Searching for evidence of the lives of people who seemed to have left little or no trace is an integral part of the commemoration and memorial work that makes up the Stolperstein project. It is an arduous but compelling process that confronts one with the Nazis’ machinery of persecution and minutely planned deportation procedures, and the legally cloaked, state-honed bureaucracy that impacted on the lives of all persecutees. While many such pieces of evidence can still be found, most stem from the circumstances of persecution; little remains to reflect the individuality of each persecutee.
The Stolperstein project is dedicated to all those persecuted by the Nazis. It commemorates survivors of the Nazis’ regime of terror, those who managed to flee abroad as well as the murdered. Furthermore, the Stolperstein project would like to honor the persecutees’ families and recommends that research is extended to include any relatives who might also have been persecuted. Another important aspect to consider is whether there are any surviving descendants of the families in question. They should be asked if they approve of having a stumbling stone laid for their relatives and, if so, be involved in the memorial and commemoration work.
Staff at the Berlin Stolpersteine Coordination Office are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding the research process. However, the coordination office is not an archive and does not hold any historical documents on persecution in Berlin. More detailed information can usually be found online and in archives. The primary archives of relevance for Stolperstein research in Berlin are listed here.
Here you will also find a list of answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs). Should you have any further questions, feel free to contact us!
FAQs on the research process
The Stolperstein project places key importance on remembering a persecuted person together with his/her persecuted family. The search for family members who lived together at a certain address and were torn apart by persecution is therefore an integral part of the process. Another important step is to locate any surviving descendants of the person/family in question to inform them of the planned Stolperstein and obtain their approval.
I would like to have stumbling stones laid for former residents of my house/street who were persecuted but I don’t have any information on them. How should I proceed?
That is unfortunately the least promising starting point for a Stolperstein project. The likelihood of finding out the names of the persecutees is very slight; expect to embark on a painstaking, probably month-long search, which might not even produce results in the end. You have the highest chances of finding results if the people in question were Jewish persecutees, as the scientific research of the persecution of this group is well advanced. Otherwise, go through the names of the residents of your house/street to try and find a pointer to persecution. We urgently advise trying all the possibilities for online research before going to visit an archive (you can find links to some helpful internet ressources down below on this page). If you think the former residents were Jewish, the first place to look is the Federal Archive’s online commemorative book (Online-Gedenkbuch des Bundesarchivs). Only start contacting archives with your query if you find nothing here. If you think the former residents were not Jewish, the best place to start your search is the annual Berlin directories, listing residents’ names and addresses. Start in the 1920s and look for a name that constantly recurs in your building. (Please note that the directories only list the head of each household, mostly husbands and fathers who had the means to be the main tenant. Single men and women are also listed if they were the main tenant. Subtenants are not listed in the directories. For this reason, there is often no record of less well-off manual workers or people who were branded ‘asocial’, despite the fact they were residents). If you find that a previously recurring name suddenly fails to reappear in the Nazi period, it could be a sign that the named person was a victim of persecution. Contact the Berlin State Archive (Landesarchiv) and the compensation office in the State Office for Residents’ and Regulatory Affairs (Entschädigungsbehörde im Landesamt für Bürger- und Ordnungsangelegenheiten) with your query, stating the name (and address); if it is a very common name, e. g. Fritz Meyer, you will also need to provide a birth date to narrow down your search. If the person in question came to the attention of any of the various authorities involved in persecution, it is likely there is some documentary record of them.
An alternative to the search in the Berlin directories would be to make a fee-based query in the Historical Registration Office of Berlin (Historische Einwohnermeldekartei Berlin) which covers the time between 1875 and 1960. Its documents lie in the Berlin State Archive (Landesarchiv Berlin). Please note that the historical data are not complete due to the damages done in World War II. The index cards of the former Jewish inhabitants of Berlin were removed during National Socialism. In the registration files, subtenants were also not listed.
I would like to find information on Jewish people persecuted in Berlin. How should I proceed?
