Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 1933-2020

We had just finished our first dinner together as a family since before the pandemic—both of my daughters, my son-in-law, and my grandsons. It was a wonderful meal—lots of laughter and food and candles and blessings. Apples and honey and challah and wine. We were cleaning up in the kitchen, the kids were playing, and suddenly I heard my son-in-law gasp. He stood up, ashen, and whispered, “Ginsburg died.”

All I could say was, “Oh, no.” Then two seconds later. “Oh, no.” It felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. It felt like a personal loss, the death of someone I knew and loved, not the death of someone famous I’d never actually met. We were all stunned. Even my grandsons, ages six and ten, knew who Ruth Bader Ginsburg was and knew how important she was.

We talked about her and her life, and then the next night we all watched “On the Basis of Sex,” a dramatized version of her early career and one of the first legal cases that established that treating men and women differently solely on the basis of gender was unconstitutional. When the movie ended with the shot of the real RBG standing on the steps of the Supreme Court, I cried. She was a hero, a role model, someone who changed the world I lived in and thus changed the course of my life.

She was born in Brooklyn, where my mother was born and raised and where my grandsons now live. Like my mother, she was Jewish and the daughter of an immigrant father and a mother who was first-generation American-born. She went to Cornell University and then was one of only nine women in her class at Harvard Law School in the 1950s. Despite the discrimination she faced there and the skepticism many had about women becoming lawyers, she rose to the top of her class.

Without Ruth Bader Ginsburg and others like her, I never would have dreamed of becoming a lawyer. When I was in high school and the women’s movement was just brewing, I thought girls could only grow up to be three things—a mommy, a nurse, or a teacher. I recall a heated debate with a classmate who was already more awake to the need for change than I where I took the position that a woman had to choose between a career or a family. She couldn’t have both.

All that changed in the four years I was in college, the years that RBG began litigating cases against sex discrimination. By my senior year I’d decided I wanted to go to law school. I wanted to have it all—a family and a career. When I arrived at Harvard Law School in 1975, there were more than ten times the number of women in my entering class than had been there when Ginsburg enrolled. We were still only 20% of the class, but at least there were more of us—thanks to the work of Ginsburg and others. Professors could no longer outwardly treat us as lesser beings than our male classmates, although some may have still thought that way. Without RBG and others, that never would have happened.

When RBG graduated from law school in the late 1950s, she could not get a law firm to hire her despite being on law review and at the top of her class. Twenty years later when I graduated from law school, there were still few women partners in law firms (and none at the firm where I was hired), but firms were hiring women.  Four years later, my firm had two women who were partners (out of over forty partners overall), and almost half of new hires were women.

When I left practice in 1982 to become a law professor, there were only two other women on the faculty of twenty-five; there were many students who expected their professors to be men, preferably older white men in suits, not a young woman with a young child and another on the way. But things changed over the years. More and more women were becoming lawyers, and more were becoming law professors. One of those law professors was Jane Ginsburg, Ruth’s daughter, and I first felt a real personal connection to RBG when I adopted two of her daughter Jane’s casebooks—one on copyright law, one on trademark law—to teach my courses in those subjects. When I retired from law teaching in 2014, women made up a majority of those on the faculty at my school. We had seen a momentous shift in thirty-two years.

So much changed from the time I was in high school and could only dream of becoming either a mother or a nurse or a teacher. So much changed from the day I entered law school until the day I retired almost forty years later. Women went from being outsiders in the legal profession to being a majority of those enrolled in law school and prominent in the profession, though even today there are still too few women partners in big law firms and too much discrimination generally against women in society.

I feel so deeply grateful to Ruth Bader Ginsburg for all these changes. When she was named by Bill Clinton to the US Supreme Court in 1993, I felt as if someone I knew had made it to the highest court in the land. A Jewish woman was on the Supreme Court. Someone who grew up in the time and place in which my mother had grown up. Someone who had had both children and a career. Someone who shared my background and my values. She was only the second woman to be named to the court. She changed it forever. She changed me and my life and my world even before I knew her name.

I am forever indebted to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. No wonder I feel her loss so personally. She was a blessing to every little girl growing up today, to every woman searching for a meaningful life, and to every woman of my generation who benefited from everything she did. She was a blessing to all people whose rights have been denied, who have faced discrimination, or who simply want to see justice and fairness in our society.

May her memory be a blessing forever. May we carry on her legacy.


Two other bloggers wrote posts about Ginsburg that touched me. I recommend them both. You can find them here (“The Heavens Opened for RBG” at Zicharanot), discussing another personal reaction to her death, and here (“Ruth Bader Ginburg, Rest in Power” at wmtc), discussing her opinions on the Supreme Court and their significance. There have been, of course, many other tributes and obituaries published that describe her life and her career and her impact on the law and on society.

 

 

Blogging in a Pandemic: Rosh Hashanah 5781

What a very strange time we live in. A year ago I was preoccupied with moving my mother to Massachusetts and trying to help her find a way to settle into her new surroundings. I had no idea what to expect in the year to come. I really had no idea—who could have imagined what 5780, or what we ordinarily call 2020, would bring?

I have not blogged since late April about the way the pandemic has affected my life. Somehow I adjusted to the new, bizarre reality. Doing most things by Zoom, taking walks in new places, social distancing, and wearing masks—it all just started to become some form of an ordinary routine. Yes, there was always this underlying anxiety and fear of getting sick or having someone I care about get sick. But the change in routine became acceptable most of the time. All I kept saying was, “If only I could be with my family—hug and kiss my children and grandchildren—I could accept all these other restrictions.”

During the summer we started moving in that direction. We got tested and spent several days with our grandsons and their parents in August. My younger daughter came to spend my birthday with me, and I couldn’t resist a birthday hug.

The summer almost felt normal in some ways although we were terribly sad to miss our traditional week with the family on the Cape. The beach was hardly crowded, so we could walk without masks and sit and read like we always do.  We didn’t eat out like we ordinarily do, and in town we had to wear masks, but overall being on the Cape was as restorative and relaxing as it always has been.

But summer is almost over. Rosh Hashanah is for me the first real sign that fall is upon us. And we spent a lot of time in the last month wondering how in the world we would celebrate the holiday. A Zoom Passover was a novelty and was truly special; but the novelty of Zoom has worn off, and Rosh Hashanah is a different kind of holiday. Passover is centered on the home—the seder is its central ritual. Rosh Hashanah is centered on the synagogue—listening to the service, hearing the shofar, being in the sanctuary, seeing our friends. We can’t be in the synagogue this year. And frankly, watching services by Zoom really isn’t very appealing. Though we will try.

So we’ve decided that we have to do something more than sit home alone and watch a service on our computer. We all got tested this week, and my daughters, son-in-law, and grandsons will be coming to stay with us for the holiday. No amount of apples and honey will be sweeter than that.

By Gilabrand (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Shana tova to you all. May 5781 be a happier, healthier year for all people all over the world.

(I will be taking a break from blogging until next week.)

Unanswered Questions: Rosa Werner Wormser and Moritz Werner

Although I was able to learn a fair amount about two of the children of Helene Katzenstein and Max Werner, Elsa Werner Loewenthal and Henriette Werner Cohen, it was much more difficult to find information about their other two children, Rosa Werner Wormser and Moritz Werner. I can only report what I’ve learned, primarily from secondary sources, and hope that perhaps by publishing this, someone who knows more about these relatives of mine will find this and provide me with more information and sources. This may be my worst sourced post ever!

