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Records of the former Jewish communities of Bohemia and Moravia are located at the National Archives in Prague. These records are in German, and are usually in old gothic script, making it difficult for most people to take advantage of these fabulous resources. There is a catalogue of the archival holdings organized by town name. Reviewing the records takes at least two days if you have not arranged your visit ahead of time. On the first day, you request retrieval of the registers and then must return the next day to actually review the records. The staff will make copies or microfilm for a modest fee. The Czech archives also will conduct basic genealogical research for $13-$22 per hour plus administrative fees and copying costs. Translations may be available for $5 per page.
Jewish Records [Židovské matriky]
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.
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.
- 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.
Jewish records for the entire Czech Republic were centralized in one location, in the National Archives in Prague:
Milady Horákové 133
160 00 Praha 6 - Dejvice
PhDr. Lenka Matušíková e-mail: email@example.com
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.
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.
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.
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
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.
- holocaust.cz A database of victims of the Theresienstadt concentration camp and more...
- Center for Jewish History Czech and Slovak Republics: Jewish Family History Research Guide
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