What are Meldezettel

This article first appeared in a slightly modified form in AVOTAYNU: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, Fall 2000

Viennese Meldezettel (Registration Forms)

By Peter Lowe


What are Meldezettel ?

Location and description of material

Problems in identifying the correct film

Examples of information that I have obtained

NEW: Viennese Meldezettel Form Lookup Helper Scott Stafford has created a useful tool for identifying the most likely LDS films for any specific surname for  the Meldezettel (männliche und weibliche Personen) series, 1850-1928

What are Meldezettel ?

In many European countries there is a legal requirement to register with the local authorities or police your current place of residence. In Vienna these were recorded on the Meldezettel. Thus, a new form was filled in, or a form was amended, each time a person changed residence. I do not have any knowledge of the laws behind Registration, but it appears that even quite temporary changes in residence, for example a holiday, might be registered. Although the primary information to be obtained from these forms is on a person's movements over a period of time, the great value of these documents to a genealogist is the additional information often included on birth, marriage & deathdates, places of birth & residence and names of other family members.

Location and description of material

Microfilms have been made by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) from the original Meldezettel records at the Stadt- und Landesarchiv Wien. The films are available on request at all LDS Genealogical Branch Libraries. There is a possibility that filming is still in progress and that further films will become available. According to the excellent "Beginners Guide to Austrian Jewish Genealogy" compiled by E. Randol Schoenberg (http://www.jewishgen.org/bohmor/ausguide.htm), the documents themselves ( up to 1948) are at Magistratsabteilung 8, Wiener Stadt und Landes Archiv, Rathaus, 1082 Wien. Registrations after 1948 are at the Zentralmeldeamt der Bundespolizeidirektion Wien, 1092 Wien, Rossauerlaende 5.

There are two series of LDS films (see more details below), which differ significantly in the format and content of the Registration Forms. Within one series there are also more minor differences. The earlier series, covering roughly the period 1890-1921, has several types of forms. There is a new form for each move so one individual may have a dozen forms.

Earlier forms , entitled "Meldzettel" give the following information (See here for that of Adele BEYKOVSKY (nee REITLER):

Im Bezirke …..Gasse…. (In the District …, Street… - this is current address when form was dated)

Vor und Zuname (Fore & surnames)

Charakter (Beschäftigung): (position or occupation)

Geburtort und -land ( place & country of birth)

Alter, Religion, ledig o. verheiratet o. verwitwet ? (Age, Religion, single or married or widowed ?) [NB these are often heavily abbreviated]

Name und Alter der Gattin und Kinder (Names & ages of spouse & Children)

Frühere Wohnung (Address of previous residence)

Abmeldung: Ist ausgezogen (abgereist) am… Wohin? .. Ort (Bezirk)… Gasse… ( Notice of departure: is moved away (travelled ) on …. To ? Place (district)… Street… )

The form is dated and signed by the house owner or manager and by the landlord (or employer)

Later forms , entitled "Meldezettel" have the following:

1. Im Bezirke …..Gasse…. (In the District …, Street… - this is current address when form was dated)

2. Vor und Zuname (Fore & surnames)

3. Charakter (Beschäftigung): (position or occupation)

4. Geburtort und -land ( place & country of birth)

5. Heimats (Zuständigkeits) ort und -land ( native-place or place to which person belongs/registered-a European concept)

6. Geburtstag, -monat und -jahr, Religion und Stand (ledig, verheiratet, verwitwet) (birthday, -month, -year, Religion and Status (single, married, widowed) [NB these are often heavily abbreviated]

7. Namen und Alter der Gattin und Kinder (Names & ages of spouse & Children)

8. Frühere Wohnung (Address of previous residence)

Abmeldung: Ist ausgezogen (abgereist) am… Wohin? .. Ort (Bezirk)… Gasse… ( Notice of departure: is moved away (travelled ) on …. To ? Place (district)… Street… )

The form is dated and signed by a single person (position not stated)

Additionally, there are Meldzettel für Dienstboten (domestic servants) which give place of former service. Occasionally , I think mainly for children, there are extracts from Birth Registers included which give date of birth and some information on the parents.

