Update on Jenny Blumenfeld Warburg from World Jewish Relief, A New (to Me) Research Tool

In my April 25, 2023, post about my cousin Jenny Blumenfeld Warburg, I described how I was able to establish through the anecdotal evidence from several cousins and from records from Israel that Jenny had married Siegmund Warburg in Israel/Palestine sometime between 1940 and 1950, but I had not been able to locate an actual marriage record. I still haven’t. But I have been able to find one more document that may relate to Jenny’s life.

I wrote in that earlier post that “In her [Shoah Foundation] testimony, [Jenny’s sister] Hilde [Blumenfeld Meinrath] said that Jenny left Germany and first went to England, where she met Siegmund Warburg and his family. They did not marry, however, until they were in Palestine/Israel.” I also wrote that I had not been able to find any record for Jenny in England. But now, thanks to the World Jewish Relief organization, I think I have.

First, let me tell you about this organization and how it can be a helpful research tool for anyone searching for information about relatives who escaped Nazi Germany to England in the 1930s and thereafter. According to their literature, World Jewish Relief was “[f]ounded in 1933 as the Central British Fund for German Jewry (CBF) … [and] helped bring around 65,000 Jewish refugees, predominantly from Germany and Austria, to Britain. Once here, [they] provided a welfare system, helping refugees find housing, employment, receive medical care and making sure they had enough money to survive. Through this work, the charity established a trusted relationship with the Home Office and lobbied Parliament to allow them to instigate schemes such as the Kindertransport, which rescued 10,000 children, and The Kitchener Camp, which was a means to bring approximately 4,500 Jewish men into the country, many from concentration camps.”

After the war, the organization continued to provide relief to Jewish survivors, bringing children who had survived the camps to England for care and education and rehabilitation. According to their literature, the charity “continued to help Jewish refugees throughout the twentieth century, including those fleeing Egypt, Iran, Czechoslovakia and Bosnia. From funding flights to finding them accommodation, we always provided a safe place for our global Jewish family.”

The charity changed its name to World Jewish Relief in the 1990s and has continued its mission of providing aid and assistance to people of all backgrounds from all over the world who have “survive[d] the consequences of conflict and disaster, to thrive and rebuild their lives.”

In addition to this important charitable work, the organization also provides research assistance to those like me who are looking for information about their family members who escaped to England as refugees from Nazi Germany. Although its files are not comprehensive, there are registration slips for 65,000 refugees and case files for about 35,000 of those refugees.

For Jenny Blumenfeld, there was not a complete case file, just a registration slip. But it provided me with a few more snippets of information about a woman named Jenny Blumenfeld, who probably was my cousin.

Jenny Blumenfeld registration slip from World Jewish Relief

From this brief document, I learned that a Jenny Blumenfeld arrived in England on May 2, 1934, and left for Palestine in 1935. Of course, this document isn’t necessarily for the same Jenny Blumenfeld. The one entry that gives me pause is that she was last living in Lueneburg, Germany, which is 230 miles from Kirchhain, where my Jenny was born and raised. What would a young single Jewish woman have been doing there in 1934? The card also doesn’t have an exact birth date, just an age, 26. Jenny was born on June 23, 1907, so would have been 26 (almost 27) on May 2, 1934.

I am not sure what the other two dates on the card refer to. There is a notation of “16-2-42” that is crossed out. And then on the reverse it says “Addr[ess?] Unknown rce?. reh? left? 24-5-44.” I don’t know the relevance of those two dates, but I know that Jenny was by that time living in Palestine. I asked Sharon Adler, the volunteer with the World Jewish Relief Archives who sent me the registration card, what she thought the dates meant, and she hypothesized that it might have been times that others were inquiring about Jenny’s whereabouts. But she could not be certain.

It’s too bad that World Jewish Relief does not have a complete file on Jenny so that I could be more certain that this is my cousin Jenny Blumenfeld Warburg. But since Hilde did say that Jenny first went to England before going to Palestine, there is enough here to give me some reason to believe that Jenny left Germany and went to England on May 2, 1934, and then left for Palestine the following year. Maybe these dates will lead to more information. If anyone has any ideas, let me know.

I am grateful to Sharon and the World Jewish Relief organization for their help, and I hope other researchers will also take advantage of this wonderful resource.


Blog Update

When I decided I needed a break from screens back in January and stopped blogging for a few weeks, I never anticipated that during that time (and since) I would be contacted by numerous cousins who found me through my blog. It’s been a wonderful time, connecting with all these people and learning more about their families—and mine. I’ve already written about many of these new cousins and their stories, and there are even more stories and family information that I haven’t yet processed enough to write about.

For example, a new cousin found me with information about a whole branch of my Hamberg tree that I didn’t know existed. A Katzenstein cousin found me, and we had a Zoom session with him, his grandmother, his mother, his aunt, his brother, and another cousin. And a Goldschmidt cousin contacted me, but he and I still haven’t found a good time to talk since our schedules aren’t in sync.

All of this has been amazing and rewarding. It also means I’ve stalled on doing much new research into the Blumenfeld family.

And I am still finding that being online for too many hours is not good for me. So my posting schedule may now become less frequent. But I will still be here, just moving more slowly, as I continue to learn about my Blumenfeld family and connect with cousins from all over my family tree.

The Magic of Finding Family Connections: Guest Post by My Cousin Ellen Mandelberg

Just over a year ago, I wrote a post about the family of Moritz Blumenfeld, my second cousin, three times removed, and concluded at the end that none of his five children had had any children and that therefore there were no descendants. But I concluded that post by saying, “there is always the possibility that I just haven’t found those descendants yet.”

Well, a year later I heard from one of those descendants. A woman named Ellen Mandelberg contacted me and told me that she was the granddaughter of Moritz’s Blumenfeld’s daughter Flora Blumenfeld  Vorchheimer. You can imagine my delight. Moritz did have descendants. And Ellen shared with me several stories about Flora. I’ve invited her to tell those stories in her own voice as well as to share some of her photos. So today’s post is by my newly found fifth cousin Ellen.

Through the Google galaxy, and a spur-of-the-moment decision to see if there was anything out there written about my paternal grandmother, Flora Blumenfeld Vorchheimer, I found Amy’s blog earlier this year. I saw that she did not know that Flora had descendants and contacted her to share the good news. I am one of those descendants.

Flora Blumenfeld did have family; by marrying recent immigrant Felix Viktor Vorchheimer in late 1940 and raising his motherless son Umberto (who became Bert in Vineland, NJ, in the 40s), Flora became a wife, mother, constant helpmate on a chicken farm in Vineland, NJ, and, later, a deeply kind and loving grandmother to two little girls, my sister and me.

Flora Blumenfeld Vorchhiemer Courtesy of the family

Felix Vorchheimer Courtesy of the family

Here is a photograph of young Bert with his father Felix and maternal grandmother before Felix and Bert left for America in 1940; it was the last time he saw her. Flora’s father, Moritz, had suffered early maternal loss, as had Flora, and this must have made her especially sensitive as she raised young Bert. 

