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German Genealogy

Ahnenpaß / Ancestor Passport

The Ahnenpass (literally ancestor passport) documented the Aryan lineage of citizens of Nazi Germany. It was one of the forms of the Aryan certificate (Ariernachweis). Many Germans were required to complete it during the Third Reich. Many Germans who held less sensitive positions were not required to complete them.

One important law which was issued on 7 April 1933 (after the Nazi assumption of power) was called the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, and it required all public servants to be of "Aryan" descent. The law, however, did not define the term "Aryan" and a subsequent regulation was issued on 11 April 1933 as the first legal attempt by the Third Reich to define who was, and who was not, a Jew.

"Those are not Aryans who descend from non-Aryan, especially Jewish, parents or grandparents. It is sufficient (grounds for exclusion) for one parent or grandparent to be non-Aryan. This is particularly assumable if a parent or grandparent adhered to the Jewish religion."

The applicable fields were later enlarged under different laws to include lawyers, teachers, medical doctors and finally requiring a proven Aryan lineage even to attend high school. Usually, the lineage was investigated four generations back.

  • Der Ahnenpaß des Ehepaares. Verlag für Standesamtswesen, Berlin 1939.

  • Ehrenreich, Eric. The Nazi Ancestral Proof: Genealogy, Racial Science, and the Final Solution. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2007.

  • Essner, Cornelia. Die „Nürnberger Gesetze“ oder Die Verwaltung des Rassenwahns 1933–1945. Schöningh, Paderborn 2002.

  • "Reading the Ahnenpaß." Der Blumenbaum, SGGS 27, 2 (October, November, December 2009): p. 81-81.