Charles Bloch Redux, Part II: A Surprising Twist in the Family Tree

Although I ran into a brick wall trying to learn more about the time Charles Bloch spent in France during World War II, in the course of that research I discovered another twist in the Goldschmidt family tree.

First, I learned that Charles Bloch had a sister. Julius Bloch and Clara Herzberg, parents of Charles Bloch, had a daughter named Johanna Bloch born in 1879.

Johanna Bloch, birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8931, Year Range: 1879, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Johanna married a man named Ludwig Dannheisser in 1900.

Johanna Bloch marriage record to Ludwig Dannheisser, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Year Range: 1900, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Here is a beautiful photograph of Johanna taken in 1921 in Frankfurt when she was 42:

Johanna Bloch Dannheisser, 1921, Frankfurt, Germany. Courtesy of Ralph Dannheisser

Tragically, both Johanna and Ludwig were killed at Auschwitz on May 22, 1944, after being deported from the Netherlands.1

Page of Testimony for Johanna Bloch Dannweisser at Yad Vashem, https://tinyurl.com/y58fweas

But their son Paul Dannheisser escaped from Germany to the Netherlands in 1938 and then to the US in 1940, settling in New York with his wife Dora Anni (known as Anni) nee Rosenthal and their son Ralph.2

This is a photograph taken at Paul and Anni’s wedding in October, 1932.

Wedding of Paul and Anni Dannheisser, October, 1932. Front row: Johanna Bloch Goldschmidt, Anni Rosenthal Dannheisser, Paul Dannheisser, and Bertha Kaufmann Rosenthal. Standing behind Johanna is her husband Ludwig Dannheisser. Behind Paul is Max Rosenthal.  Others are not identified. Courtesy of Ralph Dannheisser

When I saw the name Dannheisser, I knew something was familiar about it. Elizabeth Stern, the daughter of Alice Rapp and Saly Stern, was known as Elizabeth Dannheisser near the end of her life, according to the Social Security Claims and Applications Index.3 I had not found a marriage record for Elizabeth showing a marriage to someone named Dannheisser, only records showing a Paul Dannheisser married to Anni, but when I saw that Charles Bloch had a brother-in-law Ludwig and a nephew Paul with that surname, I wondered if there was a connection.

Fortunately, I was able to find and connect with Paul Dannheisser’s son Ralph, and he confirmed that in 1973, his father Paul Dannheisser had married my cousin Elizabeth Stern, the daughter of Saly Stern and Alice Rapp. He even shared a copy of the marriage certificate I couldn’t locate.

Courtesy of Ralph Dannheisser

Paul was 72 at the time, and Elizabeth was 54. Paul was a widower, his wife Anni having died the year before, and Elizabeth had divorced her first husband Gerhard Hirsch in 1950.4  Paul and Elizabeth had been introduced to each other by Ilse Bloch, known in the US as Helen Bloch, the daughter of Amalie Meyer and Charles Bloch.

Helen was Elizabeth’s second cousin; they were both great-granddaughters of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt and Jettchen Cahn:

Helen Bloch was also Paul Dannheisser’s first cousin; they were both the grandchildren of Julius Bloch and Clara Herzberg:

First cousins, Helen Bloch and Paul Dannheisser, 1961. Courtesy of Ralph Dannheisser

So Elizabeth Stern, the granddaughter of Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp, married the nephew of Charles Bloch, who was the husband of Amalie Meyer, daughter of Regina Goldschmidt and Aaron Meyer. Regina was Helmina’s older sister. Here’s another chart to show the connection.

Ralph, Paul Dannheisser’s son and the great-nephew of Charles Bloch, was thus the stepson of my cousin Elizabeth (known as Elsbeth). He also knew Charles and Amalie (whom he called Ama) Bloch. He often visited them in their New York City apartment on West 56th Street. He and his parents would go for monthly Sunday dinners. Ralph would listen to the radio or be entertained by Charles and Amalie’s daughter Helen while his parents and Charles and Amalie played bridge. Helen, who was an avid photographer, would show Ralph her photography magazines.

Ralph described Charles as a heavy-set bald man and Amalie as a handsome woman who wore her hair in a bun, and he said they were both very kind to him, as was Helen. In fact, he stayed close to Helen for many years, bringing his own children to visit her often. Unfortunately, however, Ralph was not able to tell me any more details of how Charles Bloch spent the years he was in France.5

Ralph shared the certificates of naturalization issued to Alice, Saly, and Elizabeth Stern; these were particularly exciting to me because they included photographs of each of them. He also shared a collage of photos including one of Walter Stern, Elizabeth’s brother.

Ralph was very fond of Elizabeth Stern, his father’s second wife. He described her as a lovely woman who was very warm and wonderful to him and to his father. Ralph was very pleased when his father married her (he was already an adult by that time). Sadly, Elizabeth developed a terrible illness not long after she married Paul Dannheisser and spent many of the years at the end of her life in a nursing home, dying in February 1997.6

Her brother Walter Stern also endured difficult times. Ralph had a file filled with letters written to or about Walter that revealed much about his character and his work history and ethic. In Germany, Walter was a very well-regarded employee of a book dealer named J. Kauffmann before he immigrated to the US, and then for some time after he immigrated, he worked for a jewelry company in Washington, DC, where he was living when his parents and sister Elizabeth immigrated to the US. His employer at the jewelry company had written a letter in April 1939 to the American Consul in London (where his family was then living), extolling Walter’s virtues. My hunch is that this was a character reference to support the Consul’s issuance of a visa to Saly, Alice, and Elizabeth Stern so they could immigrate to the US.7

Walter returned to New York after his family arrived in March 1940 and worked for a company called Tonerde Incorporated, as listed on his World War II draft registration in October 1940. He left there on December 8, 1941, and received another positive letter of recommendation. But that draft registration hinted that something else was going on with Walter:

Walter Stern, World War II draft registration, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Why was he “under care”? Family lore, according to Ralph, is that Walter was mugged and suffered a brain injury from which he never recovered. But as late as 1944, Walter received letters of thanks from the Treasury Department for his efforts in selling war bonds. 8

Ralph and I couldn’t put together the whole picture of what happened to Walter. In a December 1946 letter from the Immigration and Naturalization Service to Alice Rapp Stern, Walter’s mother, there is a reference to a warrant for Walter’s arrest that was being cancelled. My hunch is that once Walter’s declaration of intention to become a US citizen had expired after seven years, or in August, 1945, and he had not yet become a naturalized citizen, he was subject to deportation. How Alice Rapp Stern persuaded INS to close the case and cancel the arrest warrant is a mystery yet to be solved. I have filed a request for documents from the USCIS to see if I can learn more.