Umberto V. on left (age 7); Karolina Schild Kahn, Umberto’s maternal grandmother in middle; Felix V. on right.
Courtesy of the family

Flora became a loving Oma in 1958 and 1960, when Bert and his wife had two daughters, my sister and me.

Flora, Ellen, and Felix Vorchheimer c. 1958
Courtesy of the family

Flora cooked wonderful German-Jewish dishes, kept a candy dish of dark chocolates on the table for all guests, and was observant in a quiet and accepting way. Each time her family came to visit, before they left, she would bless us girls, placing her hands on our heads, whispering quietly in Hebrew a prayer that she never shared in English with us. At 4’10”, she would place her hands on our heads and murmur the blessing, making us feel protected and loved.

Flora blessing Ellen c 1970
Courtesy of the family

After Felix died, at age 69, in 1965, Flora lived with her older sister Gerda in an apartment in Washington Heights until her death in 1974 at age 75. Flora continued to be the epitome of chesed, or lovingkindness. Her memory is always a blessing.

Flora and Felix Vorchheimer in Vineland, New Jersey
Courtesy of the family

Years later, in 1996, a surprising encounter brought connections to my extended Blumenfeld family and much joy into my life. That year, my husband and I, after living in West Hartford, CT, for 14 years, and having belonged to a chavurah, decided we needed to join a synagogue that would provide a Hebrew school for our kids, who were 11 and 7 at that time. We decided to join Congregation Tikvoh Chadoshoh in Bloomfield, CT, which had been founded by German-Jewish refugees.

On Simchat Torah, with the music and everyone swirling about in small circles, I asked an “older” woman to dance; pulling people into the circle is something I’ve always done. The woman hesitated and asked me if I was Israeli.

Something possessed me to blurt out, “No, I’m not Israeli; I’m half-German, and my maiden name is Vorchheimer.”

The woman blurted out, “Vorchheimer, I know that name….I made the shidduch!”

I asked her, “Really? Tell me!”

So she continued, “Well, there was a widower with a little boy who had just come to America, and I matched up my cousin with him! I was at the wedding! In 1940!”

It felt like time stood still, and I said, “Was your cousin’s name Flora Blumenfeld?”

She said, “Well, yes, how do you know?!”

I pointed to my son, then 7, born on 2/4, my father’s birthday, and said, “Look, my son is the same exact age my father was when you last saw him in 1940! And that widower was my Opa Felix. Your cousin was my beloved Oma Flora, whom my daughter is named after!”

That woman, Grete Simon Spanier, was my grandmother Flora’s second cousin, as I later learned from Amy. They were both great-granddaughters of Isaak Blumenfeld and Gelle Strauss.

It was a remarkable and life-affirming moment. What are the odds? What if I’d just pulled Grete into the circle, and said, no, I’m not Israeli!?

Grete had been lost to my family for 56 years until that moment. Grete told me how Julius Vorchheimer, my grandfather’s brother, part of the Washington Heights community, had asked her if she had a relative who might be a suitable match for his recently-arrived brother Felix, and she’d thought of her cousin Flora.

Grete married Erwin Spanier shortly after attending my grandfather’s wedding to Flora and moved to West Hartford. She lost touch with Flora; Flora was very busy working on a chicken farm and raising a little boy who had been through much loss, and she was married to a man who had also seen too much loss, in both his native Germany and the place he moved to after he fought in WWI for the Germans, Milan, Italy, before emigrating to America in 1940.

The only part of this story I knew all my life was that my grandfather Felix had gotten his older brother Julius out of Dachau in 1934/35, going to the Nazis with some line (and probably money) about “How dare you imprison the brother of an Italian citizen?”

Felix freed his brother in 1934/5; Julius returned the favor by being a matchmaker in 1940. It was that chance Simchat Torah dance that brought Grete back to my family.

It felt like a curtain was pulled back on mystery, allowing me to see the invisible hand of fate in life.

Getting to know Grete and her daughters was an unexpected and wonderful gift. Grete’s memory is always a blessing.

I am so grateful to Ellen for finding me and sharing her story and photographs on my blog. The magic of family connections continues to inspire me to keep searching for all my long lost relatives.



Did Jenny Blumenfeld marry Siegmund Warburg? A Brick Wall Tumbles

As I wrote in my last post about the family of Salomon Blumenfeld, Roberto Meinrath, my fifth cousin and the younger son of Hilde Blumenfeld Meinrath, left Brazil in 1960 after being selected by his congregation in Rio de Janeiro to spend a year in Israel in a leadership training program. I was hoping that Roberto might be able to provide information to answer questions I had about his mother’s sister Jenny Blumenfeld, who had immigrated to Israel (then Palestine) to escape Nazi Germany.

Back in May 2022, I wrote that many trees on Ancestry and elsewhere “report that … Jenny, married Siegmund Rudolf Warburg on July 25, 1933, and that Siegmund was born in Berlin on May 26, 1896, to Otto Warburg and Bertha Cohen.” I found Siegmund’s birth record, but I could find no record attaching Siegmund and Jenny; I had found “a Siegmund Warburg with a different wife, Ilse, and two children, Gabriel and Thomas, sailing from Hamburg to New York on August 31, 1933.” But was that the same Siegmund who supposedly married Jenny?

Siegmund Warburg birth record, Landesarchiv Berlin; Berlin, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Geburtsregister; Laufendenummer: 95, Ancestry.com. Berlin, Germany, Births, 1874-1908

Warburg family, ship manifest, Month: Band 417 (Aug 1933), Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934, Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 417; Page: 2211; Microfilm No.: K_2000
Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934, Ancestry.com

My cousin Richard Bloomfield then found what we believe is Jenny’s gravestone on Billiongraves based on the birth date on the stone, and it has her name as Jenny Warburg; Richard also found a 1950 list of registered voters in Haifa, Israel, that listed Jenny Warburg and Siegmund Warburg together. But none of that definitively proved that it was Jenny Blumenfeld who married Siegmund Warburg.

Jenny Warburg, Yekhi’am cemetery, Akko, Israel, found at Billiongraves.com at https://billiongraves.com/grave/%D7%92%D7%A0%D7%99-%D7%95%D7%A8%D7%91%D7%95%D7%A8%D7%92/22732522

So I asked Roberto what he knew about his aunt Jenny, and he was able to provide further evidence that she had married Siegmund Warburg because while living in Israel in 1960, Roberto spent time with his aunt Jenny and her husband Siegmund. Thus, Roberto was able to confirm that in fact that Jenny had married Siegmund. Roberto also said he knew “for sure” that Jenny and Siegmund did not have any children. Roberto also informed me that his grandmother Malchen/Amalie had gone to Israel after Salomon Blumenfeld died and was living at the same kibbutz as Jenny and Siegmund.1

Roberto wasn’t certain, but he thought that Siegmund may have had a son from a prior marriage also living in Israel. I thought that that might explain how Siegmund appeared on a ship manifest in 1933 with a wife named Ilse and two children, traveling to the US. Perhaps he and his family with Ilse had later immigrated to Palestine/Israel.

