The Centrum Judaicum is a research center at the Neue Synagoge in Berlin. It was established in 1995 on the basis of files of the former Gesamtarchiv der deutschen Juden, the central archive of German Jewry which was based at the Oranienburger Strasse synagogue, the same location of the Neue Synagogue today. The CJ gives access to these and other historical records mostly in microfilm, and is an important genealogy research center. It holds about 500 linear meters of archives, including 2,500 microfilms and 10,300 microfiches.
The Gesamtarchiv’s files were confiscated by the Gestapo in May 1943. Over the course of the war, the archive was split up in a number of locations. As a result, after the war about half of these records was acquired by the Jewish Historical General Archives in Jerusalem (today the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People), but the rest remained in East Germany, where they were deposited at the DDR’s Zentralarchiv in Potsdam.
In the late 1980s, negotiations began between the Zentralarchiv and the Berlin Jewish community to reacquire these files. However, the records were not in good condition which delayed the transfer. In 1995, the Centrum Judaicum opened with these files, which constitute about 50% of the total collection (230 lfm).
The Gesamtarchiv files consist of three main groups: The files of approximately 400 Jewish communities; the personal records of rabbis and other Jewish communal leaders; and the archives of Jewish communal organizations.
The Centrum Judaicum also holds materials on Jewish life in Berlin since 1945 (approximately 220 lfm), as well as other German Jewish communities. It also holds a photograph archive.
The Centrum Judaicum is located within the Neue Synagoge building. As a result, researchers should expect to pass through security screening like all other visitors to the synagogue.
The CJ reading room consists of two large microfilm readers. Most records of the Gesamtarchiv and other older materials are only available on microfilm due to the fragile state of the original files.
The Centrum Judaicum is frequently consulted by genealogists. Due to the fact that there are only two research seats, scholars should reach out to archive far in advance in order to reserve time when they can utilize the materials.
The collections of Centrum Judaicum are outlined in detail in Quellen zur Geschichte der Juden in den Archiven der neuen Bundesländer, vol. 6 (2001).
- Jason Lustig, A Time to Gather: Archives and the Control of Jewish Culture, ch. 5.
- Barbara Welker. “Das Archiv der Stiftung Neue Synagoge Berlin – Centrum Judaicum.” In Das Kulturerbe deutschsprachiger Juden, edited by Elke-Vera Kotowski, 520–33. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2014.
- Barbara Welker, “Das Archiv Der Stiftung ‘Neue Synagoge Berlin–Centrum Judaicum.’” In Haskala Und Öffentlichkeit, edited by Julius H. Schoeps, Karl E. Grözlinger, Willi Jasper, and Gert Mattenkott, 325–44. Berlin: Philo Verlagsgesellschaft, 2001.
- Elisabeth Brachmann-Teubner. “Sources for the History of the Jews from the Eighteenth Century to the Twentieth Century in the Archives of the former DDR.” The Leo Baeck Institute Year Book 38 (1993): 391–408.