The Third Reich was ruled by Adolph Hitler and the National Socialist German Worker’s Party (NDSAP) from 1933 until the end of the Second World War. Many were involved in political activism at the time, some pre-dating Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, and documents should be able to be found from the Sturmabteilung (S.A.).

Many with a dead-end in their family history should be actively seeking to uncover Nazi membership in their families. For the last seventy years, families have gone to great lengths to conceal the extent of their involvement with the NSDAP for fear and shame. However, the National Archives (NARA) in College Park, Maryland holds great potential for unlocking the most difficult mysteries within your genealogy.

In many cases, unless certain conditions are met–usually involving a time-window to have elapsed or direct kinship to be substantiated, German archives cannot release the surviving military rosters due to privacy laws. Other foreign archives are costly and have thousands of documents, each containing hundreds and thousands of pages. Currently, you may have exhausted every affordable option at your disposal. Fortunately, the NARA archives holds what is arguably the largest collection of seized foreign records in respect to German ancestry. The caveat? Despite German privacy laws barring people from research within their jurisdiction, all of these records can be reviewed for free within the borders of the United States. While many of the records cover Germany as a whole, they certainly contain hope for Pomeranian researchers to broaden the scope of what is available considering the significant number of records lost after the war.

It’s no secret that the Nazi party kept detailed records about pseudo-science race ideologies and ancestral origins. What most do not know is that enlisted SS men had to submit Ahnentafel, or family trees, dating back to 1800 to prove their Aryan lineage. For SS officers, family trees were required to be documented back to 1750. Approximately 240,000 dossiers are covered in a whopping 7,800 rolls of microfilm for just this topic alone:

The dossiers are reproduced on 7,826 16mm rolls of BDC Accessioned Microfilm A3343, series RS. The rolls are not arranged in a single sequence, but in several parts that correspond to a single alphabetical arrangement (with exceptions) of the dossiers as follows: Aakerwik, Torstein – Bock, Ernst: rolls A001 – A548; Bock, Herbert – Dorn, Friedrich: rolls A5001 – A5564; Dorn, Kurt – Fügar, Edgar: rolls B001 – B545; Führer, Hans – Hahn, Karl: rolls B5001 – B5526; Hampel, Erich – Hoven, Heinrich: rolls C001 – C553; Hoy, Horst – Knoche, Walter: rolls C5001 – C5555; Knochen, Helmut – Leithe, Gustav: rolls D001 – D605; Leitinger, Ernst – Miessner, Wilhelm: rolls D5001 – D5542; Mlarnik, Karel – Pfaff, Karl: rolls E001 – E561; Pfannkuch, Andreas – Rose, Conrad: rolls E5001 – E5554; Rose, Heinrich – Schran, Fritz: rolls F001 – F595; Schratt, Anton – Sternkopf, Franz: rolls F5001 – F5532; Stetter, Erwin – Wawra, Franz: rolls G001 – G604; and, Weber, Adalbert – Zwolak, Wilhelm: rolls G5001 – G5542 There is a thirty-one-volume paper index for the record group to which the Ahnentafels belong, but only the SS applicant is indexed.

The above contents refer specifically to what was called the Rasse-und-Siedlungs-Hauptamt (RuSHA)—the Race and Settlement Main Office—which was the governing agency responsible for ensuring racial purity. These are of great importance especially if an SS member was married, as they were required to submit their genealogy.

In addition to SS records, there exists a smaller collection of SA personal files which detail the membership of the Sturmabteilung. Other documents of interest contain party census records, the National Socialist Women’s League, repatriated Germans who immigrated back from foreign lands, and many other artifacts that would be of extraordinary use to those who know which collection to look in. These and other similar collections that may be of interest from the Berlin Document Center are listed below:

For a complete listing of archive holdings, please see the NARA’s Collection of Foreign Records.

