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Front page of an Ahnenpass
Pages of an Ahnenpass
Page 41

The Ahnenpaß (literally, "ancestor pass") documented the Aryan lineage of citizens of Nazi Germany. It was one of the forms of the Aryan certificate (Ariernachweis) and issued by the "Reich Association of Marriage Registrars in Germany" (Reichsverband der Standesbeamten in Deutschland e. V.).[1]

The term Aryan in this context was used in a sense widely accepted in scientific racism of the time, which assumed a Caucasian race which was sub-divided into Semitic, Hamitic and Aryan (Japhetic) subraces, the latter corresponding to the Indo-European language family; the Nazi ideology limited the category Aryan to certain subgroups, while excluding Slavs as non-Aryan. Nevertheless, the de facto primary objective was to create extensive profiling based on racial data.

The investigation for lineage was not obligatory as it was a major undertaking to research the original documents for birth and marriage. Many Nazi followers had already begun to research their lineage even before law required it (soon after the NSDAP took power on 30 January 1933).

One important law which was issued on 7 April 1933 (after the Nazi assumption of power) was called the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, and it required all public servants to be of Aryan descent. The law, however, did not define the term "Aryan" and a subsequent regulation was issued on 11 April as the first legal attempt by the Third Reich to define who was, and who was not, a Jew. Germans aspiring for the document had to prove they were of Aryan descent.[2] The Ahnenpass could be given out to citizens of other countries, under the condition that they were of "German blood"[3][4] and it itself stated that Aryans could be located "wherever they might live in the world" [4][5] The Reich Legislative Gazette, i.e. the official Reichsgesetzblatt, did not use the phrase "of German blood", but instead used the terminology "German or racially related blood".[6]

Those Poles, Czechs and others from German minorities who held citizenship of other countries were also known as Volksdeutsche. Ethnic (non-German) Poles, Czechs and other Slavs weren't considered Aryans by Nazi Germany[7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21] A definition of Aryan that included all non-Jewish Europeans was deemed unacceptable by Nazis, and Expert Advisor for Population and Racial Policy included a definition defining Aryan as someone who is "tribally" related to "German blood"[22]

The implementing decree followed the pre-Nazi trend found in the Aryan Paragraph[23] and read in pertinent part that:

„Als nicht arisch gilt, wer von nicht arischen, insbesondere jüdischen Eltern oder Großeltern abstammt. Es genügt, wenn ein Elternteil oder ein Großelternteil nicht arisch ist. Dies ist insbesondere dann anzunehmen, wenn ein Elternteil oder ein Großelternteil der jüdischen Religion angehört hat.“

Those are not Aryans who descend from non-Aryan, especially Jewish, parents or grandparents. It is sufficient (grounds for exclusion) for one parent or grandparent to be non-Aryan. This is particularly assumable if a parent or grandparent adhered to the Jewish religion.

The applicable fields were later enlarged under different laws to include lawyers, teachers, medical doctors and finally requiring a proven Aryan lineage even to attend high school or to get married. Usually, the lineage was investigated two generations back. The Ahnenpass cost 0.6 Reichsmarks.

The Ahnenpass was not public record; the document was shown where required and returned to the bearer.

