The Memorial Book Victims of the Persecution of Jews under the National Socialist Tyranny in Germany 1933 – 1945 allows you to search for people in a targeted way using a search form. You can also find information on how the Memorial Book was developed, on the persecution and murder of the Jewish population in the German Reich between 1933 and 1945 and on the deportation of Polish Jews from the German Reich in 1938/39. A chronological list of deportations from the German Reich (including Austria, the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, and the German Sudeten regions), Belgium, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands is also provided.
The Memorial Book also documents all Jews that were murdered or died in other ways as a result of persecution between 1933 and 1945, who had voluntarily resided in the German Reich, specifically within its territory as of December 31, 1937, regardless of their nationality. By necessity, the Memorial Book uses the term “Jewish” in accordance with the definition at the time, whereby persons with one Jewish grandparent were described as “Vierteljuden” (“quarter Jews”).
Additions and corrections
The online version makes it possible to continuously publish additions and corrections resulting from the extensive input by users of the Memorial Book.
Despite our constant efforts to amend and verify the existing information, the Memorial Book is still incomplete. The Federal Archives continue to invite your corrections and additions. Please contact us:
- Enter your information directly using the “Send proposed correction” field for the respective person in the online Memorial Book or
- Send us an email to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Federal Archives would like to thank all users who have supported our work to document the persecution of Jews to date. We are always grateful for further information.
Notes on the presentation of personal information
The Memorial Book Victims of the Persecution of Jews under the National Socialist Tyranny in Germany 1933 - 1945, only documents the following information, if known:
- Surname, First name, Name at birth (if applicable), Pseudonym (if applicable).
- Date of birth and Place of birth: The name of the place of birth is given in its form at the relevant time (with respect to the relevant person’s date of birth).
- Places of residence: Chronological list of places of voluntary residence in the German Reich between 1933 and 1945.
- Expulsion: Documents the expulsion to Poland in 1938/1939, if known, stating the time of the expulsion
- Emigration: Date and destination of emigration.
- Deportation: Place from which the deportation train departed, including departure date and destination, as well as any other transports, including date and destination.
- Date of death: The date of death is only provided if it is known to be certain.
- Place of death: The place of death is only provided if it is known to be certain.
- Further documented information states whether the person committed suicide as a result of persecution or fell victim to NS “euthanasia”, as well as whether an official declaration of death exists.
To fulfil scientific standards, the Federal Archives exclusively document data that are clearly confirmed by written sources.
Despite continuous efforts, the above-listed data are not available for every person documented in the Memorial Book. Thus, the Federal Archives continue to be interested in suggested corrections and additions. To submit them, please either use the “Send proposed correction” function provided for each entered person, or send an email to email@example.com.
Development of the Memorial Book Victims of the Persecution of Jews under the National Socialist Tyranny in Germany 1933 – 1945
The first Memorial Book
In 1960, following an initiative by the Israeli Yad Vashem memorial site, the Federal Minister of the Interior sent a circular letter to the federal states and municipalities in the Federal Republic of Germany, calling upon them to compile sources on the Jewish population, which were to form the basis of developing a Memorial Book.
The aim of the Memorial Book was to document all Jewish victims of the Shoah who came from Germany, i.e. including those who were murdered during the November pogrom in 1938, as well as Polish Jews who were expelled from Germany in 1938/1939 during the so-called “Polenaktion”, those who committed suicide in view of their desperate situation, and those who were initially able to flee abroad, but were ultimately deported from there to extermination camps and centres.
The Federal Government instructed the Federal Archives to carry out research for a Memorial Book. Its first edition was published in 1986, entitled Victims of the Persecution of Jews under the National Socialist Tyranny in Germany 1933 – 1945, in collaboration with the Red Cross International Tracing Service in Arolsen and was largely based on the sources and information compiled there. The book documented a total of around 128,000 names of Jewish victims.
The second Memorial Book
After the end of the Cold War, above all numerous central and eastern European states allowed international researchers to access a large volume of sources, without the former restrictions. Thus, in the mid-1990s, the Federal Archives began a comprehensive revision of the Memorial Book. For the first time, it was to include the systematic documentation of victims:
- who came from the region that later formed the territory of the German Democratic Republic
- who had lived in the former German regions in the East
Supplementary Cards of the 1939 Population Census
One source was particularly important for the revised edition: the so-called Supplementary Cards of the Population Census of 17 May 1939. When these came to the Federal Archives in the early 1990s following the takeover of the GDR Central State Archive, they were allocated to record-group R 1509 Reichssippenamt (“Reich Office of Genealogy”).
The Supplementary Cards recorded all persons living in a single household with respect to their “race” classification, based on the Gesetz zum Schutze des deutschen Blutes und der deutschen Ehre (“Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour”). If one member of the household recorded at least one Jewish grandparent, the cards were forwarded to the Reichssippenamt following their standard statistical analysis. The entire volume of the Supplementary Cards constituted the “Reichskartei der Juden und jüdischen Mischlinge” (“Reich Index of Jews and Mixed-Race Jews”) compiled at the Reich Statistical Office.
85 % of the Supplementary Cards still exist and have by now been digitised. Thus, the names of a large proportion of the Jewish population living in Germany immediately before the Holocaust are known. These Supplementary Cards enormously improved the data quality and density of the Memorial Book.
Other sources from Germany and abroad
There are also other sources, largely from third parties, that continue to be successively analysed and allocated to the respective persons in the database.
Special attention has been paid to further specifying the deportation processes and analysing German and foreign sources on emigration between 1933 to 1939, i.e. before the census on May 17, 1939. This made it possible to ascertain more precisely the fate of many persecuted emigrants who had above all fled to western European countries.
Furthermore, corrections and additions from numerous correspondences sent to the Federal Archives over the years also contributed to the revision of the Memorial Book.
In May 2006, the Federal Archives presented the second, considerably extended edition of the Memorial Book. It comprised four volumes with 150,000 personal entries. The documentation on individual persons was expanded in this edition to include the following: Place of residence, Deportation route and data, Expulsion to Poland, NS “euthanasia” and Suicide.
The 2nd Edition was the last edition of the Memorial Book in a printed form.
The online Memorial Book
Since 2007, the Memorial Book has been presented online on the website of the Federal Archives and is actively used, commented on and corrected. The Memorial Book is by no means complete and remains work in progress. We continue to seek access to new sources, above all to process existing desiderata and also to update the existing data.
The extent of additions is demonstrated by the number of documented persons: while the printed edition of 2006 included 149,625 names of Jewish victims, the online Memorial Book comprises 176,475 names (in February 2020).
Unlike the printed edition, the online version also documents around 7,000 people who were expelled to Poland in late October 1938 and in the summer of 1939, frequently via the border town of Bentschen (Zbaszyn). Although some individuals may have managed to flee, the overwhelming majority of them later fell victim to National Socialist persecution measures. Thus, these people were included in the Memorial Book unless information existed on their successful emigration or similar evidence. It is possible to search for those expelled using appropriate entries in the field “Expulsion”.
List of Residents
The Memorial Book is very closely linked to work on the database “List of Jewish residents in the German Reich 1933 – 1945 within the borders of December 31, 1937” (“List of Residents”). This project, which was originally developed in 2002/2003 to assess compensation claims by Jewish insured persons and was supported by funds from the Foundation Remembrance, Responsibility and Future (EVZ), has been a permanent task of the Federal Archives since 2008. The “List of Residents”, aims to include all Jewish residents of the German Reich who voluntarily resided there between 1933 and 1945 and was originally developed on the basis of the Memorial Book. The database is known as the “List of Residents”.
The “List of Residents” is not directly available to users of the Federal Archives for reasons of data protection with respect to survivors and those affected, as well as due to various bilateral agreements with data donors, and because its development status is incomplete. However, the Federal Archives provide information on the “List of Residents” in accordance with the regulations of the Federal Archive Act Federal Archive Act .
Persecution and murder of the Jewish population in Germany 1933-1945
On January 31, 1933, state power was transferred to the National Socialist Party NSDAP. The new rulers gradually introduced regulations with which numerous civil rights and freedoms were undermined or abolished, as well as advancing the enforced conformity of the German state and German society. Following the Reichstag Fire, the two emergency decrees on February 28, 1933 declared a permanent state of emergency.
On April 1, 1933, the so-called “Aprilboykott” represented the start of successively introduced anti-Semitic laws and terror measures that caused many Jews to flee from the German Reich. Rights were quickly removed from the Jewish population: people were denaturalised or degraded as second-class citizens with fewer rights.  From 1935 onwards, the rulers began to purge the economy of Jewish citizens (“Entjudung”). Following the November pogrom of 1938, businesses owned by Jewish people were subject to “forced Aryanisation” (“Zwangsarisierung”).
While the census in June 1933 counted 502,799 Jewish citizens among the total population of 65 million, the total size of the Jewish population had fallen to 400,000 by the end of 1937. A large proportion of them, around 140,000, lived in Berlin.
A further census was carried out on May 17, 1939. It is hardly possible to compare this “Census of the people, professions and businesses” with the preceding censuses in 1925 and 1933. Firstly, the territory of the German Reich had grown considerably following the reclamation (“Heimholung”) of the Saarland in March 1935, as well as the annexation of Austria in March 1938 and the Sudeten region in September 1938. Secondly, Judaism was no longer defined and recorded as a religious community, but as a “race”. Around 80 million citizens of the German Reich, including Austria, the Sudetenland and the Saarland were counted. The aim of this census was to record the Jewish population, as well as registering the men who were fit for military service and women who were able to work, with a view to the planned mobilisation. The Reich Statistical Office reported that, at the time of the census, the analysis showed 330,892 “full Jews” (“Volljuden”), 72,738 Jews of “mixed race, 1st degree” (“Mischlinge 1. Grades”) and 42,811 Jews of “mixed race, 2nd degree” (“Mischlinge 2. Grades”). 39,466 so-called “full Jews” were foreign citizens, most of whom came from Poland.
Despite the territorial expansion of the German Reich, it was impossible to overlook the fact that the total size of the Jewish population in the old territory of the Reich had reduced to 233,973. This decrease by over 266,000 people was firstly caused by the flight of Jews from Germany, but also by the surplus mortality that had been observed for a long time as a result of an ageing population and the starkly declining birth rate.
However, emigration and ageing were not the only reasons. On October 28 and 29, 1938, around 17,000 mainly male, adult Jews with Polish citizenship were taken to railway stations on the Polish border. Local trains took some of them into Poland, although most of them were driven on foot over the border during the night. Others were interned in a camp near Bentschen (Zbaszyn). A large proportion of people expelled to Poland eventually arrived in other Polish cities and ghettos. If they did not die due to the labour and living conditions there, they subsequently fell victim to the brutal extermination measures.
This “Polenaktion” had far-reaching consequences. Among those expelled were the parents of the Hanover-born Herschel Grynszpan, who assassinated the German diplomat Ernst vom Rath in Paris on November 7, 1938. His death was then used by the National Socialist rulers as a pretext for the November pogrom, which was initiated by the SA, SS and the HJ, among others, but also joined by parts of the population. Several hundred Jews lost their lives and 2,000 synagogues were burnt down throughout the country. An enormous number of apartments, houses, shops, Hakhshara camps, orphanages and other Jewish facilities were destroyed and plundered. Around 30,000 Jews were deported to the Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald and Dachau concentration camps. The majority of those arrested were released again after a few days or weeks. However, before being discharged they were required to make a commitment to immediately begin preparations for their emigration. Great Britain reacted to the November pogrom by opening its borders to 10,000 Jewish children, while organised efforts allowed a further 10,000 children to escape to Sweden, France, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands before the outbreak of World War II. The first transport of children left Germany on December 1, 1938. Further children’s transports included not only children from Germany, but also from Austria and Czechoslovakia.
Those unable to flee were caught up in various ways in the machinery of persecution and extermination. For instance in 1938, disproportionally high numbers of Jews were interned in concentration camps during the campaign known as “Arbeitsscheu Reich” (literally “work-shy Reich”). Furthermore, an especially large number of Jews were murdered during various “euthanasia” programmes. The figure cannot even be estimated. The suicide rate also increased. Estimates presume the figure to be 10,000; sometimes entire families took their own lives. Overall, the total size of the Jewish population in Germany fell by around 70,000 people between May 17, 1939 and September 30, 1941.
Before the deportations were planned and systematically implemented, there were already various initial deportations instigated by a number of Gauleiter in 1940/1941, for instance from Stettin and Schneidemühl to the District of Lublin. On October 22, 1940 around 6,500 people from the Baden, Palatinate and Saarland regions were taken to the Gurs internment camp, which was situated in an as yet unoccupied part of southern France. Other transports arranged at short notice were carried out in February and March, 1941, with a total of around 5,000 people, from Vienna to the Litzmannstadt ghetto. A transport from Danzig had the same destination on February 1, 1941.
On October 1, 1941, Bruno Blau, who was Editor of the journal Zeitschrift für Demographie und Statistik der Juden for many years, registered only 163,696 Jews remaining in Germany. Shortly before, in September 1941, it had become a legal requirement for Jews to visibly wear the yellow badge (“Judenstern”). On October 18, the mass transportation of Jews from the so-called “Altreich” (former region of the Reich) began with a transport from Berlin to the ghetto in Litzmannstadt (Lódz) in the annexed Reichsgau Wartheland, transporting over 1,000 people. From October 18 to the end of 1941, over 28,100 people from Germany were deported to the ghettos in Litzmannstadt, Minsk, Kovno (today’s Kaunas) and Riga. The largest number of deportation trains departed the following year, in 1942. On February 27, 1943, the remaining Jewish forced labourers were arrested and deported in nationwide raids known as the “Fabrik-Aktion” (“factory action”). Thus, almost all Jews were deported to the East. At that time, nearly all the remaining Jewish people on the territory of the “Altreich” were protected by so-called “Mischehen” (“mixed marriages”), while a few thousand people had gone into hiding. 176,475 Jewish people from the German Reich did not survive the Shoah (status: February 2020).
Miriam Rürup, Wie aus Deutschen Juden wurden. Staatsangehörigkeit von Jüdinnen und Juden in den 1930er-Jahren, in: Alina Bothe, Gertrud Pickhan (Eds.), Ausgewiesen! Berlin, 28.10.1938. Die Geschichte der „Polenaktion“, Berlin 2019, p. 54-58; see also: J. Walk (Ed.), Das Sonderrecht für die Juden im NS-Staat, 2nd edition, Heidel-berg 1996.
Frank Bajohr, „Arisierung“ und Restitution. Eine Einschätzung, in: Constantin Goschler; Jürgen Lillteicher, „Arisierung“ und Restitution. Die Rückerstattung jüdischen Eigentums in Deutschland und Österreich nach 1945 und 1989, Göttingen 2002, p. 41.
Die Verfolgung und Ermordung der europäischen Juden durch das nationalsozialistische Deutschland 1933–1945 (EJV), Bd. 2, Susanne Heim: “Einleitung”, Munich 2009, p. 13.
Die Juden und jüdischen Mischlinge im Deutschen Reich. Vorläufiges Ergebnis der Volkszählung vom 17. Mai 1939, in: Wirtschaft und Statistik, published by the Statistische Reichsamt, 1st and 2nd March issue, No. 5/6 (1940).
There are occasional differences in research literature concerning the statistical records. The often-stated figure of 330,892 includes the annexed Austria, with a population of 94,270 Jews, and the German Sudeten region, with 2,694 Jews. The figure of 233,973 Jews in the German Reich presented here refers to the old territory of the Reich, thereby allowing better direct comparison with the figures of the census in 1933.
Wolf Gruner, Von der Kollektivausweisung zur Deportation der Juden aus Deutschland (1938-1945), in: Birthe Kundrus and Beate Meyer (Eds.), Die Deportation der Juden aus Deutschland. Pläne – Praxis – Reaktionen 1938-1945 (Beiträge zur Geschichte des Nationalsozialismus, Bd. 20), Göttingen 2004, p. 21-62.
Wolf Gruner, Totale Verwüstung: die vergessene Massenzerstörung jüdischer Häuser und Wohnungen im Novemberpogrom 1938, in: Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft, 67 (2019) 10, p. 793-811, esp.: p. 794.
Beate Meyer, Einleitung, in: Beate Meyer (Ed.) in collaboration with Esther Yen, Deutsche Jüdinnen und Juden in Ghettos und Lagern (1941–1945), Łódź. Chełmno. Minsk. Riga. Auschwitz. Theresienstadt. Berlin 2017, p. 11.
Meyer, Einleitung, p. 17.
EJV, Bd. 6, Susanne Heim: Einleitung, Munich 2019, p.32.
Meyer, Einleitung, p. 14 f.
Bruno Blau, Das Ausnahmerecht für die Juden in Deutschland 1933-1945, 3rd edition, Düsseldorf 1965, p. 10.
Expulsion of Polish Jews from the German Reich 1938/1939
The forced expulsion of Jews from the German Reich at the end of October 1938 (known as the “Polenaktion”) is often mentioned in literature as a precursor to the pogrom in November 1938. On November 7, 1938, the Polish Jew Herschel Grünspan (Herszel Grynszpan), who originally came from Hanover but was at the time in French exile, shot and killed legation councillor Ernst Eduard vom Rath at the German Embassy in Paris to make people aware of the fact that his parents had been expelled to Bentschen (Zbaszyn) during the so-called “Polenaktion”. The National Socialists seized the opportunity for propaganda purposes, using it as a pretext for the November pogrom of 1938.
For a long time, the “Polenaktion” itself, during which 17,000 Jews with Polish citizenship were expelled from Germany by brutal force, was not the subject of particular attention, either in research or in commemorative culture.
Forced expulsion to Poland in October 1938
With Austria's annexation on March 12, 1938, the situation of the Jews living in the territory of the Reich changed dramatically, since it had a lasting impact on the immigration policy of many European states. Now that Austria had ceased to be an escape option and was subject to the same National Socialist policy against the Jews (“Judenpolitik”), the German Reich’s neighbouring states feared an even stronger influx of Jewish emigrants, from which they tried to protect themselves by tightening immigration regulations. Unlike Switzerland, France or Great Britain, measures taken in Poland were directed against their own citizens who resided outside Poland.
Thus the law passed by the Polish Parliament on March 31, 1938 made it possible to withdraw Polish citizenship from any of its citizens who had lived abroad for five years or longer without interruption, as they were considered as having lost their connection to the Polish nation. This affected an estimated 30,000 Polish Jews in the German Reich and an additional 20,000 Polish Jews in Austria. The law was to be enacted with a decree in early October 1938. The Polish government attempted to forestall a mass expulsion from the German Reich by all means possible, ordering all Polish citizens living abroad to report to the responsible consulate to have their passports checked and marked accordingly. Failure to do so rendered their Polish passport invalid on October 30, 1938. As soon as the decree became known in Berlin via the German Embassy in Warsaw, thousands of Polish Jews in the German Reich received an expulsion order from October 27, 1938 onwards, were arrested and expelled across the German-Polish border in great haste, either on foot or in mass transports.
Since the order to forcefully expel Polish Jews did not reach all parts of the Reich at the same time, the deportation date varied depending on their place of residence, ranging between October 27, 28 and 29, 1938. Furthermore, the decree allowed local authorities a certain interpretation leeway. Thus, not only the method of its implementation differed throughout the Reich, but also the nature of the decision on who faced expulsion. While in one town or region, entire families were torn from their homes by the police, in other places only the male household members were affected. Equally, some locations only expelled Polish Jews over the age of eighteen, while in others, young children and even babies were also deported.
The place where Polish Jews resided also determined the border crossing they were taken to during the “Polenaktion”. Due to the routes of the German railway network, mass transports of Jews mainly reached three border towns with railway connections. In addition to the already mentioned town of Bentschen, larger transports went to Konitz (today’s Chojnice) in Pomerania and Beuthen (today’s Bytom) in Upper Silesia.
