Das Bundesarchiv

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Department German Reich (Department R)

Department R holds the archives of the central civil authorities of the German Reich (1867/71 – 1945), brought together again after being sundered due to the Second World War and the division of Germany. Person-related documents held in the Berlin Document Center (BDC), which was under American administration until 1994, were transferred to the Reich holdings that had been up to that point mostly located in Potsdam and Koblenz. Holdings of the previous Reich Archives branch archives in Frankfurt – the "Inseparable Assets" of the Imperial Chamber Court (Reichskammergericht, 1495 – 1806), the German Confederation (1815 – 1866) and the Frankfurt National Assembly (1848/49) are also held in Berlin-Lichterfelde.

In spite of considerable losses due to war, the Federal Archives have by far the largest archival pool of sources concerning the history of the North German Confederation, the German Empire, the Weimar Republic and the period of National Socialism. These documents are intensively used, particularly for research into the National Socialist past.

The central holdings include those of the supreme Reich authorities such as the Reichskanzlei (Reich Chancellery, 1878-1945), the Auswaertiges Amt (Foreign Office, 1870-1945) and the Reichskolonialamt (Reich Colonial Office, 1907-1919) as well as the Reichsämter and -ministerien (Reich Offices and Ministries) of the Interior (1879-1945), Finances (1879-1945), Justice (1879-1945), Economics (1917-1945), Employment (1918-1945) and the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Security Main Office, 1939-1945).

The documents of the NSDAP, its organisations and affiliated associations – e.g. the Partei-Kanzlei (Party Chancellery, 1933-1945), the Persönlicher Stab Reichsführer SS (Personal staff of the Reichsführer-SS, 1925-1945), the SS-Personalhauptamt (SS Main Personnel Bureau, 1939-1945) – and also the NSDAP membership card index (1925-1945) as well as person-related documents from the NS archive of the former GDR Ministry of State Security are also available for use.

The State records are supplemented by personal papers and the written materials of other parties and associations holding central responsibilities such as the Deutsche Kolonialgesellschaft (German Colonial Society, 1887-1936), the Alldeutscher Verband (All-German Association, 1891-1939), the Reichsverband der deutschen Hochschulen (Reich Association of German Universities, 1920-1935), the Deutschnationale Volkspartei (German National People’s Party, 1918-1933) and the Deutscher Gemeindetag (German Community Council, 1933-1945).

Important holdings, particularly of the NS period, are in part located in Russian and other foreign archives. The United States National Archive also contains a considerable number of original German documents that, amongst other uses, were presented as evidence in the Nuremberg War Crimes trials.