The following news release was written by TGN staff. I will do a full review of the new database later in the week.
20th Century German Phone Books feature over 35 million names including Albert Einstein, Actress Marlene Dietrich and Hitler’s Mistress Eva Braun
PROVO, UTAH – May 8, 2009 – In a world first, Ancestry.com, the world’s largest online family history resource, today launched online the German Phone Directories, 1915-1981 – a unique collection of phone books containing the names and addresses of more than 35 million people who lived in Germany’s major cities during the 20th century.
This is the first time that these phone books, which are held in paper-form at the German National Library, have been digitized and made available online.
This collection will be of international interest as for social, political, religious and economic reasons, the 20th century was a period of large scale emigration from Germany to countries such as the US, UK and Australia.
An estimated 49 million Americans (one in six) alone claim German heritage – many will be descended from German immigrants whose names can be found in these phone books.
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.
“Few countries in the 20th century have experienced the scale of social and economic change that Germany has, as many Germans moved around the country and the world before and after the two world wars,” said Josh Hanna, senior vice president of Ancestry.com International. “These directories will play a vital role for those with German heritage trying to trace their family to a particular place and time.”
The information they contain: for the cities of Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Leipzig, is especially useful when supplemented with complementary documents such as passenger lists and censuses, which can help trace individuals’ movements around the globe.
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)
The German Phone Directories, 1915-1981 also list names and addresses for many of Germany’s major businesses operating during the 20th century, including an entry for BMW listed in Munich in 1928.
In addition to the German directories, Ancestry.com also hosts the British phone books, 1880-1984, which contain the names of more than 280 million Brits, including the phone number of heroic wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who is listed as ‘Central London – 6823’.
The German Phone Directories, 1915-1981, will be available on all Ancestry.com websites to members and through a 14-day free trial.
About Ancestry.com and The Generations Network
The Generations Network, Inc., through its flagship Ancestry.com property, is the world’s leading resource for online family history. Ancestry.com has local websites in nine countries and has digitized and put online over 8 billion names and 28,000 historical records collections over the past ten years. Since July 2006, Ancestry.com users have created 10 million family trees containing 1 billion profiles and 20 million photographs and stories. The Generations Network also includes myfamily.com, Genealogy.com, Rootsweb.ancestry.com, MyCanvas.com, dna.ancestry.com, Family Tree Maker and Ancestry Magazine. More than 9.2 million unique visitors spent over 4.7 million hours on a TGN website in March 2009 (comScore Media Metrix, Worldwide).