German Jewish Records
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:
- 1 General Historical Background
- 2 Other Records
- 3 Locating Jewish Records
- 4 Jewish Records available on the Internet
- 5 Collections in Archives and Societies
General Historical Background
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.
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. In most cases, the records for Jews were kept in a separate Jewish register. Jewish synagogue records and separate civil registers of Jews are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under:
Mixed civil registration records are listed in the catalog under
CIVIL REGISTRATION. See Germany Civil Registration for information about civil registration records.
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.
Understanding the history of the Jewish people in Germany can help you in your research. The following are two 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.)
Listed below are a useful genealogical handbook and a bibliography of Jewish family histories:
- 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.)
- 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 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.
Information Recorded in Jewish Civil Registration Records
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.
From 1809 to 1812, lists of surname changes for Jews were created in several German states. 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
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.
Minority Census of 1938/1939
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]
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.
Jewish Records available on the Internet
Baden, Wuerttemberg, and Hohenzollern
In March 2009 the Landesarchiv Baden-Wuerttemberg made images of Jewish records available on the Internet. Previously this collection 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, also known as the "Gatermann films", complements the records available at the Family History Library for this area. The latter are Jewish births, marriages, and deaths filmed at the Central Office for Genealogy in Leipzig.
During the Nazi Era, Jewish communities in Baden, Hohenzollern, and Wuerttemberg 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 one set of films, and the Landesarchiv Baden-Wuerttemberg in Stuttgart has a different set.
In March 2009 the Landesarchiv in Stuttgart made digital copies of its Jewish records set( Bestand J386 in 126 rolls of microfilm) available on the Interrnet, along with an alphabetical list of Jewish records extant for localities in Baden, Wuerttemberg, and Hohenzollern. This inventory also lists those 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 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 alphabetical listing by town name is available here . 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 pus 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
They also have a project to document every Jewish burial site in the world. Online at iajgs.org/cemetery
Most of the Jewish population of Germany was killed during the atrocities of World War II. Below is a source containing a list of about 130,000 people 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 address for the American Red Cross War Victims Tracing Center follows:
4800 Mt. Hope Dr.
Baltimore, MD 21215
United States Holocause 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
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)