I decided to search on the Israel Genealogy Research Association website and found several relevant records. In 1938 Siegmund Warburg, son of Otto (so the same Siegmund born in Berlin on May 28, 1896) is listed with Ilse Warburg on the Haifa registered voters list, proving that the Siegmund who was sailing with Ilse and their children to the US in 1933 had immigrated to Palestine/Israel with Ilse by 1938. Then I found Ilse and Sigmund listed together as Haifa registered voters in 1941.2

Voters List Knesset Israel 1938 (פנקס הבוגרים של כנסת ישראל בחיפה 1938), part of the Voters Knesset Israel 1938 (בוגרים של כנסת ישראל 1938) database, system number גל-7408/5, line 42, IGRA number 12178. The original records are from Israel State Archives found at https://genealogy.org.il/AID/

But in 1942 Sigmund is listed without Ilse, and we know from Richard’s research that in 1950 Siegmund and Jenny were listed together as Haifa voters.3

Voters List – Local (רשימת הבוחרים למועצה המקומית), part of the Voters Local Authorities 1942 (בוחרים למועצות המקומיות 1942) database, document number 297, page 8946, IGRA number 32087. The original records are from City Archives – Haifa (ארכיון העיר – חיפה), found at https://genealogy.org.il/AID/

What does all this mean? It means that although I have no marriage record for Jenny Blumenfeld and Siegmund Warburg, one can presume that Siegmund came to Israel/Palestine with his wife Ilse and their children sometime before 1938, eventually divorced Ilse, and married Jenny sometime before 1950. I could not prove it, but I was persuaded that that’s what happened based on the circumstantial evidence.

I decided to post on the Tracing the Tribe group page on Facebook to see if someone knew where I might find a marriage record for Jenny and Siegmund, and I was surprised to receive a comment from my fifth cousin Simeon Spier, whose mother Gisela Spier I wrote about here. Simeon not only knew that Jenny had married Siegmund Warburg—he knew Jenny well as she and his mother Gisela had been very close.

Simeon wrote that Siegmund Warburg’s father Otto Warburg was an important early Zionist as well as a renowned botanist—something that I had not realized while searching for information about Siegmund. I found more information about Otto and his life and career from his obituary here and from other articles here and here.4

Simeon also told me that Siegmund’s marriage to Jenny was his second marriage; it was Jenny’s first marriage. So that corroborated both what Roberto remembered and what I found in my research. Simeon also confirmed that Siegmund had three children from his first marriage.

Simeon shared these two photographs of Jenny with Siegmund.

Jenny Blumenfeld and Siegmund Warburg Courtesy of Simeon Spier

Siegmund Warburg and Jenny Blumenfeld Courtesy of Simeon Spier

Simeon also shared two photographs of Jenny with his own family. The first one shows Jenny with her cousin Gisela Spier Cohen and Gisela’s children Sitta and Simeon in Haifa in 1965.

Sitta Cohen, Gisela Spier Cohen, Jenny Blumenfeld Warburg, Simeon Spier (Cohen) in Haifa, 1965 Courtesy of the family

This one shows Jenny with Simeon and his sisters when they visited her in Israel in 1974.

Jenny Blumenfeld with the children of Gisela Spier Cohen 1974   Courtesy of Simeon Spier

Simeon has fond memories of visiting Jenny in Israel and when she visited them in Toronto. He described her fondly as a “very orderly and proper woman.” He wrote:4

Jenny had a tiny but well-appointed apartment on the Carmel in Haifa. … The small living room was filled with Sigmund’s books and his furniture from Germany.  She used the covered balcony as her dining room.  She was an exquisite cook and she was proud of it!!  In fact, we have a saying in our family: “Jenny, I think I’ll come again.”  Jenny would taste her delicious cooking before serving it and comment: “Jenny, I think I’ll come again!”

You can see Sigmund’s large collection of books in the first photograph above. Unfortunately, we can’t sample Jenny’s cooking. But we can imagine it.

Jenny’s marriage to Siegmund was further confirmed when I connected with her great-nephew Michael Katz, the grandson of Jenny’s sister Gretel. Michael also met Jenny in Israel. So that was a third confirmation of the marriage.

And then, as yet another confirmation, I received the translation of Hilde’s Shoah Foundation testimony by Manuel Steccanella and Richard Bloomfield.5 In her testimony, Hilde said that Jenny left Germany and first went to England, where she met Siegmund Warburg and his family. They did not marry, however, until they were in Palestine/Israel. Hilde also stated that she herself went to Israel sometime after the end of the war and worked at a kibbutz for two months as arranged by Siegmund Warburg’s children.6

I have searched for a record showing that Jenny was in England before immigrating to Palestine/Israel, but so far have not located any. And I am still hoping someday to obtain an actual marriage certificate for Jenny and Siegmund (I’ve written to the kibbutz where they lived in 1960, but have gotten no response yet), but I am now convinced based on the statements of four witnesses, Roberto, Simeon, Michael,  and Hilde, as well as the photographs shared by Simeon that Jenny Blumenfeld was married to Siegmund Warburg, the son of Otto Warburg.

Thank you to my cousins Gabriela, Roberto, Simeon, and Michael for helping to break down this brick wall. Special thanks to Richard Bloomfield and Manuel Steccanella for translating Hilde’s Shoah Foundation testimony.


  1. Email from Roberto Meinrath, February 11, 2023. 
  2. Voters List – Local (רשימת הבוחרים למועצה המקומית), part of the Voters Local Authorities 1941 (בוחרים למועצות המקומיות 1941) database, system number 6/272, page 14, IGRA number 743. The original records are from City Archives – Haifa (ארכיון העיר – חיפה), found at https://genealogy.org.il/AID/ 
  3. Voters’ Ledgers Haifa Municipality 1950 (פנקס הבוחרים לעירית חיפה 1950), part of the Voters Local Authorities 1948-1953 (בוחרים רשויות מקומיות 1953-1948) database, list קלפי 26, page 1, line 169, IGRA number 21461. The original records are from City Archives – Haifa (ארכיון העיר – חיפה), found at https://genealogy.org.il/AID/.  I also found on the IGRA website an index of a record for the 1947 marriage of Hanna Warburg, twenty-one year old daughter of Zigmund Warburg, in Haifa, and one for the marriage of  Gavriel Warburg, son of Ilza and Shimon Warburg, dated February 23, 1949. He was 21 at the time, so born in about 1928. 
  4. Email from Simeon Spier, February 23, 2023. 
  5. The references in this post to the interview of Hilde Meinrath and the information contained therein are from her interview with the Shoah Foundation, March 18, 1998, which is in the archive of the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education. For more information: http://dornsife.usc.edu/vhi 
  6. Ibid. 

