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The history of the Federal Archives

Former Reichs Archives on top of the Brauberg in Potsdam

Former Reichs Archives on top of the Brauberg in Potsdam

Quelle: BArch, B 145 Bild-P012380 / Fotograf: o.Ang.

1919

The Reich Archives are set up as a central archive after the stipulations of the Treaty of Versailles required the dissolution of many military authorities. The Reich Archives take over responsibility for the documents of all supreme state authorities from 1867/71 onwards, and from 1924 onwards also the archives of the German Confederation and the Imperial Chamber Court (Reichskammergericht), held in branch archives in Frankfurt am Main. In the course of time, the archives are supplemented by non-state records as well as photographic and film documents. The Reich Archives building was located on the Brauhausberg in Potsdam.


1935

The Reich Ministry of Propaganda sets up a Reich Film Archive at the Reich Archives in Potsdam.

1936

The Potsdam Army Archive is hived off from the Reich Archives as an independent institution.

1944/1945

The more valuable civil holdings of the Reich Archives are moved to external locations due to the war. The holdings which had not been removed were largely destroyed in an air attack in April 1945.


German Central Archives in the Orangery of the Palace of Sanssouci in Potsdam

German Central Archives in the Orangery of the Palace of Sanssouci in Potsdam

Quelle: BArch, DO 6 Bild-21-01 / Fotograf: o.Ang.

1946

In the GDR, the German Central Archives (Central State archives of the GDR since 1973) are set up, headquartered in the Orangery of the Palace of Sanssouci in Potsdam.


First accommodation of the Federal Archives at the riverbank of the Rhine in Koblenz

First accommodation of the Federal Archives at the riverbank of the Rhine in Koblenz

Quelle: BArch, Bild 146-1969-172-27 / Fotograf: o.Ang.

1952

On the basis of a Cabinet decision of 1950, the Federal Archives are set up in Koblenz as higher state authority, attached to the Federal Ministry of the Interior. The archives are initially housed in buildings formerly used by the Prussian Regierungspraesident (Dirstrict Officer), located directly on the banks of the Rhine.

1954

The previous Reich Archives branch in Frankfurt am Main, which contains the records of the German Confederation and the National Assembly of 1848/49, and the "Inseparable Assets" of the Imperial Chamber Court (Reichskammergericht), is integrated into the Federal Archives.


1955

The North Rhine-Westphalia Civil Register Archive for personnel documents of a military provenance is integrated into the Federal Archives as the Zentralnachweisstelle (Central Verification Office) based in Aachen-Kornelimuenster.

The Military Archive Department is set up in the Federal Archives.

The GDR State Film Archive is founded in Berlin.

1955/1956

The Central State Archive of the GDR moves into a building in the Berliner Strasse/ Tizianstrasse in 1955/1956. The State Archive Administration, a Department of the Ministry of the Interior, is also located here. The Potsdam Departments of the Federal Archives are headquartered here from 1990 until 1996.


Central State archives of the GDR in Potsdam

Central State archives of the GDR in Potsdam

Quelle: BArch, DO 6 Bild-01-04 / Fotograf: o.Ang.

Federal Archives at the W÷llershof in Koblenz

Federal Archives at the W├Âllershof in Koblenz

Quelle: BArch, B 198 Bild-00043 / Fotograf: o.Ang.


1961

The Federal Archives move into a multi-storey building in the Koblenz inner city (Am Woellershof 12).

1964

The Military Archive of the GDR National People's Army (NVA) is founded in Potsdam (initially as the German Military Archive).

1965

The intermediate archives for Federal authorities files, headquartered in Sankt Augustin near Bonn since 1972, are set up in Bad Godesberg.


German President Gustav W. Heinemann at the opening of the

German President Gustav W. Heinemann at the opening of the "Memorial to Freedom Movements in German History" in Rastatt

Quelle: Quelle: BArch, Bild 146-1974-177-03 / Fotograf: o.Ang.

1968

The Military Archives Department of the Federal Archives is moved to Freiburg and incorporates the holdings of the Central Documents Office of the Agency for Research into Military History (Militaergeschichtliches Forschungsamt).

1974

A branch of the Federal Archives known as the "Memorial to Freedom Movements in German History" is opened in Rastatt.


Central film archives in Koblenz-Ehrenbreitstein

Central film archives in Koblenz-Ehrenbreitstein

Quelle: BArch, Bild 146II-589 / Fotograf: o.Ang.

1978

The Federal Archives are given the task of acting as a central film archive for all German film productions as a result of an administration agreement covering the Association of Cinema Library Facilities.