The latter series, which is more uniform in Format, covers the period from about 1940-1948. The catalogue states that the Forms include names of husband and wife, children, birth dates, professions, religion, old and new place of residence. However this understates the information potentially available, when all parts of the farm have been completed (though of course in practice not all fields are completed either through lack of information, or lack of time/interest). The forms for men & women differ slightly, as indicated below. In contrast to the earlier series, there is a single form for each person. (See here for picture of Meldezettel for Erwin JERUSALEM: front and back).On the front of the form is:

Name (surname):

Geborene (maiden surname)

Vornamen (Forenames)

Abstammung (Descent ?):

Geburtst-tag, -monat, -jahr, -ort, -kreis (Birth-day,-month, -year, -place, -district)

Familienstand (Family status, i.e. married single etc)

Glaubensbekenntnis (Creed)

Beruf ( Profession)

An Ausweispapieren haben vorgelegen: (what identification papers have been presented)

Ehe geschl. Am: (marriage concluded on [day]

Standesamt in: (Registry Office at which registered)

Staatsangeh. , nachweisen durch: (Nationality, proven by:)

On forms for men: Wehrverhältnis (military situation ?)

Wehrpass Nr ….Vom (military pass Number… issued on date)

On forms for women:

Reichsarbeitsdienst (Pflichtjahr usw): (Compulsory work service for the Reich- Duty year etc )

Akten- und Strafenhinweis: (references to legal deeds or convictions)

Eltern: (Parents)

Vater: Name (Father: Names)

Geb. am (born on date)

In (in place)

Gl.-Bek. (creed)

Lebt-gest in (lived/died - one is crossed out- in place)

Mutter: Name (Mother - exactly for Father above)

On forms for men:

Ehefrau (wife)

Vornamen….geborene….. verwitwete - geschiedene ….Gl. Bek…..lebt-gest. In …. (forenames…maiden surname….widowed-divorced…..creed……. lives-died at place)

Eltern: Vater & Mutter ( names, birth date & place, creed etc for both parents as above for card holder himself)

Om forms for women:

Ehemann (husband)

Name…, geb. am…., in…., Gl.Bek…., Lebt-gest in….., gestorben-geschieden am……, Urteil des……., Siehe Eigene Karte (Name, born on date, in place, creed, lives -died in place, died-divorced on date, decree of …, see own Card)

[The parents of the husband are not listed]

Kinder: (children)

Name, Geburts-tag-monat-hahr, -ort (kreis), Glaubennsbekenntnis, Fortgezogen am.., nach…, Eigene Karte, Vermerke (Forenames, birth- day,-month-jear, -place (district), creed, moved away on… to…., own card, remarks)

On the reverse:

This consists of a series of lines , one for each move, with column headings:

Zugezogen (moved from)

Hiesige Wohnung (present residence)

Fortgezogen (moved away)

These give street, town & dates

Vermerke: ( comments)

Problems in identifying the relevant LDS film

There are several problems in trying to identify the correct LDS film in which to locate the entries for your relatives.

Firstly, the LDS has several different versions of their catalogue, e.g. on line on www.familysearch.org, in FamilySearch on computer at LDS libraries, on Microfiche in LDS libraries and on CD-Rom. These catalogues differ in the way these records are recorded. The CD-Rom "Family History Library Catalog" (cost about $5) described as "Includes catalog entries as of March 2000" is as up-to-date, complete and easy to use as any I have seen.

Secondly, there is an inconsistency in the indexing of the titles for these records so a search for "Meldezettel" does not reveal all films. I found the best bet is to search for "Meldeamt" (i.e. Registration Office) as a keyword, which then shows similar records for a range of European towns, including Vienna. If one specifically wants to look for Vienna records, I suggest you perform a Place Search looking for Austria, Niederosterreich, Wien. Then look for Austria, Niederösterreich, Wien - Population. This brings one to links to the two series of Registration Forms.

Thirdly the titles and overall description of the two series are misleading in places. The second series is catalogued as "Meldekartei 18.-20. Jahr." (i.e. Registration cards 18th -20th century), but in fact the forms appears to have been completed in the period 1940 to 1948 (with some earlier dates going back to 1915 probably included retrospectively) . The first series is catalogued more correctly as Meldezettel, 1850-1920 (i.e. Registration forms 1850-1920), though the earliest I have seen an entry from is 1890 whereas entries go up to at least 1921.