Research into Jewish persecutees is still the most likely to yield results as scientific research on this group is well advanced. Try consulting the ‘Jewish directory of 1931’ (das Jüdische Adressbuch von 1931). However, this by no means lists all the Jewish residents of Berlin. You may also need to consult the supplementary cards of the 1939 population census in the Federal Archive (Bundesarchiv). The latter have also been fed into a commemorative book database (Gedenkbuch. Opfer der Verfolgung der Juden unter der nationalsozialistischen Gewaltherrschaft in Deutschland 1933-1945), which can be found online at: http://www.bundesarchiv.de/gedenkbuch/directory.html. Please note that no addresses are recorded here.
Some libraries hold copies of the commemorative book Gedenkbuch Berlins der jüdischen Opfer des Nationalsozialismus of 1995, which contains the addresses as well as names of Jewish victims of Nazi persecution. But as the information was gleaned from various sources, it cannot be presumed with any certainty that the given addresses were the last freely chosen places of residence of the people listed. Similarly, the information concerning their persecution does not always factor in the latest findings of research. We therefore urgently recommend that you check it against information in the Federal Archive’s online commemorative book. It is also advisable to compare data with material held in the Berlin State Archive (Landesarchiv Berlin) and the compensation office in the State Office for Residents’ and Regulatory Affairs (Entschädigungsbehörde im Landesamt für Bürger- und Ordnungsangelegenheiten), especially to ascertain whether the last known address was really the last voluntarily chosen place of residence. A further possibility to make queries is to ask the Historical Archive of the Stiftung Neue Synagoge Berlin – Centrum Judaicum. Here, you can find the applications of Jewish persecutes for their recognition as ”Victims of Fascism” (“Opfer des Faschismus – OdF”). In this respect, it can also be useful to consult the Berlin directories http://www.zlb.de/besondere-angebote/berliner-adressbuecher.html from the mid-1920s onwards. If the people to be commemorated lived elsewhere for a significant period before moving, it is likely they were forced to do so (by their deteriorating economic circumstances and/or the Nazis’ repressive measures). Please note that the directories list only the heads of households, mostly husbands and fathers who had the means to be the main tenants. Single women and men are also listed if they were the main tenants, but subtenants are not listed.
I would like to find information on a member of the political or religious resistance. How should I proceed?
There are several publications on the history of Berlin which look at resistance movements during the Nazi period. Principal among these is a series published by the German Resistance Memorial Center (Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand), in which Hans-Rainer Sandvoß, Heinrich-Wilhelm Wörmann and Felicitas Bothe von Richthofen provide detailed analyses of resistance structures, focusing on names and streets. Each volume is titled ‘Resistance in (name of the district)’ (Widerstand in …) and can be accessed in many Berlin libraries as well as online at: http://www.gdw-berlin.de/angebote/publikationen/downloads/widerstand-berlin-1933-1945
More information can be found in the following publications:
- Hans-Rainer Sandvoß: Die „andere“ Reichshauptstadt. Widerstand aus der Arbeiterbewegung in Berlin von 1933 bis 1945, Berlin 2007
- Hans-Rainer Sandvoß: „Es wird gebeten, die Gottesdienste zu überwachen…“, Religionsgemeinschaften in Berlin zwischen Anpassung, Selbstbehauptung und Widerstand von 1933 bis 1945, Berlin 2014
The German Resistance Memorial Center (Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand) can itself be a helpful resource for those conducting more in-depth research. But it is advisable to wait until you have made considerable progress with your research before contacting the center via email at email@example.com.
The Berlin State Archive (Landesarchiv Berlin), the compensation office in the State Office for Residents’ and Regulatory Affairs (Entschädigungsbehörde im Landesamt für Bürger- und Ordnungsangelegenheiten) and the Federal Archive (Bundesarchiv) all hold material documenting the prosecution of prisoners of conscience (imprisoned for their political or religious beliefs).
