The largest record group at the CAHJP, containing archival material from over 1000 communities, societies and institutions. For some, only several files remained, for others, many more. However, the size of some of these collections at the Central Archives does not necessarily correspond to the size and prominence of those communities before World War II. Some of the German material dates from the 16th and 17th centuries, however, the majority of the files date from the 18th to the 20th centuries. They relate to all aspects of communal activities, such as community leadership, relations with other communities and with the authorities, legal status, financial affairs, taxes, ritual matters, civil registry, education, culture and philanthropy. Until the first half of the 19th century most of the documents are in Yiddish or Hebrew and sometimes in German with Hebrew characters. By 1850 most records were conducted in German. The material arrived at the Central Archives from a variety of sources, among them files relating to 400 communities from the Gesamtarchiv der deutschen Juden. In the mid 1980’s the CAHJP initiated a major project to recatalogue the German communal material according to a uniform scheme, in order to unite all the material from each community in one single collection and facilitate thematic searches. Over 250 communal archives have been recatalogued to date. New inventories are available for the communities of Upper and Lower Franconia in Bavaria as well as other parts of Bavaria, Württemberg, Saxony, Hesse, Westphalia and Prussia .
Microfilms and photocopies
A large collection of microfilms, copied in Jewish, state and municipal archives and in archives of aristocratic families, such as Centrum Judaicum Berlin, Landesverband München, Żydowski Instytut Historyczny [ŻIH] Warsaw, Deutsches Zentralarchiv Merseburg, German Foreign Office, German Ministry of the Interior, state archives Hamburg, on Breslau (today Wroclaw), Emden, Frankfurt/M., Halberstadt, Hannover, Karlsruhe, Koblenz, Königsberg/Prussia (today Kaliningrad), Mainz, Marburg, Munich, Stettin (today Szczecin, Worms, Würzburg etc. Recently the entire collection of the Centralverein deutscher Staatsbürger jüdischen Glaubens (CV) was microfilmed at the Center for the Preservation of Historical Documentary Collections in Moscow (Osoby archives).
A third of the private collections in the CAHJP are in German. Among them are the papers of Yitzhak F. Baer, Theodore Harburger, Louis Lamm, Josef Meisl (first director of the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People) and Moritz Stern. The latter contains valuable sources on German-Jewish history in the Middle Ages.
600 lists from 160 state, district and municipal archives, as well as from archives of aristocratic families (11th-20th centuries).