Courtesy of Ralph Dannheisser

What we do know is that by the end of 1947, Walter was institutionalized at the Rockland State Hospital and later at Brooklyn State Hospital, where he lived out the rest of his life, dying in October 1996, just a few months before his sister Elizabeth.9

I still have no details about how Charles Bloch survived the war in France, the original question that led me down this ambling path. But what an adventure the search for answers to that question has been: learning about the ITS document request process, thanks to Barbara; making the connection to Danny, who spent so much time helping me find French records; and then finding Ralph, my distant cousin by marriage, who brought to life some of the people I’d been researching.  All these connections and discoveries have made this a wonderful experience. I may not have all the answers, but sometimes it’s more about the journey than the destination.


  1. Entry for Ludwig Dannheisser in Yad Vashem, found at https://tinyurl.com/y5s4hkjj; Entry for Johanna Bloch Dannheisser at Yad Vashem, found at https://tinyurl.com/y58fweas 
  2. Telephone conversation with Ralph Dannheisser, July 22, 2020. 
  3. Elizabeth Ruth Stern, [Elizabeth Ruthhenrietta Hirsch] [Elizabeth Dannheisser] Birth Date: 21 Jan 1919, Birth Place: Frankfurt A, Federal Republic of Germany
    Death Date: 13 Feb 1997, Father: Sally Stern, Mother: Alice Rapp, SSN: 127144714
    Notes: Mar 1942: Name listed as ELIZABETH RUTH STERN; Jul 1943: Name listed as ELIZABETH RUTHHENRIETTA HIRSCH; Oct 1973: Name listed as ELIZABETH RUTH DANNHEISSER; Dec 1973: Name listed as ELIZABETH RUT DANNHEISSER; 22 Feb 1997: Name listed as ELIZABETH DANNHEISSER, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  4. Ralph has a copy of Elizabeth’s Mexico divorce decree, dated August 5, 1950, as well as copy of her “get,” the Jewish divorce decree, dated July 3, 1952. 
  5. Telephone conversation with Ralph Dannheisser, July 29, 2020 
  6. Ibid. 
  7. Ibid. Files in possession of Ralph Dannheisser 
  8. Ibid. 
  9. Ibid. Files in possession of Ralph Dannheisser 

Charles Bloch Redux: A Lesson in French Genealogy Research

A few weeks ago I published my second post about Charles Bloch, searching for information about the time he spent in France during World War II. Charles was married to Amalie Meyer, granddaughter of Meyer Goldschmidt, my four-times great-uncle. He wasn’t related to me except by marriage, but I can’t seem to let go of his story. So this is my third Charles Bloch post. And there will be one more.

All I knew at the time of that second post was that Charles was still in Germany as of December, 1938, when he was released from the Buchenwald concentration camp, and that he arrived in the US from Toulouse, France, in 1946. I knew that his wife, Amalie Meyer Bloch, and his daughter Ilse Bloch, had both left Germany and were in the US by 1941, at which time Amalie reported on her declaration of intention that her husband Charles was in France.  But despite receiving additional documents from the International Tracing Service, I still didn’t know when Charles arrived in France or where or how he spent those war years.

I received a few suggestions from readers for additional research, but the most significant help came from a member of Tracing the Tribe named Danny Breslow. Danny has expertise in French genealogy research and was incredibly generous with his time helping me to find information.

First, he noticed something I should have noticed. On Charles’ ship manifest coming to the US in 1946, he listed as the person left behind in his former place of residence a person named Gaston Bloch, residing at 27 “Pomme St.” in Toulouse.

Charles Bloch, passenger manifest p. 2, Year: 1946; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 40, Ship or Roll Number: Fort Royal
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Danny then searched the 1936 Toulouse census (the most recent one available online) and discovered that in 1936, a couple named Gaston and Alice Alexandre lived at 27 Rue de la Pomme in Toulouse.

City of Toulouse, Municipal Archives, Call Number 1 F94, p. 301 (1936)

Could Charles have mistakenly referred to Gaston Alexandre as Gaston Bloch? Possibly, but not necessarily, as you will see.

Danny discovered that a boy named Jean Bloch had also lived at 27 Rue de la Pomme in Toulouse. He was born in Marseilles, and according to an article Danny found in a French publication about the Jewish children of Toulouse, Jean Bloch was living in Toulouse with his grandmother and his older brother in 1944. Jean was only fourteen when he was arrested by the Nazis and sent to the concentration camp at Drancy and then to Auschwitz on March 24, 1944. He survived Auschwitz, but was later killed on a death march on April 17, 1945.

TOULOUSE-MÉMOIRE DES ENFANTS JUIFS DÉPORTÉS, September 2014

A profile on Geni managed by Jean Bloch’s nephew’s wife Hanna revealed that Jean Bloch was the son of Lucie Alexandre and Georges Bloch and that Lucie Alexandre was the daughter of Gaston and Alice Alexandre. Thus, young Jean Bloch had a grandfather named Gaston. Was this the “Gaston Bloch” living at 27 Rue de la Pomme that Charles Bloch named on his manifest? Connecting those dots proved challenging.

Danny and I tried to find some link between the lineage of Georges Bloch, whose in-laws lived at 27 Rue de la Pomme, and the lineage of Charles Bloch. According to Geni, Georges Bloch, Jean’s father, was the son of Albert Fortun Salomon Bloch, who in turn was the son of Joseph Bloch.1

Danny’s knowledge of French genealogy came in handy as he located a birth record for Jules Bloch, Charles Bloch’s father, showing he was born in Scherwiller, France, in 1855. (That explained why Charles was identified as French on the ITS documents even though he was born in Frankfurt; his father was French-born.)

Birth record of Jules Bloch, 1885, Scherwiller – Etat civil – Registre de naissances 1855 – 4 E 445/5  found at http://archives.bas-rhin.fr/detail-document/ETAT-CIVIL-C441-P1-R241585#visio/page:ETAT-CIVIL-C441-P1-R241585-3028132

As seen on Jules Bloch’s birth record, he was the son of Meyer Bloch and Sarra Weill. I’ve tried to dig back further to see if I could find a tie between the Scherwiller Blochs and the Marseilles Blochs, but without success. With Danny’s help and my discovery of a Scherwiller Bloch family tree on Ancestry, a tree that is well sourced, we were able to trace Charles Bloch’s lineage back to the 1700s without finding a link to the Marseille Bloch family.

I also contacted Hanna, the manager of that Geni profile of Jean Bloch and  the daughter-in-law of Jean Bloch’s brother Michel; Michel had survived the war and immigrated to Israel. Hanna did not know of any connection to Charles Bloch and pointed out that there had been another Bloch family also living at 27 Rue de la Pomme who were not related to the Alexandre family. I’ve yet to find any records for that family though.

In addition, Danny discovered that a young Jewish woman named Nicole Bloch Klein, a resistance activist in France, also once lived at 27 Rue de la Pomme in Toulouse. Perhaps Bloch was a common enough name and 27 Rue de la Pomme was a big enough building that it’s purely coincidental that Charles Bloch ended up knowing people living in that building who also happened to be named Bloch?

I went back to look at the 1936 census again and counted five households living at 27 Rue de la Pomme that year. I don’t know what the odds are that, ten years later in 1946 when Charles Bloch reported a Gaston Bloch living at that address, there would have been another family named Bloch, unrelated to the family of Jean Bloch, living at that address.