The Arolsen Archives – at the International Center on Nazi persecution in Bad Arolsen – hold important archive material on people who were active in political or religious resistance. Many of their holdings can now be accessed online (https://arolsen-archives.org/). The Federal Archive (Bundesarchiv) in Berlin holds many documents from the Nazi authorities responsible for persecution; valuable information can also be often found in the files on those officially recognized as victims of Fascism (Opfern des Faschismus / OdF) in the Berlin State Archive (Landesarchiv Berlin).
To find information on Jehovah’s Witnesses who were persecuted, we recommend contacting the relevant community today (https://www.jehovaszeugen.de/) as Jehovah’s Witnesses communities are known to conduct intensive research into the persecution of fellow members under Nazism. As well as the publication by Hans-Rainer Sandvoß mentioned above, the following may be useful:
- Detlef Garbe: Zwischen Widerstand und Martyrium. Die Zeugen Jehovas im „Dritten Reich“, München 1993
Lists of death sentences imposed by the Reich Court Martial and various farewell letters written by imprisoned conscientious objectors can be found in the following publication:
- Marcus Herrberger (ed.): Denn es steht geschrieben: „Du sollst nicht töten!“ Die Verfolgung religiöser Kriegsdienstverweigerer unter dem NS-Regime mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der Zeugen Jehovas (1939-1945), Wien 2005
All Jehovah’s Witnesses communities have contact persons for dealing with public inquiries. Alternatively, for more information concerning the Berlin area, contact Dirk Leicher.
For more tips on researching the fates of political and religious prisoners in Berlin, see the brochure Stolpersteine in Berlin – Pädagogisches Begleitmaterial.
I would like to find information on persecutees in Berlin who belonged to the Sinti and Roma community. How should I proceed?
First, it is essential to contact the surviving members of the family before proceeding with a Stolperstein project for persecuted Sinti and Roma women and men. Many members of the Sinti and Roma minorities are skeptical or even disapproving of the Stolperstein project and find it an inappropriate form of commemoration for their persecuted relatives. It is imperative that you check whether the surviving family members are in favor of having a stone laid for their relatives. The German national association of Sinti and Roma in Berlin and Brandenburg (Landesverband Deutscher Sinti und Roma Berlin-Brandenburg e.V.) and the German Sinti and Roma cultural center in Heidelberg (Dokumentations- und Kulturzentrum Deutscher Sinti und Roma), which also runs a branch in Berlin, may be able to help you tracking down relatives.
There are several possibilities for finding the names of Sinti and Roma women and men who lived in Berlin during the Nazi period, most of whom were persecuted. There are the records of deaths (“Sterbebücher”) in the ‘gypsy camp’ (“Zigeunerlager”) section of Auschwitz-Birkenau B IIe, which were salvaged from the camp. The contents have been summarized in table form in the commemorative book Gedenkbuch der Sinti und Roma im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau. This includes the prisoners’ places and dates of birth. If they were born in Berlin, it is likely that they continued to live in the city in later years. Having their names and dates of birth will certainly be a good starting point for further research in the archives. The commemorative book can be found in several Berlin libraries: https://aggb-katalog.de/vufind/
Further information and names can be found in the following studies:
- Patricia Pientka: Das Zwangslager für Sinti und Roma in Berlin-Marzahn, Alltag, Verfolgung und Deportation, Berlin 2013
- Otto Rosenberg: Das Brennglas, Berlin 2012
Numerous short publications on the persecution of Sinti and Roma women and men in Germany can be found in Berlin libraries. Most Sinti and Roma victims in Berlin were interned in the Marzahn assembly camp, often for several years, before being deported to Auschwitz.