Rosa Werner, as we saw, married Josef Wormser in Eschwege in 1908.  According to entries on My Heritage, Rosa and Joseph had four children, Esther (1909), Raphael (1911), Julius (1914), and Helene (1917), all born in Zurich, Switzerland, where Rosa and Joseph had relocated after marrying. It also appears that Rosa and Josef remained in Zurich during the Nazi era and survived, but I have no records of their lives there during that time. According to the information on My Heritage, Josef died in 1940 in Zurich, Rosa thirteen years later in 1953, also in Zurich.

As for their children, three of the four immigrated to Palestine/Israel. I have seen documents1 showing that Esther Wormser immigrated to Palestine, where she married Max Leo Koplowitz, who had immigrated there as early as March 28, 1932, and became a naturalized citizen of Palestine on November 19, 1937. Max was born on March 29, 1907, in Strasbourg when it was under German control before World War I (later and currently part of France). He was an agricultural worker in Palestine. According to a document in his immigration file, he and Esther Wormser married on May 21, 1939, in Petach-Tikvah, and she became a Palestinian citizen by virtue of her marriage to Max Koplowitz.

I do not have any further information yet for Esther, although David Baron and Roger Cibella reported that she and Max had two sons born in the 1940s. Max died October 26, 2006, in Israel, according to his gravestone at BillionGraves.com. There was no date or place of death reported for Esther.

BillionGraves.com
Grave record for ישראל מקס קופלוביץ (1907 – 2006), BillionGraves Record 19495247 כפר הרא”ה, Central District, Israel

Raphael Wormser also immigrated to Israel at some point. My Heritage reports that he married Greta Aufsasser in 1954. According to his gravestone at BillionGraves, he died August 5, 1973.

BillionGraves.com
Grave record for רפאל וורמסר (), BillionGraves Record 12700234 Holon, Central District, Israel

As for Helene Wormser, My Heritage shows that she married Dr. Herman Halberstadt and that they had two children; in addition, My Heritage reports that she died in Jerusalem, but did not provide a date of death.

The only Wormser child who did not immigrate to Palestine/Israel was Julius. He remained in Zurich where he married Betty Loewenthal and had several children, according to Baron/Cibella. Julius died in Zurich on May 11, 1989, according to My Heritage.

Thus, my information about the Wormser family is quite thin and based almost completely on My Heritage profiles. I’ve sent a message to the manager of those profiles, but have not heard anything back.

That brings me to Helene Katzenstein and Max Werner’s youngest surviving child, Moritz. We saw that Moritz married Jenny Kahn in Frankfurt in 1918 and that they had a son, Max, born in 1922. The only records I have for Moritz and Jenny after their marriage record are the 1939 England and Wales Register and their exemptions from being deemed enemy aliens in England. Thus, they had immigrated to England by 1939. Unfortunately part of the of the right margin of the 1939 Register is not visible, but it looks like Moritz was the director of London Win(dow?) Display Ltd.

Moritz and Jenny Werner,The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/828B, Enumeration District: BKER, Ancestry.com

He was exempted from being interned as an enemy alien; on this form he described his occupation as the company director of manufacturing company.

The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/101, Piece Number Description: 101: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Wem-Wid, Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945

Here is Jenny’s exemption documentation:

The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/101, Piece Number Description: 101: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Wem-Wid, Ancestry.com. UK, World War II Alien Internees, 1939-1945

This quotation, found on Moritz Werner’s Geni profile and translated by DeepL, from a book written by Anna Maria Zimmer, Juden in Eschwege:Entwicklung und Zerstörung der jüdischen Gemeinde, von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart (1993), p. 272, provides some touching details about Moritz Werner and his life during and after the Nazi era:

Moritz Werner was – like his father Max Werner – a partner and manager of the important textile factory Brinkmann since 1916. Because of the National Socialist persecution, Moritz Werner was forced to sell the company and flee to England.

His son Max Heinz Werner recalls this:

“In mid 1938 the purchase was perfected. A Catholic named Rhode from Kassel, who produced goods for the armaments industry, had bought L.S. Brinkmann. After the war, when Rhode was terminally ill, he developed feelings of remorse and tracked down my father Moritz in England. Mr. Rhode asked for a visit and my father and he made a contract, i.e. my father bought the company back – that was at a time when there was no official reparation! In 1949 the takeover was perfected. …

When my father celebrated his 25th anniversary with the company in 1931, the staff donated a bronze plate with a dedication and two knitting hands for him. During the forced sale [1939] the plate suddenly disappeared.

In 1949, when my father was sitting in his office again for the first time, there was a knock at the door and a small delegation of employees came in… They struggled to carry a box containing this bronze plate. Before taking over the company, these employees had fastened the plate in the chimney with strong wires and thus hidden it.”

My Heritage reports that Moritz died in Lugano, Switzerland, on April 27, 1966, and that Jenny died in Chile (no date provided). When had Moritz and Jenny moved from England? Why did he die in Switzerland, she in Chile? So many unanswered questions.

I cannot find their son Max on either the 1939 Register or on an enemy alien registration. Max would have been a teenager at the time. Where could he have been? All I could find for Max was an entry in the England & Wales, Marriage Index on Ancestry for his marriage in 1947 to Clara Amalia Reiss,2 and I know nothing more about Clara or Max except what I found on My Heritage and on David Baron and Roger Cibella’s family report: that Clara was born in Vienna on September 27, 1920, that she and Max had two children, that Clara died on April 6, 2011, and that Max died eight months later on December 9, 2011. According to their profiles on My Heritage, both Max and Clara are buried in Jerusalem.

UPDATE: My cousin Joanne Warner-Loewenthal shared a link with me about Max Werner, her cousin. It reports that he graduated from the University of Leeds in England and became a naturalized English citizen. After the war, however, he returned to Germany to become a director of the LS Brinkmann knitwear company in Eschwege. He also developed an interest in race cars and in photographing racing, as described here.


  1. A month or so ago I saw Max’s immigration file on the Israel Archives and saved the link, but did not download the documents, figuring I’d come back later. Then the Archives shut down for several weeks. They’ve since come back online, but Max’s file is now listed as “not yet scanned.” Fortunately, I took notes on what is in that file, and when it becomes available, I will update this post. 
  2.  Max H Werner, Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar, Registration District: Hendon
    Inferred County: Middlesex, Spouse: Amalia K Reiss. Volume Number: 5f, Page Number: 529, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5f; Page: 529,
    Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 

Henriette Werner Cohen and Her Children: Escaping from Germany

Helene Katzenstein Werner died in 1912, and her husband Max died seven years later in 1919. Their son Carl was killed fighting for Germany in World War I. Helene and Max were survived by four of their five children—Henriette, Elsa, Rosa, and Moritz—and many grandchildren. What happened to those children and grandchildren when Hitler came to power in 1933?

We know that Elsa and her husband Julius Loewenthal survived and immigrated eventually to the US, as did two of their four children, but their daughter Ruth and her husband were killed in a terrible car accident in Switzerland in 1937, and Ruth’s orphaned daughter Margot was later murdered by the Nazis at Sobibor. Their son Herbert spent the war years in a sanitorium in Zurich and lived the rest of his life in Switzerland.

What about Elsa Werner Loewenthal’s three siblings? What happened to them? As we will see, they all survived, but ended up spread throughout the world. Today’s post is about her sister Henriette Werner Cohen.

Henriette and her family ended up in the United States, as had Elsa. But Henriette first endured the tragedy of losing her husband Julius Cohen. He died on June 7, 1933, in Hamburg, just two months after Hitler’s rise to power; he was 64.