So I cannot prove that there was a familial tie between Georges Bloch, the son-in-law of Gaston and Alice Alexandre of 27 Rue de la Pomme, and Charles Bloch, who listed the same address on his ship manifest. And I still don’t know how Charles survived the war. Who did he live with? How did he avoid deportation? Why did he wait a year after the war ended before joining his wife and daughter in the United States?

I still don’t know. But, in the course of researching the Bloch family, I discovered another interesting twist in the family tree.

To be continued…


  1. There were no records on Geni to support this, but since the profile is managed by a close family member, I assume that it is reliable. 

Searching for Helene Rapp Lehmann and Her Family: A Genealogy Adventure

Helmina Goldschmidt’s oldest child, her daughter Helene Rapp Lehmann, was harder to trace than her two younger siblings, Arthur and Alice. I knew that Helene, her husband Sally, their daughter Else Berta, and their son Ludwig all eventually ended up in the United States because all four are listed in the Social Security Death Index. But it was hard to find information about their departure from Germany and about their eventual arrival and life in the US and the years in between.

This document from the Arolsen Archives on Ancestry provided the first clues. It shows that Sally Lehmann was a dentist and that Else Berta, daughter of Helene and Sally Lehmann, had immigrated to Palestine.

Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1 Description Reference Code: 02010101 oS Source Information Ancestry.com. Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947

I then found Else’s immigration papers showing that she first entered Palestine on February 21, 1939, when she would have been only seventeen. She became a naturalized citizen of Palestine on June 25, 1941. She was unmarried at that time and a hair dresser. (These papers are located at the Israel Archives website located here.)

I assumed that since Else was so young, the rest of her family might have immigrated to Palestine also around the same time, but I could at first not find any Palestinian immigration papers for her parents Helene and Sally or for her brother Ludwig.

At the same time I was researching them all, I received an email from someone in Israel who had questions about one of my other relatives, and so I asked him for advice about finding more information about those who had left Europe for Israel in the 1930s and 1940s. He recommended that I become a member of IGRA—the Israel Genealogy Research Association. I had seen their website many times before, but had hesitated to spend the money to become a member. This time I bit the bullet and joined.

And I am so glad that I did because a quick search uncovered two records for Sally Lehmann. Sally was listed in a 1940 and a 1946 Tel Aviv directory of doctors, dentists, pharmacists and other medical professionals. Thus, I know now that he had immigrated to Israel by 1940.

In addition, I found a 1948 divorce record for Else Berta Lehman, daughter of Shlomo (Sally), from Leopold Ickelheimer, suggesting that Else was likely still in Israel in 1948.

Finally, the IGRA website had a file indicating that a Ludwig Lehmann had changed his name to Yehuda in April 1936. I couldn’t be certain that this was the same Ludwig Lehmann, but if it was, that would mean that the Lehmann family, or at least Ludwig, was in Palestine as early as 1936.

And then, you know how sometimes you search and search and find nothing, and then you return to the same source days later and suddenly a record appears? That’s what happened here. I returned to the Israel Archives website where the Palestinian immigration records are available, and this time found Sally and Helene (Rapp) Lehmann’s immigration and naturalization. The file revealed that Sally and Helene had first arrived in Palestine on July 4, 1938, and that they became naturalized citizens on June 17, 1941.

Sally Lehmann and Helene Rapp Palestinian immigration file found at https://www.archives.gov.il/en/archives/#/Archive/0b07170680034dc1/File/0b07170680bf6119

However, no one in the Lehmann family remained permanently in Israel. I found a 1955 manifest for a ship sailing from Haifa, Israel, to New York, that lists Sally and Helene Lehmann as passengers and as Israeli citizens.1

I also found one for an Else B. Spitzer, arriving April 24, 1953, that I thought might be Else Berta Lehmann, but wasn’t sure. There was no age or other identifying information, and she was listed as a German citizen, not an Israeli citizen. 2 But then I located this naturalization index card that shows an Else Berta Spitzer with the same birth date as Elsa Berta Lehmann, residing at 550 West 172nd Street in New York City.

Ancestry.com. New York, Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989

I used that address to search for Spitzers in the 1959 New York City directory living at 550 West 172nd Street and found a Kurt Spitzer living at that address, so now I knew that Else’s second husband was Kurt Spitzer.3 I also found his naturalization index card:

Ancestry.com. New York, Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989

Unfortunately I cannot find any records showing Else with Kurt except for these two cards that show that they were living at the same address at the time of their naturalization. I did, however, find a record for Kurt’s enlistment in the US military on October 28, 1942, in New York, showing that he was a barber, beautifician, or manicurist, meaning he and Else were both in the hair dressing field. Kurt was already at that time a US citizen;4 he was born in Wurzburg, Germany, and immigrated to the US in 1925.5

Else’s brother, Sally and Helene’s son Yehuda Ludwig Lehmann, was particularly hard to locate with much certainty, After searching under all possible combinations of his names, I found a manifest with a Yehuda L. Lehmann coming to the US on December 29, 1952, from Cannes, France. He identified himself as divorced and as an Israeli citizen. He was 44 years old, and that would be consistent with the 1908 birth date I have for Ludwig Lehmann.

Yehuda Lehman, passenger manifest, Year: 1952; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 137, Ship or Roll Number: Constitution
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Thus, all the members of Sally and Helene’s family had left Israel for the US in the 1950s. I don’t have much information about their lives after their arrival, although records show that Yehuda married in 1954, was divorced in 1956, and remarried in 1965.  I don’t know whether either Yehuda or Else had children in any of their marriages.

Their mother Helene Rapp Lehman died when she was 82 on September 17, 1969, in New York;6 her husband Sally was 94 when he died three years later in 1972.7 Their son Yehuda Louis Ludwig Lehmann died October 7, 1989, when he was 81.8 And Else Berta Lehmann Spitzer died on March 15, 2008, at age 86.9 According to her listing in the SSDI, her last residence had been in Berlin, Germany.

Thus, Helene Rapp Lehmann was among the fortunate ones who escaped Nazi Germany along with her husband and her children, first to Palestine/Israel, and then to the US. In fact, her siblings Arthur and Alice and their families as well as their mother Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp were also among those who safely escaped. That is quite remarkable.


Having completed the story of the family of Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp, I have now written about all the children of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt and Jettchen Cahn. Next I will turn to Jacob’s younger sister Malchen Goldschmidt, the fourth of the seven children of Meyer Goldschmidt and Lea Katzenstein and their youngest daughter. But first some updates to prior stories.


