FAQ: Brandenburg

Adalbert Goertz

February 2004

Please send any corrections or suggestions to or

For general information see FAQ.preussen
NB: This faq.brandenburg emphasizes East Brandenburg (Neumark).


Q1: Where is Brandenburg?
Q2: What was Brandenburg's recent history?
Q3: What were the administrative areas of Brandenburg?
Q4: What were the court districts in Brandenburg province before 1900?
Q5: How do I find locations and maps for Brandenburg before 1945??
Q6: Are there web sites of interest to Brandenburg researchers?
Q7: Is there a listserv for Brandenburg family researchers?
Q8: When were civil registers introduced?
Q9: What books discuss hints and sources for East German searchers?
Q10: What about Mennonites in Brandenburg province?
Q11: What German archives are available for Brandenburg?

Q1: Where is Brandenburg?

 A1:  Brandenburg was a Prussian province. Its capital until 1920
    was Berlin (pronounce: berr-LEEN),later Potsdam (pronounce:POTS-dum).

Q2: What was Brandenburg's recent history?

 A2:  The province was created in 1816 of the former Mark Brandenburg
and included the Mittelmark,Uckermark,Prignitz, most of Neumark,
some areas of Schlesien, Sachsen (Niederlausitz) and of the grand duchy of Posen. 
Brandenburg East of the Oder and Neisse rivers was cleansed of its 
ethnic German population and given to Poland in 1945. 
The Western powers were silent on the ethnic cleansing.

Q3: What were the administrative areas of Brandenburg?

 A3: In 1900 the province of Brandenburg had the following districts 
and Kreise (counties): * marks total or partial loss to Poland in 1945.


Regierungsbezirk (district) of Potsdam with 18 Kreise (counties):

Regierungsbezirk (district) of Frankfurt an der Oder with 20 Kreise 
  (counties): *Arnswalde,*Frankfurt(Stadt),*Friedeberg,*Guben(Stadt)

(The Neumark covered the Kreise of Soldin, Königsberg, Landsberg,
  Friedeberg, Arnswalde, Krossen, Züllichau, Kottbus  
  and in Pommern: Dramburg, Schivelbein)

Each Kreis was headed by the Landrat who presided over the Landratsamt.
The Landratsamt records are deposited in Berlin and the Polish archives
with published brief inventories.
The Landrat was in charge of passport and emigrations matters and reported
to the district Regierung who in turn gave data to the provincial Oberpräsidium in Berlin.

Q4: What were the court districts in Brandenburg province before 1900?

 A4:  The highest provincial court was the Oberlandesgericht in Berlin.
The lower courts (Landgerichte) and lowest courts (Amtsgerichte) were

Landgericht Berlin  with Amtsgericht Berlin I

Landgericht Berlin II with (15) Amtsgerichte:
  Alt-Landsberg,Berlin II,Bernau,Charlottenburg,Königs-Wusterhausen,

Landgericht Frankfurt an der Oder with (11) Amtsgerichte:

Landgericht Guben with (10) Amtsgerichte:

Landgericht Kottbus with (12) Amtsgerichte:

Landgericht Landsberg an der Warte with (15) Amtsgerichte:

Landgericht Neuruppin  with (15) Amtsgerichte:

Landgericht Potsdam  with (11) Amtsgerichte:

Landgericht Prenzlau  with (12) Amtsgerichte:
  Schwedt,Strasburg in der Uckermark,Templin,Wriezen,Zehdenick.

The whereabouts in Poland of the records for the Landgerichte and
Amtsgerichte is unknown. Some are deposited in the archives AP Gorzow
Wielkopolski (Landsberg).
Any land holding usually means that there were and often still
are today deed and mortgage records (Grund- und Hypotheken-Acten) which
were administered by the Amtsgericht. They usually start with a land 
title history (=tituli possessionis) going back 50 or more years from the beginning of the first deed book.
Legal basis for these land records is the Prussian Hypotheken-Ordnung of 
1783 which initially applied to crownlands only.
The court at that time was called Domainen-Justiz-Amt (until 1806),
Land- or Stadt-Gericht (1806-1849), Kreisgericht (1849-1879),
Amtsgericht (after 1879).