Chancellor Helmut Kohl und the President of the Federal Archives, Hans Booms, at the opening of the new building of the Federal Archives in Koblenz

Chancellor Helmut Kohl und the President of the Federal Archives, Hans Booms, at the opening of the new building of the Federal Archives in Koblenz

Quelle: BArch, B 145 Bild-F073978-0026 / Fotograf: Engelbert Reineke

1979

A Cabinet decision of the Federal Government assigns the task of editing the Federal Government Cabinet minutes to the Federal Archives.

1986

The Federal Archives move into a newly built facility in Koblenz-Karthause.

1988

With the passing of the Law on the Preservation and Use of Federal Archival Documents (Bundesarchivgesetz) on the 6th of January 1988, general access to the Federal Archives and the responsibilities of the Federal Archives are for the first time placed on a sound legal footing.

1989

With the passing of the law on the central archiving of documents concerning legislation governing the after-effects of war, the Federal Archives set up a central Lastenausgleichsarchiv (archives on equalization of burdens) in Bayreuth.


1990

In the course of the reunification of Germany, the central archives of the GDR (Central State Archive and Military Archive in Potsdam, State Film Archive in Berlin) are integrated into the Federal Archives.

1992

The SED Party Archive and the FDGB Archive and other GDR organisations, together with their libraries, are integrated into the Foundation Archives of Parties and Mass Organisations of the GDR in the Federal Archives. The Foundation is headquartered in Berlin.


NSDAP membership card index  in Berlin

NSDAP membership card index in Berlin

Quelle: BArch, B 198 Bild-00021 / Fotograf: K.-O. Hesse

1994

Upon withdrawal of American troops from Berlin, the Federal Archives take over the Berlin Document Center including the NSDAP membership card index and personnel records of 62,000 SS officers after these have been recorded in their entirety on film.


1996

The Federal Archives occupy a property in the Finckensteinallee in Berlin-Lichterfelde to house the Potsdam departments, the former Document Center and the Foundation Archives of Parties and Mass Organisations of the GDR in the Federal Archives.

1997

Intermediate Archives for supreme state authorities in the Berlin area are opened in Hoppegarten, near Berlin.

The Federal Archives go online with their first Internet presence.

1998

The Federal Archives are moved into the area of responsibility of the newly setup Minister of State for Culture in the Federal Chancellery, the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.

1999

The Lastenausgleichsarchiv (archives on equalization of burdens) in Bayreuth moves into the renovated former city hospital, which has been extended by building a stacking centre.


The Frankfurt branch archive

The Frankfurt branch archive

Quelle: Ph. M├Âckel

2000

The records of the Central Office of the State Justice Administration for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes are integrated into the newly founded Ludwigsburg branch archive of the Federal Archives.

The Frankfurt branch archive is closed, and the records of the central organs of the German Confederation, including the documents concerning the National Assembly of 1848/49, are removed to Koblenz.

2001

In Hoppegarten, one of the most modern mechanical deacidification plants for the protection of archive documents threatened by deterioration is opened by a commercial company in the course of a privatisation concept.


The Zentralnachweisstelle (Central Verification Office) in Aachen-Kornelim├╝nster

The Zentralnachweisstelle (Central Verification Office) in Aachen-Kornelim├╝nster

Quelle: BArch B 198 Bild-00052 / Fotograf: o.Ang.

2002

Work is started in Hoppegarten on a holdings preservation centre with special stacking centres for the storing of cellulose nitrate films and workshops for film processing and the restoration and conservation of archives of all kinds, as well as for their filming and digitalisation.

The Federal Archives celebrate their first 50 years of existence at a ceremony in Berlin attended by the Federal President and at a commemorative event in Koblenz.

The Central database for personal papers (ZDN) is made available in the Internet.

2003

The first Federal Archives online inventories are made available in the Internet.

The online edition of the Federal Government Cabinet minutes is presented to the press and the media in the Federal Chancellery.

2005

In Hoppegarten, the new facilities for film storage and restoration are taken into service. The Zentralnachweisstelle (Central Verification Office) in Aachen-Kornelimünster is closed.

In the Internet, the Notfallregister Archive NORA (Central Emergency Register Archives) is set up as a tool for prevention of catastrophes to German archives.


2007

In the course of the retro-conversion programme for the digitalisation of inventories and card indexes, the millionth title is digitalised.

In Berlin-Lichterfelde work is started on the Ernst Posner Building, with stacking centres and a receiving area for the Berlin Federal Archives, as well as the restoration of the former barracks, which will house a reading room and offices.

The Federal Archives digital picture archive goes online in the Federal Chancellery.

2008

The 2006 second, considerably extended, edition of the remembrance book "Victims of the persecution of the Jews" is made available in the Internet for online research.

2009

In Berlin-Lichterfelde, the keys of the Ernst Posner Building are handed over. Until September 2010 over 110 km of archives and libraries are relocated.