Hamburg Archives Weeds Medical Certificates of Death 1876-1953 #germany

Jeanette R Rosenberg OBE

Dear GerSIG Members

Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring
Committee recently posted this in the IAJGS Records Access Alerts
mailing list.

"The Staatsarchiv Hamburg has posted to their website a notice that
they weeded medical certificates of death during the second quarter of
2018. The time frame of the medical certificates covered from
1876-1953. Retrospective weeding of the years 1837 - 1875 occurred in
1990. There were over one million individual sheets in the
destruction. Usually, the death certificates would have been issued
under the supervision of the authority responsible for the medical
system. The archives states the documents were in poor condition and
could not guarantee their permanent preservation. Originally, the
documents were stored as "alternatives" to death civil registers not
having yet reached the Hamburg State Archives.

Archive legislation covering birth, death and marriage civil registers
were transferred since 2009 to the State Archives meant that death
information - including data and place of death, marital status, name of
person registering the death could be ascertain directly >from the
death registers.

Further rationale as to why the Archives decided to destroy the death
certificates are included in the notice. The notice includes a chart
comparing data elements for death certificates and registers of death.
Page three of the notice also provides information on how one can
determine dates of birth missing >from the death register, and possible
research into causes of death. See:

Jan thanked Teven Laxer, member of IAJGS Public Records Access
Monitoring Committee for providing this information."

Separately, Teven noted the notice is available in both German and
English, and the link to the German version is:

Thank you Teven.

Jeanette R Rosenberg OBE, London UK
GerSIG Director jeanette.r.rosenberg@...

Corinna Woehrl (nee Goslar)

Dear Gersig-Readers,

as a Hamburg-based researcher and member of two local genealogical
societies, researcher friends had many (and I just a few) of these
destroyed documents in hand. I feel I have to reply to the "official
version" of the Hamburg State Archives and clarify some points >from the
user point-of-view.

1. the documents were enlisted in the official inventory - for the user
it was not evident that these assets hadn't really been classified for
long-term archiving
2. the documents were easily accessible because you only needed the
specific register office, year, volume and number of the death register
to order them
3. the documents were complete >from beginning of the introduction of
civil records in Hamburg
4. the documents we had in hand were undamaged and in a good condition
5. the documents were the only continuous source for finding out the
cause of death
6. the users of the Archives were not informed about the planned
casssation beforehand

I assume that the decision makers didn't realise the historic value of
these documents, not only for the "Third Reich"-Period in Hamburg but
for finding out medical conditions and other research. Only insight in a
medical certificate of death revealed a suicidal death and the death as
a result of tuberculosis - both information that also uncovers facts
about the life of the deceased!

Further research for the death causes in Hamburg is very complex and
unfortunately the fewest death causes will be clarified >from now on.

Several attempts of alerting the local press weren't fruitful - the
media haven't really covered the problematic decision of the Hamburg
State Archives, except for one short coverage in the local
Saturday-night tv-news.

Corinna Woehrl (nee Goslar) Hoisdorf, Germany goslar@...