Additional records are Erbrezesse, Erbvergleiche (probates), 
Vormundschaftsakten (Guardianships), Pupillenakten (orphan records), last testaments and wills, Erbscheine.
A remarriage of a widower/widow was always documented in the Amtsgericht
stating in detail the estate rights of surviving children as well as
rights and duties of parents and step parents. This is a source at the
Amtsgericht which is widely unknown and untapped (and unfilmed by the LDS).
If you are looking for records which describe the life and tribulations
of your ancestors, you cannot miss looking at the court records.
The Acta of the Driesen court (Amtsgericht) in Brandenburg (Neumark) have also survived the times with deeds and additional information at the Polish
State Archives in Szczecin (Stettin) today.

Current LDS filming project:

     * Brandenburg -- This is another sizable project involving
       Amtgericht court records:
     * Brandenburg and Berlin Amtgerichte - While there are a fair number
       of church records on microfilm for Berlin and the province of
       Brandenburg, virtually no court records have been available on
       microfilm until this project recently came on line. Started in
       1993, this involves an extensive amount of court records. Filming
       continues at this time. 

For research of estates the estate directories
list the owners and economic information (acreage, lifestock etc.):
 Handbuch des Grundbesitzes im Deutschen Reiche.
  I. Das Königreich Preußen - Provinz Brandenburg
    1st ed. Berlin 1879
    2nd ed. Berlin 1885
    3rd ed. Berlin 1896
    4th ed. Berlin 1903
    5th ed. Berlin 1910

  Niekammers Landwirtschaftliches Güter-Adreßbuch.
    Band 1: Provinz Brandenburg
     1st ed. Leipzig 1907
     2nd ed. Leipzig 1914
     3rd ed. Leipzig 1923
     4th ed. Leipzig 1929
Q5: How do I find locations and maps for Brandenburg before 1945??

A5: An atlas is usually not the best tool to locate small towns or
villages. Maps of scales 1:25,000 (Meßtischblatt) or 1:100,000
(Karte des Deutschen Reiches  and Kreiskarten) and gazetteers
(Ortsverzeichnis) are.

   Topographical Maps (Meßtischblätter 1:25000) may also be
   purchased from
     Bundesamt für Kartographie und Geodäsie
        Richard-Strauß-Allee 11
        60958 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
 For maps for sale in the US see 


For Ost-Brandenburg the above institute sells the following 1:100.000 maps:
Arnswalde, Crossen, Forst, Friedeberg, Landsberg, Oststernberg, Soldin, 
Sorau and Stadtkreis Forst.

Großblätter are available for:
Frankfurt/Oder, Guben, Königsberg/Neumark, Meseritz, Schwerin/Warthe,
Weststernberg, Züllichau-Schwiebus.

For German-Polish place name dictionary, see


Historical maps:

Bliss, Winfried: Die Plankammer der Regierung Frankfurt/Oder.
   Spezialinventar 1670 bis 1870. 1978.
(An inventory of the map collection in GStA.PK in Berlin-Dahlem.
 The village maps often list names of the peasants).

Q6: Are there web sites of interest to Brandenburg researchers?

 A6:  Here is a sampling of web sites:

  + Neumark Genealogical Research Homepage

  + Information on German archives:

  +  Landesarchiv Berlin:

  +  Evang. Zentralarchiv Berlin:

  + Information on Wends/Sorbs:

          Stiftung Martin-Opitz-Bibliothek Herne.
      (ehemals Bücherei des deutschen Ostens)
     Inhalt: Über die Bibliothek. Die Martin-Opitz-Bibliothek....
        e-mail: charly@charly.ping.de

     Herder -Institut Marburg e.V. Gisonenweg 5 - 7, 35037 Marburg/Lahn
     Telephon: 06421/184-0, Telefax: 184-139 
        e-mail: herder@mailer.uni-marburg.de....

