Posted by Ancestry Team on May 8, 2009 in Collections

German records have long been requested by our members. It is estimated that almost 1 in 6 Americans have German heritage.  These records are very hard to acquire. Since they are hard to acquire we are particularly excited about a new very large collection featuring some more recent records from Germany.

We just released today the German Phone Directories 1915-1981. This is a unique colleciotn of books that contains over 35 million people that lived in the major cities in Germany in the 20th century. This is the first time these records have been available online.

As phone books provide an annual account of an individual’s location, they are a hugely valuable resource for tracing people’s movements around Germany before or after the two World Wars and the Great Depression, during the tyranny of the Third Reich and following Germany’s division by the Berlin Wall.

In addition to everyday Germans, the phone books contain names of some of the country’s most famous – and infamous – citizens, including:

                Albert Einstein – The Nobel Prize winning physicist is listed in the 1930 Berlin directory as Prof. Dr. Univ. His phone number was 2807 (original image available)

                Marlene Dietrich – The legendary actress who starred in Shanghai Express is listed in the 1930 Berlin directory living at 54 Kaiserallee. Her telephone number was H1 Pfalzburg 2142 (original image available)


                Eva Braun – Mistress and later wife of Adolf Hitler, Ms. Braun is listed in the 1937 Munich directory living at Wasserburger Strasse. Her telephone number was 480844 (original image available)


Rudolf Hess – Hitler’s private secretary and later Deputy Fuhrer is listed in the 1938 Hamburg directory, which describes his title as ‘SS-Untersturmfuhrer’ (original image available)


Dr Karl Braun – The physicist, inventor and Nobel Prize winner travelled to the US in 1914 but was forbidden to return when America entered the First World War. He is listed in the 1915 Berlin director, with no further entries after that year. Braun died in Brooklyn, New York in 1918 (original image available)


                Otto Lagerfeld – The father of the famous fashion designer Karl appears in the 1933 Hamburg directory living in the wealthy Elbchaussee. His telephone number was 462349.  It is believed that Karl Lagerfeld still owns an exclusive villa on that street (original image available)


                Kaiser Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albert von Preußen – Germany’s last Kaiser is listed in the 1915 Berlin directory residing in the Royal Castle Berlin. His phone number was 482 (original image available)


We hope you enjoy these German records.




  1. Cyndi Howells

    I wish you would label the topic properly. German phone books may be a terrific source, but I sure wouldn’t call them a “record.”

  2. arlene miles

    When you take a survey in order to make Ancestry better, do you consider the age of the people using your databases the most?
    It appears to me, over the last two years, the younger users are interested in getting 2 or 3 generations online then they loose interest. Do many stay loner than the Free time?
    I believe it is the over 40 users that are more serious about finding their ancestors and as many “records” as possible.
    Go after the hard to get records,and your guaranteed to get renewals.
    And now with the economy in the dumps,you probably have a pretty good size following.
    Keep up the good work.

  3. Larry Czarnik

    I’m sorry to butt in here, but I wish to draw Ancestry’s attention to a matter they raised some time ago (longer than 14 days) and given that comments are closed on any particular topic after 14 days…

    Here is the original post –

    “ Blog Update
    Posted by Heather Erickson April 24, 2009

    We want to let you all know about a recent change we’ve made to the blog. The blog has been updated to prevent comments from being made on posts that are more than two weeks old.

    We truly value your feedback, and appreciate the insight our readers provide us on products, content and everything else we post on this blog. This change to the blog was made to ensure we are able to track all comments in a more timely manner and reply as needed.

    All comments that have been posted to date will remain on the blog, but the function to accept future comments after two weeks has been disabled. If you missed your opportunity to comment on a blog post, don’t worry. After comments have closed on a blog post, the message board is another great forum to post your feedback.”

    My comment firstly is that no where do you make this new stipulation obvious. So those who read and post on 1000’s of other blogs would never know of the 14 day reply limit.

    Secondly, the reply restriction promotes exactly what I am doing now. Posting replies in unrelated posts. This is extremely frustrating for those who follow certain items and not others.

    It seems a waste of technology to provide comment feeds if the comments stop. Essentially this means people will add feeds to their readers that will be “dead” after 14 days.

    And lastly as I recall the 1st reply to the original post indicated even Ancestry people can’t get to the post within 14 days. Kind of defeats the purpose doesn’t it.

    Again, I apologize to Gary for hijacking his “New German Records” post.

