Documentation of Jewish Life
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.
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.
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.
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.
In this video from our 2009 film series What We Won't Show You, historian and archivist Manfred Wichmann offers a glimpse into our archive's work.
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.