The Memorial Book was initiated by the memorial place Yad Vashem in 1960 and has been compiled at the Federal Archives by order of the Federal Government with the support of numerous archives, municipalities and other institutions ever since. The first edition was published in 1986 in close collaboration with the International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen und was mainly based on the sources and information gathered there. It listed altogether some 128,000 names of Jewish citizens.
Based on the source material which had been made accessible to the public in the course of the reunification (supplementary cards of the population census of 17th May 1939 (German), amongst others) a comprehensive revision of the Memorial Book was initiated in the mid 1990s, in which victims from the territory of the new Federal States and the former Eastern territories were taken into consideration for the first time. Particular attention was given to rendering the deportation processes more precisely by evaluating newer data from the concentration camp memorial places Ravensbrück, Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald and Neuengamme. Another focus was the investigation of sources of foreign institutions on the emigration between 1933 and 1939, prior to the population census on 17 May 1939, since it allowed a more precise backtrack of different stages of persecutions of emigrants to Belgium, Luxemburg, France and the Netherlands. In addition, substantial amendments and supplements from numerous letters to the Federal Archives could be included in the revised edition.
Working on the “list of Jewish residents in the German Reich 1933 - 1945” (German) has been closely linked to the Memorial Book. This project, which had been developed in 2002/03 in the course of Jewish insurance claims and which was also sponsored by the Federal Archives with funds of the foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” from 2005 - 2007 has been part of the ongoing tasks of the Federal Archives. The main objective is to compile a list, as completely and precisely as possible, of the approximately 600,000 Jewish residents, who had been residing in Germany anytime between 1933 - 1945 - borders of the Reich as outlined on 31 December 1937 - and who had been persecuted because of their Jewish origin or Jewish belief by the National Socialist regime. Even though the revision work will continue for years to come going hand in hand with the further development of the Memorial Book, stored data inventories have significantly contributed to the compilation of the second edition of the Memorial Book.
In May 2006 the Federal Archives introduced the second, updated and extended version of the Memorial Book which had considered the latest research findings based on the improved situation regarding files and sources since 1990. Texts published in the printed version (prefaces and forewords as well as the introduction in the revised edition) have been adopted in this online version with minor changes only. Additionally, the Internet presentation is constantly being complemented with a list of deportation transports from Germany and its major bordering countries, which is also permanently being updated, as well as a selective bibliography on German-Jewish regional history, persecution history combined with commemorative literature.
The online version allows the timely publication of permanent supplements and amendments of the Memorial Book arising from the wide range of feedbacks and enquiries on the Memorial Book. At the same time it permits the involvement and contribution of eager local historians to further refine and revise contents, which can be demonstrated by the number of persons documented: While the printed version of 2006 only stated 149,625 names of Jewish victims, the current presentation already includes more than 170.000 names.
In contrast to the printed version, the online version also contains some 7,000 people, who were forced to Poland - mainly to the border town of Bentschen (Zbaszyn) - in late October 1938 or in summer 1939. Although some may have managed to escape, the overwhelming majority fell in the end victim to the National Socialist persecution hence that group of people was included in the Memorial Book - unless there were reports about a successful emigration or the like. Those who were asked to leave can be investigated by inserting their name in the separate box “Deportation”. They are highlighted in blue when their names are being investigated. The following pages provide an overview of the historical background of the forceful expulsion of Polish Jews in October 1938 and what happened to them afterwards.
The online version of the directory of names of the Memorial Book provides, if at all available, the following details of persons affected:
Despite ongoing efforts to complement and verify any available material the Memorial Book continues to lack information. The Federal Archives therefore appreciate any indication of new sources as well as amendments and supplements. Please make use of the feedback option which is offered with each single entry or use the special contact address firstname.lastname@example.org.
The hope that the communication medium Internet would appeal to an extended user group and raise sympathy or even cooperation has been confirmed impressively in the years of the online version of the Memorial Book being live. The Federal Archives would therefore like to thank those who have repeatedly supported the efforts of the Federal Archives on the documentation of the Persecution of Jews with a great deal of commitment and hopefully will continue to do so in future. After all, it is our common task to never forget the crimes committed and to honour the memory of those killed.