At the Berlin State Archive (Landesarchiv Berlin) you can search the files of the Berlin compensation offices under terms defined by the Nazi ideology and language like “Zigeuner” (‘gypsies’), “Wohnwagen” (‘caravan’) or “Marzahn”. Please note that the term “Marzahn”, referring to the camp for Sinti und Roma which the Nazis erected there, is the name of the whole district and thus can lead to many search results not directed to your specific field. In the Federal Archive in Berlin (Bundesarchiv Berlin) you can search the police records under these specific offences, in the Berlin state archive (Landesarchiv) you can find the documents of the central office of the criminal investigation department. The Federal Archive also holds the files of the ‘racial hygiene and forensic biology research department’ (“Rassenhygienischen und kriminalbiologischen Forschungsstelle”) which contain the registration data and photos of numerous Sinti and Roma women and men. You could also consult the prisoner records from the Ravensbrück and Sachsenhausen concentration camps. In these files, a “Z” in the margin stands for “Zigeuner” (‘gypsy’) and may provide a pointer to relevant names.
For more tips on researching the fates of persecutees in Berlin, see the brochure Stolpersteine in Berlin – Pädagogisches Begleitmaterial.
I would like to find information on people in Berlin who were branded ‘asocial’ and persecuted. How should I proceed?
This group of victims of persecution was even less homogenous than all the others and it thus did not produce a cohesive interest group to represent it after the war. Moreover, since some of those associated with this group of persecutees continue to be stigmatized and in some cases criminalized today, no group-specific memorial culture developed. Criminals, the homeless, alcohol dependent and simply non-conformists living in Berlin were branded “asozial” if they did not fit into any other of the Nazis’ categories of undesirables. Allegedly refusing to work or leading a sexually permissive lifestyle were grounds for being branded ‘asocial’. In this group, there is a high rate of multi-level persecution, with individuals categorized simultaneously as, for instance, ‘homosexual’, ‘mentally ill’ and ‘asocial’. If you still need to find a name, it is advisable to search the police records in the Federal Archive (Bundesarchiv) in Berlin or the database of the Berlin State Archive (Landesarchiv Berlin) under certain offences (e.g. ‘no fixed abode’ (“ohne festen Wohnsitz”), ‘begging’ (“Bettelei”) ‘prostitution’ or ‘procuring’ (“Kuppelei”). You should note that these documents often enough have specific protection periods, so an inspection of these records might only be possible after having made an application to foreshorten the protection period. Thus, these documents do not appear in the search machine of the Berlin state archive (Landesarchiv) if you use them as a guest. Should you be looking for these entries, it is advisable to ask the staff of the archive whose members will be glad to help.
The records from the Ravensbrück and Sachsenhausen concentration camps, which record the prisoners’ categorization, also shed light on histories of persecution.
The following publications contain further information and some names:
- Anne Allex, Dietrich Kalkan (eds.): „ausgesteuert – ausgegrenzt … angeblich asozial“, Neu-Ulm 2009
- Dietmar Sedlaczek, Thomas Lutz, Ulrike Puvogel, Ingrid Tomkowiak (eds.): „Minderwertig“ und „asozial“. Stationen der Verfolgung gesellschaftlicher Aussenseiter, Zürich 2005
See also the brochure Stolpersteine in Berlin – Pädagogisches Begleitmaterial for more tips on conducting research into persecutees in Berlin.
I would like to find information on people in Berlin who were stigmatized and persecuted as ‘homosexual’. How should I proceed?