  1. Sally Lehmann and Helene Lehmann, passenger manifest, Year: 1955; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 149, Ship or Roll Number: Jerusalem, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  2. Else B. Spitzer, passenger manifest, Year: 1953; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 347, Ship or Roll Number: Ryndam, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  3. Manhattan, New York, City Directory, 1959, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  4.  Kurt B Spitzer, Marital status: Single, without dependents (Single), Rank: Private
    Birth Year: 1908, Nativity State or Country: Danzig or Germany, Citizenship: Citizen
    Residence: New York, New York, Education: Grammar school, Civil Occupation: Barbers, beauticians, and manicurists, Enlistment Date: 28 Oct 1942, Enlistment Place: New York City, New York, Service Number: 32610147, Branch: Branch Immaterial – Warrant Officers, USA, Component: Selectees (Enlisted Men), Source: Civil Life
    Height: 66, Weight: 149, National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland, USA; Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, 1938-1946; NAID: 1263923; Record Group Title: Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, 1789-ca. 2007; Record Group: 64; Box Number: 05392; Reel: 203, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 
  5. Kurt Spitzer, Born: 1 Feb 1908, Birth Place: Wuerzburg, District: Lower Franconia
    Father: Josef, Mother: Karoline (Lina) nee STRAUSS, Last Residence: New York, NY
    Occupation: Merchant, employee, Naomi Teveth, comp. Germany, Jews in Würzburg, 1900-1945; Kurt Spitzer, ship manifest, Year: 1925; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 197, Ship or Roll Number: Luetzow, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  6. Helene Rap Lehmann, Gender: Female, Birth Date: 25 Aug 1887, Birth Place: Federal Republic of Germany, Claim Date: 21 Mar 1966, Father: Leopold Rapp
    Mother: Hermine[sic] Godschmidt, SSN: 076424080, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  7.  Sally Lehmann, Social Security Number: 057-38-7312, Birth Date: 2 Sep 1877
    Issue Year: 1963, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10474, Bronx, Bronx, New York, USA, Death Date: Feb 1972, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  8. Lou Ludwig Lehman, [Lou L Lehman], Gender: Male, Race: White
    Birth Date: 9 Feb 1908, Birth Place: Frankfort, Federal Republic of Germany
    Death Date: 7 Oct 1989, Father: Sally Lehmann, Mother: Helene Rapp
    SSN: 120280768,nAncestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  9.  Else B. Spitzer, Social Security Number: 109-28-8645, Birth Date: 8 Jan 1922
    Issue Year: 1952-1954, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 702, (U.S. Consulate) Berlin, Germany, Death Date: 15 Mar 2008, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 

Arthur Rapp and Family: From Germany to England to Brazil to New York

In my last post, we saw that Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp and her daughter Alice Rapp Stern, son-in-law Saly Stern, and their daughters Elizabeth and Grete had first escaped to England from Nazi Germany, with Alice, Saly, and Elizabeth later immigrating to the US where their son Walter had already settled. Today’s post is about Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp’s son Arthur Rapp and his family.

Arthur and his wife Alice and their sons Helmut and Gunther also were in England by 1939. Arthur reported on the 1939 England and Wales Register that he was a retired telephone salesman. (The two black lines are presumably for Helmut/Harold and Gunther/Gordon, who must still have been living when the document was scanned.)

Arthur Rapp and Family,The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/6823F, Enumeration District: WFQC, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

But like his sister Alice, Arthur did not stay in England. First, in 1940, he and his family immigrated to Brazil. I love having these photographs of Arthur and his family. Gunther is particularly adorable. But then I remember that these people had to leave their home in Frankfurt and then uproot themselves again to go from England to Brazil.

Arthur Rapp, Digital GS Number: 004816338, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Alice Kahn Rapp, Digital GS Number: 004911328, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Helmut Rapp, Digital GS Number: 004871140, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

Gunther Rapp, Digital GS Number: 004911328, Ancestry.com. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965

But a year later on February 27, 1941, they uprooted themselves again and left Brazil for New York where they settled in Forest Hills, New York, as seen on Arthur’s declaration of intention to become a US citizen.

Arthur Rapp, declaration of intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, Description: (Roll 626) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 496501-497400), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Arthur reported on his declaration of intention that he was unemployed, but his son Helmut, now using the name Harold, reported on his declaration that he was a watchmaker.

Harold (Helmut) Rapp, declaration of intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, Description: (Roll 626) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 496501-497400), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Arthur and Alice’s younger son Gunther, who became Gordon, was sixteen when they immigrated; on his World War II draft registration in 1943, he was living in Monmouth, New Jersey, working for Modern Farms.

Gordon (Gunther) Rapp, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for New Jersey, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 539
Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Arthur’s daughter from his first marriage, Henriette Rapp, also ended up in the US. She had married Siegmund Schwarz in Berlin on May 6, 1929, and they were living in Kirtof, Germany, in 1935.

Henriette Rapp marriage record to Siegmund Schwarz, Landesarchiv Berlin; Berlin, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Laufendenummer: 189, 1929 (Erstregister)
Ancestry.com. Berlin, Germany, Marriages, 1874-1936

They immigrated to the US in 1937 and in June 1938 when Henriette, now using Rita, filed her declaration of intention to become a US citizen, they were living in San Francisco.

National Archives at Riverside; Riverside, California; NAI Number: 594890; Record Group Title: 21; Record Group Number: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009
Description: Petitions, 1943 (Box 0247), Ancestry.com. California, Federal Naturalization Records, 1843-1999

On the 1940 census, Rita and Siegmund, now going by Henry, were living in Los Angeles, and Henry reported no occupation, but Rita reported that she was a dressmaker.1 When Henry filed his World War II draft registration in 1942, he was still living in Los Angeles, but listed Alfred Kahn, not Rita, as  the person who would always know where he was, so perhaps they were no longer together.2 Rita did remarry on April 14, 1956, in Los Angeles, to Max Altura.3

Arthur Rapp died in New York on January 10, 1951, at the age of 66.4 He was survived by his wife Alice and his three children, Rita, Harold, and Gordon. Alice survived him by 26 years; she died in May 1977 at 82 years old.5

Rita died in Los Angeles on June 10, 2003; she was 94. According to her obituary in the June 13, 2003 The Los Angeles Times, Rita was a “life member and generous benefactor of Hadassah, Rita was devoted to Israel and the Jewish people.”6

Arthur Rapp’s two sons also lived long lives. Harold Rapp, who had started his career as a watchmaker, became the president of Bulova International in Basel, Switzerland, for many years and was 93 when he died on February 11, 2016.7

His brother Gordon died the following year at 92. According to his obituary, he graduated from Cornell University and received a master’s degree from Purdue University. His early interest in agriculture stayed with him. He had a career in poulty genetics before spending twenty years as a product and marketing manager with Corn Products Corporation . His obituary described him as follows: “He was known for his kindness, creativity, humor, wisdom, and talent as a prolific artist, photographer and writer. He was a Renaissance man of many interests, including tennis, tai chi and chess. He enjoyed museums and classical music concerts in New York City and later in Chapel Hill, NC.”8

I was struck by the fact that Harold and Gordon both continued to work in the same fields where they had started as young men, Harold in watches, Gordon in agriculture. Harold Rapp and Gordon Rapp were survived by their widows, children, and grandchildren.

Although Arthur Rapp did not have the blessing of a life as long as those of his three children, he was blessed with the good fortune of escaping with them from Nazi Germany and thus giving them the security and safety to live those long lives, during which they each made important contributions to their new homeland and left a legacy of their accomplishments and future generations to carry on the Rapp name.

