I am trying to find my grandfather's last will and testament.

He resided in Berlin, Germany and died in the late 1930s.

I will be in Berlin shortly and so offline as well as online resources will be useful to know about.

  • 2
    Hi mamabea, welcome to Genealogy & Family History SE! I know there are some people on here who are experienced with German records, so hopefully you will get an answer before too long. It might help if you could specify the exact year your grandfather died - I don't know if WWII would have affected where and what records survived. Also, do you know for certain your grandfather made a will? I don't know about Germany but in other countries it was not always the norm to make a will. You can add any additional information you like using the edit button below your question.
    – Harry V.
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 2:22

1 Answer 1


Wills of people who have died should be at the district court (Amtsgericht), which serves as a Nachlassgericht here. Which court depends on the exact place of living (district).

You might use the collection of Berlin directories by the Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin to learn where your grandfather lived. The death certificate should also help. If it is not available to you, you might get it from the archive of the state of Berlin. See their introduction (in German): Personenstandsunterlagen im Landesarchiv Berlin.

You might use the Orts- und Gerichtsverzeichnis to find the court which is relevant today for the old address and contact it. Please don’t expect too much, responsibilities might be hugely different after WW2, East/West Germany, reunification and other administrative changes. Don’t expect any documents that old to be at the court, in the best case they can tell your where documents went, if they still exist.

As far as I know, such documents are not kept forever, that means they are destroyed after a certain period of time (Aufbewahrungsfrist).

However, you often find collections of old wills at state and city archives. Don’t expect coverage anywhere near complete. It will be only a small fractions of all wills ever created, as documents were destroyed intentionally and (especially in case of Berlin) also during WW II.

Now finally some good news: A collection of wills from 1909 until 1945 at the state archive might be of interest:

A Rep. 341-04 Amtsgericht Berlin-Mitte - Nachlass- und Erbsachen/Adoptionen Der Teilbestand wurde aus der Accession 4360 zum Amtsgericht Mitte gebildet. Die Akten wurden 1992 vom Amtsgericht Mitte an das Landesarchiv Berlin abgegeben. Obwohl es sich um eine besonders umfassende Überlieferung handelt, hat der Bestand kriegsbedingte Lücken. Enthält: Nachlasssachen (VI).- Erbscheine (IV).- Adoptionen (X). Umfang: 46533 [AE] 156.75 [lfm] ; unerschlossen: 21.60 [lfm] Laufzeit: 1909 - 1945 Benutzung: Findbuch, Textdatei

Good luck.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.