Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

  • Information for journalists

    Please send your enquiries to the Press Division at the Federal Foreign Office. You can contact us by phone on +49 (30) 1817 2056 or by email at diplo%27%de,presse.

    Federal Foreign Office Information Service

    It is not possible to film in the reading room of the Political Archive. Unlike media documents, the archive material are not tagged. Therefore it is only possible to search for specific people, place names or topics in individual cases. The details of specific archive searches based on administrative competences and filing plans can be found in our tutorials.

  • Information for users coming from abroad

    The Federal Foreign Office cannot issue invitations to visit the Archive to be presented to agencies of your country of origin or to support visa applications. Please be aware that archive material from the 19th and early 20th centuries is partly or entirely hand-written in old German script (Kurrent). You can find courses in Kurrent handwriting online.

    Get started reading Kurrent script

  • Information for exam candidates and doctoral students

    Before sending your enquiry please inform yourself of the administrative responsibilities of German archives. The Archives School Marburg maintains a list of all state and non-state archives in Germany.

    German archives online

    The archive cannot supply bibliographical information or publicly available information such as speeches, newspaper articles, legislation, treaty texts or documents from archive publications.

    Please keep a precise record of the reference code of the archive material viewed. The Archive cannot retrospectively identify unassigned documents for you, even if your submission deadline is approaching.

  • Information for genealogists

    You can only expect to find archive material relating to your genealogy if your ancestors worked in the Foreign Service or, as a German national, had direct or indirect contact with the Foreign Office or the relevant mission abroad due to a stay in another country.

    Please be aware that the records do not contain civil status records, it is not possible for the Archive to carry out in-depth genealogical research, and personal records (e.g. personnel files) can only be accessed 30 years after the death or 110 years after the birth of the person in question.

    Biographies of persons who served in the higher service prior to 1945 can be found in the “Biographisches Handbuch des deutschen Auswärtigen Dienstes” [Biographical Handbook on the German Foreign Service].

    Selceted bibliography

    Personal papers are held in the Federal Archives’ central database of personal papers.

    Database of personal papers

  • How do I prepare to undertake my research at the Political Archive?

    Read our tutorials and the section “Visiting the Political Archive” on this website. We will be happy to answer questions on specific problems in as much as staff capacity allows

    Visiting the Political Archive

    Tutorials

  • How can I apply to use the archive?

    Please use our contact form. The first time you visit the reading room please fill in the written application form which you can obtain from the reading room staff.

    Contact form

  • Should I reserve a work station in the reading room?

    Absolutely, space is limited! We recommend that you make a reservation three weeks in advance. Provided that your application to use the Archives has already been approved you can use the contact form to reserve a work station and order files in advance.

    Reserve a work station (only possible once your application to use the Political Archive has been approved)

  • What form of ID/written confirmation do I need to bring?

    You need a valid identification document (personal ID card or passport) which you will exchange for a visitor’s pass at the entrance.

  • Where is the reading room?

    At Kurstraße 36 in Berlin Mitte, near the underground station Hausvogteiplatz.

    Practical information

  • What do I need to be aware of when working in the reading room?

    Please note the Regulations for Users of the Political Archive and of the Reading Room and follow the staff’s instructions. Eating, drinking, speaking loudly and making phone calls are strictly forbidden, as is making any form of changes to the material. Breach of these regulations may result in exclusion from use of the Political Archive.

    Regulations for Users of the Political Archive

    Regulations for Users of the Reading Room

  • Can I use my laptop in the reading room?

    Yes, plug sockets are available but please note that there is no Wi-Fi or general internet access. Nonetheless we do have one computer with which you can access the internet.

  • Am I allowed to take pictures of archive files with my digital camera?

    Yes but only if you do not use the flash or make any disruptive sounds. You are not allowed to use single-lens reflex cameras or your own scanner. Items such as padded strip weights and foam wedges are available from the reading room staff. These aids will help you to deal correctly with the archive material.

  • Is there a charge for use of or enquiries to the Political Archive?

    Using the finding aids and the archives in the reading room is entirely free of charge. There is no fee for undertaking research or making enquiries. You will only be charged when you put in a request in the reading room for photocopies which are carried out by external companies.

    Reproductions

  • How do I use the finding aids to search through the holdings?

    Please read our tutorials. The reading room staff will be happy to explain how to use the finding aids. The archivists are available to answer specific questions in as far as staff capacity allows.

    Tutorials

  • Which archive material can I look at and which not?

    Files which are more than 30 years old are generally openly accessible. Newer files cannot be used. For personal records such as personnel files, the protective period can last significantly longer and usually does not end until 30 years after the death of the person in question. Under certain circumstances files can be viewed before their protective period expires. The archivists can provide you with further information. Upon request and in well-founded cases an exception can be made and protective periods curtailed. Access to classified records is not allowed.

    Legal basis

  • How do I order archive material and how many files can I use at a time?

    Archive material can be ordered electronically in the reading room. Please ask a staff member to register you so that you can use the system. You can order ten files and ten microfiches per day. Please note that restrictions may apply depending on the condition of the material. The archive material ordered by users are collected from the stacks at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. from Monday to Thursday, and at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Friday. You can collect them in the reading room about an hour later.

  • Are there other archives where I can find Federal Foreign Office files?

    Some of the records are held in the Federal Archives at its locations in Berlin Lichterfelde and Koblenz.

    Other Archives (in German)

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

User and staff member in the reading room

Federal Foreign Office

Main website of the Federal Foreign Office