 

 


  1. Rita and Henry Schwarz, 1940 US census, Census Place: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California; Roll: m-t0627-00403; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 60-828, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  2. Henry Schwarz, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for California, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 1619,
    Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  3. Rita H Rapp, Estimated birth year: abt 1909, Age: 47, Marriage Date: 14 Apr 1956
    Marriage Place: Los Angeles, California, USA, Spouse: Max D Altura, Spouse Age: 55
    Ancestry.com. California, Marriage Index, 1949-1959 
  4. Arthur Rapp, Age: 66, Birth Date: abt 1885, Death Date: 10 Jan 1951
    Death Place: Queens, New York, New York, USA, Certificate Number: 481
    Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Death Index, 1949-1965 
  5.  Alice Rapp, Social Security Number: 105-36-2290, Birth Date: 24 Feb 1895
    Issue Year: 1962, Issue State: New York, Last Residence: 10028, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: May 1977, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  6.  Rita H. Altura, Social Security Number: 555-16-5231, Birth Date: 21 Sep 1908
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: California, Last Residence: 91335, Reseda, Los Angeles, California, USA, Death Date: 10 Jun 2003, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. Obituary can be seen at https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/latimes/obituary.aspx?n=rita-altura&pid=1083894 
  7. I could not find Harold Rapp in the SSDI or any obituary, just this listing on FindAGrave. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/159069023 However, I found numerous articles about his work at Bulova, and this wedding announcement for his son that mentions his career at Bulova. https://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/15/fashion/weddings/shelley-grubb-and-kenneth-rapp.html?searchResultPosition=2 
  8. Gordon Rapp, The New York Times, December 26, 2017, found at https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/nytimes/obituary.aspx?n=gordon-d-rapp&pid=187633991 

Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp, Part II: Leaving Germany with Alice Rapp Stern

As we saw, Jacob Meier Goldschmidt’s youngest child Helmina was widowed as a young woman and raised her three children alone from an early age. By the 1920s all three of those children were married and had children of their own.

When the Nazis came to power, Helmina and her family were among the fortunate ones who left Germany before it was too late. Today’s post will look at Helmina and her youngest child Alice and their escape from Germany.

By 1939, Helmina, her daughter Alice and son-in-law Saly and their daughter Grete were living in Harrow, Middlesex, England. Saly reported on the 1939 England and Wales Register that he was a refugee and thus not allowed to do business. Grete was a secretary for a leather goods manufacturer. All four family members were living in one household along with a housemaid.

The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/799H
Enumeration District: BIHB, Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register

Alice and Saly Stern’s son Walter Stern had instead immigrated to the United States. According to his declaration of intention to become a US citizen, he arrived from Germany to New York on May 16, 1938, and was working as a shipping clerk when he filed his declaration on August 2, 1938.  He was living on Wadsworth Avenue in New York City in the Washington Heights neighborhood where so many German Jewish refugees settled in the 1930s and 1940s. (In yet another small world coincidence, my husband lived on Wadsworth Avenue in his early childhood, although his parents were not German Jewish refugees.)

The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21
Description: (Roll 539) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 417601-418600)
Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Although I cannot find any record showing that Alice and Saly’s daughter Elizabeth was with them in England, I believe she must have been living there because on March 27, 1940, Alice, Saly, and Elizabeth all joined Walter in the United States. Strangely, this ship manifest shows all three sailing to New York, but Saly is listed separately and with a different English address.

Ancestry.com. UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960

On their US ship manifest, Alice and her daughter Elizabeth are again listed together, but Saly is listed on a different page. They all, however, were on the same ship arriving at the same time. And Alice’s declaration of intention shows that she and Saly arrived together and were residing together in New York on Ft. Washington Avenue, in the Washington Heights neighborhood where Walter had been residing in 1938.

Alice Stern, declaration of intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21,  (Roll 590) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 463201-464100), Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

But the ship manifests for Alice, Elizabeth, and Saly report that by the time of their arrival in the spring of 1940, Walter was living in Washington DC.

However, when Walter registered for the World War II draft in October 1940, he was back living in New York. His registration card has three New York City addresses, all crossed out, but lists his father Saly as his contact person, residing on Ft. Washington Avenue.

Walter Stern, World War II draft registration, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

Saly Stern’s draft registration, filed on April 26, 1942, two years after that of Walter, shows that he was then self-employed as a salesman and living at 612 West 188th Street in New York with his wife Alice.

Saly Stern, World War II draft registration, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147
Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942

The following year their younger daughter Elizabeth Stern married Gerhard Hirsch, another German Jewish refugee, on March 28, 1943, in New York. Gerhard was born on September 24, 1908, in Berlin, and immigrated to the US in 1938.1

Meanwhile, Saly and Alice’s older daughter Grete Stern remained in England, as Alice reported on her naturalization papers, as did Alice’s mother Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp. Helmina died in England in July 1941, not long after her children in England had all left for the US.  She was 77 years old.2

Saly Stern died in New York on December 7, 1946.3 He was 69 years old. He had lived long enough to see most of his family settle safely in the US, except for his daughter Grete, who’d remained in England. Unfortunately he did not live to see Grete’s wedding. In 1948, Grete Stern married Kurt Lissauer, who was also a German Jewish refugee. He was born in Luebeck, Germany, on January 10, 1909. They were married in England.4

Elizabeth Stern’s marriage to Gerhard Hirsch did not last very long. She remarried in 1973 when she was 54; her second husband was Paul Dannheisser, a widower who was also a refugee from Germany.

Alice Rapp Stern outlived her husband by almost thirty years. She died in New York on January 28, 1974, at the age of 83.5 She was survived by her three children, Grete, Walter, and Elizabeth, all of whom died within a year of each other. Grete and Walter both died in October 1996; Grete was 85,6 Walter was almost 79.7 Their younger sister Elizabeth died just four months later on February 13, 1997.8 She had just turned 78. None of the three siblings had children, so there are no descendants.

The next post will tell the story of Alice Rapp Stern’s brother and Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp’s son, Arthur David Leopold Rapp, and his family.