An extensive database on homosexual victims of the Nazi regime has been collated by the group AG Rosa Winkel under the nonprofit cultural society Kulturring Berlin. There is no online access to its material. To gain information, contact the group (firstname.lastname@example.org) and explain your inquiry. Homosexuals in concentration camps were made to wear distinctive triangles, as noted in the prisoner records, so look here for relevant information. As most homosexuals in Berlin were persecuted by the police in some way, many being arrested and interrogated several times, you are also likely to find relevant information in the police or criminal prosecutions records in the Berlin State Archive (Landesarchiv Berlin) and Federal Archive (Bundesarchiv). Try searching under key terms such as “§ 175”, “widernatürliche Unzucht” (‘deviate fornication’) or “Sittlichkeitsverbrechen” (‘sex crimes’). There is a wealth of literature available on the subject. The following publications are examples that focus specifically on Berlin:
- Verein zur Erforschung und Darstellung der Geschichte Kreuzbergs (ed.): Von anderen Ufern. Geschichte der Berliner Lesben und Schwulen in Kreuzberg und Friedrichshain, Berlin 2003
- Sonntags-Club (ed.): Verzaubert in Nord-Ost. Die Geschichte der Berliner Lesben und Schwulen in Prenzlauer Berg, Pankow und Weißensee, Berlin 2009
- Kulturring Berlin e.V. (ed.): Andreas Pretzel, Gabriele Roßbach, Wegen der zu erwartenden zu hohen Strafe. Homosexuellenverfolgung in Berlin, Berlin 2000
- Schwule Museum Berlin (ed.) Joachim Müller, Andreas Sternweiler, Homosexuelle Männer im KZ Sachsenhausen, Berlin 2000
The Schwules Museum in Berlin runs a library and archive containing extensive holdings of literature on the persecution of homosexuals under Nazism: https://www.schwulesmuseum.de/bibliothek-archiv/
See also the brochure >Stolpersteine in Berlin – Pädagogisches Begleitmaterial for more tips on conducting research into the histories of persecutees in Berlin.
I would like to find information on people in Berlin who were victims of euthanasia murders. How should I proceed?
All victims of ‘euthanasia’ murders had been under medical observation and had hospital files compiled on them. Whether they would be considered ‘mentally or phisically ill’ by today’s criteria is another matter, but it is important for the researcher to note that as medical records, these documents underlie special legal protection. Researchers need to make advance inquiries into how to gain access to them and whether information obtained from them can be published.
The persecution and murder of people from Berlin under the Nazis’ ‘euthanasia’ program has been the subject of considerable research. Visit the homepage of the T4 commemorative site to find relevant information and who to contact with queries. This website contains many informative biographies; stumbling stones have already been laid for many of these people. The Nazis’ campaign to murder the mentally or physically ill took place in two main phases. Documents relating to the first phase, “Aktion T 4”, which ended in autumn 1941, are held in the Federal Archive (Bundesarchiv) in Berlin. Medical records from the later, decentralized, phase have been kept in regional archives, hospitals, and sanitariums. When researching in archives, you can find the names of victims of ‘euthanasia’ murders under the respective execution sites and/or ‘sanitariums’. The case files of patients at the ‘sanitariums’ in Buch and Wittenau are held in the Berlin State Archive (Landesarchiv Berlin). Many such files note the patients’ last voluntary place of residence. Please remember to track down any surviving family members to ensure they consent to having stumbling stones laid for their relatives.
See also the brochure Stolpersteine in Berlin – Pädagogisches Begleitmaterial for more tips on conducting research into the histories of persecutees in Berlin.
I know the name of a persecutee but not where they lived. How can I find this out?
How to proceed depends on the reason they were persecuted. Make inquiries to the relevant archives in Berlin (see the FAQs on the different persecutee groups) to trace the person’s last voluntary place of residence. The Berlin directories (Berliner Adressbücher) are another valuable resource. They are accessible online and list the names and addresses of the heads of households and people who lived alone. (The heads of households were mostly husbands and fathers who had the means to be the main tenant. Single women and men are also listed in the directories if they were the main tenants, but subtenants are not listed).
I have the address of a persecutee but do not know if it was their last freely chosen place of residence. How can I find this out?
The Berlin directories (Berliner Adressbücher) will be a valuable resource for your search, in so far as the person in question was a main tenant or member of a family represented by a household head, who was the main tenant. (The heads of households were mostly husbands and fathers who had the means to be the main tenant. Single women and men are also listed in the directories if they were the main tenants, but subtenants are not listed). E.g., if a Jewish person lived at one address for several years until 1935/36 but is listed as living at a different address on the supplementary cards from the 1939 population census, is it very likely that they were forced to move by the increasingly hostile economic circumstances and Nazi housing policy for Jews. If you are in contact with surviving relatives, ask them if they know the last freely chosen place of residence. In some cases, e.g. concerning people persecuted for their political convictions, you might be able to deduce the information by carefully studying the relevant files that predate their arrest/deportation.
