Our Archive

Documentation of Jewish Life

Ausschnitt aus dem handschriftlichen Testament von Veitel Heine Ephraim mit sieben roten Siegeln

Archive

Our Archive is located in the W. Michael Blumenthal Academy, opposite the museum. It safeguards numerous bequests, family collections, and individual documents that permit researchers to draw conclusions about the lives and fates of Jewish families and individuals. We document Jewish history in all its diversity, covering religious, cultural, political, and business life as well as private festivities and personal experiences.

Where

W. M. Blumenthal Academy, Archives

Fromet-und-Moses-Mendelssohn-Platz 1, 10969 Berlin
Postal address: Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin

Historical and Geographical Scope

Our holdings include documents from 1623 to the present with an emphasis on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The majority of the archival materials come from Berlin, where approximately a third of German Jews lived until the 1930s. However, since our museum opened, we have been able to acquire extensive material documenting Jewish life in other towns and regions in Germany and, in some cases, beyond.

Old page of hand written cursive ink text with multiple red wax stamps at the bottom of the page

Testament of Veitel Heine Ephraim (1703–1775), Berlin 1774; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Jens Ziehe

Diverse Documents from Private Donations

Our Archive’s collection is composed almost entirely of private donations. The approximately 1,700 sets of documents range in length from several pages to 40 archival boxes. They include writs of protection and citizenship certificates, wedding and other civil status certificates, documents of military service, of training and professional life, business, scientific, and private correspondence, diaries, and memoirs. Photographs, decorated certificates, souvenirs, and everyday objects from our other collections complement the written materials.

Historical Emphases

We have particularly extensive holdings on middle-class life in the German Empire, on participation in the First World War, and on life and persecution during the Nazi era, encompassing internment, deportation, and murder, but also emigration and reestablishment in exile. A growing number of documents from the postwar period reflects communities' reconstruction and the fresh start, life in Displaced Persons camps, individuals' return from exile, and Jewish life in both parts of Germany and in the reunified country after 1989.

Branches of Other Archives on Our Premises

Our archive also houses a branch of the New York–based Leo Baeck Institute, with more than 4,500 microfilm reels of the institute's holdings available in our Reading room. It is also home to a branch of the Wiener Library with roughly 500 microfilm reels documenting Nazi rule and Nazi crimes.

A Look into our Holdings

All holdings can be viewed by researchers, students, and other interested parties in the Museum's Reading Room on request. (The Reading Room's opening hours and other information on our website). To submit a request, please use our registration form. In addition, the original documents are frequently used in workshops with school and university students to place topics of Jewish history in context.

If you would like to support the Jewish Museum Berlin and believe you possess materials that may be of interest to us, contact us!
Our Reading Room is open to the public. You can also research using our library’s holdings and some of our collection’s holdings online. To view additional holdings, please contact the responsible curators.
You may use our in-house holdings for research purposes. We have also compiled a directory of links to research opportunities for personal and family research and genealogy.
The contact person for photo reproductions is Valeska Wolfgram (tel.: +49 (0)30 259 93 433, email: v.wolfgram@jmberlin.de). Due to preparations for our new permanent exhibition, our time is very limited. We therefore ask that you please refrain from sending loan requests for the time being. For urgent inquiries, please contact Katrin Strube (tel.: +49 (0)30 259 93 417, email: k.strube@jmberlin.de).
Contact
Aubrey Pomerance
Head of Archives/Leo Baeck Institute
phone: 
+49 (0)30 259 93 556
fax: 
+49 (0)30 259 93 409

Jewish Museum Berlin
Lindenstraße 9–14
10969 Berlin

Where

W. M. Blumenthal Academy, Archives

Fromet-und-Moses-Mendelssohn-Platz 1, 10969 Berlin
Postal address: Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin

Event Series (7) Eyewitness Talks Show all

Eyewitness Talks

In this event series six eyewitnesses tell of their fates during the nazi era (video recordings available, in German)

Hanni Levy: Surviving in Berlin

25 June 2018
Hanni Levy has had close ties to the Jewish Museum Berlin for many years. In conversation with Aubrey Pomerance, Head of the Archive, she describes her wartime memories and experiences. Hanni Levy, born in 1924, survived the Nazi era in hiding in Berlin with the help of courageous friends.