 


  1.  Elizabeth Stern, Marriage License Date: 24 Mar 1943
    Marriage License Place: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA
    Spouse: Gerhard Hirsch, License Number: 5751, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 3, Source Information
    Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018. Also, Elizabeth’s declaration of intention, “New York, Southern District, U.S District Court Naturalization Records, 1824-1946,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99HD-2S59?cc=2060123&wc=M5P7-PTY%3A351618501 : 14 August 2019), Petitions for naturalization and petition evidence 1945 box 1026, no 515801-516050 > image 728 of 983; citing NARA microfilm publication M1972, Southern District of New York Petitions for Naturalization, 1897-1944. Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685 – 2009, RG 21. National Archives at New York. 
  2.  Helmina Rapp, Death Age: 78, Birth Date: abt 1863, Registration Date: Jul 1941
    Registration Quarter: Jul-Aug-Sep, Registration district: Hendon, Inferred County: Middlesex, Volume: 3a, Page: 656, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 3a; Page: 656, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  3.  Saly Stern, Marital status: Married, Age: 69, Birth Date: 26 Nov 1877, Birth Place: Germany, Residence Street Address: 612 W 188 St, Residence Place: New York
    Death Date: 7 Dec 1946, Death Street Address: 612 W 188th St, Death Place: New York City, Manhattan, New York, USA, Occupation: Clerk Stock’s, Father’s Birth Place: Germany, Mother’s Birth Place: Germany, Father: Marcus Stern, Mother: Francisca Stern, Spouse: Alice, Informant: Alice Stern, Informant Relationship: Wife
    Executor: Alice Stern, Executor Relationship: Wife, Certificate Number: 25862
    New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Death Certificates; Borough: Manhattan; Year: 1946, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Index to Death Certificates, 1862-1948 
  4. Greta Stern, Registration Date: Apr 1948, Registration Quarter: Apr-May-Jun
    Registration district: Hendon, Inferred County: Middlesex, Spouse: Kurt Lissauer
    Volume Number: 5e, Page Number: 1260, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5e; Page: 1260, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005. Kurt Lissauer, Enemy Alien Registration, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/56, Piece Number Description: 056: Internees at Liberty in UK 1939-1942: Lir-Lov, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  5.  Alice Stern, Social Security Number: 051-18-8391, Birth Date: 4 Oct 1890
    Issue Year: Before 1951, Issue State: New York,Last Residence: 10040, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Jan 1974, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  6.  Grete Lissauer, Death Age: 85, Birth Date: 16 Sep 1911, Registration Date: Oct 1996, Registration district: Hendon, Inferred County: Greater London, Register Number: A41C, District and Subdistrict: 2351A, Entry Number: 108, General Register Office; United Kingdom, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  7. Walter Stern, Gender: Male, Birth Date: 1918, Death Date: 9 Oct 1996
    Claim Date: 2 Dec 1970, SSN: 056162574, Death Certificate Number: 350302
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  8. Elizabeth Ruth Stern, [Elizabeth Ruthhenrietta Hirsch], [Elizabeth Dannheisser]
    Gender: Female, Race: White, Birth Date: 21 Jan 1919, Birth Place: Frankfurt A, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 13 Feb 1997, Father: Sally Stern
    Mother: Alice Rapp, SSN: 127144714, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp, Part I: Another Young Widow

For the past month I’ve been writing updates  to earlier posts, mostly about my Goldschmidt relatives but also a few from my Seligmann relatives. I am finally ready to return to the Goldschmidts with new research, starting with the youngest of the five children of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt and Jettchen Cahn, Helmina Goldschmidt.

Helmina was born on October 23, 1863, in Frankfurt, Germany.

Helmina Goldschmidt birth record. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8824, Description Year Range: 1863, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

She married Leopold Rapp on November 2, 1883, in Niederrad-und-Oberrad, Germany. Leopold was the son of David Rapp and Rebecka Kulp and was born in Frankfurt on July 18, 1854.

Helmina Goldschmidt and Leopold Rapp, marriage record. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Signatur: 9427,  1883, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Helmina and Leopold had three children.  David Leopold Rapp (later known as Arthur Rapp) was born on November 15, 1884, in Frankfurt.

Arthur David Leopold Rapp birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_8997, Year Range: 1884, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Helene Rapp was born on August 25, 1887, in Frankfurt.

Helene Rapp birth record. Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_9032, Description, Year Range: 1887, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

And Alice Rapp was born in Frankfurt on October 4, 1890.

Alice Rapp birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 903_9076, Description, Year Range: 1890, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Unfortunately, Leopold Rapp died just three years after the birth of their last child. He died on October 13, 1893, in Frankfurt, leaving Helmina a widow with three very young children. Arthur was turning nine, Helene was seven, and Alice was three.

Leopold Rapp death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10465
Description, Year Range: 1893, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Helene Rapp married when she was only nineteen. On February 8, 1907, she married Sally Lehmann in Frankfurt. Sally was the son of Isaak Lehman and Bertha Neu and was born in Kannstadt on September 2, 1877.

Marriage record of Helene Rapp and Sally Lehmann, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Year Range: 1907, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

They had three children. Ludwig Lehmann was born February 9, 1908, in Frankfurt.1 His sister Felise was born four years later in 1912, but died as a child on May 5, 1918, in Frankfurt. A third child, Else Berta was born January 8, 1922.2

Felise Lehmann death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 903; Signatur: 10805, Year Range: 1918, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

Helene’s older brother David Leopold also married in 1907. He married Herta Landsberg on December 19, 1907, in Frankfurt. Herta was the daughter of Sally Landsberg and Martha Lorch and was born in Frankfurt on June 14, 1887.

Marriage of David Leopold Rapp to Herta Landsberg, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Year Range: 1907, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Arthur and Herta had one child, Henriette “Rita” Rapp, born on September 21, 1908, in Frankfurt.3

Arthur and Herta’s marriage did not last; they were divorced on November 10, 1917, as seen on the notation on their marriage record above, and Arthur later married Alice Johanna Kahn in Frankfurt on May 6, 1921. She was the daughter of Markus Kahn and Emilie Kahn and was born in Frankfurt on February 24, 1895.

Marriage of David Leopold Rapp to Alice Kahn, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Year Range: 1921, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

The notation on both David’s birth record and his marriage record to Alice was translated for me by Cathy Meder-Dempsey; it provides that as of March 8, 1924, David Leopold Rapp had received authorization to add the additional first name Arthur to his name. He was thereafter referred to as Arthur and will also be so on the blog.

Arthur and Alice Rapp had two sons. Helmut Leopold Rapp was born on February 11, 1923, in Berlin.4 His brother Gunther Rapp was born in Frankfurt on December 10, 1925.5

Finally, the youngest child of Helmina Goldschmidt and Leopold Rapp, Alice, was married on September 23, 1910, in Frankfurt to Saly Stern, the son of Markus Stern and Franziska Oppenheimer. Saly was born on November 26, 1877, in Frankfurt.

Marriage record of Alice Rapp and Saly Stern, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 903, Year Range: 1910, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Alice and Saly had three children. Grete was born on September 16, 1911 in Frankfurt.6 Walter was born December 3, 1917, in Frankfurt,7 and Elizabeth Ruth Stern was born on January 21, 1919, in Frankfurt.8

Helmina Goldschmidt Rapp had thus managed to raise all three of her children to adulthood, and by the 1920s, all three were married and raising children of their own and living in Frankfurt. Obviously, everything changed in the 1930s with the rise of the Nazis.