I have the key dates in a persecutee’s biography but can’t find any ‘personal’ information on them. What can I do?
Try and track down surviving relatives. Almost all the documents held in the archives were drawn up by perpetrators as part of the process of robbing, dehumanizing and murdering the persons in question. From declarations of assets to interrogation reports, these documents were produced in situations of fear, desperation and helplessness for the subjects, and almost completely disregarded their individuality. One exception to this rule are the many memoirs written by Jewish persecutees who survived, many of which can be found in institutions such as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Leo Baeck Institute, and the Jewish Museum Berlin. Among the latter’s holdings are essays submitted to the 1939 writing competition on ‘My life before and after 1933’. Another exception are the files held by the compensation office in the State Office for Residents’ and Regulatory Affairs (Entschädigungsbehörde im Landesamt für Bürger- und Ordnungsangelegenheiten) where personal documents can be found – in the rare cases that those affected survived – and many descriptive statements by relatives and/or close friends. The same can be said about the applications for the recognition as a “Victim of Fascism” (‘Opfer des Faschismus’). You can find these applications from political opponents in the Berlin state archive (Landesarchive) and those of Jewish victims in the Historical Archive of the Stiftung Neue Synagoge Berlin – Centrum Judaicum. Most of these documents were drawn up after the war. This is where we come up against the limits of historical reconstruction. It is especially important to take this into consideration when composing a biographical text – it should not contain any speculation but rather point out the blank spaces where nothing is known.
How can I find out if a persecutee has any surviving relatives?
Here, again, searches for information on Jewish persecutees have the best chances of success.
The first step towards finding the families of Jewish persecutees is to enter the name in question into the central database of Holocaust victims at the Yad Vashem International Holocaust Memorial Site. This database contains many entries written by family members, and most of them show the name of the author along with their address (mostly dating to the 1950s/1960s).
Simply entering the name in question into an online search engine such as Google can also help. It is advisable to start with simple and few data like the names and dates of birth and then start adding more fragments of information or else you might overload the search. Sometimes information is yielded that points to family connections.
There are countless websites on the Internet, albeit mostly subject to charges, that facilitate searches for family members. See below for a few useful sites:
Here you can find a list of all the important genealogical websites, ordered by country: https://www.ancestry.com/cs/jewishgen-all
For more in-depth research, it can be useful to use social networks such as Facebook.
If you are trying to find information on people who were persecuted for other reasons, your search for family members will likely be harder. Try looking in the Berlin State Archive (Landesarchiv Berlin) and in the compensation office in the State Office for Residents’ and Regulatory Affairs (Entschädigungsbehörde im Landesamt für Bürger- und Ordnungsangelegenheiten), as most applications for restitution and compensation and for official status as victims of Fascism (Opfer des Faschismus / OdF) were submitted by the relatives of victims. Those recognized as victims of Fascism will be on record as they received special social assistance in the Soviet occupation zone and the newly founded GDR after 1949, graded differently according to region and city.
The journal aktuell published by the Berlin Senate, provides information on the descendants of persecuted Jewish women and men who lived in Berlin during the Nazi period and facilitates contact and exchange.
Despite conducting intensive research in all the specified archives and online, I am not making any progress. What else can I do?
Unfortunately, not much. This is where the limits of the Stolperstein project lie – a stumbling stone can only be laid if the basic dates and the last freely chosen place of residence of the person in question have been ascertained. If this has proven impossible, no Stolperstein can be laid.
How should I approach the historical sources obtained from archives?