Peter Neuhof: A Youth in the Shadow of the Persecution

3 December, 7 pm
Peter Neuhof speaks about his memories and experiences in an interview with Aubrey Pomerance, head of the archive. His parents were active members of the German Communist Party (KPD) and were arrested in 1943. Peter was able to remain in the parental home.

Anita Lasker Wallfisch

28 and 29 May 2018
Born in Breslau in 1925, Anita Lasker Wallfisch studied cello in Berlin from 1938. In 1942, Anita’s parents were deported to Izbica and murdered, and in 1943 Anita and her sister Renate were deported to Ausschwitz.

Margot Friedländer: Try to Make Your Life

9 April 2018
Margot Friedländer was born in 1921 in Berlin and has had close ties with the museum for many years. She reads from her memoir, which takes its title from her mother’s last message to her: Try to Make Your Life. Followed by a brief discussion with Aubrey Pomerance, Head of the Archive.

Walter Frankenstein: Not with Us

31 January 2018
Born in 1924 in West Prussia, Walter Frankenstein lived in Berlin from 1936. When deportation threatened, he went into hiding with his wife and their five-week-old son. The family managed to survive with the help of friends.

Kurt Roberg: A Visa Or Your Life

4 December 2017
Born in Celle in 1924, 14-year-old Kurt Roberg fled alone after the 1938 November pogrom to the Netherlands, where he was to finish school. He finally reaches his family in New York via Berlin and Lisbon in 1941.

Henry Wuga: A Nuremberger from Glasgow

23 October 2017
Henry Wuga was born to a Jewish mother and a Catholic father in Nuremberg in 1924. In 1938, his parents were able to send him to Scotland with a children’s transport and later in 1947, he could bring his mother, who had survived in hiding, to his home in Glasgow.

Selected Objects (10) Archive Show all

Archive

Browse selected archival holdings online from the eighteenth century through the post-war period. Personal and official documents speak to the life of a nineteenth-century journeyman, early modern merchant rights, desperate attempts to emigrate during Nazi rule, and much more.

Adoption contract Gloeden and Loevy

Even a Jewish-sounding name could be cause for discrimination. So the siblings Erich and Ursula Loevy chose to be adopted by Bernhard Gloeden, a grammar school teacher and family friend.

A desperate letter to their son in Sweden

"As long as we are still here, we will write to you every third day," wrote Paul and Sophie Berliner to their son, Gert, who was living in Stockholm, on 6 November 1941.

Martin Riesenburger’s Service Card

A provisional document from February 1953 certified that Martin Riesenburger was a rabbi responsible for pastoral care in East Berlin prisons.

Siegfried Leopold’s Get for His Wife Resi

According to Jewish law, a marriage is only annulled when a bill of divorce is drawn up and presented by the husband to his wife.

Index cards from the British Army

Thousands of German emigrants fought against Germany in the British Army during the Second World War. In case of capture, they had to change their names, as these index cards document.

Frieda Neuber's Leather Pouch

Shortly before being deported to Theresienstadt, Frieder Neuber gave this leather pouch to her niece. The letters inside it document her desperate attempts to leave the country.

Memmelsdorf Genizah

In February 2002, workers renovating a house discovered a burlap sack filled with papers and personal items when they opened up a section of the ceiling. The house had been owned by Jews from 1775 to 1939.

Red Cross Letter to Emmy Warschauer

After the outbreak of the Second World War, the aid organization’s message service gave emigrants a way to contact relatives in Germany. That’s how Emmy Warschauer received confirmation that her daughter was alive.

Letter of Protection for the Jews of Ichenhausen

Until the nineteenth century, the residence and trading rights of Jews in the German territories were defined in letters of protection (Schutzbriefe), which had to be purchased.

Journeyman’s Book Belonging to the Shoemaker Leopold Willstätter

Leopold Willstätter traveled around southwest Germany and France as a journeyman from 1836 to 1843. The journeyman's book with a precise description of him also served as a form of identification.