An Amazing Day!

No stories about my distant relatives today because my heart is too full with love and pride for my daughters to think about the past—though I realize and recognize that my daughters wouldn’t be who they are but for all those ancestors who came before them—all those who were brave enough and optimistic enough to take all those steps that made it possible for my children to be here. So forgive me for indulging today in parental pride as I bask in the glow of yesterday.

Yesterday was such an amazing day. Both of our daughters were at their very best. And as their parents, we were both excited and worried about how their days would go. Maddy was going to run her third Boston marathon (and her fourth marathon overall), and Rebecca was going to testify before a Congressional committee. How were we going to juggle both and be able to focus on each of them fully?

Well, fortunately Rebecca’s testimony was in the morning, and Maddy’s start for the marathon wasn’t until 11:15, so we were able to watch most of the Congressional hearing before Maddy even started to run. It was an exhausting but exhilarating day from start to finish.

Rebecca was asked to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on behalf of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, the non-profit organization for which she is the executive director. The hearing was ostensibly called as a hearing to determine what could be done for the victims of violent crime in New York City, but as many of the Democrats on the Committee stated and as media outlets also recognized, it was actually called by the committee chair, Republican Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, as an attempt to intimidate and punish the Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg for his office’s prosecution of Donald Trump. Since violent crime rates are higher in many places, including Ohio, than they are in New York City, it was obvious that this was a set-up, not a good faith investigation of violent crime.

As Rebecca said in her testimony, if the committee and Congress were truly concerned about victims of violent crime, then they would be focused on taking actions to prevent gun violence. She stated:

“To make a significant change, we need bipartisan support in Congress to fight violent crime and make our communities safer.  Congress can combat the national gun trafficking crisis plaguing New York City and the state by passing federal gun reform laws that are modeled after New York State’s.  We need to close loopholes in the federal background check system, protect victims and survivors of domestic violence, strengthen extreme risk protection order laws, promote safe storage laws, crack down on ghost guns and hold rogue, reckless gun dealers accountable.  Our federal, state, and local governments need to invest more in community violence intervention and prevention programs, invest more in housing, healthcare, and education.  Our state and our cities need more funding for victim services. And Congress must support and fund federal law enforcement efforts to investigate gun crimes and hold the highest drivers of crime and gun trafficking accountable.”

You can see Rebecca’s full opening statement here.

Rebecca faced questioning by the members of the committee, both Democrats and Republicans, and was steadfast in her position and persuasive in articulating the position that it is the easy access to guns that leads to most violent crime, not the actions of a prosecutor’s office. Surrounded by other witnesses hand-picked by the Republicans to pursue their political agenda, Rebecca stayed calm, resolute, and professional. We couldn’t have been prouder.

Meanwhile, as we were watching Rebecca on my laptop, we were also keeping our eyes on our phones and the Boston Athletic Association app that allows people to track runners in the marathon. Maddy started the race at 11:18 am, and we began to track her progress. You can imagine our excitement and our stress—both daughters testing themselves in challenging and extraordinary circumstances.

Just as last year and the year before, we were staying at the Lenox Hotel in Boston where Maddy is now the general manager of the restaurants. She has worked there for over 16 years, starting as a host and working her way to the general manager’s position. She is passionate about the hospitality business, making sure that all guests receive the best service and feel welcome and appreciated whenever they come to one of the restaurants in the hotel. As we had lunch in one of those restaurants and walked through the lobby and stood outside to watch the runners crossing the finish line a few hundred feet away, over and over we heard from everyone, “We love Maddy.” From the servers in the restaurant to the hotel staff to the many “regulars” who eat there often, we heard how wonderful Maddy is to everyone.

And then, as we tracked the app and watched her progress, we stood outside in the cool and sometimes rainy weather, waiting anxiously to see her finish the race. We watched as she made her paces through Hopkinton, Ashland, Wellesley, Natick. We saw her pace slow a bit as she ran up and down the hills of Newton—the infamous Heartbreak Hill. And then we saw her gain speed again as she went through Brookline and finally crossed the Boston city line. My heart was pounding as I saw her turn right on Hereford Street and then left for the final stretch down Boylston Street. And then there she was, smiling, jubilant, and seemingly unfatigued by the 26.2 mile run.

And then there was the excitement of seeing her return to the hotel and the loud cheers and hugs and flowers and love that greeted her—not only by us, her parents, but by all those friends, co-workers, and guests who were there to cheer for her and support her.

What a day! These are the days that you dream about when you have children—the days that make all the worrying and hard work and sleepless nights worth it. The days that make you grateful for the gifts your children have given you with their passion, their love, their strength, and their commitment to being good and kind people determined to make the world better in many different ways.



Hilde Blumenfeld Meinrath, Part II: Leaving Germany and Life in Brazil

As we saw in my prior post, I had learned more about Hilde Blumenfeld Meinrath, thanks to connections made through her granddaughter Gabriela. I learned that after spending four years in New York working as a German-English translator, Hilde decided to return to Germany in 1932 for what was initially supposed to be an extended visit with her family. But then she met and married her husband Ludwig Meinrath and decided to stay longer. She found employment as a translator and secretary for the American author, William March.

But everything began to change after Hitler came to power.

As Hilde reported in her Shoah Foundation interview,  her employer William March was attacked by Nazi youths because he was mistakenly identified as Jewish and ended up in the hospital. He decided to leave Germany and urged Hilde to leave before it was too late; he invited her to come and work for him in New York. .1

Meanwhile, a month after Hitler came to power in April 1933, Hilde’s husband Ludwig, who had  been working as a representative for German companies making ribbons and wool products, lost his job as a sales agent because he was Jewish.. So Hilde and Ludwig agreed it was time to leave Germany.2

But Hilde and Ludwig disagreed about where to go, according to their son Roberto. Hilde wanted to return to New York, but Ludwig feared that he would be unable to make a living there with only a high school education. He had a cousin Helmut in Rio de Janeiro who persuaded him that life was wonderful there, so they went to Brazil in 1934, even though neither of them knew any Portuguese.3

HIlde and Ludwig Meinrath ship manifest, Month: Band 424 (Mär 1934)
Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934

Hilde continued to be a true go-getter. Roberto wrote:

Upon arrival in Rio by ship, and literally one block from the harbor, was Rio’s largest high rise of the day (some 20 stories).  On top of the building was a large advertising poster for US Steel.  My mom walked right into the building to find out whether US Steel would be interested in a German/English secretary, not knowing that at that time Brazilian secretaries were mostly male.  Of course, at that time, Rio was Brazil’s capital and … home to the president of US Steel, who immediately hired her at a salary that was higher than what cousin Helmut was then earning, after a year in Rio.  Anyway, due to my mom’s high salary, my father was able to dedicate his time to learn Portuguese and to become a wholesale textile salesman for several companies.