Julius Cohen death record, Year Range and Volume: 1933 Band 01, Ancestry.com. Hamburg, Germany, Deaths, 1874-1950

Julius was survived by Henriette and their three children, Mary, Manfred, and Willy, who all left Germany for the US in the 1930s. Manfred left first; he arrived in the US on December 24, 1936, but the ship manifest indicated that he was only planning to stay for three months. The person he listed as his contact in the US was a cousin, Max Stern. I assume this referred to Hilda Loewenthal’s husband Max Stern, the founder of Hartz Mountain Corporation. Manfred listed his mother as his contact back in Germany; she was still living in Hamburg, but Manfred listed his last residence as Eschwege, his mother’s birthplace. I wonder whether he was working for his uncle/cousin Julius Loewenthal.1

Manfred returned home to Germany, but then came again to the US two years later on April 4, 1938, this time intending to stay permanently. By that time he was married to Caecilie Gundersheimer. Caecilie was born on February 10, 1915,2 the daughter of Samuel Gundersheimer and Bertha Schwarzschild.3  According to the ship manifest, she was born in “Kleinheubad,” Germany, which I assume is a misspelling of Kleinheubach, as I cannot find any place (in Germany or elsewhere) named Kleinheubad. When Caecilie’s parents immigrated to the US the following year, they were going to Reading, Pennsylvania, where Manfred and Caecilie had settled.4

Manfred Cohen, ship manifest, Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 46, Ship or Roll Number: Queen Mary,
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Manfred’s brother Willy Wolf Cohen also immigrated permanently to the US in 1938. He arrived on August 19 of that year, listing his mother Henriette in Hamburg as the person left behind and his brother Manfred of Reading, Pennsylvania as the contact person in the US.5  He filed his declaration of intention to become a US citizen on October 12, 1938, at which time he was living in Reading, presumably with his brother Manfred.

Willy Wolf Cohen, declaration of intention, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; ARC Title: Naturalization Petition and Record Books for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Cleveland, 1907–1946; NAI: M1995; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21
Petition Number: 104154 – 104657, Ancestry.com. Ohio, Naturalization Petition and Record Books, 1888-1946

Their mother Henriette and sister Mary finally arrived the following year, January 26, 1939, also listing Manfred as the person they were going to in the United States.6 On the 1940 census, Henriette was living with her son Manfred in Reading, along with his wife and his in-laws.  Manfred was the owner of a mushroom plant there, and his wife Caecilie worked there as well, as did her father Samuel Gundersheimer.

Manfred Cohen, 1940 US census, Census Place: Reading, Berks, Pennsylvania; Roll: m-t0627-03679; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 70-53, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

But when he registered for the World War II draft in 1942, Manfred listed his employer as the American Photocopy Equipment Company.

Manfred Cohen, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for Pennsylvania, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 439, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Manfred’s siblings Mary and Willy do not appear on that 1940 census with him and his mother although Mary’s declaration of intention filed on June 26, 1939, shows she was still residing in Reading at that time.

Mary Cohen, declaration of intention, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; ARC Title: Naturalization Petition and Record Books for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Cleveland, 1907–1946; NAI: M1995; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21
Petition Number: 104154 – 104657, Ancestry.com. Ohio, Naturalization Petition and Record Books, 1888-1946

I am not certain, but I think I located both Mary and William living in New York at the time of the 1940 census. There is a Mary Cohen, age 35, working as a maid in Brooklyn, who could be Mary as her residence in 1935 was Hamburg, Germany. But Mary would have been 37 in 1940, so I can’t be positive this is the same Mary Cohen, although this is the only Mary Cohen who comes close to matching my Mary.7

There was a Willy Cohen living in Queens, New York, in 1940, married to a woman named Hilda who had last been living in Strasbourg, France.8  But I don’t think this is my Willy; according to my Willy Cohen’s petition for naturalization, filed in June 1944, he didn’t marry his wife, Hildegarde Goldbach, until March 15, 1942, at which time he was living in Cleveland. Hildegarde, who was born on May 13, 1920, in Eschwege, immigrated in August 1940; she was the daughter of Abraham Goldbach and Luise Muller.9

Willy Wolf Cohen, naturalization petition, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; ARC Title: Naturalization Petition and Record Books for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Cleveland, 1907–1946; NAI: M1995; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21
Petition Number: 104154 – 104657, Ancestry.com. Ohio, Naturalization Petition and Record Books, 1888-1946

So where was Willy Wolf Cohen in 1940? There is a William H. Cohen living in Manhattan as a lodger on the 1940 census, single, 34 years old, born in Germany, with no occupation listed. Again, I can’t be certain this is the right person, but he is the only other William Cohen on the 1940 census who matches the age and birthplace of my Willy, and as noted on his petition for naturalization, Willy had adopted the name William Henry Cohen in the US, matching “William H. Cohen.”

William H. Cohen, 1940 US census, Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02641; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 31-736, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census

But not long after the enumeration of the 1940 census, Henriette, Mary, and William all moved to Cleveland, Ohio. As seen above, William’s 1944 petition for naturalization indicates that he’d moved to Cleveland by June 1, 1940; the petition also lists his occupation as a service engineer.

Henriette moved to Cleveland by November 1940, according to her petition for naturalization filed in 1944.10 Mary moved to Cleveland in March 1941, according to her petition for naturalization filed in 1944; she was working as a nurse at that time.11

Comparing all three petitions, it appears that Henriette, Mary and William were all living at the same address, 1040 Parkwood Drive in Cleveland, when they petitioned for naturalization. Henriette’s petition is also interesting in that it reports that by 1944, Manfred had moved to Philadelphia from Reading, Pennsylvania.

Unfortunately, I could not find any information for Henriette or any of her children after the 1940s except for information about their deaths. Henriette died in March 1951 in Cleveland, as seen in this death notice from the Cleveland Plain Dealer of March 21, 1951; she was 69 years old.

Henriette Cohen, obituary, Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 21, 1951, p. 30.

Aside from a 1950 telephone directory listing, I cannot find any other record of Manfred in Philadelphia except for this obituary from the November 30, 1973 Philadelphia Jewish Exponent:

Manfred Cohen, obituary, The Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, November 30, 1973, p. 67

He died on November 18, 1973, in Philadelphia; he was 69, the same age his mother had been when she died and just five years older than his father had been at his death in 1933.

But Henriette’s other two children both lived longer lives. Mary died on February 10, 1993, in Beachwood, Ohio; she was 90.11 William died at 89 on April 9, 1995. 12 Unfortunately I was unable to find an obituary or a death notice for either of them.

Henriette and her children were survived by the children of Manfred and William; Mary has no direct descendants. There are many other descendants living today because Henriette and her children were able to get out of Germany in time.

 


  1. Manfred Cohen, ship manifest, Year: 1936; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 203, Ship or Roll Number: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  2. Caecilie Cohen, Social Security Number: 179-14-7310, Birth Date: 10 Feb 1915, Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: Pennsylvania, Last Residence: 21215, Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland, Death Date: 21 Jan 2010, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  3. Obituary of Bertha Gundersheimer, The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 16, 1968, p. 32; Berta Gundersheimer, Maiden Name: Schwarzschild, Birth Date: 6 Sep 1887, Birth Place: Schluchtern, Last Residence: Frankfurt/M., Departure: Emigrated, Date of Departure: 2 Apr 1939, Destination: North America, German Special Interest Group of JewishGen, comp. Germany, Data on 7,400 North Bavarian Jews 
  4. Samuel and Bertha Gundersheimer, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 29; Page Number: 46; Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  5. Willy Wolf Cohen, ship manifest, Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 3; Page Number: 93, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  6. Henriette Cohen and Mary Cohen, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 10; Page Number: 47, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  7. “United States Census, 1940,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9MY-RH6G?cc=2000219&wc=QZXR-H21%3A790105101%2C795835101%2C804245901%2C804301301 : accessed 27 August 2020), New York > Kings > New York City, Brooklyn, Assembly District 18 > 24-2048B New York City, Brooklyn Borough Assembly District 18 (Tract 343 – part) > image 1 of 16; citing Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 – 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012. 
  8. “United States Census, 1940,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9MB-GJSV?cc=2000219&wc=QZXT-HLF%3A790105101%2C805603701%2C805654201%2C805688901 : accessed 14 August 2020), New York > Queens > New York City, Queens, Assembly District 3 > 41-679B [from 41-679]: New York City, Queens Borough Assembly District 3 (Tract 271 – part) > image 18 of 30; citing Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 – 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012. 
  9. Hildegarde Goldbach, petition for naturalization, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; ARC Title: Naturalization Petition and Record Books for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Cleveland, 1907–1946; NAI: M1995; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21, Petition Number: 106651 – 107164, Ancestry.com. Ohio, Naturalization Petition and Record Books, 1888-1946. Hildegard Doris Cohen, [Hildegard Doris Goldbach] , Birth Date: 13 May 1920, Birth Place: Eschwege, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: Mar 1993, Father: Abraham Goldbach, Mother: Luise Mueller, SSN: 285420684, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  10. Henriette Cohen, Naturalization petition, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; ARC Title: Naturalization Petition and Record Books for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Cleveland, 1907–1946; NAI: M1995; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21, Petition Number: 104154 – 104657, Ancestry.com. Ohio, Naturalization Petition and Record Books, 1888-1946 
  11. Mary Cohen, Age: 90, Birth Date: 21 Sep 1902, Death Date: 10 Feb 1993, Death Hospital: Other/Nursing Home, Death Place: Beachwood, Cuyahoga, USA, Father: Cohen, Occupation: Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants, Ohio Department of Health; Columbus, Ohio; Ohio Deaths, 1908-1932, 1938-1944, and 1958-2007, Ancestry.com and Ohio Department of Health. Ohio, Death Records, 1908-1932, 1938-2018 
  12. William H Cohen, Birth Date: 29 Mar 1906, Death Date: 9 Apr 1995, Claim Date: 14 Dec 1970, SSN: 063144546, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

Helene Katzenstein Brinkmann Werner: Losing A Son in World War I

When Amalie Goldschmidt Katzenstein died in 1903, she was survived by four of her children and eleven grandchildren. As we move into the twentieth century, I will focus on each of those four children separately, starting with Amalie’s oldest child, Helene Katzenstein Brinkmann Werner.

We already saw that Helene had first married Moritz Brinkmann in 1872 and that he had died six years later; she then married Max Werner in 1881, and they had three daughters and two sons.

Their first child was Henriette, born on January 15, 1882, in Eschwege.

Henriette Werner birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1836, Year Range: 1882, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Then came Elsa, who was born on June 27, 1883, in Eschwege.

Elsa Werner birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1837, Year Range: 1883, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Rosa, the third daughter, was born in Eschwege on January 15, 1885.

Rosa Werner birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1839, Year Range: 1885, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Moritz was born September 12, 1888, in Eschwege.

Moritz Werner birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1842, Year Range: 1888, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

And finally their fifth child Carl was born on February 21, 1894, in Eschwege.

Carl Werner birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1848, Year Range: 1894, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Helene and Max’s children began to marry in the first decade of the 20th century. Henriette Werner married Julius Cohen on November 11, 1901, in Eschwege. Julius was born January 9, 1869, in Altona, Germany, a town neighboring Hamburg, to Salamon Cohen and Emma Moeller.

Henriette Werner marriage to Julius Cohen, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1886, Year Range: 1901,
Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Henriette and Julius settled in Altona, where their daughter Mary was born on September 21, 1902.1 She was followed by her brother Manfred on June 1, 1904,2 and a second brother, Willy Wolf, on March 29, 1906.3

Henriette’s sister Elsa Werner married Julius Loewenthal on November 16, 1903, in Eschwege; as has already been discussed, Julius was her second cousin as his grandmother Sarah Goldschmidt Stern was the sister of Elsa’s grandmother Amalie Goldschmidt Katzenstein.

Having already discussed the story of Elsa and Julius and their children here and here, as well as in Julius’ memoir, discussed here, here, here and here, I will simply refer you back to those sources.

Helene and Max’s third daughter Rosa Werner married Josef Wormser on June 15, 1908. Joseph was the son of Raphael Wormser and Fanni Hirsch and was born in Karlsruhe, Germany, on October 17, 1874.

Rosa Werner marriage to Josef Wormser, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 923, Year Range: 1908, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Rosa and Josef had four children, all born in Zurich, Switzerland, where Rosa and Josef had settled. Esther was born on October 13, 1909, Raphael on April 17, 1911, Julius was born on January 8, 1914, and Helene on January 22, 1917.4

Unfortunately, Helene Katzenstein Werner did not live to see the birth of her grandchildren Julius and Helene. She died on December 31, 1912, in Eschwege. She was 58. Her granddaughter Helene Wormser was presumably named for her.

Helene Katzenstein Werner death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1957, Year Range: 1912, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

In some ways Helene’s death was a blessing because she was spared the suffering caused by World War I, including the death of her son Carl (sometimes spelled Karl) on September 25, 1916, while fighting for Germany. According to his death record filed in Eschwege, he died at the eastern front in Russia-Poland at the Schtschara-Serwetsch battle site. Thank you to the members of the GerSIG group on Facebook for their help in transcribing and translating Carl’s death record:

Karl Werner death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1962, Year Range: 1916, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Translation: Eschwege, October 11, 1916 The commander of the replacement battalion Landwehr Infantry Regiment 6 has announced that the non-commissioned officer in the 8th company of this regiment, businessman Karl WERNER, 22 years old, Mosaic religion, living in Eschwege, Friedrich Wilhelmstrasse 48, born in Eschwege, is single , Son of the businessman Max WERNER, residing in Eschwege, and his late wife Helene, née KATZENSTEIN, most recently residing in Eschwege, where the Shchara in Russian Poland died on the twenty-fifth (25) September of the year thousand nine hundred sixteen. The exact time of death has not been established.

The Shchara River is in what is now Belarus, not too far from the border with Poland. As noted on the death record, Carl was a member of the Third Landwehr-Division, Infantry Regiment No. 6. According to Wikipedia, “The 3rd Landwehr Division fought on the Eastern Front in World War I. It was on the front in Poland from the early days, and participated in the Gorlice-Tarnów Offensive, crossing the Vistula in July and advancing toward the Bug, and eventually reaching the line between the Servech and Shchara rivers, where the front stabilized. It remained in the line there until the armistice on the Eastern Front in December 1917.” It was obviously during one of the battles at this front that young Carl Werner was killed; he was only twenty-two years old when he gave his life for Germany.

Third Landwehr Division at the Eastern Front in World War I, found at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gorlice_bitwa.jpg#filelinks (public domain)

Max Werner died almost exactly three years after his son Carl on October 2, 1919; he was seventy.

Max Werner death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1965, Year Range: 1919, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Neither Max nor Helene lived to see the birth of their last grandchild. Their son Moritz married Jenny Kahn on August 19, 1918; Jenny was born May 7, 1894, in Baisingen, Germany. She was the daughter of Moses Kahn and Amalie Marx.

