Finding Jewish Family Records in Croatia
By Ed Zwieback, with help from Frank Kurchina
May 31, 2000
The Mormon Family History Library (FHL) began microfilming records in Zagreb in March 1985. They have acquired over 2,500 microfilms in Croatia, including Jewish records for 15 towns. These films are listed in Avotaynu (Summer 1999, Vol. XV, no. 2, page 5), as well as in the Family History Library Catalog (FHLC). A good article on "Croatian Research at the Family History Library" by Thomas K. Edlund can be found on the Feefhs.org web site. An updated and expanded version of this article, entitled "A Beginner's Guide to Croatian Research", by Thomas K. Edlund, can be found in the FEEFHS Quarterly, VII:1-2 (Spring/Summer 1999), pp. 7-37.
Croatia has a Central State Archive, located in the capital, Zagreb. The Hrvatski Državni Arhiv (National Archives of Croatia) is the main depository of old church records for many parts of the country.
Any birth and death records older than 1860 (some up to the 1880’s) were turned over to the one of the twelve Croatian Regional (historical) Archives (DRŽAVNI ARHIV...). The record-ending dates may vary from one regional archive to the next. The Regional Archives are located at: Varaždin, Zagreb, Bjelovar, Pazin, Rijeka, Karlovac, Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik, Sisak, Slavonski Brod, and Osijek.
In 1945, all birth, marriage, and death records held by churches in Croatia were turned over to the civil authorities and were deposited with the City Register Offices ('općina'; MATCNI URED...). These include Jewish records. There are 400 municipalities within 21 counties (županija) in Croatia. Since Zagreb is large, there are many such offices located within the city. Addresses of the City Register Offices for post-1900 records are difficult to locate from the Internet.
Croatian records have greater linguistic diversity than for most other regions. Croatian, Slovene, Serbian, German, Hungarian, Latin or Italian are the possible languages used.
I obtained very good results when I sent an inquiry letter (in English) to the Regional Archive of Varaždin, asking for vital records. The Varaždin archivist has provided copies of several marriage, death, and census records for my family (1879-1930s). The Varaždin archivist also searched the City Book of Inhabitants, 1930s, and a Record of Conscription of Jews sent to concentration camps, 1941. I have used the FHL microfilm #1,791,974: "Zagreb Jewish Births and Deaths 1858-1904", and the film is very easy to read.
The Jewish Community of Zagreb may be able to help with family records. They have furnished me some very useful information.