Germany Genealogy

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The FamilySearch moderator for Germany is Baerbel
Guide to German ancestry, family history, and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.

Country Information

Germany is a vibrant country with a rich history and heritage. As with many countries of Europe, Germany has seen dramatic changes to its borders and even its internal regions. Over the centuries, Germany consisted of numerous independent kingdoms, duchies, principalities, and states. Then in 1871 all German-speaking states except the Austrian states were consolidated into the German Empire. [1] This construct is still seen in Germany today.

Place-names and county, province, and state jurisdictions also changed, often more than once. Because of these changes, you may discover that it is difficult to find the name of your German ancestor's town on a modern map. You may also have trouble determining the jurisdiction where their records were kept. Various resources are available to help you find that information and will be included here.

Getting Started

Getting Started with Germany Research

Links to articles on getting started with German research:

See More Research Strategies

Germany Research Tools

Links to tools and websites that assist in German research:

See More Research Tools


{{{link}}} Ask the Community Button New Version.jpg
Dark thin font green pin Version 4.png If you know the name of the town/city, consult a gazetteer for more details. See Meyer's Gazetteer or a regional online gazetteer.

Germany Clickable Map - 1945-present

Using the map, click on the state name, or use the State links below.

Schleswig-HolsteinMecklenburg-VorpommernBremenLower Saxony (Niedersachsen)Saxony-Anhalt (Sachsen-Anhalt)BerlinBrandenburgNorth Rhine-Westphalia (Nordrhein-WestfalenHessenThüringen (Thuringia)SaxonyRhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz)SaarlandBaden-WürttembergBavaria (Bayern)Modern Germany map.png
About this image

Jurisdictions - 1945-present

Germany (English)

Germany (Deutsch)

Research Articles on Former States of Germany

These former states of Germany are now parts of Poland, Russia, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, France or Denmark. Click on German states in this list to link to their research information.

Before 1945, see Schleswig-Holstein
After 1945, see Denmark

Modern German States Compared to the German Empire

Click on the state below to see a comparison of the German Empire map and the modern state:


Germany Clickable Map - 1864-1871


Many states are too small to make clickable. You will need to access them from the list after the map.


Schleswig-HolsteinHannoverMecklenburg-SchwerinLübeckHamburgBremenPomerania (Pommern)West Prussia (Westpreußen)East Prussia (Ostpreußen)PosenBrandenburgMecklenburg-StrelitzSaxony (Sachsen)AnhaltBrunswick (Braunschweig)LippeWestphalia (Westfalen)WaldeckRhineland (Rheinland)Hessen-NassauHessen|OldenburgSaxony (Sachsen)Alsace-Lorraine (Elsass-Lothringen)Bavaria (Bayern)Bavaria (Bayern)BadenWürttembergNew Germany map.png
About this image

Jurisdictions - 1864-1871

States

City/States

Prussian States

Thuringian States

Former Germany Territories, (1919 and 1945 changes)

Germany's boundaries were impacted by their losses of World War I and World War II. The treaties (1919 for World War I and 1945 for World War II) ending those wars had to deal with the disposition of lands annexed by Hitler, but also to resolve some disputes that had waged for the previous century. Many of the border states of Germany had mixed populations (most notably Germans and Polish people). Frequently, the return of lands was accompanied by expulsion of German citizens from the area.

  • Records for a former German area are now kept in repositories of the new country.
    • Once you locate the state and town in a gazetteer, you should find a detailed map. Detailed maps, which are useful if you must expand your search to neighboring towns, will usually be found under the former German name.
  • Internet searches for maps could use either place name.
  • For microfilmed records in the FamilySearch catalog, look under both the German place name or the current place name.
  • If the records you need are not microfilmed, you may need to write to a church or an archive for them. Then you will use the locality's modern location to find an address.
  • See Finding Parish Registers for Germany Areas Now in Other Countries.
  • For more detailed maps of territory reclaimed by Poland in 1945, see Recovered Territories.


North SchleswigMemelFree City of DanzigFree City of DanzigPomeraniaUpper SilesiaSilesiaHultschiner LaendchenPosenWest PrussiaPosenWest PrussiaSouthern East PrussiaSilesiaNorthern East PrussiaHultschiner LaendchenPomeraniaSilesiaAlsace-LorrainePomeraniaMalmedy-EupenAlsace-LorraineAlsace-LorraineCountries formerly in Germany.png
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List of Former German Territories, the Date of the Boundary Change, and the Current Country

Alsace-Lorraine (Elsass-Lothringen), 1919:France
Brandenburg: the Neumark region, 1945: Poland
East Prussia, 1945:

Memel Territory, Memelland or Memelgebiet, north of the Neman River and including the city of Klaipėda, occupied by Lithuania in 1923, occupied by Germany 1939-1945.

Eupen-Malmédy, 1919: Belgium
Free City of Danzig, 1945: Poland
North Schleswig, 1919: Denmark
Pomerania, 1945:

Posen, 1919: Wielkie Księstwo Poznańskie, Poland
Silesia (Schlesien),1945:


Upper Silesia, 1919: Poland
West Prussia, 1919: Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland


More Germany Research Strategies

Research strategies give guidance on how to research or what records to search for first. Below are additional research strategy wiki articles for Germany.

More Germany Research Tools

Research tools can include resources that assist in locating correct records to search and determining the correct locality to search in. Below are links and Wiki articles to research tools in Germany.

  • Pdf Archive Inventory Part 1 of 2: Church records in Archives" - an inventory of localities and the location or archive where the records should be found.
  • The list of archives with addresses, Part 2 of 2, which correspond to the localities list, can be found at this link Archive Addresses Please note that in the second column, with the heading of "key" matches the Archive "number" in the first link which contains the database.
  • Germany Genealogy Resources from Federation of East European Family History Societies (FEEFHS)
  • The Kirchenbuchportal (church book portal) website was created by the Association of Church Archives to facilitate access to German-language church records in 2009. By July 2010 several archives had posted detailed inventories of the parish registers in their collections. By September 2014 this plan had evolved into a project carried out by twelve Evangelical state churches in Germany. Their records are now accessible at a new fee-based site called Archion.
  • Hamburg Passenger Lists
  • Berlin Evangelical Central Archive Inventory Online - The Evangelical Central Archive in Berlin (EZAB) holds many Lutheran church records from Eastern areas, including Ostpreussen, Schlesien, Posen, Brandenburg, Pommern and Westpreussen. On the website the box titled "Familienforschung" (family history research) includes a link to the listing of accessible parish registers under "Kirchenbuch-Suche".


FamilySearch Resources

Below are FamilySearch resources that can assist you in resourcing your family.

German Research Tutorials

References

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Germany," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germany, accessed 23 March 2016.