Research tips when looking for information about your family

Contact us

Researching about your family? Here are some effective leads:

  1. If you're looking for family graves from the last decades before WW2, these will most probably be in the Jewish cemetery of Weissensee. Since this place is huge (about 160,000 graves), it's best to contact them a couple of weeks or even months before your visit, so you could make sure that you have the right information about the location of the grave(s) in time:

  1. If your relatives were very orthodox, then there's a fair chance that they were buried in the cemetery of Adass Yisroel. Today's community called "Adass Yisroel" controls the assets of the pre-war community with the same name, including the aforementioned cemetery. However, it has little to do with the original community that was destroyed by the Nazis. Today's "Adass Yisroel" is a very small, yet problematic congregation, controlled by a man that in recent years, unfortunately, has been quite unhelpful in assisting descendants of the original community. As a result, their cemetery is usually closed for visitors. Nevertheless, there are exceptions - if you apply early enough, they might actually send somebody to open the cemetery just for you. Your best chance is to write them:

  1. If your family owned a business in Berlin, try looking for it in the (German-language) database of Jewish Businesses in Berlin from 1930 to 1945, now holding more than 8,000 entries:

  1. For a general background about the "Aryanization" process of Jewish businesses, I recommend reading this great and free online publication (actually the English catalog of an exhibition that was done here in Berlin). It's 80 pages long but definitely worth your time:

  1. If you have an old address and want to check if it still exists, use the Berlin Street Lexicon:

  1. If you’re searching for family details, your best start is the State Archive of Berlin:

  1. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, let the archive of the research foundation “Centrum Judaicum” advise you:

  1. If you’re looking for records about family members murdered by the Nazis (such as birth dates, residence or deportation records), you can use the digital version of the memorial book for the Jewish victims of Nazi persecution in Germany, published by the Federal Archive of Germany:

  1. You can submit an online inquiry at the International Tracing Service:

  1. It is not impossible that somebody might have initiated a so-called "Stumbling Stone" commemorating a relative of yours that was murdered by the Nazis. More than 10% of the Berlin victims are now memorialized this way. You could search by names, birth dates or addresses in the local database, which includes both stones belonging to the "official", i.e. commercial project as well as the few others, "alternative" stones, which are not done for money: