Purpose and Structure

The Central Archives for Research on the History of the Jews in Germany was founded in 1987 as an establishment of the Central Council of Jews in Germany (Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland). The conception of the Central Archives can be compared with that of the former General Archives of the German Jews (Gesamtarchiv der deutschen Juden) located in Berlin 1905- 1939. Storing and cataloguing historically valuable documents from Jewish communities, associations, organizations, and persons are of major concern. As a rule, the records are deposited at the Central Archives. The Central Archives has four employees; available stockroom capacity is approximately 1500 linear meters. A board sets the working guidelines.


Paul Spiegel, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany as chairman.
Board members:
Prof. Dr. Michael Graetz, rector of the College for Jewish Studies in Heidelberg (Hochschule für Jüdische Studien); Dr. Reinhard Timmer, Federal Ministry of the Interior; Dr. Hans-Jürgen Vorbeck, Ministry of Science and the Arts in Baden-Württemberg; Prof. Dr. Hartmut Weber, president of the Federal Archives (Bundesarchiv); Dr. Hanna Liss, College for Jewish Studies in Heidelberg; Prof. Dr. Friedrich Battenberg, State Archives of Hessen in Darmstadt; Rachel Heuberger, Library of the City and University of Frankfurt am Main; Prof. Dr. Herbert Obenaus, University of Hannover; Prof. Dr. Wilfried Schöntag, president of the board of the Archives in Baden-Württemberg; Dr. Barbara Suchy, Leo Baeck Institute.

F o n d s


The collection of documents from the Jewish communities, associations, and organizations is limited to the political borders of the Federal Republic of Germany. None of the institutions though are obliged to transfer outdated records to the Central Archives, as the collection and storage itself is based on individual agreements. Contrary to the public sector, enforceable guidelines are non-existent in the Jewish sector; the Central Archives in Heidelberg merely offers the Jewish communities an opportunity to store old records and documents. Yet on this basis the Central Archives has already acquired extensive record groups:

Central Council of Jews in Germany
Records 1950-1997, 45 linear meters
Central Welfare Office of the Jews in Germany
Records 1954-1990, 110 linear meters
Allgemeine Jüdische Wochenzeitung
Records of the Editor 1983-1997, 11 linear meters
Jewish Student Organisations
Records 1962-1992, 7 linear meters
Regional Association of Jewish Communities in Lower Saxony / Jewish Community Hannover
Records 1945-1990, 45 linear meters
Regional Association of Jewish Communities in Nordrhein
Records 1945-1981, 42 linear meters
Jewish Community Berlin
DP-files 1945-1949, 5 linear meters
Jewish Community Bremen
Records 1945-1979, 42 linear meters
Jewish Community Dortmund
Records 1945-1990, 30 linear meters
Jewish Community Düsseldorf
Records 1945-1979, 21 linear meters
Jewish Community Frankfurt a.M.
Records 1945-1985, 302 linear meters
Jewish Community Fürth
Records1946-1995, 10 linear meters
Jewish Community Heidelberg
Records 1961-1991, 6 linear meters
Jewish Community Wiesbaden
Records 1962-1986 and papers of the cantor Edmund Capell 1905 - 1937, 6 linear meters


In order to achieve a detailed documentation on Jewish life, the Central Archives also looks into personal papers. Historically relevant sources are not only to be found among the leading representatives of Jewish communites and organizations but also among a new generation of Jewish authors in German literature and journalism. Already in their lifetime important documents can be secured and given public access. The prerequisite for the cooperation with a Jewish author is that the author deals with Jewish topics that have an impact on public discussions in the Federal Republic of Germany. Documents of the following persons are already in storage:

family papers 1850-1960, 0.1 linear meter
Edmund Capell (*1876-1942), cantor
personal papers, 0.02 linear meters
Leiser Goldschmidt (*1889-1960)
personal papers, 0.01 linear meter
Lothar Rothschild (*1909-1974), rabbi
personal papers, 2 linear meters
Stefan Schwarz (*1910-1985)
personal papers, 0.02 linear meters
Joseph Wulf (*1912-1974), historian
personal papers, 21 linear meters
Emil Davidovic (*1912-1986), rabbi
personal papers, 0.3 linear meters
Helmut Eschwege (*1913-1992), historian
personal papers, 13 linear meters
family papers 1915-1980, 0.02 linear meters
Gerhard Ballin (*1922-1989), genealogist
collection of material, 2 linear meters
Robert Schindel (*1944), poet
manuscripts 1960-1991, 0.5 linear meters
Henryk Broder (*1946), journalist
manuscripts and collection of material,
tapes 1963-1993, 13 linear meters
Rafael Seligmann (*1947), author
articles 1979-1984, 0.02 linear meters
Peter Sichrovsky (*1947), author
critics and reader's letters 1983-1990, 0.4 linear meters
Siegfried Baruch (*1901-1973)
letters, fotos, articles 1948-1983, 0.1 linear meter
Barbara Honigmann (*1949), author
critics 1986-1996, 1 linear meter


Cemetery documentation

Nearly 2.000 Jewish cemeteries exist today in the Federal Republic of Germany. The total number of Jewish gravestones have been estimated at 600.000. Destruction, willful and by the elements, endanger these tombstones. A major task of the Central Archives in the first years of its existence was the preservation of the inscriptions by an extensive photo-documentary. Photographs of about 54.000 Jewish tombstones in Baden-Württemberg are now in possession of the Central Archives. In addition, the Central Archives stores photographs of more than 5.000 Jewish gravestones of Lower Saxony. Information on other documentation-projects of Jewish gravestone inscriptions is collected systematically.


The collection of all periodical publications by Jewish groups or organizations is a further aim of the Central Archives in Heidelberg. Written newsletters that are sent, that is, "made public" to members of a Jewish community, association, or organization are considered publications. The collections of the Central Archives consist of public newspapers and journals, newsletters of Jewish communities, programs of Jewish adult education centers, and photocopied circulars.

Special Inventories

The Central Archives systematically collects lists of sources kept in other archives, institutions, or of those in private possession that are of relevance to the history of the Jews in Germany. As a rule, existent special inventories are copied and given access to in Heidelberg.


The library of the Central Archives is a reference library. In order to acquire the fonds and collections of the Central Archives, the library not only offers general reference books but also publications on the Jewish history in postwar Germany and Jewish regional history.

Director: Dr. Peter Honigmann
Research assistants: Elke-Helen Szarf and Alon Tauber
Office: Eva Blattner

Bienenstr. 5
69117 Heidelberg
Tel: +49-(0)6221/164141
Fax: +49-(0)6221/181049

Visiting hours:
Monday thru Thursday 2pm-4pm
or by appointment

Date: 20.1.2000
Translation by Daniela Eisenstein

To the home page of the Central Archives