Source material for identifying the names of people affected
The Federal Archives already took a first step towards ascertaining the names of affected people while working on the Memorial Book and the database of former Jewish residents in the German Reich 1933–1945, analysing a wide range of sources. One of the most comprehensive sources is a list of names stored by the Arolsen Archives, recording victims of the “Polenaktion” who were deported via Bentschen. Their fate was recorded in the database of the Federal Archives in the “Expulsion” section dated October 28, 1938, with the destination of “Bentschen (Zbaszyn)”, unless a different expulsion date could be determined by means of complementary sources.
There were no comparable sources for the other border crossings, as individual Polish border authorities behaved differently. In Bentschen, they tried to intern and register those who were expelled, but elsewhere, people were mostly able to continue their journey without having their personal data recorded. The database records the fate of people whose precise expulsion location cannot be verified with the general destination of “Poland” in the “Expulsion” field.
Using the above-mentioned sources, which, in addition to the Bentschen List, primarily included sources with a regional historical background, the Federal Archives were able to identify some 7,000 people affected by forced expulsion to Poland in October 1938.  The town of Bentschen (Zbaszyn) could be verified as the border crossing for approximately 4,800 of them, which attracted considerable press attention at the time in the light of subsequent events. The influx began there in the evening of October 28, 1938. The German police marched people along the country roads or railway tracks. Later, the first trains reached the border crossing. Contemporary witnesses reported chaotic scenes. Several thousand wandered about in no man's land, spilling onto the railway premises and occupying station buildings or squares in the vicinity, as well as meadows surrounding the Polish border town of Bentschen. The unprepared Polish authorities were completely overwhelmed by the situation.
Once the Polish border guards had endeavoured to register those expelled or check their passports, many of them were able to continue their inland journey for the following two days. However, those who did not know where to go or whose entry was denied were interned in Bentschen.
The fate of people expelled to Bentschen
The Polish police already began cordoning off the town on a large scale on October 31, 1938. They accommodated the majority of those affected in the old barracks with integrated stables. From then on, they only permitted their departure under certain conditions. These were fulfilled if the affected people were able to prove that they could find a place to stay in Poland with family members or friends, or those who possessed appropriate documents for subsequent emigration. There are also cases where affected persons were allowed to return to the German Reich for a short time to dissolve their households and put their finances in order. However, following this they were expelled to Poland again.
The whereabouts of persons interned in Bentschen therefore depended on various factors. If they failed to leave Bentschen early on, they stayed there until the camp was gradually dissolved in the summer of 1939. The Federal Archives received a list of names of affected people from the archives of the American Joint Distribution Committee in New York. It is possible to research the fate of the people recorded in it using the field “Arrest” in the online Memorial Book of the Federal Archives (Enter: “until summer 1939 Bentschen (Zbaszyn), internment camp”).
It was possible to determine the place of emigration of some people affected by the “Polenaktion” whom the Federal Archives have identified to date. However, not all of them were able to escape the grasp of German authorities for long. The war caught up with many of them in the Netherlands, Belgium or France, from where they were deported. The same applies to those who returned to the German Reich for various reasons. If they survived their imprisonment in concentration camps such as Sachsenhausen, Dachau or Buchenwald, they were later also transported to extermination camps, to the Theresienstadt ghetto or a labour camp.
The last traces of Jews who stayed in Poland after their forced expulsion mostly lead to one of the numerous ghettos that the Germans established in the country. Having found refuge with family or friends, they were deported to such ghettos along with them. However, to this day, no exact details can be given on many victims of the “Polenaktion”. Their fates still remain unclear today. It is not known whether they were deported, were able to emigrate or survived the war at all
Bentschen List, admission list of the Polish reception camp in Zbaszyn/Bentschen, Arolsen Archives.
All persons proven to have been brought to the Polish border town can be searched in the database by entering the search term “Bentschen (Zbaszyn)” in the field “Expulsion”. The expulsion date is the day on which the affected person received an expulsion order and was taken away by the police or arrested. Many of them had to spend a day in custody or were first sent to another city, before being taken to the Polish border in a mass transport.
The Memorial Book only lists those who did not survive persecution or whose fate is currently unknown.
List naming Jews registered in Zbaszyn in the summer of 1939. Archive data from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, New York.