Institute for the History of the German Jews

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The Institute for the History of German Jews (IGdJ) is a foundation under civil law sponsored by the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg . The institute was opened in 1966 and was the first research facility in Germany to deal exclusively with German-Jewish history.

Prehistory and foundation

The extensive archives of the Jewish communities in Altona, Hamburg and Wandsbek had been handed over to the forerunner of the Hamburg State Archives and had survived the war there; elsewhere the Gestapo had confiscated such stocks and brought them to Berlin, where they were destroyed by the effects of the war. After the war, efforts were made to move the archives of Jewish communities from Europe to Israel. In 1959 an agreement was reached to divide up the holdings in Hamburg and to hand over the Hebrew-language parts. The archive material was copied or saved on microfilm so that all material is accessible for research in both Hamburg and Israel.

Eric M. Warburg , Hans W. Hertz , Dietrich Gerhardt and Karl Heinrich Rengstorf advocate that the material located in Hamburg should be developed by a specially created institute and made usable for research. The mayor of Hamburg, Herbert Weichmann, initially rejected this request, but in 1963 a corresponding senate decision was made: the planned institute was to assume a role similar to the Leo Baeck Institute , but for Germany.

After quarrels about filling the management positions, the company moved into premises in Rothenbaumchaussee in July 1965 and the institute officially opened on May 4, 1966. An organizational end point was set on October 24, 1972 with the establishment of a foundation. In 2007 the institute moved to a building on Bundesstrasse / Beim Schlump 83, which also houses the research center for contemporary history in Hamburg .

Institute director


The research assignment of this non-university institution consists in the evaluation of the archival sources on the history of the Jews in Hamburg and the neighboring areas and also includes the present. Research focuses on the history of the Portuguese and Sephardic Jews living in Hamburg, Altona and Wandsbek, the documentation of Jewish cemeteries, the Jewish religious, cultural and social history and especially the role of Jewish women and that of the Sephardic Jews in Germany.

In addition to its own research work, the institute organizes conferences and guest lectures with other research institutions. The institute's scientists hold courses at the University of Hamburg, but are not members of the teaching staff.


The reference library is generally accessible and currently has over 50,000 works on the specific topic of German-Jewish history. It is listed in the campus catalog of the University of Hamburg, but not linked to interlibrary loan. The books can be ordered on site, by phone or online for use in the reading room. The current opening times can also be found on the institute's website.


The IGdJ has so far published around 45 volumes in the series “Hamburg Contributions to the History of German Jews” in Wallstein-Verlag . Many of them are freely available online. In addition, 11 volumes have been published as “Studies on Jewish History” by Dölling und Galitz Verlag . The historical reference work The Jewish Hamburg published by the IGdJ in 2006 can now be viewed online.


  • IGdJ (ed.): 50 years, 50 sources. Festschrift for the anniversary of the Institute for the History of German Jews . Hamburg 2016. ( PDF, 28MB )
  • Andreas Brämer : The Institute for the History of German Jews. In: Nurinst. Yearbook of the Nuremberg Institute for Nazi Research and Jewish History of the 20th Century. 3, 2006, pp. 171-179.
  • Ina Lorenz : The Institute for the History of the German Jews. In: Uri R. Kaufmann (Hrsg.): Jewish life in Germany today. Bonn 1993, pp. 163-172.
  • Peter Freimark: From Hamburg's handling of the history of a minority. Prehistory and founding of the Institute for the History of German Jews , in: Zeitschrift des Verein für Hamburgische Geschichte 74/75, 1989, pp. 97-108.

Web links


  2. The series on the IGdJ website
  4. ^ The studies on the IGdJ website
  5. ^ The Jewish Hamburg. A historical reference work. Göttingen 2006, online version
  6. Deputy Director of the institute