Fourthly, and this is the most dreadful issue, the forms themselves are not filed in alphabetical order, and the order is not the same between the two series. This would not be a problem in a small series of documents but this is a massive collection; There are 3168 microfilm rolls in the first series and 1237 rolls in the later series.

In both series male and female entries are (usually, but not always) on separate forms. In the earlier series, all the films containing male records are followed by films containing female records. Both are in the same (or at least similar) order. Whereas in the later series records for females follow those for males within each group of surnames.

The LDS catalogue gives some initial clues as to how to find films. I quote from the Catalogue relating to the First Series ( there is no information for the Second series but suspect the catalogue order is based on similar principles, apart from the order of male & female entries): "Names are listed in two sequences: männlich (male) and weiblich (female). Names beginning with a vowel (A, E, I, O, U) are listed first. Umlauted vowels Ä, Ö are filed with E. Ü, J, Y are filed with I. Diphthongs are usually filed with the first vowel of the diphthong. After the first vowel sound, names are filed by the first consonant sound, grouped by the next vowel sound. Names beginning with consonants are filed according to the following groups: (B,P) (C,G,K,X,Ch,Cs,Cz,Ks,H) (D,T,Dh,Th) (F,V,W) (H) (L) (M) (N,Ng) (R) (S,Z,Sch,Sz,Tz). H is grouped with C when not the first letter of the name. After the first consonant sound, names are filed by the second consonant, grouped by the first vowel sound:

A Au E Ä Ö Ai Ay Ey Ei Eu I Ie Ü Y J O Ou U B P C G K X Ch Cs Cz Ks H D T Dh Th F V W H L M N Ng R S Z Sch Sz Tz "

Although very complex, one might envisage that these rules would enable one to locate the relevant films. However, there are several reasons that make this quite difficult. Firstly, slightly more frequent names are grouped together in separate sequences, but there is no information on this in the catalogue. Secondly, the rules above are not complete, as the records are clearly subdivided by some rules relating to third consonants/vowels, when there are too many registration forms for a group of surnames. Thirdly, the catalogue shows only the surname on the first and last entry on each film, but with no indication of what other names are present. A check on these shows that they do not follow the rules - I do not know the reason but suspect that most are due to misreading of the surnames of the first/last entry and some due to misfiling. Fourthly, within a series of a given surname (or mixture of surnames), the forenames are not alphabetical but grouped according to the same or similar rules. Unfortunately, I cannot advise precisely how to find the correct film. So until some kind person devises more complete rules, and improves the level of information in the catalogue one needs to order several films to ensure a good chance of success.

Finally, at least on the LDS films, many records appear to be missing. Thus, some people who I know had permanent residence in Vienna do not have Meldezettel, and others have a discontinuous series of Forms. For the more recent series, although I have found some Meldezettel for Jewish Residents (e.g. for Irene Sara JERUSALEM which states that she moved away on 24.10.41 to Litzmanstadt - i.e. the Jewish Ghetto of Lodz . The form itself is undated but the additional forename "Sara" indicates that the form was completed before 1945) the number is smaller than I would have expected. It would be interesting to know whether the Meldezettel for deported or deceased Jews were systematically removed during the Nazi period.

Examples of information that I obtained

In addition to the obvious information outlined above, I found a number of additional useful bits of information . For example, it is quite common for the Registration Forms to be signed by a member of the family, and hence one can obtain a sample of your relative's handwriting. On the earlier series, if a single woman was married this was indicated on the Form this status change was indicated on the form with the date of marriage and name of her husband. I presume then she would obtain a new Meldezettel in her married name. Similarly if someone died, the Meldezettel was stamped "Gestorben" with the date of death. This allows a cross reference with the Jewish Death Records. Surname changes are fully documented and again probably indicate the existence of further Meldezettel under the new names.

The information does not only relate to Viennese inhabitants: Many Prague Jews travelled to Vienna and stayed there for short periods. These then appear on the Meldezettel and one can obtain the same detailed information about them and their families. Finally, by having the exact addresses one may distinguish with confidence people with the same given names, and at the same time identify their families and obtain birth dates and places.

Revised: 05 November 2009

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