 


  1. E.g., Louis Ludwig Lehman, [Yehuda Ludwig Lehman] , Birth Date: 9 Feb 1908
    Age: 58, Naturalization Date: 27 Jun 1966, Residence: New York, New York
    Title and Location of Court: New York Southern District. Ancestry.com. New York, Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989 
  2. Else Berta Spitzer, Birth Date: 8 Jan 1922, Age: 36, Naturalization Date: 5 Jan 1959, Residence: New York, New York, Title and Location of Court: New York Southern District, Ancestry.com. New York, Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989 
  3. Henriette Rapp marriage record, Landesarchiv Berlin; Berlin, Deutschland; Personenstandsregister Heiratsregister; Laufendenummer: 189, Description
    Register Year or Type: 1929 (Erstregister), Ancestry.com. Berlin, Germany, Marriages, 1874-1936 
  4. Helmut Harold Rapp declaration of intention, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21, (Roll 626) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 496501-497400),
    Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943 
  5. Gordon Rapp, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for New Jersey, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 539, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  6.  Grete Stern, Gender: Female, Nationality: German, Birth Date: 16 Sep 1911
    Birth Place: Frankfurt, Germany, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/89, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945 
  7. Walter Stern, World War II draft registration, U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 
  8. Elizabeth Ruth Stern, Birth Date: 21 Jan 1919, Birth Place: Frankfurt A, Federal Republic of Germany, Death Date: 13 Feb 1997, Father: Sally Stern, Mother: Alice Rapp, SSN: 127144714, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

Gaps in the Story: How Did Amalie and Charles Bloch Escape from Nazi Germany?

Back in May, I wrote about Amalie Meyer Bloch, the granddaughter of Jacob Meier Goldschmidt and Jettchen Cahn, daughter of Regina Goldschmidt and Aaron Meyer. One question that lingered was how Amalie and her daughter Ilse ended up separated from Amalie’s husband Charles Bloch.

I knew from one of the Arolsen Archives document available through Ancestry that Charles had gone to Paris, and I knew that he eventually rejoined Amalie and Ilse in the US in 1946, reporting that his last address had been in Toulouse, France. But what I didn’t know was when Charles had gone to Paris and where he was in France during the war after Germany’s invasion of France in 1940.

Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1; Series: 2.1.1.1, Reference Code: 02010101 oS, Ancestry.com. Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947

Barb276, one of my readers, suggested that I contact the ITS (International Tracing Service) and file a request for more information about Charles since not all of their documents are available through the Arolsen Archives. I did as she suggested back in May and was told that it would take ten months to complete the investigation and report back. I prepared myself for a long wait.

You can imagine my surprise when just a week or so ago I received a report back from ITS with more documents about Charles. Those documents don’t really answer my questions, unfortunately, but they did reveal one more piece of the puzzle.

Charles was one of the thousands of Jewish men who were rounded up during and after Kristallnacht in November 1938 and sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp. He was released in December 1938.

My working hypothesis is that upon his release, he left Germany for France. One of the ITS documents, a property inventory prepared after the war in 1950, described Charles as a “französischer Jude,” a French Jew. I wasn’t sure what to make of that since Charles was also documented as German-born—born in Frankfurt in 1881. That same document also states that Amalie is “gilt als staatenlos,” considered stateless. So maybe the reference to Charles as a French Jew meant that he had become a citizen of France after immigrating there.

It would make sense that Charles would leave Germany in early 1939 after his experience at Buchenwald. As seen in my earlier post, his daughter Ilse had gone to England by 1939. But it seems that Amalie was not in England or France at that point. On her November 27, 1941, declaration of intention to become a US citizen, Amalie reported that Charles was at that time residing in France, Ilse was residing in New York, and that Amalie herself had last resided in Lisbon, Portugal.

Amalie Meyer Bloch, declaration of intent, The National Archives at Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NAI Title: Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1/19/1842 – 10/29/1959; NAI Number: 4713410; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: 21
Description: (Roll 641) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 510101-511000)
Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

My hunch is that Amalie stayed behind in Germany longer than her husband and daughter and then somehow escaped to Portugal after the war started. But I could be wrong. My other hunch is that Charles escaped from Paris after the Nazis invaded and somehow survived the war in southern Vichy-controlled France, finally arriving in the US a year after the war. Although I don’t know more about Charles’ time there, I did find a Jewish Telegraphic Agency news release dated April 29, 1941, reporting that Jewish refugees had been expelled from Toulouse. I’ve no idea, however, how that impacted Charles Bloch.

Unfortunately, the ITS documents do not reveal anything about Charles’ time in France during or after the war. Nor do I have any more information about how Amalie ended up in Portugal or when. And since they have no living descendants, I fear I can only rely on my hunches and speculation to fill in these gaps.

 

Four Years of Learning German

Just about four years ago in the summer of 2016, I decided to learn German. It’s been an interesting and mostly enjoyable challenge. First, I used the app Duolingo for almost a year. I learned a fair amount of German vocabulary. I was disciplined and practiced every day. It was fun.

But then I tried to read some simple texts written in German, and I realized Duolingo was fine for vocabulary building, but it wasn’t enough if I really want to read, write, and speak German.  We were going to Germany in the spring of 2017 and I wanted to be able to speak to the people in their own language, so I bought a few German textbooks to learn how to conjugate verbs and some other basic grammar.

But that also wasn’t enough. That became glaringly obvious when I tried to speak German on our trip. I couldn’t string together a grammatically correct sentence, and often I would get blank stares when I tried to ask a simple question in a German store or restaurant. And if someone answered me in German? I had no idea what they were saying. So in the fall of 2017, I signed up for a German class offered by a local adult education program.

That course was good for grammar. Lots of grammar. Lots and lots of grammar. Rules, rules, rules. But no conversation and no opportunities to read texts or ask questions. So I formed a German conversation group with people from the class. That’s been lots of fun, but I remain the worst German speaker in the group. My reading has improved, my writing is coming along (with help from Google Translate), but it still is very hard for me to speak or understand spoken German. Mark Twain was right. Learning German is not for the faint of heart.

Mark Twain By Mathew Brady [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Why am I writing about this now, you may wonder?

Well, I’ve had reason recently to reminisce about why I started learning German. Why did I want to learn German? Of course, it was related to genealogy. My paternal roots in Germany are deep and wide. Knowing German would therefore be helpful. But to be honest, most of what I need to know for genealogy purposes can be reduced to some very basic terms: geboren (born), heiratet (married), gestorben (died). Really, you don’t need to know much more than that to read German vital records for basic information. And even knowing those terms won’t help much unless you can also read German script. Which I can’t.

No, it wasn’t a desire to read German vital records or even longer letters or texts that motivated me to learn German. It was rather a particular book that I very much wanted to read: Die Alte und Die Neu Welt, written by my cousin Mathilde Gross Mayer in 1951, as I discussed here.

Mathilde was born in Bingen, Germany, in April 1869. Mathilde’s grandmother Martha Seligmann and my three-time great-grandfather Moritz Seligmann were sister and brother, so we were second cousins, three times removed, both being direct descendants of Jacob Seligmann and Martha Mayer. Mathilde left Germany in 1937 to escape from Nazi persecution when she was almost 68 years old and a grandmother; she lived over thirty years in the United States after leaving Germany, dying in September, 1969, when she was a hundred years old.  I was fascinated by her life and wanted to read her book. So I started learning German.

