User’s Guide for the 1939 “German Minority Census” database

It is highly recommended that you read this document in full before using the database search engine, both to save time and make searches more effective.

This database, like any of this magnitude, is bound to contain errors, either from mistakes in the source material or at any stage in the processing of the data. We would greatly appreciate it if you would contact us regarding any errors in the material and we will do our best to make corrections.

Currently, the searchable data includes persons who can be proven to have perished in the Holocaust, those who were born prior to 1903 (+110 years ago), and others who deceased prior to 1984 (+30 years ago). If the person you are searching for was born after 1903 and did not perish in the Holocaust, the chances are very slim that they will be included here.

Fields that may be searched, separately or in combination, are Last Name, First Name, Maiden Name, Year of Birth, Place of Birth, Street Address, and City of Residence. Partial names will return all results starting with that name without the need of a “wild card.”  A search for Marg will return Marga, Margot, Margarete, Margarethe, etc.

a. General Search Tips
Family and given names, especially those transliterated from Yiddish, often have variant spellings; the family name Löwy, for example, may be written in some sources as Loewy, or it may have been incorrectly transcribed as Lowy. It is recommended that you always search for both the single letter Löwy/Lowy and the anglicized equivalent Loewy when performing searches for names that may contain German letters.

Searches using the English letters a, o and u will return results with those letters and the German letters ä, ö and ü. The opposite is also true, searches with ä, ö and ü will return results with those letters and the letters a, o, and u. Searches for the German letters ä, ö, and ü will not however return results with the anglicized equivalents ae, ou and ue, nor will a search for those English equivalents yield German letter results. It is recommended that if you searching for the family name Löwy, for example, that you search for either Lowy or Löwy and Loewy.

We have not yet completely resolved search issues with the German double-s or es-zed letter ß. A search for a name with two s’s will return only results with two s’s and not the German equivalent of ß, and a search with the letter ß will return only results with the German letter ß and not the English equivalent with two s’s. Since variant spellings could mean that a word written with two s’s could also be written with the German letter ß, it is recommended that you always search for two s’s and use the German ß letter. If you do not have this German letter on your keyboard, you may copy and paste it. A search for the family name Weissman should also be performed separately with the letter ß for Weißman. You can either copy and paste this letter in or find out what the key command for that letter is on your particular computer keyboard.

b. Comments regarding searching the fields
If you are searching for a married woman’s last name, there is a possibility that she was unmarried at the time of the 1939 Census, so it is a good idea to perform a search in the Family Name field using her birth name. It is also possible that she was widowed or divorced later, and may be under a different married name. The birth names of married women were also sometimes not entered.

Always search for spelling variations or use partial names for searches, consider for instance that the name Löwysohn may also have been spelled (or misspelled, falsely transcribed etc.) as Lowysohn, Lowyson, Lövysohn, Lovyson, Levyson, Lewyson, Lewysohn, etc.

To find probable family members once you have located a person, perform a new search with just the last name and the street address and city. You might also try searching for the same family name in the Maiden Name field with the street address and city to find potential in-laws of the family living at the same address.

There are a number of cases where people are registered at different addresses, sometimes on the same street, sometimes in different cities. There are also many cases where a person lived in one place in 1939, but was deported from another place, and their place of residence in 1939 is not always accounted for in the online memorial books. Sometimes too the same person is registered in one place under a proper first name such as Elisabeth, but in another place under nickname, such as Elisa or Liesel. It is worthwhile even after having found a listing for a person, to conduct some further searches to confirm if this person might have been registered at a second address.

Streets have mostly had the endings abbreviated, so instead of Schmidtstraße you will see Schmidtstr., the German abbeviation of street being the letters str.; the exception is if the word Straße (Street) is part of the beginning of the street name, such as Straße zum Löwen. Note that the search engine is very particular when you are searching for a street name and street number; an abbeviation of the street name will not work. For example, for Mommsenstr. 47, a search for Momms 47 will yield no results. The street name and even the period in "str." must be exactly written.

Cities are all in original German spellings, Munich is München for example, in the birth place field Vienna is Wien. Most German place names are the same in English, however. As mentioned in the introduction, most of the cards for Thüringen, the Rhein Province, the districts of Erfurt and Minden, and several districts of Bavaria went missing, so don’t wonder if your search for a city in these regions returns no results.

All data is relevant only to the date of the Census, May 17, 1939. If you have another address for the same person, it is probably from a time period prior to or later than this date.

a. Holocaust Victims
All people listed in the search results that are confirmed as victims of the Holocaust are marked with an asterisk * after their name. If you wish to find more information about their fates, you can search for the person at the German Federal Archives Memorial website or at Yad Vashem. Remember too, that in the cases of some women, they may have married after the 1939 Census so you may have to search for their last name from the Census as a maiden name on the memorial websites. There are also many entries where the maiden name of the woman is lacking. It is also possible that due to a slight variation in the name spelling or date of birth, that a person who was actually deported is not yet marked here as deported. Please contact us with the information if you discover such a record.

b. Non-Jewish Persons
All people living in household with one or more persons with one or more Jewish grandparents were registered in the “supplementary cards” in the census, even though they themselves may have had no Jewish ancestry. In many cases, these are non-Jewish spouses, in other cases these are other residents in an institution. The inclusion of a person’s name in this database is, unless the person is confirmed as a holocaust victim, in no way a confirmation of Jewish heritage.

c. Language
Some of the items in the search results, such as institutions (hospitals, prisons, concentration camps etc.) are in German. We are currently constructing a glossary to help with German abbreviations (Jüd. for Jewish, jüdisch, Krk. for hospital, Krankenhaus, for example), but you may want to use a translation website to help translate some of the German words.

d. Streets and Cities
Both street names and street numbers may have changed since 1939. To confirm the present day location of an address, you should consult maps from 1939 which show street numbers with maps from the present day. Sometimes it is possible to maps of cities from the 1930s online with which to compare to current maps online.

Items like I., II., Erdg., HH, Parterre, SF, QB, L, R after the street name indicate where the apartment was located in the building. Erdg. is for Erdgeschoss, or ground floor. I. is the first floor above the ground floor, or 2nd floor in US parlance, and so on with II., III., IV., etc. HH means Hinterhaus or Hinterhof, back house or back courtyard. Parterre is the ground floor, but elevated well above the street level. SF is Seitenflügel, or side building, R for rechts or right, L for links or left. QB is Quergebäude, meaning a building at a diagonal in the back courtyard.

Some cities and streets that were in Germany in 1939 are now part of present-day Poland, the Czech Republic, and Kaliningrad, Russia. In many cases, local historians have published the historical street names and the names in the current languages. Try using a search engine for “Straßennamen” (street names) and, for example, “Breslau.”. Once you have the current street name, you can then use a map to locate the present day location of the house number you are seeking. For current-day names of cities now in other countries, try either Wikipedia or the Genealogical Gazetteer.

With some cities, the district of the city or postal is also included in the search results and is displayed after the city. The Kreuzberg district of Berlin will be displayed as Berlin-Kreuzberg. The districts are not part of the search fields at this time.

III. Known Compatibility Issues
Some users have reported issues when using Windows 7 with Internet Explorer, specifically that Search Results with more than one page of results fail to display the Search Results from page 2 onwards. Our suggested fix for this issue is to try a different browser such as Firefox, Chrome, or Opera and test the Search Results. Another option is to upgrade to a more current version of Windows.