Re: Seek advice about MICHAELIS ancestors just recognized as Jewish #germany
Roger Lustig <trovato@...>
Dear Lorraine:toggle quoted messageShow quoted text
There have been many Jews with the surname MICHAELIS. Someone named Max
Paul MICHAELIS may have been Jewish--or not. That he was murdered by
Nazi criminals doesn't make him Jewish, of course--the Nazis found lots
of people to murder. You may indeed have Jewish ancestors, and I wish
you all the best of luck in your research--no matter what the outcome. But:
What Internet checking told you that the name MICHAELIS is Jewish? I
just did some myself, and found tons of Gentile MICHAELISes in Germany.
For starters, there's always the phone book.
gives you the whole country at a glance. There are businesses and
multiple listings, so take their counts and divide by two. 400+
listings for MICHAELIS in Berlin; 182 in Hamburg; 87 in Bremen; and so
on. And that's in 2005!
Next, hop over to www.familysearch.org and search for the name in
Germany. Again, lots of listings. Many are baptismal records. Many
more come >from before 1800, when very few Jews had surnames at all.
The name MICHAELIS is a Latinized possessive: "of Michael." It's always
used when referring to a church of St. Michael: that's a
Michaelis-Kirche. Latinized names are not uncommon in Germany: the
composer Michael PRAETORIUS was Michael SCHULZE before he translated
himself. Some even used Greek, like Luther's colleague Philipp
MELANCHTHON (black earth), who was Philipp SCHWARZERD (black earth) to
In general, there are hardly any surnames that, by themselves, indicate
a high probability that a person or his/her ancestry was Jewish. That's
true in Germany and elsewhere. The only reliable exceptions are rare
surnames that were only used by one family, where that family was
Jewish. There are several names I've worked with that most likely fall
into that category--but they obviously won't ever add up to a large
percentage of the population.
That said, you should contact the Standesamt (registry office) in
Charlottenburg [note spelling!], which is part of Berlin. (There *is* a
Charlottenberg in Hessen, but it had a population of under 200 in the
1930's, so I'm going to assume you meant the one in Berlin.) You might
also share with us the names of her parents. Does she have any old
passports of theirs, or other papers?
There's more than one researcher listed on the JewishGen Family Finder
who's into MICHAELIS/Berlin, and you can contact them with a
query--that's why they're listed.
Best of luck, and keep in touch!
Roger Lustig Princeton, NJ
...whose mother was born in Charlottenburg, too!
Lorraine Garcia wrote:
I'm wondering if I can perhaps get some guidance in this particular