    Amtsgericht Potsdam:

    Genealogival sources:

    http://www.feefhs.org/s&f/kbak-ae.html Sources A-E
    http://www.feefhs.org/s&f/kbak-fg.html Sources F-G
    http://www.feefhs.org/s&f/kbak-hk.html Sources H-K
    http://www.feefhs.org/s&f/kblz-lo.html Sources L-O
    http://www.feefhs.org/s&f/kblz-ps.html Sources P-S
    http://www.feefhs.org/s&f/kblz-tz.html Sources T-Z

    Berlin and Brandenburg libraries:

    http://www.fh-potsdam.de/~ BiB/bio_home.htm
Q7: Is there a listserv for Brandenburg family researchers?

 A7: For a mailing list for anyone with a genealogical interest 
in Brandenburg see

   Brandenburg-L (English & German)
     * http://list.genealogy.net/mailman/listinfo/brandenburg-l

   Neumark-L (German only)

     * http://neumark.genealogy.net
    A more general list is  PRUSSIA-ROOTS-L@rootsweb.com

To subscribe send the word "subscribe" (without the
     quotes) as the only text in the body of a message to

     PRUSSIA-ROOTS-L-request@rootsweb.com (mail mode) or
     PRUSSIA-ROOTS-D-request@rootsweb.com (digest mode).

Q8: When were civil registers introduced?

 A8: Civil registers of births,marriages,deaths were introduced in 
    October 1874. The Civil registry office is called Standesamt.
    Before this time, the Lutheran church records (1815-1874) or special 
    Dissidenten-Register (1847-1874) served as official registers, and a
    duplicate copy was deposited at the local court (Amtsgericht).

Most Standesamt (Polish: Urzed Stanu Cywilnego) records remained in the 
old offices and were taken over by the Polish authorities in the areas annexed by Poland in 1945.
They are listed in the Gazetteer of Polish People's Republic Localities.
published in Warsaw 1968, and on LDS microfilm #844,922.

Prior to 1874, the church records (Kirchenbücher) of the official
churches (Evangelic and catholic) served as recognized documents for the
purpose of proving one's birth, marriage, and death and had to meet
certain standards of accuracy and completeness. Members of minor
(unregcognised) churches had to record their vital statistics with the
pastor of the official churches.

Church book Guide:

Kirchenbücher, Kirchenbuch-Duplikate und Standesamtsregister 
der ehemals brandenburgischen Kreise, Königsberg, Soldin, 
Landsberg, Arnswalde, Friedeberg, Ost- und Weststernberg, 
Crossen, Züllichau-Schwiebus, Guben und Sorau o:stl. der Neise), 
Schwerin, Meseritz, Bomst

Bestandsverzeichnis 2000

304 Seiten, Festeinband, 1 Kartenbeilage, Preis 49,- DM + Versandk.,
ISBN 3-9803515-5-6
Bestellungen an:
Druckerei Verlag G. Grüneberg, Finkenbergstr. 6, 19309 Lenzen (Elbe)

Q9: What books discuss hints and sources for East German searchers?

A9: Wegweiser für Forschung nach Vorfahren aus den Ostdeutschen und
     Sudetendeutschen Gebieten sowie aus den deutschen Siedlungsräumen
     in Mittel-,Ost- und Südosteuropa (AGoFF-Wegweiser):
     Verlag Degener &Co, 91413 Neustadt, Germany (1991 and later)
      (The out-of-print English edition is being revised presently)

     Germanic Genealogy (by Edward R.Brandt et alii), 2nd edition.
           1997, St.Paul MN, 517 pp.,1st edition, 1995.

     W.Krallert: Atlas zur Geschichte der deutschen Ostsiedlung,
           Velhagen &Klasing, Bielefeld-Berlin-Hannover 1958.