Hilde and Ludwig’s first child (Gabriela’s father) Pedro John Meinrath was born in 1936; according to Roberto, his mother insisted that Pedro have an American/English middle name, presumably because of her fond memories of living in the United States.

Meanwhile, back in Germany, conditions worsened for Hilde’s parents and her sister Gretel and her family. After Kristallnacht in November, 1938, Salomon Blumenfeld and his son-in-law David Katz were arrested and sent to Buchenwald.4 After they were released, Hilde used her connections and borrowed money to bring her parents to Brazil. Hilde stated in her Shoah Foundation interview that when her parents arrived in Brazil, her father looked emaciated  from his time in Buchenwald, despite the fact that his son-in-law had given Salomon half of his own rations so that Salomon would survive.  5

Hilde’s parents lived with her and her family in Rio for a short time, but according to Hilde, the climate there didn’t agree with them, so she and Ludwig purchased a small house in Petropolis, a city in the mountains north of Rio for her parents, and they moved out of their apartment in Rio and moved to a rented room. When the war in Europe started, Ludwig’s import business suffered, so Hilde had to work full-time to help support the family. Pedro, who was just a four year old at the time, stayed with his grandparents in Petropolis, and Hilde and Ludwig would come on the weekends to be with them all. 6

Here are two photographs that Gabriela shared with me of Pedro with his maternal grandparents Salomon and Malchen Blumenfeld:

Malchen Levi, Pedro Meinrath, and Salomon Blumenfeld c. 1939 Courtesy of the family

Pedro Meinrath with his parents and maternal grandparents c. 1940 Courtesy of the family

Ludwig and Hilde’s second child Roberto came along five years later in 1941—he was, as he wrote, “a surprise baby.” Hilde’s job at the US Embassy ended up being important in saving Roberto’s life.  When Roberto contracted diphtheria when he was three years old, his mother Hilde was able through her job at the American Embassy to obtain life-saving penicillin, which was not otherwise readily available in Brazil at that time because of the war.7

Hilde Blumenfeld Meinrath with her sons c. 1941 Courtesy of the family

Pedro Meinrath, Salomon and Malchen Blumenfeld, Hilde Blumenfeld Meinrath, Roberto Meinrath 1944 in Petropolis Courtesy of the family

According to Roberto, after the war ended in 1945, Ludwig was able to restart his import business, and Hilde and Roberto moved to Petropolis. But Hilde’s parents at that point decided to leave Brazil because there was no kosher food or orthodox synagogue in Petropolis; they went to New York where Hilde’s sister Gretel was living. Hilde and her sons stayed in Petropolis until 1950 when Hilde and Roberto moved back to Rio. Pedro stayed in Petropolis where he went to boarding school until he graduated and went to university.

Malchen and Salomon Blumenfeld USA 1953 Courtesy of the family

Roberto described his life in Rio as an idyllic adventure for a young boy; he sadly described the changes that came to Rio in the 1960s:

I basically grew up as a single child in Rio, right in between Copacabana and Ipanema beaches.  Once or twice a week, I helped fishermen bring in their nets with piles of fish and, as compensation, got a free take home fish.  At that time, Rio had trees everywhere, few cars, cobblestone streets and tramways (which I took every day to school).  With the advent of the car industry in Brazil in the sixties, Rio’s streets were asphalted and widened, trees had to be cut down as most of the buildings had been built without garages and cars had to park on streets and sidewalks.  I miss old Rio, new Rio is sort of a tourist mecca only because of the beaches and the largest city park in the world.

Hilde and Ludwig belonged to a liberal Jewish synagogue in Rio, and Hilde insisted that Roberto attend after school classes in Hebrew and Jewish history. Roberto described an experience that ended up being a turning point in his life:

Because our synagogue was not very large, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services were held in the headquarters of one of Rio’s great soccer teams… and while watching the team practice during the 1959 Yom Kippur service, I was asked whether I would be interested in representing our congregation in the year-long youth leadership training program in Israel.  I jumped at that, as I sought personal freedom from what I felt to be a fairly strong-willed mom.

Roberto’s trip to Israel in 1960 allowed him to meet and get to know Hilde’s sister Jenny and her husband Sigmund Warburg. And thus he was able to give me information about Jenny and Sigmund and answer the questions I’d been hoping to answer when I wrote the blog post about the three sisters back in May, 2022. More on that in my next post.

But first a photograph that Gabriela shared with me of Hilde and her sons taken at her 100th birthday party in 2011. She died six years later in 2017 at the age of 106. She was truly a remarkable woman.

Pedro Meinrath, Hilde Blumenfeld Meinrath, and Roberto Meinrath 2011 Courtesy of the family





  1. The references in this post to the interview of Hilde Meinrath and the information contained therein are from her interview with the Shoah Foundation, March 18, 1998, which is in the archive of the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education. For more information: http://dornsife.usc.edu/vhi  Roberto, Hilde’s son, also told me this story in his emails to me. 
  2. Ibid. 
  3. All the information in this post attributed to Roberto Meinrath as well as the quotations were shared through emails sent between February 11 and February 16, 2023. 
  4. Phone conversation with Michael Katz, March 9, 2023. 
  5. See Note 1, supra. As we will see in a later post, William March helped get Gretel and David Katz out of Germany and into the US. 
  6. See Notes 1 and 3, supra,
  7. See Note 3, supra

Hilde Blumenfeld Meinrath: A Strong and Determined Woman

Once again, a new cousin found my blog and helped me find information that I could not find through traditional research, this time because the family had ended up in Brazil. Not speaking Portuguese and thus not having easy access to any Brazilian sources, I had hit a brick wall when it came to the family of my cousin, Hilde Blumenfeld Meinrath, whom I wrote about here back on May 31, 2022.

On January 30, 2023, I heard from Ana Gabriela Meinrath, my fifth cousin, once removed, who left the a comment on my blog, telling me that she is the granddaughter of Hilde Blumenfeld Meinrath. Here is a chart showing my father’s connection to Hilde:

Hilde was the youngest of the three daughters of Salomon Blumenfeld and Malchen Levi: Gretel (born 1906), Jenny (born 1907), and Hilde (born 1911). Gabriela shared this wonderful photograph of the three sisters:

Jenny, Hilde, and Gretel Blumenfeld c. 1917 Courtesy of the family

Gabriela shared some family stories and many photographs and connected me to her uncle Roberto Meinrath, who added more information and stories about Hilde and her family. Roberto then connected me to Michael Katz, grandson of Gretel Blumenfeld Katz. Michael shared this photograph of Salomon and Malchen with all three of their daughters:

Salomon Blumenfeld and family Courtesy of the family

First, a summary of what I knew before Gabriela found me: I knew from my research that Salomon and Malchen and all three of their daughters survived the Holocaust by leaving Germany in time. Hilde, in fact, had left Germany as a seventeen year old in 1929, years before Hitler came to power. Later, she married Ludwig Meinrath, and eventually they immigrated to Brazil. Her parents followed her there, but later immigrated to the US where their second daughter Gretel and her family were living. The third daughter Jenny ended up in Israel.

