Genealogy – Find Your Jewish Ancestor in the Pre-war Wrocław/ Breslau

If you’re looking for family members from the pre-war Jewish community of Wrocław/ Breslau, we might help.


The brothers Stephen Falk and Donald Falk have been engaged in genealogical research for over 40 years.  Their work began with a focus on their own family which lived in Breslau (Wrocław) from the early 1800s until the late 1930s.  The original sources were their parents and older members of the family who had grown up in Breslau and knew the earlier generations and stories about the families.  They then began to use archival resources, including collections in the archive of the Leo Baeck Institute in New York, and the old Breslau Jewish community records from the 1790s to the 1930s originally microfilmed during the Nazi era, and available in the microfilm archive of the Family History Centers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (aka, the Mormons).

Reviewing the old birth, marriage, death and cemetery records from the Breslau Jewish community, the Falk brothers learned a lot about their family. But they could also see the relationships between and among almost all of the Jewish families of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  This led to a shift in their research focus — from their family to the Jewish community as a whole.  The result is a huge and growing database that builds on the links between these families.  Using archival resources from the Polish State Archive in Wrocław, PSAs in other Polish cities, and files from the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, and the archive of the Centrum Judaicum in Berlin, they continue to extract more and more information about these Breslau Jewish families. And, in fact, the research is not limited to Breslau, because these families all came to Breslau from somewhere else — most from towns in Silesia and Posen Province, but some from farther afield, such as Berlin, West and East Prussia, Moravia and Bohemia, and from towns in Russian Poland.

A particular interest and focus of the Falk brothers is the Claassenstrasse (ul. Gwarna) Jewish cemetery in Breslau.  It was the first Jewish cemetery permitted in Breslau in modern times.  It opened in 1761 and was in use until 1856.  The cemetery was destroyed during and after WWII. From archives in Berlin and Jerusalem, the Falk brothers have been able to get copies of handwritten transcriptions of over 4000 gravestones from the Claassenstrasse cemetery. Comparing the information in the gravestone inscriptions with information from other sources, they have been able to associate over 2000 of the gravestone inscriptions with individuals identified in their community family tree database.

As this work progresses, we hope to inform descendants of those Breslau Jewish community members who were buried in the Claassenstrasse/ Gwarna cemetery about their ancestors and their familial connection to this lost Breslau landmark.


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