In general terms, original documents should be approached with special care. Prior knowledge of the period in question is crucial. If anything is unclear or if you have any questions, please ask the voluntary staff of the Stolperstein groups in your district for advice. You cannot properly assess the information given in the source until you are clear about its historical context. (A police document stating that a prisoner testified to being part of a resistance group with three other named members likely gives a false picture. The probability of such statements being obtained under torture is high. It is possible that the prisoner tried to conceal the truth to protect him/herself and his/her friends. Such statements should, then, be viewed with skepticism. The same applies to the declarations of assets (“Vermögenserklärung”) compiled for the Chief Finance President’s department, in which Jewish and Sinti and Roma persecutees were forced to list all their belongings. Some apparently felt it would be better to appear richer, and others poorer than they really were while still others made no effort either way. They were made to draw up these lists under extreme emotional stress, having been taken to an assembly camp and not knowing what lay ahead of them).
A good basic approach is to ask the following “W” questions: Who (said what)? When? Where? Why? With what effect? For more help analyzing sources, see: https://www.km-bw.de/site/pbs-bw/get/documents/KULTUS.Dachmandant/KULTUS/Seminare/seminar-weingarten/pdf/Fragen%20an%20Quellen.pdf
Remember the rule of thumb: Less is more. Try to refrain from filling in the blanks you find in archive material with speculations; this can distort the findings not only of your own research and any further research built upon it but also disrespects the memory of the person in question if it does not reflect the truth.
What possibilities are there for conducting research on the Internet? What can I find there?
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Database
The Database of Holocaust Survivor and Victim Names is the largest online database containing information on people persecuted under Nazism. However, it is important to check the source of the information. E.g. an address may be sourced from a document that records the person’s move into a compulsory ‘home for Jews’.
Yad Vashem Database
This is the largest database on Jewish victims of Nazism, encompassing various archive holdings and pages of testimony written by relatives of victims. The pages of testimony are primarily useful for finding family members. While the information they offer on victims’ families is usually reliable, details such as names, dates and addresses are often imprecise.
Bundesarchiv Memorial Book
A database with biographical information and data on the histories of persecution of Jewish fatalities under Nazism who lived within the territory of the German Reich (borders as on 31 December 1937).
Theresienstadt Database of Victims
A database on victims of Theresienstadt ghetto and concentration camp with entries comprised mainly of scanned documents, such as death certificates. Many of these were completed by medical staff using standard terminology, which should be viewed with skepticism, in the light of the context of writing. The actual causes of death were usually glossed over. Most addresses given were of the last known places of residence before deportation – in Berlin, often one of the many assembly camps.
Berlin Address Books
A website containing scans of historical Berlin directories and the Jewish address book for Greater Berlin; a possible place to look for family names or street names.
WGA Database (Compensation Offices)
Material from the Berlin compensation offices (Wiedergutmachungsämter von Berlin) in the Berlin State Archive (Landesarchiv Berlin) has been collated in a database. Here, you can search for any restitution applications that may have been made for the person in question. If one was made, the file number will be recorded here. You can then write to the Berlin State Archive (Landesarchiv Berlin) with the number to request viewing the file in the archive’s reading room. It is advisable to follow the principle that ‘less is more’, e.g. initially restrict your search to a surname.
Reference Volume OdF- und VdN-Files
Starting on page 36 of this pdf-file, you will find a list of all those registered as victims of Fascism (Opfer des Faschismus / OdF) with files in the Berlin State Archive (Landesarchiv Berlin). Those who qualified for OdF status in the Soviet occupation zone and the newly founded GDR after 1949 were eligible for special social assistance, graded differently according to region and city. The OdF files often contain personal documents and even detailed descriptions of the victims’ histories of (mostly political) persecution.The OdF-files of Jewish persecutees can be found in the Historical Archive of the Stiftung Neue Synagoge Berlin – Centrum Judaicum.
Database Forced Labour Berlin
Here you can find Berlin firms who used forced labour.
Forced Labour Documentation Center in Berlin-Schöneweide
The Nazi Forced Labour Documentation Center in Berlin-Schöneweide has two databases which are constantly updated. The first is about all Berlin firms who used forced labour; the second is about the numerous forced labour camps in Berlin, in which forced labourers had to live.