NSDAP Ortsgruppenkartei. Microfilm Publication A3340, Series MFOK. 2,275 rolls.
NSDAP Zentralkartei. Microfilm Publication A3340, Series MFKL. 3,167 rolls.
NSDAP Antraege. Microfilm Publication A3340, Series NSDAP-A. 120 rolls.
NSDAP Party Census (July 1939). Microfilm Publication A3340, Series PC. 121 rolls.
NSDAP Gaukorrespondenz. Microfilm Publication A3340, Series NS-MIS. 119 rolls.
NSDAP Oberstes Parteigericht Akten. Microfilm Publication A3340, Series OPG. 1,292 r. NSDAP OPG Nachsortierung. Microfilm Publication A3340, Series OPGNA. 67 rolls.
NSDAP Partei Korrespondenz. Microfilm Publication A3340, Series PK. 6,182 rolls.
NSDAP Volksgerichtshof Nummern. Microfilm Publication A3340, Series VGH. 448 rolls.
NSDAP Rückwandereramt. Microfilm Publication A3340, Series RWA. 123 rolls.
NSDAP Reichsaerztekammer. Microfilm Publication A3340, Series RAK. 52 rolls.
NSDAP Miscellaneous Collection. Microfilm Publication A3340, Series NS-OG, 14 rolls and Series NS-OR, 27 rolls. Others, 10 rolls.
NS Lehrerbund Kartei and Akten. Microfilm Publication A3340, Series MF. 385 rolls.
Reichskulturkammer. Microfilm Publication A3339, Series RKK. 2,466 rolls.
SA Personnel Files. Microfilm Publication A3341, Series SA-Kartei. 716 rolls.
SA Personal & Process Akten. Microfilm Publication A3341, Series SA. 300 rolls.
Other SA Collections. Microfilm Publication A3341, Series SA. 67 rolls.
Einwandererzentrale. Microfilm Publication A3342, Series EWZ. 7,320 rolls.
SS Officer Personnel Files. Microfilm Publication A3343, Series SSO. 909 rolls.
SS Enlisted Men Personnel Files. Microfilm Publication A3343, Series SM. 1,738 rolls.
SS Women Personnel Files. Microfilm Publication A3343, Series SF. 99 rolls.
SS Lists. Microfilm Publication A3343, Series SS. 26 rolls.
Rasse-und-Siedlungs-Hauptamt (RuSHA). Microfilm Pub. A3343, Series RS. 7,811 rolls.
NS Frauenschaft/Frauenwerk. Microfilm Publication A3344, Series FS. 2,418 rolls.
Miscellaneous Collections. Microfilm Publication A3345, Series B, DS, F, W. 1,393 rolls. (includes BDC Library collection; see also page 8 for other NSDAP records)

These records are of utmost importance, not only for their historical significance, but because of the depth of information contained within each file. Where Pomeranian church books and civil registry offices were destroyed, these secondary sources could potentially fill in the gaps for thousands of family history researchers.

Currently, however, accessing these documents is particularly tricky, as all of these documents remain on microfilm. The National Archives has not expressed any interest in digitizing these rolls of microfilm for preservation, but they do offer conversion services for $125 a roll. To complicate matters, one must know the precise roll of film their ancestor is listed on. The archives provide no help in determining much other than the location of the film.

For S.S. officers, there exists a series of 34 binders indexing only S.S. members. Those and the RuSHA files are generally listed in alphabetical order. One must know the name of the S.S. officer to find further ancestors.

When planning a trip to the archives in College Park, researchers should be aware that only one roll of microfilm at a time is allowed to be taken to the reading room. People entering into the room are thoroughly vetted for any forbidden items, though researchers are allowed to bring in laptops and cameras to document their findings. As one researcher had suggested, taking pictures of the microfilm reader’s screen proves to be quicker and more efficient—at a slight cost of quality—than standing in line for the copy machine. From personal experience, using microfilm scanners can be quite cumbersome and time-consuming depending on the scanner’s model. (It can take up to a minute for older machines to scan in one page.) Also to be noted, in the event that one of the rolls of microfilm was mistakenly not declassified, the archives must certify your documents and process the roll of film. One final concern for researchers would be that microfilm can only be checked out at specific times listed on the NARA website. It would be wise if you were planning a trip to bring a team with you to cover more ground given the aforementioned restrictions.

For more information about researching in person, please see the National Archive’s official website for planning a visit.