But I had many questions left unanswered when I published that post on May 31, 2022, including why Hilde had left Germany in 1929 when she was only seventeen, how Hilde had met Ludwig and when they had married, why they had gone to Brazil, and whether Hilde and Ludwig had had more than one child. I also had questions about Hilde’s sister Jenny: had she married Siegmund Warburg, as many trees reported, and did she have children? And I knew few details about Gretel and her family.

Hilde had been interviewed by the Shoah Foundation, but unfortunately it was in Portuguese, and I couldn’t find anyone to translate it.

Most of my unanswered questions have now been answered, and I’ve learned a great deal more about the family from my cousins Roberto, Gabriela, Michael, and Simeon Spier. In addition, I’ve once again been working with my cousin Richard Bloomfield, and he was able to find someone to translate Hilde’s Shoah Foundation interview.

First, let me share the new information I have about Salomon Blumenfeld and his wife Malchen or Amalie Levi and their youngest daughter Hilde Blumenfeld Meinrath.

I learned from Hilde’s Shoah Foundation interview1 (as translated by Manuel Steccanella from Portuguese to German and then translated by Richard Bloomfield from German into English) that her father Salomon had served in the German military and fought for Germany during World War I, serving in France and Belgium, and leaving behind his wife and three young daughters. According to Hilde, when her father returned to Kirchhain from the war, he brought a hundred prisoners with him. Salomon owned a large hotel in Kirchhain, and the prisoners lived in the hotel and worked in Kirchhain. Hilde said that on Sundays, the prisoners butchered small animals and once made her a doublet from the fur to wear in the cold weather. They also shared with her the cookies and other baked goods they received from their families back in France and Belgium.

Gabriela shared this photograph of her great-grandfather’s hotel in Kirchhain:

Salomon Blumenfeld’s hotel in Kirchhain, Germany Courtesy of the family

Hilde reported that although her father was liberal in his Jewish observances, her mother was more orthodox. They would all go to synagogue on shabbat and on holidays, however. On Sundays, the children had religious instruction. But during the week they went to a non-religious school attended by Jews and non-Jews. Hilde would play with the non-Jewish children next door, and she recalled that their family was the only Jewish family on their street.2

After ten years at the local school in Kirchhain, Hilde went to study at the Elisabethschule in Marburg an der Lahn to study to become a librarian. She then worked at the Jewish library in Kassel for a year. At that time (1929), Hilde’s maternal uncle suggested that she come with him to the US to continue her studies.3 Hilde’s son Roberto had an additional insight into Hilde’s reason for going to the US. 4 he wrote that she left home at seventeen because she had socialist political opinions that created conflicts with her religious parents.  Her parents permitted her to go for a year.

Hilde lived with her uncle and his wife in New York for a year, learning English and secretarial skills. But when that year was up, Hilde did not return to Germany. By then she had saved enough money from working while going to school to get her own rented room, and she then got a job doing German-English translation for Siemens-Schuckert in their patent department. (According to Britannica, at that time Siemens was making medical diagnostic and therapeutic equipment, especially X-ray machines and electron microscopes.) She worked there for three years. At night she continued her studies.5

Hilde had serious intentions of staying in the US, as seen in her Declaration of Intention to become a US citizen, filed in 1931.

Hilde Blumenfeld Declaration of Intention. Courtesy of the family

But her life changed when she went back to Germany in 1932 to visit her family; she at first intended to stay for only six months and then return to New York, but then she met her future husband, Ludwig Meinrath, at a Purim ball and decided to stay in Germany longer.6 Here is a photograph of Hilde with Ludwig:

Hilde Blumenfeld and Ludwig Meinrath Courtesy of Richard Bloomfield

Hilde Blumenfeld and Ludwig Meinrath Courtesy of the family

Hilde began working for an American author named William March; Roberto told me that she was helping him with his manuscript for his book Company K. According to the description on Amazon.com, Company K is the “greatest First World War novel to come out of America[.] Company K is the unforgettable account of one US Marine company, from initial training, through to the trenches in France and post-war rehabilitation. Written in 1933 by a decorated Marine hero, this is an unflinching, visceral depiction of the brutal reality of war.”

William March was apparently quite fond of Hilde. Richard Bloomfield found this quote from a letter written by William March to John B. Waterman on February 18, 1933, as quoted in an article about March from the Fall 1977 issue of The Mississippi Quarterly written by R. S. Simmons (warning—it is quite sexist, but typical of its times): 7

[March] had this to say about the German secretary he had engaged: “As a matter of interest for the company’s records, Miss Blumenfeld is quite in the tradition of the Waterman Line not only for beauty but for intelligence.” He added whimsically: “Of course, the latter was merely a happy accident.”

It appeared that Hilde was not planning to leave Germany now that she was married and happily employed. But, of course, everything changed when Hitler came to power. More on that in the post to follow.


  1. The references in this post to the interview of Hilde Meinrath and the information contained therein are from her interview with the Shoah Foundation, March 18, 1998, which is in the archive of the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education. For more information: http://dornsife.usc.edu/vhi 
  2. Ibid. 
  3. Ibid. 
  4. All the information in this post attributed to Roberto Meinrath as well as the quotations were shared through emails sent between February 11 and February 16, 2023. 
  5. See Note 1, supra
  6. See Note 1, supra
  7. R.S. Simmons, “William March’s ‘Personal Letter:’ Fact into Fiction,” The Mississippi Quarterly (Fall 1977), p. 625, 629, found at https://www.jstor.org/stable/26474519 

How Eugene Goldsmith Met May Jacobs

Over four and a half years ago, I wrote about Eugene Goldsmith, my great-grandmother Hilda Katzenstein Schoenthal’s first cousin.

Eugene was born in 1859 and had lived with his parents, Meyer Goldschmidt/Goldsmith and Helene Hohenfels, and his brother Maurice all his life, first growing up in Philadelphia and then in New York City. Then in 1913 at the age of 54, he married May Jacobs, who was 41.

One of the questions I had about Eugene was how he met his wife May Jacobs. I wrote then:

In 1913, Eugene married May Jacobs in Philadelphia. He was 54, she was 41. May was the daughter of Michael Jacobs and Alice Arnold, both of whom were born in Pennsylvania. May’s father died when she was just a young child, and she and her three sisters were all living together with their mother in Philadelphia in 1910. I’d love to know how May connected with Eugene, who had by that time been living in New York City for over twenty years.

Well, four and a half years after posting that question, I heard from a cousin of May Jacobs, and she may have found the answer. Lynn Hsu wrote to me on the blog that she was the great-granddaughter of Oscar Arnold, who was a first cousin of May Jacobs. Lynn wrote that Oscar was in the business of manufacturing umbrellas in New York City, and since Eugene and his brother Maurice were in the business of selling umbrellas in New York City, we hypothesized that Eugene knew Oscar from business and that Oscar set up Eugene with his cousin May, who was living in Philadelphia.