Research on forced labour
On this homepage by historian Dr. Bernhard Bremberger you can find more research on forced labour in Berlin.
A general piece of advice on conducting archival research: Pursue specific questions. Vague inquiries along the lines of “Did anyone live in my house for whom a Stolperstein could be laid?” are very difficult to answer. Archives need concrete information on a person (name, date of birth, address) to locate any material relevant to them. It is also important to remember that different archives hold collections with different focuses – criminal prosecution files on a certain person, for example, will not necessarily be stored in the same archive as that person’s declaration of assets. Please formulate specific questions and find out in advance where to look for the various pieces of information to help the archives, and yourself, avoid unnecessary, futile searches.
Landesarchiv Berlin (Berlin State Archive)
This is where the files are held that the Berlin authorities etc. deem worthy of archiving. Most concern the Senate and district administrations, district courts, attorneys’ offices, jails, bar associations, courts, tax offices, registry offices, and schools, but some also relate to theaters and various other aspects of life in Berlin. Here, the historical files of the residents’ registration office, the OdF (victims of Fascism) files, and the Verfolgte des Naziregimes / VdN (Persecutees of the Nazi regime) files are especially relevant. The Berlin compensation office files are also stored in the Berlin State Archive.
Brandenburgisches Landeshauptarchiv in Potsdam (BLHA) (Brandenburg Central State Archive in Potsdam)
The BLHA is responsible for the archival holdings of all the state of Brandenburg’s offices and their legal and functional predecessors. For Stolperstein-related research, the files of the Berlin and Brandenburg Chief Finance President’s office (Behörde des Oberfinanzpräsidenten Berlin-Brandenburg) containing declarations of assets are especially important, as they shed light on the Nazis’ seizure of assets from Jewish and Sinti and Roma women and men. Additionally, you will find files from the prisons outside of Berlin. In the archive collections of the Berlin court of appeal you can also find information about prisoners being moved from one prison to another and the verdicts connected to treason.
Bundesarchiv Standort Berlin (Federal Archive, Berlin branch)
The Federal Archive’s key tasks are to preserve and provide access to archival material belonging to the Federal government and its predecessors, including the German Reich. It holds very little material with personal data on Jewish persecutees.
To find out about Jewish residents of Berlin during the Nazi period, it can be useful to request information from the database listing Jewish residents in the German Reich 1933-1945 (“Liste der jüdischen Einwohner im Deutschen Reich 1933-1945 in den Grenzen vom 31.12.1937”). This database collates information from various sources on numerous individuals.
For Stolperstein-related research, it might be useful to search for material held here on persons who worked for the authorities, in the judicial service or arts scene, the persecuted and convicted under the Nazi regime, and victims of the ‘euthanasia’ murders of 1939 to 1941. Files on people stigmatized as ‘asocial’ and homosexual can also be found here.
Entschädigungsbehörde im Landesamt für Bürger- und Ordnungsangelegenheiten (Compensation office in the State Office for Residents’ and Regulatory Affairs)
The compensation office stores material including files on compensation proceedings opened by victims of Nazi persecution and their relatives. These documents can yield a lot of biographical information. As victims and their relatives mostly applied for restitution and compensation in parallel, it is advisable to compare material here with holdings in the Berlin State Archive (Landesarchiv).
Archiv der Stiftung Neue Synagoge Berlin – Centrum Judaicum (Archive of the New Synagogue Berlin – Centrum Judaicum)
The archive of the New Synagogue Berlin primarily collects documents on the history of the Jewish Community in Berlin but also holds personal files on Jewish forced laborers and the card index of Jewish applicants for official recognition as victims of Fascism between 1945 and 1948. Queries made by relatives are given priority.
Arolsen Archives – Internationales Zentrum über NS-Verfolgung in Bad Arolsen (International Center on Nazi persecution in Bad Arolsen)
This center archives documents from concentration camps, prisons, ghettos, police files, Gestapo files, emigration lists and records of deaths in the former German concentration camps. Its holdings are especially useful for finding surviving family members.