PDA

View Full Version : Pre-war document to prove you were not Jewish


Nic Maennling
25 February 2008, 11:43 PM
I have a document from my family dated 1938 which sets out to prove to the German government that they were not Jewish. Do the readers have any knowledge about how reliable that sort of information is ? I do not consider it primary evidence but without any other documentation what does one do ? A paid genealogist from Berlin informed me that my family information was destroyed. Any information would be most appreciated.

Sincerely,
Nic Maennling
Lanark, Ontario, Canada

Dennis J. Cunniff
27 February 2008, 12:08 AM
I have a document from my family dated 1938 which sets out to prove to the German government that they were not Jewish. Do the readers have any knowledge about how reliable that sort of information is ?

It sounds like you are referring to a German Ahnenpass, or "ancestor passport". Like all documents, some will be accurate and others not. Certainly some were falsified, so those that demonstrate Jewish ancestry are arguably more reliable than those that claim Aryan ancestry (as there would be no incentive to falsely claim Jewish ancestry).

As you can imagine, there were other types of Nazi documents touching on ancestry. You may want to take a look at the Wikipedia articles on Ahnenpass (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahnenpass), the Nuremberg Laws ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_laws), and Mischling (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mischling).

martha
27 February 2008, 01:40 AM
I have a document from my family dated 1938 which sets out to prove to the German government that they were not Jewish. Do the readers have any knowledge about how reliable that sort of information is ? I do not consider it primary evidence but without any other documentation what does one do ? A paid genealogist from Berlin informed me that my family information was destroyed. Any information would be most appreciated.


Nick, In that period of time, there was an understandable rush to do anything to stay alive and not to be the object of Nazi persecution and murder. Your chances of the documentation being true are just as good as your chances of it being a forgery. The Nazis judged a Jew by 8 grandparents. If one of them was Jewish, you were Jewish, according to their laws. Since most Germans did not have to prove their "aryanness," there must have been a reason why your family required proof. If you posted this question because you are looking for your roots, you might try looking in Jewish registers for one of your great grandparents.

Martha

wadiuwant
27 February 2008, 05:23 AM
For all that, I have seen this document in part of my wife's family documents and the details were taken from church records.

Richard

Don Fram
27 February 2008, 06:29 AM
I have a document from my family dated 1938 which sets out to prove to the German government that they were not Jewish. Do the readers have any knowledge about how reliable that sort of information is ? I do not consider it primary evidence but without any other documentation what does one do ? A paid genealogist from Berlin informed me that my family information was destroyed. Any information would be most appreciated.

Sincerely,
Nic Maennling
Lanark, Ontario, Canada

I have a friend who has German ancestors. He has some documents from the war era which list ancestors to prove there were no Jewish ancestors. He has replied as follows.

"I have a 1933 Ahnentafel document covering 5 generations back from my grandmother. I guess it is of the same kind as the 1938 document because they were widely produced in the early Hitler era. It is officially stamped by the local Burgermeister but did he verify the Ahnentafel against anything? I don't know. Perhaps the information was taken on trust or perhaps it was checked at least superficially against other documents.

I have letters between my grandfather and my great-grandmother, a few German-style BMD certificates, rough notes and rough hand-drawn Ahnentafel drafts from two overlapping branches of my family, and a few Ahnenpass passes, I believe family members pooled their knowledge to produce their official Ahnentafeln. I speculate that my grandfather kept the letters because they wer important - did he have to produce them with the Ahnentafel when visiting the Burgermeister, I don't know.

Recently I have found two instances of LDS data where family trees in my 1933 Ahnentafel have matches trees from the LDS with 2 generation overlaps. This is giving me more confidence about the oldest two generations and by implication the newer generations.

Interesting that sometimes only the name and religion ("Konfession") are known for the oldest entries (back to 1750s) which is hardly surprising given the context in which they were produced and the fact they were all living in the north of Germany.

In terms of data quality I have found a few inconsistencies when I compare the documents. Just a couple of spelling errors and transcription errors. I've also found a few instances where people are known by different names (many of mine have 3 or 4 forenames). But, it is the old Suetterlin script that I have trouble reading so I have not finished the process - some good German web sites can help understand it.

I have not begun to search out official BMD-type records from Germany but do have a few recent examples from an aunt. I understand they're held locally to where the event occured so unless the family in the 1938 tree moved around then I'd be surprised if all records were lost.

I would try to find matches in the LDS database for the 1938 tree. If a match is found then it builds conficence as it is the older records are least likely to have been remembered accurately by family members. I only found 2 threads of ancestors via the LDS - but one took me back to 1625 in the south of German.

I would also suggest asking the living family members for any Ahnenpass books that may have been kept since the WW2 era as they should contain a mirror of the information in the Ahnentafel documents. Although they were probably produced from the same sources they can reveal inconsistencies such as spelling and transcription errors because everyone, young and old, had them.

Another possibility - I understand that marriages in Germany have two parts - civil at the town hall and religious at the church - leading to a suggestion that two records of the same event are less likely to be lost. But, for Berlin quite possible I suppose.

Finally, I'd guess that if you combine the meticulous and copious record keeping of German officialdom with the fear of the masses of having their Ahnentafel checked out then you're left with a reasonable chance that few dared to falsify their records.

I'd treat the 1938 Ahnentafel as a pretty accurate source of information with just minor reservations."

I give this for what it is worth with confidence but am not able to confirm the accuracy. I trust it is of some use.

Denny Lowe
27 February 2008, 03:30 PM
I have a document from my family dated 1938 which sets out to prove to the German government that they were not Jewish. Do the readers have any knowledge about how reliable that sort of information is ? I do not consider it primary evidence but without any other documentation what does one do ? A paid genealogist from Berlin informed me that my family information was destroyed. Any information would be most appreciated.

Sincerely,
Nic Maennling
Lanark, Ontario, Canada

Hi Nic, long time no natter. My wife and her parents were German and they migrated to Canada as displaced persons in 1953. My late father-in-law had made mentioned of these Ahnenpass documents, which were required by the state, and I "think" they had to go back three generations. I am also of the impression that they had to be presented with detailed, documented evidence before they were accepted.

One of my wife's cousins has sent Helga information on her (the cousin's) ancestry, and it is based upon the above noted state-required documents. In her case, these still exist and the cousin holds photocopies of the originals.

My mother-in-law fled East Prussia, with Helga, just ahead of the Russian advance and failed to take the families "papers". (She took the wrong bundle of papers.) As a result, my father-in-law had to file sworn statements after the war, establishing his identity, etc. Would this situation fit your case?

I also understand that the Russians have taken German State documents (vital statistics, etc.) back to Russia, and these now are held in the Russian State Archives.

Denny Lowe
Langley BC