Moritz Werner marriage to Jenny Kahn, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Year Range: 1918, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Moritz Werner and Jenny Kahn had one child, born in Eschwege in 1922, named Max, presumably for his paternal grandfather Max Werner.5

Thus, Helene Katzenstein and Max Werner were survived by four of their five children and numerous grandchildren. They lost their son Carl in World War I, but despite that sacrifice, Carl’s siblings all had to flee from Germany during the Nazi era. We’ve already seen the fate—some tragic—of Elsa Werner Loewenthal and her family. In the next post we will see what happened to Carl and Elsa’s sister Henriette and her family.


  1. Mary Cohen, naturalization petition, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; ARC Title: Naturalization Petition and Record Books for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Cleveland, 1907–1946; NAI: M1995; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21, Ancestry.com. Ohio, Naturalization Petition and Record Books, 1888-1946 
  2. Manfred Cohen, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for Pennsylvania, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 439, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-194 
  3. William Wolf Cohen, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; Draft Registration Cards for Ohio, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 261,
    Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  4. I have no primary sources for these birth dates. They come from family trees on My Heritage and gravestones on BillionGraves. More on that later. 
  5. My source for this date is My Heritage. https://www.myheritage.com/research/record-40000-498970540/max-heinz-werner-in-geni-world-family-tree?s=260189871&indId=externalindividual-c8fe96479a56fe6e8786b0d8055934c5 

Amalie Malchen Goldschmidt and Juda Julius Katzenstein, Part I: A Growing Family

My four-times great-uncle Meyer Goldschmidt and his wife Lea Katzenstein had seven children, six of whom lived to adulthood. I’ve already written about the oldest three: Ella, Sarah, and Jacob Meier. Now I turn to their fourth child, third daughter, Amalie. She was my great-grandmother Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein’s first cousin.

Amalie was born in Grebenstein, Germany, on June 19, 1826. When she was twenty-six years old, she married Juda (Julius) Callman Katzenstein, the son of Callman Katzenstein and Jettchen Wertheim. He was born May 1, 1824, in Eschwege, where they were married on June 7, 1853, and where they settled.

Marriage record of Malchen Goldschmidt and Juda (Julius) Katzenstein, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 147, p. 26

What I’ve not been able to determine is whether Juda Katzenstein was related to his mother-in-law Lea Katzenstein, who was born in Grebenstein, a town 45 miles from Eschwege. I also have not found any connection to my Katzenstein relatives from Jesberg from either Juda’s family or Lea’s family; Jesberg is about 50 miles from Grebenstein and about 63 miles from Eschwege. Perhaps Katzenstein was just a popular name. Since I can trace all three lines back to before 1800 when surnames were first adopted by Jews, I am not sure there is any way to figure out whether these three lines are genetically connected or not. They may have just adopted the same surname.

Amalie Goldschmidt and Juda Katzenstein had five children, four daughters and one son. Their first born was Helene Katzenstein; she was born on April 21, 1854, in Eschwege.

Helene Katzenstein birth record, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 145, p. 57

A second daughter, Fredericke or Rickchen, was born in Eschwege a year later on July 18, 1855.

Fredericke Katzenstein birth record, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 145, p. 62

Amalie and Juda’s third child Regine died in infancy. She was born on January 1, 1857, and died six days later on January 7, 1857, in Eschwege.

Regina Katzenstein birth record, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 145, p. 64

Regina Katzenstein death record, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 146, p.33

A fourth daughter Henriette was born a year later on February 13, 1858, in Eschwege.

Henriette Katzenstein birth record, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 145, p. 68

Finally, Amalie and Juda’s last child and only son Meyer (presumably named for Amalie’s father Meyer Goldschmidt) was born August 9, 1860, in Eschwege.

Meyer Katzenstein birth record, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 145, p. 75

Thus, Amalie and Juda had four children who survived to adulthood.

By the 1880s, all three surviving daughters—Helene, Fredericke, and Henriette—had married and had children.

As discussed by her cousin Julius Loewenthal in his memoir, as we saw here, Helene Katzenstein was first married to Moritz Brinkmann, the brother of Levi Brinkmann, who was married to Lina Stern, Helene’s first cousin. Lina was the daughter of Sarah Goldschmidt Stern, the sister of Malchen Goldschmidt Katzenstein.

Helene married Moritz on November 19, 1872, in Eschwege, where he also was born. Moritz was born on October 15, 1846, to Susskind Brinkmann and Goldchen Plock.

Helene Katzenstein marriage to Moritz Brinkmann, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 147, p. 46

Sadly, Moritz did not live long after their marriage. He died less than six years later on September 8, 1878, when he was not yet 32 years old. Helene and Moritz had not yet had children.

Moritz Brinkmann death record, HHStAW Fonds 365 No 146, p.60

Helene remarried three years later. Her second husband Max Werner was Levi Brinkmann’s partner in LS Brinkmann in Eschwege, the knitwear company later run by Julius Loewenthal. Max was born in Muensterberg, then part of Prussian territory, now in Poland, on August 11, 1849. He and Helene were married on February 7, 1881. They would have five children: Henriette (1882), Elsa (1883), Rosa (1885), Moritz (1888), and Karl (1894). More to come on the children in my next post.1

Helene Katzenstein marriage to Max Werner, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1865, Year Range: 1881, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Helene’s sister Fredericke married Leopold Goldmann on November 16, 1875, in Eschwege. He was also a native of Eschwege, born in 1849 to Philipp Goldmann and Zerlina Jaffa. They would have three children, Clementine (1876), Karl (1878), and Meta (1884).

Fredericke Katzenstein marriage to Leopold Goldmann, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1858, Description, Year Range: 1875, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Henriette, the youngest of the three surviving daughters of Amalie and Juda, married Simon Schnadig on August 20, 1877, in Eschwege.  Simon was the son of Joel Schnadig and Johanna Ebertshausen and was born in Heddernheim, a district of Frankfurt, on October 10, 1849.

Henriette Katzenstein marriage to Simon Schnadig, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1860, Description Year Range: 1877, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Henriette and Simon had three children, Julius (1878), Helene (1881), and Elsa (1890). Sadly, Julius died when he was only two years old.

Julius Schnadig death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10336, Year Range: 1880, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

As for Amalie and Juda’s only son, Meyer (sometimes spelled Meier or Meir), he left Germany for the United States in 1888, arriving in New York City on October 10 of that year.2 He settled in New York where he married Emma Bachrach on October 27, 1891.3 Emma was also a German immigrant; she was born in Mainz on July 5, 1869, to Jakob Bernhard Bachrach and Sophia Pfann, and had immigrated to the US in the fall of 1889.4 Meyer and Emma had one child, a daughter Sophia, born in New York on August 19, 1892.5

Thus, by 1892, Amalie and Juda had eleven surviving grandchildren, including one born and living in the US. The family had grown steadily since their marriage in 1853, but suffered two losses in the 1890s. Juda Katzenstein died on September 27, 1896, in Eschwege; he was 72 years old and was survived by his wife Amalie, his four surviving children, and his grandchildren.

Juda Katzenstein death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1941, Year Range: 1896, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Then three years later Fredericke Katzenstein Goldmann lost her husband Leopold Goldmann on January 12, 1899. He was only 50 years old; he was survived by Fredericke, who was only 44, and their three children.

Leopold Goldmann death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1944, Year Range: 1899, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Thus, at the turn of the century, Amalie had lost one child in infancy, one grandchild as a toddler, her husband Juda, and her son-in-law Leopold. She herself died in Eschwege on January 7, 1903, at the age of 76.

Malchen (Amalie) Katzenstein death record.Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 923; Laufende Nummer: 1948, 1903, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

She was survived by four children and eleven grandchildren. Their lives in the 20th century will be told in the posts that follow.


  1. Sources for the births of Amalie and Juda’s grandchildren will be provided in later posts. 
  2. Meier Katzenstein passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 623; Volume #: Roll 623 – 13 May 1903-18 May 1903, Volume: Roll 623 – 13 May 1903-18 May 1903, Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  3. Meir Katzenstein, Gender: Male, Marriage Date: 27 Oct 1891, Marriage Place: Manhattan, New York, USA, Spouse: Emma Bacharach, Certificate Number: 13220
    Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937 
  4. Emma Bachrach birth record, Stadtarchiv Mainz; Mainz, Deutschland; Zivilstandsregister, 1798-1875; Signatur: 50 / 72, Year Range: 1869, Ancestry.com. Mainz, Germany, Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1798-1875; Emma Bachrach passport application, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 1994; Volume #: Roll 1994 – Certificates: 179100-179475, 26 May 1922-26 May 1922, Volume: Roll 1994 – Certificates: 179100-179475, 26 May 1922-26 May 1922, Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 
  5.  Sophia Katzenstein, Birth Date: 19 Aug 1892, Birth Place: New York, New York
    Certificate Number: 32010, New York City Births, 1891-1902; Title: Births Reported in August, 1892.; Certificate #: 32010, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Birth Index, 1891-1902 

A Photo And Its Story: Amalie Meyer Bloch in the Netherlands

Before turning to the fourth child of Meyer Goldschmidt and Lea Katzenstein, a quick update from my cousin-by-marriage Ralph Dannheisser, the stepson of my cousin Elizabeth Stern and grandson of Johanna Bloch Dannheisser, the sister of Charles Bloch, who was married to my cousin Amalie Meyer Bloch.

Ralph sent me this photograph of his grandparents, Ludwig and Johanna Bloch Dannheisser, himself as an adorable toddler, and, in the center wearing the lovely hat, his grandmother’s sister-in-law Amalie Meyer Bloch.

Ludwig Dannheisser, Amalie Meyer Bloch, Ralph Dannheisser, Johanna Bloch Dannheisser.  The Hague, May, 1939. Courtesy of Ralph Dannheisser

According to the inscription on the back, it was taken in May, 1939, in The Hague in the Netherlands, when Ralph was a year old. Ralph’s grandparents and his parents had already escaped from Germany to the Netherlands by that time, and Ralph and his parents would leave for the US early in 1940. Tragically, his grandparents did not leave Europe and were sent to the concentration camps where they were murdered in 1944.

This is the first photograph I’ve seen of my cousin Amalie, and it raises more questions that I cannot answer. Why was she in the Netherlands in May, 1939? Had she left Germany for good by that point? Her naturalization papers say that when she came to the US in August 1941, her last residence was in Lisbon, but the ship manifest for her arrival in the US stated that her last permanent residence was Frankfurt, Germany. Neither mentions the Netherlands.

Was her husband Charles with her in the Netherlands in May 1939? He probably had already immigrated to France by then, so perhaps he and Amalie met in the Netherlands as a neutral meeting place? Perhaps Charles took this photograph? Or maybe Charles wasn’t there at all.

We don’t know the answers to any of these questions. But Ralph is certain that the woman standing in the center of this photograph with the big smile was Amalie Meyer Bloch, my third cousin, twice removed, and his great-uncle’s wife.

What amazes me is how happy Ralph, Johanna, and Amalie look. They’d left Germany, faced terrible acts of anti-Semitism, but were still finding something to smile about. Quite remarkable. Another sign of the resilience of human beings and our desire for love over hate.

Thank you, Ralph!

The Memoir of Julius Loewenthal, Part V: Leaving Germany

This is the final chapter in the memoir of my cousin Julius Loewenthal. We saw in the prior chapter how his life began to fall apart after the Nazis took control of Germany and their persecution of the Jews began in 1933. Then the family suffered a great personal tragedy in October 1937 when Julius and Elsa’s daughter Ruth and her husband Leonhard Fulda were killed in a terrible car accident after traveling to Switzerland to find a sanitorium for Herbert Loewenthal, who was struggling with mental illness and was soon after confined to a sanitorium in Zurich.

In this last section of his memoir, Julius writes about the decision to leave Germany and their ultimate departure in December 1938.


Eventually the life of the German Jew became impossible. No longer could we travel. Our passports were taken away. Thus, we finally decided to sell the business. It was a very difficult decision. Our life blood and that of our ancestors was sentimentally involved in this enterprise, its buildings, its history.

If my departure from my desk after 45 years was difficult and slow, my departure from my homeland, however, was made brutally swift and final by the following events. During the night from the 9th to the 10th of November [1938], approximately 30 Nazi Storm Troopers broke into our home in Eschwege. They destroyed everything they could get their hands on. Furniture was broken. Upholstery was cut to shreds, china was broken, even paintings of internationally known artists were cut up. Even the marble window sills were broken in two.  My wife and our servant…had taken refuge in the upstairs bedroom as I was out of town on this night. They [the Nazis] broke into the bedroom, and my wife and [servant] took refuge on the outside balcony where they remained all night because had they been discovered, they would have been killed. It was a very cold and lonely frightful night.

I was reached by phone and came back to Eschwege to find my home in shambles and my wife frightened to the marrow of her bones. On the evening of my return, the Gestapo arrived at my home and told me that on order from higher authority, my life and that of my wife was not in danger. At that time I did not understand in full the meaning of this communication because it was not until later that I found out that nearly all the members of the Jewish congregation were arrested on that day, brutally mistreated, and shipped to the Concentration Camp at Buchenwald. Many, very many, never came back. I, however, had a guardian angel, as I was to find out later.

At night we drove to the Schlosshotel in Kassel where we were accepted and could stay, as in those days no Hotel accepted Jews anymore. We remained there two nights and obtained the necessary papers to emigrate from Germany….

It was the unbelievable energy and presence of mind of my dear wife that brought us through these hours, as it was she who arranged for the damaged silver and furniture to be repaired, arranged the travel papers, and supervised the packing of that which was possible to be taken with us. Thus, we were later able to sell a lot of these items in the USA in order to obtain some money and survive. …

During the second night of our stay in the Hotel in Kassel, the Hotel was checked by the Gestapo. We were not bothered this time, but preferred to move to Frankfurt where no Hotel accepted us. We took refuge in the empty Apartment of my niece Lotte Posen, my brother Siegfried’s daughter. Her husband had been arrested, and she had moved to her parents.

We had arrived on Friday afternoon, and our cousin Sitta Mainz sent us some fish and bread to eat; it was very nice of her. On Saturday morning my niece Lotte came to me and told me I could no longer stay in her Apartment as I resembled her father too much. My wife was at the English Consulate. What could I do? In spite of it being Shabbos, I took a taxi and drove to the English Consul in order to meet my wife. She became very upset when she saw me with my luggage, but she managed to take us to my cousin Selma Frankel, who took us with much love and cooperation and helped us in a very difficult situation. …

We returned once more to Eschwege for the final packing for just a few days and then back to Frankfurt where we stayed at the house of my aunt Hana Stern. [This must refer to Johanna Goldschmidt, wife of Abraham Stern, who was the brother of Julius’ mother Kiele Stern. Johanna was also, however, Kiele Stern’s first cousin, as Kiele’s mother Sarah Goldschmidt was the sister of Johanna’s father Selig Goldschmidt.] The house was occupied by her son-in-law who fled for his life in the middle of the night. [This must refer to Siegfried Oppenheimer, the husband of Alice Stern, as I wrote about here.] It was a terrible feeling as everyone around you took steps to save his naked life. Still living in the house upstairs lived the other son-in-law of my aunt, Albert Mainz [husband of Sitta Stern]. We had a last supper together, and the following morning we travelled to Stuttgart to ask at the American Consul for our visa. When we returned that same night, Albert Mainz and family also had fled. Our fright increased; we were very shaken and terrified. We decided to cross the Border that night. This move was long overdue.

We had just obtained the necessary railroad tickets and travel papers when 3 Gestapo Agents arrived and confiscated all my wife’s jewelry, even though we had received permission on a prior occasion to retain the same and take it with us. Now what? It was my last possession as I knew that none of the money I had left in the Bank would ever be transferred.

At that terrible moment I made a dangerous decision, unheard of in those days and beyond imagination. I called the head of the Internal Revenue for the State of Hessen, the top authority in the State, and requested his intervention. … My guardian angel who had protected me in the past so visibly also protected me now, and the Gestapo Agents were ordered to return the jewelry, which they did with much reluctance. Of course, this individual knew me as the seat of his Bureau was in Kassel and knew very well who I was, as in the past we were the largest taxpayers in the county of Eschwege.

We took the train to Holland. At the Border, the town of Emmrich, the passport control came through. After they had inspected us, the customs inspectors came through. In this sleeping car only people who were emigrating into Holland were travelling. All had to open their luggage and all had to surrender their jewelry and watches. When the inspectors came to me, they read my name and passed on. I did not have to open my bags nor did I have to surrender anything. My wife and myself looked at each other. We could not believe it. Fright was still deep in our bones. In a few minutes we were in Holland and finally able to sleep again. Our guardian angel was indeed a guardian to us.

It was the 8th of December, a dark and rainy day, but a happy day. We were only allowed to take with us 10 Marks in Dutch currency. Thus, I who had left Millions behind was happy to find a room on the third floor of a Pension where we could rest as now we were in a free land, and we were able to eat meat again. We were saved, but unfortunately without our Grandchild Margot. She eventually was brought out by her Grandfather Fulda, who even then still liked it in Germany. At this writing she is still in Amsterdam. I hope and with God’s help I will see her again. …

Thus, our lives’ work, our homes, our fortunes, absolutely everything went to nothing. I cannot express in this writing the feelings in my heart of how they have influenced my views on life itself. However, let me say that this is a Jewish destiny, which has not swayed me one iota in my faith in the Lord of our forefathers.


Julius Loewenthal and his wife Elsa left Holland for England and then immigrated to New York City in May, 1939, where their daughter Hilda and son-in-law Max Stern lived. When Julius wrote this memoir in 1940, his son Garry Warner was enlisted in the British Army. Garry immigrated to New York City a year after the end of World War II.

Garry Warner-Loewenthal, born Karl Werner Loewenthal.
Courtesy of Joanne Warner-Loewenthal

Julius died of a heart attack in Manhattan on November 26, 1946, at the age of 72. I assume he knew before he died that his beloved granddaughter Margot had been murdered by the Nazis at Sobibor along with her other grandparents. Elsa died in 1961, also in New York City.

According to Garry’s notes after his translation of the memoir, the firm of L.S Brinkmann, the knitwear company owned by Levi Brinkmann and later by Julius and his brother-in-law/second cousin Moritz Werner, was re-established after the war by Moritz and Garry and resumed business in 1949. It was once again a very successful business for many years, closing down in 1974.

Garry also commented on the fate of his brother Herbert, who was a patient in a sanitorium in Zurich during the war. He was released in 1953 and cared for by a Swiss guardian. He worked and was well liked and respected in the community. He was “an extremely intelligent and cultured person, a man of many abilities, the least of which was to become a painter.” Herbert died of a heart attack in Zurich in 1962. Garry and his wife and five year old daughter were in Europe at that time and on their way to visit him when he died.

According to his daughter Joanne, Garry continued to work in the knitwear business until 1969. He then moved to West Palm Beach, Florida. He died March 1, 2005, when he was 87. I am so grateful to him for translating his father’s memoir and to Joanne for sharing it with me.

Garry Warner-Loewenthal
Courtesy of Joanne Warner-Loewenthal

These are stories that must be shared. We must never, ever forget what these people endured or their courage and resilience in carrying on after surviving Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.

 

The Memoir of Julius Loewenthal, Part IV: Tragedy Strikes

When we last left Julius Loewenthal, he was still a successful businessman, living in Eschwege, Germany, with his wife Elsa, but he was worried about the dark clouds of anti-Semitism and the economic disasters that were feeding it.

In this next section, Julius writes about the period between 1933, when the Nazis took control of Germany, and the death of his daughter Ruth and son-in-law Leonhard Fulda in October 1937. This section was obviously painful for him to write, and I had to do a bit of reorganizing to tell his story in chronological order. The text is so powerful that it needs no images, which would only detract from it.


When I look back today on my life, I must say that I made every effort, spared no money to give my children the opportunity to learn and obtain an education in some trade. My daughter Ruth went to business college, Herbert went to other plants in Germany and England, Hilde went to the famous Art College in Berlin and Basel, Switzerland, and Karl Werner [Garry] went to the Textile College in Leicester, England as well as having served an apprenticeship in our factory for some years. The small town we lived in forced us to send our children away at an early age as they did not have the opportunity in Eschwege.

To describe the time between 1933 and our final departure from Germany causes my hand to hesitate. The wounds are too deep. Only an expert writer could describe the torture and the poison with which the German Fuhrer persecuted the Jews wherever they were. It started already in 1933 and the events were such and so often and so horrible that I will not recount the same here, and they are and will be well documented in the time to come. Little by little the personal life, the business activity was choked off with rules, laws and regulations that in the end nothing was left, and no Jew could work. The congregations which existed for 1000 years became mere shadows. … No one in the beginning was able to understand or to comprehend. After all we were descendants of people who had lived in the communities throughout Germany for 1000 years.

… When I traveled to Palestine (Israel) in the year of 1933, I received news of the Nazi takeover of Germany. Our business still operated, and the profit was no smaller. However, the political events cast a very dark shadow. At first the peace between employer and employees was being disturbed by a daily dose of stories of the unmoral character of the Jews. One would think that mature men who had been with us for long times, many 40 years, were mature enough to form their own opinions. It was, however, different. Little by little the whole German nation was saturated with the antisemitic poison, a steady unrelenting barrage. Thus, we were eventually forced to sell our business as we no longer were masters in our own house.

….[In 1933] I was forced to sell my home in Bad Sooden. It was a sad hour for me as I had spent many happy hours there. We rented a small house in Frankfurt where we spent many happy hours in seclusion. However, the pressure of the German Internal Revenue was such that we were forced to give up the house in 1937. Frankfurt had become a disappointment for me. The many once well established relatives, the many wealthy and substantial families had become poor, and many lived in worse than pleasant circumstances. Many had left or wanted but did not have the funds to do so as the tax levied on leaving the country meant leaving absolutely everything behind.

…We made the salient mistake of not leaving Germany in 1933. It was a most difficult decision, and no one anticipated the murderous and vicious intentions and its consequences in a Nation of such high culture. In 1934, I fell [and broke both legs] and was confined to a hospital for better than one year and that also contributed in not making a decision. We bought property, land, and a house, in Israel in order to have some possibility of having funds or roots abroad, but as it turned out the Company who sold us the land was operated by Jews abroad who would prey on the adversity of others, and the whole huge amounts of money were fleeced except for the land itself. It was later sold.

