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Searching people in Germany / Family research / Genealogy

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Searching people in Germany

The German missions in Australia cannot assist you in finding a person in Germany. However, the following information is meant to be helpful when seeking a person in Germany on your own initiative.

“Einwohnermeldeamt”

In Germany every resident, regardless of his/her nationality, is legally obliged to register with their local council. In the case of a person who was recently registered in Germany, you can inquire to the local registration office (“Einwohnermeldeamt”) at their last known town of residence. A specimen address is provided in the box below. You should explain that your inquiry is for private reasons and provide proof of this. If the person has moved within Germany, the registration office will know their new address. The information will only be given to you if the provided data fits to only one single person registered in that town. Otherwise, due to data protection the local authority must not tell you any address. Therefore it is useful to specify the person´s identity with as much personal data as possible.

Addresses of the local “Einwohnermeldeamt” can be looked up on the website of each city, i.e.: www.[nameofcity].de or the local telephonebook.

Most staff at the Einwohnermeldeamt understand english messages. However, the following German sentence contains the essential information needed by the local authority to locate a person registered in Germany:

“Der Name der Person ist ….....(insert full name of person you are looking for), geboren am …... (insert date of birth) mit letztem mir bekannten Wohnsitz in ….... (insert last known town of residence in Germany).

Online telephone book

You may also be able to find someone´s address and phone number through an online telephone book. To use these directories name of the person and the city he/she lives in should be available:

Das Telefonbuch

Das Örtliche

Gelbe Seiten

Family tracing services

The German Red Cross (“Deutsches Rotes Kreuz”) offers seeking services which might be helpful for you.
DRK-Suchdienst

The German Salvation Army („Heilsarmee“) supports close relatives finding missing persons in Germany.
Die Heilsarmee

Private detective

Calling up a private detective agency is known as a very efficient though costly option. Addresses can be found online or in the yellow pages. In order to find a suitable agency for your purpose you might want to contact the Federal Union of German Detectives:

Bundesverband Deutscher Detektive e.V.

Family reseach/ Finding ancestors/ Genealogy

Please be aware that the German Missions in Australia can not engage in tracing ancestors. The following organisations might be helpful for your individual search:

Genealogy societies

For enquiries in English:

Society of Australian Genealogists

For enquiries in German:

Deutsche Arbeitsgemeinschaft Genealogischer Verbände e.V

Genealogy websites

German Genealogy & Family History:

about.com - Genealogy

These websites provide a register of nationwide genealogical organisations in Germany.

Ahnenforschung / Katalog

Information about German soldiers in WW I and II, Incl. POW

Deutsche Dienststelle

Deutsche Dienststelle (WAst)

Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e.V. (German war graves)

www.volksbund.de

Military History Research Institute
Military History Research Institute:
MGFA
National archive, office Bayreuth

For information about former residents in the former expulsion zones from 1939 to 1945:

Kirchlicher Suchdienst

Wills& Probate Register

For the search of next of kin of already deceased persons the 'Wills & Probate Register' of the individual Australian federal states can be a helpful source:

Wills & Probate Register

General information on data kept by German authorities

  • The municipal civil registrar's office of each town (“Standesamt”) - working in general since 1876, sometimes earlier, can provide you with records of birth, marriages and deaths.
  • Protestant/Lutheran and Catholic Parochial registers inform you about christening, wedding and burial and often go back to 1600 - written in characters one must know to decipher. You must know where the birth/marriage took place in order to be able to locate and evalute the documents.
  • There are public record offices („Staatsarchiv“) in Germany. They are subdivided into the 16 individual German states. They are responsible to keep all the documents that are worth while archiving (certificates, records, maps, digital data etc) from the state´s authority. For a list of all the offices, visit:
    Liste staatlicher Archive

Please note: Positive results of such research work are not guaranteed and fees are involved.

Recommendations on how to lodge your request

  • Evaluate and collect all sources in your home country (old family papers; wills; obituary notices; newspaper announcements; in memoriam slips; passports; remarks in family bibles / on photos / public and parochial archives and so on)
  • Avoid mistakes in reading by forwarding xeroxed copies of old written texts.
  • In principle there is no answer to questions on an ancestor without quoting his place of origin/birth/marriage, with the exception of some rather unusual names meaning something to experts. General indications on the origin, such as “Germany”, “Prussia”, “the region of Stuttgart” will not do.
  • Give full information as on a questionnaire on all you know, especially family name, christian name, place and date of birth, name of parents (and their place of origin), religious denomination, profession/trade, place and date of marriage, the corresponding facts of the spouse, accompanying family members, harbour of departure, times of emigration etc.
  • If some research work has already been done, tell the whole story - results and failure with background.
  • If you write in German it will facilitate the correspondence, but good English is understood better than insufficient German. Try to use a typewriter / personal computer. Names of persons and places must be printed at any rate.

Literature on Genealogical Research

  • Mützelburg, Owen: “The Family History Series: How To Trace Your German Ancestors. A guide for Australians and New Zealanders”.
    publisher: Hale & Iremonger Pty Ltd
    GPO Box 2552
    Sydney NSW 2001
  • Glenzdorf, Johann: “Glenzdorf Internationales Genealogen-Lexikon
    (Biographical handbook for Genealogical research and heraldics)
    publisher: Verlag W. Rost
    31848 Bad Münder am Deister
  • Krausse, Johannes: Wecken, Friedrich: 
    Taschenbuch für Familiengeschichtsforschung
    Wegweiser für die Forschung nach Vorfahren aus den ostdeutschen und sudentendeutschen Gebieten sowie aus den deutschen Siedlungsgebieten in Ost- und Südeuropa
    publisher: Verlag Degener & Co.
    Postfach 13 80
    91403 Neustadt/Aisch
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