But Lynn actually had found several other hints that suggested that there were numerous earlier connections between her Arnold/Jacobs cousins and my Goldsmith cousins. On August 5, 1892, the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent reported that May Jacobs was on the same Atlantic City sailing party as Rose and Florence Goldsmith, the two younger sisters of Eugene Goldsmith. So as early as 1892, some 21 years before Eugene married May, there was a meeting of May Jacobs and Eugene’s sisters Florence and Rose. Whether they had already known each other before the sailing trip isn’t clear, but certainly they did once that trip was over.

Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, August 5, 1892, p. 8

Also, three years before May married Eugene, she attended his mother’s funeral, as reported by the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent on March 4, 1910:

Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, March 4, 1910, p. 14

Why it took Eugene and May until 1913, when he was 54 and she was 41, to decide to get married will remain a mystery. My only hypothesis is that Eugene waited until both his parents had died before “striking out on his own.” His mother died in 1910, his father in 1911. And then Eugene married May in 1913. His brother Maurice never married.

There was one other unexpected bonus connection that I learned about as a result of connecting with Lynn. May Jacobs Goldsmith, the daughter of Alice Arnold Jacobs, was the niece of Clarissa Arnold, Alice’s sister. Clarissa was married to Ernst Nusbaum, younger brother of my three-times great-grandfather John Nusbaum, namesake of my grandfather John Nusbaum Cohen and my father John Nusbaum Cohen, Jr. I wrote about Clarissa and Ernst and their family here and in many other of the posts that follow that one.

So the tree continues to twist! And thanks to Lynn, I now know even more about the Goldsmith/Goldschmidt and Nusbaum families.


More Cousins Discovered: The Family of Sigmund Livingston, Founder of the ADL

One of the other cousins whose name always stays with me is my third cousin, twice removed, Sigmund Livingston, the founder of the Anti-Defamation League, as I wrote about here as well as about his earlier years and his family here, here, here, here, and here.

Sigmund was related to me through our mutual ancestors Abraham and Geitel (Katz) Blumenfeld, as shown on this chart. He was my father’s third cousin, once removed:

To briefly summarize what I’d learned about Sigmund: he was born in Giessen, Germany, in 1872, to Meyer Loewenstein (later changed to Livingston) and Dora (Dusschen) Blumenfeld. He was only nine years old when his family immigrated to the United States in 1882 and settled in Bloomington, Illinois, where his father’s relatives had already established themselves as successful entrepreneurs. Sigmund ended up going to law school and practicing law in Bloomington. He married Hilda Freiler in 1918, and they had one child, Richard, born in 1920. The family later moved to Chicago where Sigmund continued to practice law.

After experiencing anti-Semitic stereotypes and slurs during a vaudeville show in the early 1900s, Sigmund decided to do something to fight back against anti-Semitism. He founded an organization in Bloomington that eventually grew to become known as the Anti-Defamation League, an international organization that still exists today, fighting against all forms of discrimination, including but not only anti-Semitism. When I learned that I was related, albeit very distantly, to the founder of the ADL, I felt incredibly proud to have that connection. Today the ADL continues to be at the forefront of those fighting against hatred and prejudice.

Recently I was thrilled to hear from two of Sigmund’s grandchildren, Richard and Laurie, who found me through my blog. Richard has done a great deal of genealogical research also and provided me with more information about the Livingston/Loewenstein side of his family tree. Richard and Laurie have also given me some additional new cousins on the Blumenfeld side of our family tree to contact, which I plan to do in the near future. And Richard caught two errors in my tree that I’ve now corrected both on the tree and on my blog; I am so grateful that Richard found those mistakes and told me.

But I was most excited to see additional photographs of Sigmund and his family and to learn a little more about his life and the life of his family. I particularly enjoyed seeing this photograph of Dora Blumenfeld and Meyer Loewenstein/Livingston:

This is the house where Sigmund was born in Giessen, Germany, in December 1872:

Birthplace of Sigmund Livingston in Giessen, Germany Courtesy of the family

Here are several photographs of Sigmund from age 20 up to age 47:

Sigmund Livingston, 1893 Courtesy of the family

Sigmund Livingston, 1903 Courtesy of the family

Sigmund Livingston, 1914 Courtesy of the family

Sigmund Livingston, 1918 Courtesy of the family

Sigmund Livingston, 1920 Courtesy of the family

Here is Sigmund’s diploma from law school:

Sigmund Livingston diploma at McClean County Historical Museum Courtesy of the family

Finally, this photograph shows the family in about 1918-1919: Dora (Meyer had passed away in 1915) and her children and their spouses:

Back Row (left to right): Sigmund Livingston, Alfred Livingston, Eva Siegel Livingston (married to Alfred); Irvin Livingston; “Gramma” Dora (Dusschen) Blumenfeld Livingston; Dorothy Ensel Livingston (married to Herman); Herman Livingston, Rosalie Livingston Livingston; Harold Livingston (in back); Albert Livingston (cousin who married Rosalie); Maurice Livingston; Sol Salzenstein (married to Gussie). Front Row (left to right): Helen (Cubby) Baer(?) Livingston (married to Irwin); Hilda Freiler Livingston (married to Sigmund); Bertha August Livingston (married to Maurice); and Gussie (Gutschen) Livingston. Courtesy of the family

Richard shared what he knew about his grandfather Sigmund’s career after leaving Bloomington and moving to Chicago in 1928:1

When Sigmund left Bloomington in 1928, he gave his share in his local law practice to a young cousin, Herb Livingston; and joined a major Chicago law practice with his brother-in-law Charles Lederer. Charles was married to Hilda’s [Sigmund’s wife Hilda Freiler] older sister Florence. The firm was known as Lederer, Livingston, Kahn, and Adler or similar until approx. 1958; at which time its name became Arnstein and Lehr. Lederer & Livingston were Sears Roebuck & Co.’s legal counsel during its heyday.

Richard also filled me in on how his father Richard, who was known as Dick and who was born in Bloomington and then moved with his parents to Chicago when he was a boy, had ended up living in the suburbs of New York City as an adult:

My father Dick attended Duke University and was supposed to be class of ’42; but joined the US Army Air Corp for 5 years of WWII around his junior year. He was an airplane instruments technician or mechanic and trained pilots to read and understand the gauges and dials in a cockpit; but never was a pilot himself and fortunately never was stationed overseas or faced combat during the war. After the army, he returned to Duke University, graduating in Spring, 1947. Following graduation, he returned to Highland Park, IL, living with his mother Hilda (as best we know) and not sure if he was employed or not.