Q10: What about Mennonites in Brandenburg province?

A10: The Prussian census gives the following numbers for Mennonites
in the two Brandenburg districts:

                       1821  1828  1831  1837  1849  1861
Potsdam                  42     6     2    10    15    17
Frankfurt/Oder          280   238   231    31    13     2

Most Mennonites lived in Kreis Friedeberg, Amt Driesen in the
Neumark in Brenkenhoffswalde, Franztal and Neu-Dessau who
emigrated in 1834 to Deutsch-Wymyschle in Poland and to Volhynia
and to Gnadenfeld,Russia.

see: Mennonite Life, April 1969 p.83-86;
  Goertz,A.:Mennoniten im Neumärkischen Amt Driesen,Brandenburg,
       in:Ostdeutsche Familienkunde 1996 p.277-283
  Goertz,A.: Aus den Grund- und Hypotheken-Akten des Neumärkischen
       Amtes Driesen.Erbzinsgut Neu-Dessau, Kr.Friedeberg, in:
       Ostdeutsche Familienkunde 1999, p.260-272

  Goertz, A.: Mennonites in Amt Driesen of the Neumark,
       Brandenburg, in: Mennonite Family History (Morgantown PA),
       2001, p. 47-51.
  Goertz, A.: Aus den Praestations-Tabellen des Neumärkischen
       Amtes Driesen, in: Ostdeutsche Familienkunde 2001, p.17-25.

