German SIG #Germany Beuthen births - naming practices #germany


The term Vaterschaft is not restricted to Jewish births, as Fritz Neubauer
already pointed out. At a time when everybody had to apply for a permission to
marry and licences were often denied, illegitimate births were no exceptions.

When copying 19th century civil registers I again and again note that in
the same region such births were a recurring feature in only some localities
among Jews, Catholics an Protestants throughout the century. If there were
none among the members of the religious majority, none can be found among the

When an unmarried womon gave birth to a child, the person who kept the civil
register tried to find out the father. Only when a man openly confessed to
be the father, his name was entered.

Every child got the mother's family name. When she married, mother and child
adopted her husband's family name. If she married the child's father, its
birth was "legitimiert". The child's birth was no longer illegitimate. If,
however, the child was Jewish and the traditional Jewish patronymic name giving
system still existed, difficulties arose for the Christian state officer. In
many cases the child received the mother's patronymic as a sort of family name
or one of the father's names or the grandfather's patronymic was added to the
given name.

Gerhard Buck, Idstein, Hesse, Germany

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