As a result, genealogical research particularly flourished in Germany during the Third Reich. Opposition clergy helped many racially persecuted individuals by providing them with fake passports as a personal document necessary for survival.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Cornelia Schmitz-Berning (2007): Vokabular des Nationalsozialismus. Walter de Gruyter, p. 20. ISBN 3-11-013379-2.
  2. ^ Schweikardt, Chrtistoph (2004). ""You Gained Honor for Your Profession as a Brown Nurse:" The Career of a Nationalist Socialist Nurse Mirrored by Her Letters Home". Nursing History Review. American Association for the History of Nursing. 12: 130. PMID 14608850.
  3. ^ Cornelia Schmitz-Berning (1 January 2007). Vokabular des Nationalsozialismus. Walter de Gruyter. p. 61. ISBN 978-3-11-092864-8.
  4. ^ a b Christopher J. Wells (1 January 1990). Deutsch: Eine Sprachgeschichte bis 1945. Walter de Gruyter. p. 447. ISBN 978-3-11-091484-9.
  5. ^ Scheil, Stefan. "Aryans". JUNGE FREHEIT. Quotation in German: z.B. ein Engländer oder Schwede, ein Franzose oder Tscheche, ein Pole oder Italiener.
  6. ^ Original: "deutsches oder artverwandtes Blut"; Reichsgesetzblatt 1939 I p. 2042, § 6.
  7. ^ Historical Dictionary of the Holocaust - Page 175 Jack R. Fischel - 2010 The policy of Lebensraum was also the product of Nazi racial ideology, which held that the Slavic peoples of the east were inferior to the Aryan race.
  8. ^ Hitler's Home Front: Wurttemberg Under the Nazis, Jill Stephenson p. 135, Other non-'Aryans' included Slavs, Blacks and Roma .
  9. ^ Race Relations Within Western Expansion - Page 98 Alan J. Levine - 1996 Preposterously, Central European Aryan theorists, and later the Nazis, would insist that the Slavic-speaking peoples were not really Aryans
  10. ^ The Politics of Fertility in Twentieth-Century Berlin - Page 118 Annette F. Timm - 2010 The Nazis' singleminded desire to "purify" the German race through the elimination of non-Aryans (particularly Jews, Gypsies, and Slavs)
  11. ^ Curta 2001, p. 9, 26–30.
  12. ^ Jerry Bergman, "Eugenics and the Development of Nazi Race Policy", Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith PSCF 44 (June 1992):109–124
  13. ^ Götz Aly, Peter Chroust, Christian Pross, Cleansing the Fatherland: Nazi Medicine and Racial Hygiene, The Johns Hopkins University Press, (August 1, 1994) ISBN 0-8018-4824-5[page needed]
  14. ^ The Holocaust and History The Known, the Unknown, the Disputed, and the Reexamined Edited by Michael Berenbaum and Abraham J. Peck, Indiana University Press page 59"Pseudoracial policy of Third Reich(...)Gypsies, Slavs, blacks, Mischlinge, and Jews are not Aryans."
  15. ^ Honorary Aryans: National-Racial Identity and Protected Jews in the Independent State of Croatia Nevenko Bartulin Palgrave Macmilla, Nevenko Bartulin - 2013 page 7- "According to Jareb, the National Socialists regarded the Slavs as 'racially less valuable' non-Aryans"
  16. ^ Nazi Germany,Richard Tames - 1985 -"Hitler's vision of a Europe dominated by a Nazi "Herrenvolk" in which Slavs and other "non-aryans" page 65
  17. ^ Modern Genocide: The Definitive Resource and Document Collection Paul R. Bartrop, Steven Leonard Jacobs page 1160, "This strict dualism between the "racially pure" Aryans and all others—especially Jews and Slavs—led in Nazism to the radical outlawing of all "non-Aryans" and to their enslavement and attempted annihilation"
  18. ^ World Fascism: A Historical Encyclopedia, Volume 1 Cyprian Blamires page 63 "the "racially pure" Aryans and all others—especially Jews and Slavs— led in Nazism to the radical outlawing of all "non-Aryans" and to their enslavement and attempted annihilation
  19. ^ The Historical Encyclopedia of World Slavery, Volume 1; Volume 7 By Junius P. Rodriguez page 464
  20. ^ Emil L. Fackenheim: A Jewish Philosopher's Response to the Holocaust David Patterson, page 23
  21. ^ Historical Dictionary of the Holocaust Jack R. Fischel - 2010 Lebensraum was also the product of Nazi racial ideology, which held that the Slavic peoples of the east were inferior to the Aryan race[page needed]
  22. ^ Ehrenreich, Eric (2007). The Nazi Ancestral Proof: Genealogy, Racial Science, and the Final Solution. Indiana University Press. pp. 9, 10. ISBN 978-0-253-11687-1.
  23. ^ The Nuremberg Laws would eventually supersede the "one grandparent" rule and would establish new rules of race for the Third Reich.


Further reading

  • Der Ahnenpaß des Ehepaares. Verlag für Standesamtswesen, Berlin 1939.
  • Eric Ehrenreich: The Nazi Ancestral Proof: Genealogy, Racial Science, and the Final Solution. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-253-34945-3
  • Cornelia Essner: Die „Nürnberger Gesetze“ oder Die Verwaltung des Rassenwahns 1933–1945. Schöningh, Paderborn 2002, ISBN 3-506-72260-3.
  • Nicholas John Fogg, 'German genealogy during the Nazi period (1933-1945)', in Genealogists' Magazine, vol. 30, no. 9 (London, March 2012) pages 347-362.
  • Volkmar Weiss: Vorgeschichte und Folgen des arischen Ahnenpasses: Zur Geschichte der Genealogie im 20. Jahrhundert. Neustadt an der Orla: Arnshaugk, 2013, ISBN 978-3-944064-11-6
  • Christian Zentner, Friedemann Bedürftig (1991). The Encyclopedia of the Third Reich, p. 23. Macmillan, New York. ISBN 0-02-897502-2