    2009MY10 17:25 Sydney, 03:25 US EDT

  4. Mary Beth Marchant

    I’m also looking for info on Germans who came over much earlier than these so-called records they are posting which are just phone books. You might as well post phone books for the US and claim millions and millions of added records which do no one any good at all. The only probably with older German records(and I realize the Ancestry can do nothing about that) is that they were written in German. Most German records even if posted would do those of us who do not speak or read German no good at all unless one can find a web site that translates the words-I do know there are some. Maybe a link could be done for a web site that would translate the words. Now wouldn’t that be good. i don’t need to see Adolph Hitlers phone number.

  5. I. too, agree that it is preferable that you do not delete after 14 days, I sugggest, instead, you at least begin a subsidiary site of your older posts as “Archived Blog Posts.” We would have them, and it would be understood that Ancestry would not comment further. Users would perhaps, prefer the ability to add comments that only users would be expected to comment upon, further.

  6. Jade

    Cyndi Howells’ sentiment, arising from her vast experience, is on-target.

    Many more of us in the US are descendants of 18th-century immigrants than are descendants of those who would be listed in telephone books. Of course there would be some Ancestry subscribers in Europe who would be interested in locating their parents aunts-uncles or (if wealthy) grandparents in these directories.

    Technically, the telephone directories are ‘records’, but it is a deceptive term. They are not the *Vital Records* from Bavaria and other regions of Germany that are sought by so many of us.

    Such directories are a trivial addition. Their absence would not be noticed by more than a few.

  7. Vibeke Christiansen

    That is a good thing. Whish i could se these German records, as I have subscribed to a 14 days trial, but could not get any acces. Then I of Course wanted to cansel, but could NOT, Got the message, I had nothing to cansel!!! Thought all was good, but later ancestry have drawn 374 dollars from my account. And i can STILL not get any access. Then try to email you, but cannot without submitting once again, and if i do so, do you draw another amount from my account??? Now i try this and i will go on writing here, if i do not get my rights. And that is NOT acces to the informations on your site, but my money back. Have NO trust in you!!!!
    Vibeke Christiansen

  8. Gary Gibb

    Thanks for your comments.

    Interesting comment from Cyndi regarding records. We generally categorize all content as a record at Ancestry. Perhaps we are too loose with our definition. What would you call them? We generally try to use a term to refer to all the new content we post and names or records tend to bubble to the top.

    Regarding age of people, we do look at what we call “life time value” of customers. We do try to consider the extra value of the more established and long-term members of our site.

    Regarding 14 day blog postings. As I understand it from our “blogging” experts, it is a fairly common practice to close blogs after a time. I think part of it is to help us as bloggers because we don’t have the time to really track all the older blogs. I think it helps keep the blog lively and up to date. I understand your point however about wanting a “visitors” only activity level. I need to discuss this further to better understand all the issues with this.
    Regarding the free trial cancel not working please call support. They should help you get it straitened out. You can also cancel online.

  9. Mike

    Mr. Gibb,

    The main point you seem to be missing is that of all the US customers who have German ancestry such as myself, those that can benefit in any way from 20th century phone books is a tiny minority.

    The only thing we can use is church books and civil registration records. That Ancestry does not have nor is likely to have such records is the reason most of us will not subscribe to the World package.

    And as far as the dubious entertainment value of phone book entries for prominent Nazis, I personally would rather go to Footnote and peruse WWII military records or the early FBI records.


  10. John Hirschmann

    Are there plans to add other German cities to this collection. My primary interest in Nurenburg and Fuerth area.

  11. Gary Gibb

    We would love to have more old German records and they are coming. Truthfully we are excited about any German content deals because they are so hard to come by. We understand older records would be better for US researchers.
    The good news is that as we make more progress with more German record holders it makes it easier to do make the next deal. Stay tuned for more cool German records later this year.

  12. Audrey Sofield Barber

    My greatgrandmother’s last name was “Jones” and in the census she indicates that her parents were born in Scotland. That’s all the info I have. She was born in Wellsboro, PA in the early 1800’s. Where do I go from here?
    Also my g’g’grandfather, John Sofield was born in NY in the early 1800s according to census. I am not sure where to go to find out where he landed and from whence his parents came and on what ship. where do I go from here?

  13. Audrey Sofield Barber

    My grandfather, David Maxmillion Handler was born in Gratz, Austria. He and his brother Edward, came to NJ in the early to mid 1800’s. I have searched and searched and can’t find out when and on what ship they came over on. HELP!!!

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