Q11: What German archives are available for Brandenburg?
A11: There is the Landeshauptarchiv in Potsdam and the
Geh. Staatsarchiv in Berlin-Dahlem with the Brandenburg records
in the Hautabteilung X (X HA):
      HA. X   Brandenburg
      (selective listing of records)
   Rep. 1    Oberpräsident der Provinz Brandenburg
   Rep. 2 A    Kurmärkische Kriegs- und Domänenkammer zu Potsdam
   Rep. 2 B    Regierung zu Potsdam
   Rep. 3 B    Regierung zu Frankfurt a. d. Oder
   Rep. 4 B    Oberlandesgericht zu Frankfurt a. d. Oder
   Rep. 5 A    Stadtgerichte (Belzig, Bernau, Brandenburg a. d. Havel,
               Driesen, Nauen, Oranienburg, Perleberg, Prenzlau, Schwiebus, Spandau)
   Rep. 5 B    Justizämter (Biesenthal, Fehrbellin, Gramzow, Liebenwalde,    
               Löcknitz, Oranienburg, Potsdam, Rüdersdorf)
   Rep. 5 C    Patrimonialgerichte (Gerichtsamt Tauchel)
   Rep. 5 D    Kreisgerichte (Berlin, Frankfurt a. d. Oder, Potsdam, Spandau, Wriezen)
   Rep. 5 E    Amtsgerichte (Altlandsberg, Angermünde, Arnswalde, Bärwalde,
               Baruth, Beelitz, Beeskow, Belzig, Berlin, Berlinchen, Bernau,
               Brandenburg, Br|ssow, Buchholz, Calau, Cottbus, Crossen, Dahme,
               Doberlug, Driesen, Drossen, Eberswalde, Finsterwalde,
               Forst, Friedeberg, Fürstenberg, Fürstenwalde, Genthin,
               Gransee, Guben, Havelberg, Jüterbog, Kirchhain, Königsberg,
               Königs Wusterhausen, Kremmen, Küstrin, Kyritz,
               Landsberg a. d. Warthe, Lenzen, Liebenwalde, Lieberose,
               Lindow, Luckau, Luckenwalde, L|bben, Lübbenau, Lychen,
               Meyenburg, Mittenwalde, Müncheberg, Nauen, Neudamm,
               Neuruppin, Neuwedell, Oderberg, Oranienburg, Peitz, Perleberg,
               Potsdam, Prenzlau, Pritzwalk, Rathenow, Reetz, Reppen,
               Rheinsberg, Rüdersdorf, Schwedt, Schwiebus, Seelow,
               Senftenberg, Soldin, Sommerfeld, Sonnenburg, Sorau,
               Spremberg, Storkow, Strasburg, Strausberg, Templin,
               Tirschtiegel, Trebbin, Treuenbrietzen, Triebel,
               Vietz, Werder, Wittenberge, Wittstock, Woldenberg, Wriezen,
               Wusterhausen, Zehden, Zehdenick, Zielenzig, Zossen,
   Rep. 5 E    Amtsgerichte (Meseritz, Unruhstadt)
   Rep. 5 F    Landgerichte (Berlin, Cottbus, Frankfurt a. d. Oder, Guben,
               Landsberg a.d.Warthe, Neuruppin, Potsdam, Prenzlau)
   Rep. 5 F    Landgericht zu Meseritz
   Rep. 5 H    Arbeitsgerichte (Berlin)
   Rep. 5 N    Erbgesundheitsgerichte (Cottbus, Landsberg a. d. Warthe,
               Prenzlau; dazu Schweidnitz)
   Rep. 6 A    Dltere Kreisbehvrden (Prignitz, Ruppin, Uckermark, Zauche)
   Rep. 6 B    Landratsdmter (Beeskow-Storkow, Kalau, Königsberg/Neumark,
               Cottbus, Niederbarnim, Ostprignitz, Sorau,
               Westhavelland, Westprignitz, Zauche-Belzig)
   Rep. 6 B    Kreis Bomst
   Rep. 6 B    Kreis Meseritz
   Rep. 6 C    Kreisaussch|sse (Ober- und Niederbarnim, Königsberg/Neumark,                 Teltow)
   Rep. 7      Domänen- und Rentdmter (Belzig, Bernstein, Bvtzow, Chorin,
               Cottbus-Peitz, Dahme, Friedrichsthal, Fürstenwalde, Grimnitz,
               Jüterbog, Köpenick, Neustadt a. d. Dosse,
               Zechlin, Zinna, Zossen)
   Rep. 8      Städte und Ortschaften (Bärwalde, Bernau, Brandenburg,
               Cottbus, Gransee, Kalau, Kyritz, Lenzen, Mittenwalde, Mohrin,
               Müncheberg, Pritzerbe, Alt-Ruppin, Seelow,
               Strausberg, Templin, Treuenbrietzen, Züllichau)
   Rep. 9      Johanniterorden, Aufschwörungstafeln
   Rep. 10     Stifter, Klöster und Kirchen (Domstift
               Havelberg, Komturei Lietzen)
   Rep. 15 A und B    Oberförstereien (Havelberg, Zechlin)
   Rep. 15 D Andere Forstbehvrden (Forsträte zu Altruppin, Oranienburg,
               Rheinsberg, Ruppin; Forstmeister zu Berlin, Rheinsberg;
               Holzschreiber zu Altruppin; Bauinspektor zu Zehdenick)
   Rep. 16    Kleine Erwerbungen
   Rep. 17    Oberamtsregierung der Niederlausitz zu L|bben
   Rep. 19    Steuerräte (Eberswalde, Kyritz, Potsdam)
   Rep. 20    Gouvernement zu Berlin
   Rep. 24    Generalkommission (Landeskulturamt) zu Frankfurt a. d. Oder
For pre-1806 Mahllisten, Praestations-Tabellen see
     HA II   Generaldirektorium
   Abt. 13   Neumark
   Abt. 13 a   v. Brenkenhoffsche und Schützsche
             Meliorations- und Pensionssachen in Pommern und der Neumark
   Abt. 13 b   v. Brenkenhoffsche Meliorations- und Pensionssachen im
   Abt. 14    Kurmark

  Brandenburg Landeshauptarchiv in Potsdam:

    e-mail: poststelle@blha.brandenburg.de

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