In February 1948, Hilda and Dick were vacationing at the Hollywood Beach Hotel in Hollywood Beach, Florida. Dick met a recent Wellesley graduate from New York City named Mimi Spector. They fell instantly in love and were soon thereafter married on May 30, 1948. Dick and Mimi moved into Mimi’s parent’s Manhattan apartment for a while before getting their own place. Dick initially worked in sales for his father-in-law’s business.

In the 1950s Dick and Mimi and their family moved to Westchester County in the suburbs of New York City, eventually settling in Scarsdale, less than five miles from where I lived and went to high school. Richard and Laurie and I were tickled to learn that we had all grown up not far from each other and went to neighboring high schools and even knew some of the same people. We likely crossed paths many times without knowing we were distant cousins.

It has taken over 50 years since high school before we finally connected. And I am so grateful that Richard and Laurie found my blog and reached out to me and have shared their stories and photographs.

  1. The quotes and other information from Richard Livingston were from emails dated from February 11 to February 21, 2023. 

Rudolph Meyer: “A Great Man”

Back in late December, a new reader, Candice, left a comment on my blog saying that her grandparents were Rudolph Meyer and Ruth Cohn and that we were related. I love when a new cousin finds my blog and seeks to connect with me.

Candice and I are fifth cousins, once removed, through my Blumenfeld branch. Her grandfather Rudolph was the son of Rebecca Strauss, the grandson of Dusschen Blumenfeld Strauss, the great-grandson of Isaak Blumenfeld I, the great-great-grandson of Moses Blumenfeld I, and the great-great-great-grandson of Abraham Blumenfeld I, my four times great-grandfather. This chart shows Rudolph’s relationship to my father; they were fourth cousins, so Rudolph was my fourth cousin, once removed:

I wrote about Rudolph and his family here, but Candice and her father Albert were able to give me a more complete portrait of Rudolph and his wife Ruth Cohn. I already knew that Rudolph was born in Bonn, Germany, in 1908, and had arrived in the US from Germany in 1937 and settled first in New York City. By 1940 he was living in Albany, New York, and working for Cotrell & Leonard, a manufacturer of graduation caps and gowns.

Rudolph’s son Albert filled in some of the gaps in the story in the obituary he wrote about his father in 1984. Albert wrote in part:

Rudolf Raphael Meyer was born in Bonn, Germany, on March 17, 1908. He was to experience many of the history shaping events which influenced the course of his life and development. As the child of Albert and Rebecca Meyer with his sister Ilse he at the ages through 6-10 went through the trauma of World War I. The war brought hardship to him as did the period following it. The economic chaos of Weimar Germany with its rampant inflation left its mark on him in that no matter how well might do, he felt he never knew if he and his family would have enough just to provide for the basic necessities of life.

As the economic and political situation remained explosive in Germany and with Anti-semitism on the rise, he, his sister, and mother, his father having died, immigrated to the United States. However, life in the new country soon underwent its earthquake also with the coming of the Great Depression and World War II. The Depression only added to his feelings of anxiety regarding economic matters and [he] became a fervent supporter of the new deal with Franklin Delano Roosevelt and then Harry Truman representing the type of leadership he felt a society needed.

During the later years of the 30s he met Ruth Cohn and after a 3 year courtship they were married on August 10, 1941.

Rudolph enlisted in the US Army on September 6, 1943, and successfully petitioned for naturalization three months later in December 1943 from Spartanburg, South Carolina, where he was then stationed. What I did not know was that Rudolph then served overseas in Europe, fighting against the Nazis and the country where he was born.

Candice shared this photograph of her grandfather Rudy (as he was known) in uniform during World War II.

Rudolph Meyer during World War II. Courtesy of the family

Rudy wrote this poem about his outfit in World War II, the Blue Devils. Obviously, he was a proud American soldier out to defeat his former home country.

“Blue Devils,” by Rudolph Meyer c. 1944 (c) Courtesy of the family

What I also had not realized until Candice shared the family story is that Ruth was pregnant when Rudy left for Europe; their son Albert was born while he was abroad, fighting the Nazis. Rudy did not meet his child until after the war was over when Albert was already sixteen months old. Albert addressed this in his 1984 obituary for his father:

[Albert was born] while [Rudolf] was stationed overseas in Italy. The notice of his birth filled him with special joy as can be told by a reading of his letters from the war. As an additional sacrifice he did not get to see his child for another year.

Although the war was difficult and he was certainly not a young man while fighting in both North Africa and Italy for the Allies, his experience in the army gave him great pride. He felt he contributed to the service of his country and had helped to smash the Fascist Beast that had destroyed so many Europeans who could [not] leave and so many of his religious faith.

In fact among the things that gave him pride were his experience as a soldier, his role as a law abiding citizen, a good family provider. His citizenship was marked by regular voting, paying debts, attention by regular public affairs, and occasionally involvement in Democratic Party politics.

Here is a photograph of Albert as a baby taken while his father was away at war:

Albert Meyer Courtesy of the family

Ruth wrote this wonderful tribute to her husband, Rudy, whom she considered a “great man.”

Essay by Ruth Cohn Meyer (c) Courtesy of the family

A Great Man

My choice for the meaning of the word Great would be important. I write of a great man that I knew many years ago. His name was Rudolph Meyer. Now Rudy had a loving wife, and as is the nature of things, she became pregnant—and Rudy and his wife were very happy.

But then came fears of war from a country across the sea—a country from far away which hundreds of people were fleeing for they were afraid of what might now happen at this time. And Rudy and many of his fellow countrymen had found refuge in this country, the good old USA.

Then came the day when their fears for their country were alas confirmed. Atrocities! Tortures—and then War and Holocausts! Rudy immediately went to enlist. But at the recruitment center, he was told that because of his poor eyesight he would have to be rejected. But Rudy insisted—he must fight against the evil ones were who trying to destroy civilization. So—Rudy went to war!

I was sad. I was pregnant—but I knew in my heart that it was for those qualities in him—great devotion to family and country—that I loved him. And though I was sad—I was proud. My Love was a great man.

I waited—I would go to the grocery store. A pound of butter, if you please. Hey, Lady—don’t you know there’s a war on. Ah,yes—there’s a war on over there!

It is 4 years later—the end of the war. Rudy comes home. He holds in his arms a loving wife and 16 mo. old son. A great man has come home to us.

This was obviously a strong and loving marriage that endured for many years after Rudy returned home. This photograph of Ruth and their son Albert was taken after the war.

Albert Meyer and Ruth Cohn Meyer. 1948. Courtesy of the family

As I wrote in my earlier post, Rudy and Ruth moved to the Bronx after the war, and in 1950 they were living in the Bronx, and Rudy was now an accountant for motion pictures distributors. Ruth was an elementary schoolteacher.  Rudy’s mother Rebecca and Ruth’s father Benjamin were also living with Rudy and Ruth and their child, and Benjamin was working as a tailor.

I want to express my gratitude to Candice and her father Albert for sharing these stories and photographs about my cousin Rudolph Meyer, a man who truly lived up to his wife Ruth’s description, a great man.