Declarations of death in absentia

A person could be legally declared dead (declared death in absentia or legal presumption of death) despite the absence of direct proof of the person's death. Such a declaration was typically made when a person had been missing for an extended period of time and in the absence of any evidence that the person was still alive - or after a much shorter period but where the circumstances surrounding a person's disappearance overwhelmingly supported the belief that the person had died. Examples can be soldiers missing after a major battle or victims of concentration camps of WWII.

This legal proceeding was in the competence of the district court, to which a person belonged. The proceeding was usually initiated by a relative who wanted to solve property matters or remarry. If a person was declared dead, a death certificate was issued and the appropriate information was written in the death register.   

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 Deaclaration of death in absentia 1947   (Moravian Land Archive in Brno, Czech language)

This legal file details the declaration of death of Anna Klein, iniciated upon the request of Anna's nephew, Kurt Ballon. Anna was a Jewish photographer who perished as a consequence of racial persecution. The last information about Anna is her transport to the east from the concentration camp in Terezín. Included in the court file is a newspaper clipping with a challange addressed to Anna or anyone who has any information about her to report to the district court in Brno.  

English translation of this record

WHY were they collected?  Legal proceeding of declaration of death of a person missing for an extended period of time
WHEN were they collected?   1850 to present
WHO collected the records? Regional courts
WHAT information can be found? Presumpted cause of death, probable place and time
In which ARCHIVES are they held?

Regional archives

In which archive FILES can they be found?  Regional courts, registration code T 
LANGUAGE of records Czech, German
AVAILABILITY  Legal proceeding files survived rarely. Basic information can be found in the court dockets.
What must be KNOWN before getting started? Records are kept chronologically, it is advised to first search in indexes to court dockets or court registers. It is good to know date and possible time of death.
Czech expression Prohlášení za mrtvého
German expression Todeserklärung