig are available through the LDS Family History center system. Thus, both sets of records are now accessible to the family historian.
The Karlsruhe branch of the Landesarchiv has put on line the duplicate church and synagogue registers for northern Baden, covering approximately 1810 to January 1870. [] Similarly, the Freiburg branch has published those records for southern Baden. [] Jewish, Catholic, Lutheran and other records are bound together, year by year. A Familysearch indexing project is underway.
The alphabetical listing by town name is available at Landesarchiv. Descriptions that include links to digital images include the phrase "Archivalieneinheit einsehen" in red. Click on that phrase to bring up thumbnails of the first ten images and a navigation bar.
- "Blättern1 bis 10" with forward and back arrows allows you to page forward and back within this set.
- " Seite [Bitte wählen]" brings up the list of available pages, so you can click on a page number. The system then loads that page plus the next nine images
"Bildanzeige modifizieren" means "Modify the way the image is displayed".
Collections in Archives and Societies
Many German archive and parish register inventories touch on various Jewish records. The inventory listed below focuses on Jewish records of births, marriages, and deaths kept in the Federal Archive of Germany:
- Verzeichnis der im Bundesarchiv aufbewahrten Filme von Personenstandsregistern: JüdischerGemeinden aus Mittel- und Ostdeutschland (Inventory of microfilms at the German Federal Archive of Jewish Vital Records from central and eastern Germany). Typescript photocopy, 196-? (FHL book 943 A5gp.)
This inventory is divided into five sections:
- east of the Oder-Neiße line,
- Russian-occupied East Germany,
- Berlin, and
- Locality Index.
The inventory lists hundreds of synagogue records—including birth, marriage, and death records; cemetery records; school records; and so forth—and the years they cover.
Leo Baeck Institute
The Leo Baeck Institute in New York has a collection of 50,000 German Jewish records, primarily from Baden, Berlin, Schleswig-Holstein, Westpreußen, and Württemberg. These include circumcision, marriage, death, and memorial records. The following work describes the collection:
Grubel, Fred, et al. Catalog of the Archival Collections [of the Leo Baeck Institute]. Tübingen, Germany: J. C. B. Mohr, 1990. (FHL book 974.71 A3gf.)
Much good information can be found at: www.lbi.org , web site of the Leo Baeck Institute.
Registry of Jewish Research
The Jewish Genealogical Society provides an alphabetical registry of genealogists and the Jewish families they are researching:
Mokotoff, Gary. Jewish Genealogical Family Finder. New York, NY, USA: Jewish Genealogical Society, 1984-. Irregular. (FHL Reg Table 940 F2mg.) Available online at:
The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies may be able to help find records of Jewish ancestors. Online at iajgs.org
The organization also have a project to document every Jewish burial site in the world. Online at iajgs.org/cemetery
Family History Library
To determine whether the Family History Library has Jewish records for the locality your ancestor came from, search the Place Search of the catalog under each of the following:
GERMANY - JEWISH RECORDS
GERMANY, [STATE] - JEWISH RECORDS
GERMANY, [STATE], [TOWN] - JEWISH
Information about Jews may also be found in the Place Search under:
GERMANY - JEWISH HISTORY
GERMANY - MINORITIES
Additional information may be found in the Subject Search under:
JEWS - GERMANY
HOLOCAUST, JEWISH (1939-1945)