… In 1935 my son Herbert left Germany. He recognized the situation better than we did. It was a blow because I had hoped that some day he would take over the reins of the business. He went to New York where he became active in the business world at once. Unfortunately [he was afflicted by] a lingering ever progressing sickness which might have been overlooked because of the troubled and unstable times with its unbelievable personal and survival problems, together with the limited medical knowledge which was available at the time….

[In October 1937, My daughter Ruth, her husband Leonhard Fuld and I] traveled together to Muensingen in Switzerland in order to find a Sanitorium for Herbert. …. We arrived in Zurich, where we stayed over, then on to Muensingen, then Interlaken, and after Shabbos we started back to Germany…. We remained in our room because the place was full of Nazis.

The following morning on October 2nd, 1937, we continued the trip toward Rottweil when a Truck with an empty trailer came toward us, and it was speeding. The trailer swung around like a huge baseball bat and hit us. Ruth, who was driving, and Leonard, who was sitting behind her, had both their heads crashed in. Ruth fell dead in my arms, and Leonard died on October 4, 1937, in the hospital in Rottweil. … The death of my beloved children was a terrible blow to all of us and to the Jewish community of Germany…. …. We were forced to travel to America in January 1938 and escort [Herbert] to Switzerland where he was confined to a Sanitorium….

The world had grown dark for us. We had to bear this burden and much more what was to come toward us. Today when I write this almost 3 years have passed, and I am convinced that the good Lord arranged it so, as much pain and suffering was spared my children as the destiny of the Jew in Germany was to end in tragedy.


It was not long after the tragic deaths of Ruth and Leonhard and the commitment of Herbert to a sanitorium in Switzerland that Julius and Elsa made the heart-wrenching decision to leave Germany. More about that in the next post.

 

 

The Memoir of Julius Loewenthal, Part III: World War I and Its Aftermath of Darkening Clouds

By the turn of the 20th century, Julius Loewenthal was a young man in his late twenties who was making his mark as a business leader in his uncle’s knitwear business in Eschwege, Germany. The first three decades of the new century would provide him with many personal and professional challenges, as we will see.


In 1903 I married my second cousin Elsa Werner. I was 29 years old, and she was 20. We lived in the Reichensachser Strasse in an small apartment. In 1905 my daughter Ruth was born. Our happiness was great… Now that I had become a family man I was happy in a time before the 1st World War. The record player was invented and we were able to sit and listen to records. It was a monumental experience, to sit and listen to the latest opera and concerts. Guests came, and everybody was enchanted by the quiet life we were leading and the good food. In 1909 my son Herbert was born. He was a good son but had later on many problems, some of which were hard for me to understand.

Julius and Elsa (Werner) Loewenthal.
Courtesy of Joanne Warner-Loewenthal

In 1907 my dear uncle Levy died. The sorrow was great.

[Julius then described the growth of the family knitwear business in Eschwege after Levy Brinkmann’s death.]

The outbreak of the war changed everything. Jobs which had been done by men were now being done by women. There was great shortage of every imaginable item. Regulations came down which made life impossible and business worse. We worked full blast for the Army making sweaters and underwear. We were very strictly controlled and regulated, and one had one foot always in jail. German industries were not at all prepared for war, and chaos prevailed….

There were great shortages of raw materials, and we started to manufacture underwear from paper yarns which stood up well considering….Food was very short. My dear wife ran around the surrounding villages begging for a few eggs, milk, and butter. Our Matzoh on Passover was black like coal. Butter and meat could only be bought on the black market.

During the third year of the war I received prisoners from Belgium….They unfortunately all died of different diseases they contracted in the war zone. I lived between the living and the dead. I had to empty bed pans and play nurse, Doctor, Business Manager, etc. Doctors were not available because they were all at the front.

I was unable to have a free minute. I yearned for a vacation spot and a place of recreation. Thus, I got the idea to buy a house in Bad Sooden near Eschwege where we could vacation and spend the weekends. We called it Villa Elsa. It had a beautiful view of the forests and surroundings, and we owned the house from 1917 to 1933. …We spent as much time as we could in Bad Sooden. We kept 2 horses in Eschwege, which were used by the factory for hauling cases to and from the Station. On weekends we used them to take us to Sooden in a Landau, which was an experience in itself to travel the 10 miles by horse drawn carriage.

Bad Sooden, Germany
Jörg Braukmann / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

In 1920 a lot of refugees came to Eschwege and in particular to Sooden… One of the outstanding events of those days was the fact that already Antisemitism reared its ugly head. It became very widespread in Sooden. Our friendly relations with our neighbors became more and more strained because people lived from hand to mouth. Taxes were very high, and there existed sorrow and desperation among most people.

The stories were spread that the Jews were the cause of all that sorrow and were the cause of the War when the truth was that the Jews participated equally in the war and made their own bloody sacrifices as well as participated in the rebuilding of the country…. We were of the belief that this had all disappeared with the middles ages; however, we were wrong. … The hate remained and had nothing to do with reason. The seeds which were planted already then throughout the country were to blossom out in full during Hitler’s time.  We did not recognize the depth of all this and were subsequently taught a terrible lesson.

With the occupation of the Ruhr district by the French Army came the Inflation. Nobody knew what it was, nobody understood what it was, and subsequently poor were made out of the wealthy overnight and turned the whole nation into beggars and brought sorrow and desperation to each and every household. The wealth of my own family and that of my relations were gone overnight. Only a few ever recovered in their lifetime. Only those who had a business were able to recover and pull themselves out of the poorhouse.

In spite of that, the house in Sooden became a beautiful escape spot even though we no longer spoke with the neighbors. We lived alone for us. We were still respected and tolerated, but the Sun had grown darker.

Ruth had married Dr. Leonard Fulda from Mainz. He was a wonderful kind man, and the two were very happy with each other….

Already before the 1st World war was it our intention to build ourselves a house in Eschwege. The houses which were available were old, old-fashioned, and many without gas or electric. ….[w]ith the outbreak of the war we postponed the building. I was not called to the colors as my work was considered more important.

In 1926 we started to build…It was a house that was the talk of many throughout Europe as it incorporated many features which at that time were new, modern, unheard of, and the house remains just as modern today as it was at that time. [What follows is a detailed description of the house.] My daughter Hilde was married in the house, and the ceremony as well as the set table for more than 30 guests did not interfere with each other. We lived in this house from 1926 until 1938. We lived there happily until we were chased out of Germany by the Nazis. At this moment [1940] the Nazis have converted the house into a temporary hospital.

Home of Julius and Elsa (Werner) Loewnethal in Eschwege Courtesy of Joanne Warner-Loewenthal

[In the next section of his memoir, Julius described how despite the economic conditions in Germany generally, he was able to make extensive expansions in the family business including the construction of a new factory.]

The years 1924 through 1933 passed with growing political and unemployment tensions. …and the Jews became a very convenient place to heap the blame …[i]n spite of the fact that the German Jews were through their activity still one of the stable areas in the floundering economy. There were many Jewish owned businesses of different sizes throughout Germany, and nearly all commanded the respect of the business world including my own fine reputation, which reached far beyond the borders of Germany. This, while other non-Jewish businesses went bankrupt, contributed to the hate and jealousy of those unfortunate and unemployed. It was a vicious circle.


Somehow despite the awful economic suffering experienced throughout Germany after World War I, Julius Loewenthal managed to continue to expand his business and live comfortably both in Eschwege and in their vacation home in Bad Sooden. But he and his family were already experiencing the growth of anti-Semitism. They likely, however, had no idea just how bad things were going to get.

More in the next segment of Julius Loewenthal’s memoir in my next post. I will be taking a short break this week, but will post Parts IV and V next week.