But despite studying for four years and having a fairly decent basic German vocabulary, every time I picked up Mathilde’s book, I got frustrated. I still had to look up so many words that I could not just read this book. It was exhausting and too time consuming. Using Google Translate to translate one letter is one thing, but a whole book? So I gave up.

And then? Then my cousin Elizabeth found me this spring. Elizabeth is Mathilde Mayer’s great-granddaughter. She found my blog and contacted me. We exchanged a number of emails, finding many common interests and places in our lives as well as our shared family roots. And in the course of those emails Elizabeth shared with me that she had an ENGLISH version of Mathilde’s book in pdf format. And that she would send it to me. Which she did.

So one day a couple of weeks ago I sat at my computer and read Mathilde’s book in English. And I am so glad that I did rather than ruining it by trying to read it in German. It is just a wonderfully touching book—full of colorful portraits of many of my Seligmann cousins and warm and loving anecdotes about Mathilde’s life growing up in Bingen and then raising a family in Bingen. She shares the tragedies and challenges her family suffered as well as many of their joys and successes. I never would have been able to get the feel for her personality if I’d suffered through reading her book in German.

Sure, if I were fluent in German, that would have been even better—to read it as she wrote it. But to butcher it by reading it all chopped up would have been a terrible mistake. Elizabeth has asked me not to share the book on the blog, and so, of course, I am respecting her wishes. But I am so grateful that she shared the English version with me. Mathilde’s story will now always be with me.

So do I regret four years of struggling to learn German? Not one bit! I will continue studying it as best I can, and maybe someday I will actually be able to read Mathilde’s story in her native tongue.

 

 

How The Nazis Destroyed My Cousin Moritz Oppenheimer

Last time I shared the documents my cousin Wolfgang Seligmann found at the Wiesbaden archives about our mutual cousin Martha Oppenheimer Florsheimer. Today I want to share the documents Wolfgang found about Martha’s brother Moritz James Oppenheimer. Martha and Moritz were my great-grandmother Eva Seligman Cohen’s first cousins; they were the children of Pauline Seligmann, the sister of my great-great-grandfather Bernard Seligman.

As I’ve previously written, Moritz Oppenheimer was born on June 10, 1879, in Butzbach, Germany. Sometime before 1902, Moritz married Emma Katherina Neuhoff, who was not Jewish. Moritz and Emma had two children: Paula (1902) and Walter (1904). Moritz owned a paper factory in Frankfurt before the war as well as a large and very successful horse stud farm where thoroughbred horses were raised and sold. As his granddaughter Angelika reported to me, Moritz was a member of the board of directors of several companies throughout Germany. He was a very successful and wealthy man.

Emma Neuhoff and Moritz James Oppenheimer
photo courtesy of Angelika Oppenheimer

Moritz was arrested in the autumn of 1933. His marriage to Emma was dissolved because mixed marriages were not legal under the Nazi regime. Then his assets including his horse farm were confiscated and put into the hands of an administrator, who sold them at far below their market value. According to his son Walter, Moritz had been in good health up to this time, but these actions caused him to become quite ill. After being visited by Gestapo, he reportedly took his own life on May 4, 1941.

Wolfgang found three documents that illustrate just how desperate Moritz’s situation was. I am deeply grateful to Cathy Meder-Dempsey of the blog, Opening Doors in Brick Walls, who translated all three of these documents.

The first is a letter written by Moritz in early 1941 regarding his taxes for the year 1940.

Letter by Moritz James Oppenheimer 1941

Transcribing and translating this letter presented some real challenges because, as you can see, the first several letters of the first word on the left side of the letter were not visible, but somehow Cathy was able to make sense of it all.

Here is her transcription and her translation of the letter:

[…] 10.6.1879 in Butzbach (Hessen)

[…]kenkarte H 0240/39

An das Finanzamt Wiesbaden

Im Jahre 1933 wurde über mein Vermögen das Konkurs

[verfahren] eröffnet (Frankfurt a. Main)

[Ich] besitze weder irgend welches Vermögen noch Wertgegen-

[stande], noch Möbel, Wäsche, etc.

Im Jahre 1934 wurde ich in Folge schwerer Erkrankung,

[…Er]weiterung und Verlagerung, Wasserbildung, Angina pektoris

[…auf]störungen, Kopfbeschwerden etc. nach Bad-Nanheim

[…] Dort war ich bis vergangenes Jahr in ärztlicher

behandlung und Aufsicht.

[…] schwerer Gelenkrheumatismus hinzutrat, kam ich

[ein art]ztliche Verordnung nach Wiesbaden zur Kur.

[Einko]mmen aus irgend welchen Möglichkeiten habe ich

[nicht]. Ich wohne möbliert.

[…]welche Neuanschaffungen habe nicht seit 1933 in Folge

meiner Mittellosigkeit nicht gemacht.

[Meine]Lebensunterhalt sowie Arzt, Apotheke, Zimmer und Kur

hatte ich aus Unterstützungen von ?200 Mk (monatlich)

[nur] von Verwandten gegeben werden.

[Diese] Zuwendungen stammen aus bereits versteuerten

[…]gen, Einkünfte meiner Verwandten.

Nach wie vor bin ich schwer erkrankt

[Meine] Ehe was Mischehe, Frau Arierin. Meine Kinder sind

[…]ft, konfirmiert und gelten nicht als Juden.

[…] ich eine andere Steuerklärung abgeben müssen,

[…] um Zusendung eines Formulares.

Moritz Israel Oppenheimer

Weisbaden

Pagenstecherstrasse 4 (?? Marx)

Zur Abgabe einer (Einkommen) Eink. Erklarung

fur 1940 aufgefordert.

Translation:

To the tax office in Wiesbaden

In 1933, bankruptcy was declared on my assets (Frankfurt a. Main). I have neither assets nor other things of value, furniture, laundry, etc. In 1934, as a result of serious illness, (enlargement and relocation – ??), water retention, angina pectoris, (other) disorders, headache etc. I was sent to Bad-Nanheim. Until last year I was there under medical treatment and supervision. As severe rheumatoid arthritis set in, I received medical orders to take a cure in Wiesbaden. I don’t have any income possibilities and live in a furnished place. No new acquisitions have been made since 1933 as I am penniless. My livelihood as well as doctor, pharmacy, room and spa expenses have been supported with [?] 200 Mk (monthly) from my relatives. This support came from already taxed income of my relatives. I am still seriously ill.

My marriage was a mixed marriage, my wife was Aryan. My children are ____, confirmed and are not considered Jews. [I assume that the word that we cannot see was Mischling.]

I have to file another tax return, and request a form be sent.

Signature and address

Notation in pencil: He was asked to submit a declaration of income for the year 1940.

Cathy thought he was writing to get the correct tax form for someone in his financial position.

Although I had read his son Walter’s description of Moritz’s financial and medical condition, reading this letter written by Moritz himself was just heartbreaking. Here was a man who had found incredible success in business brought down to being very sick and penniless.

The second document I received from Wolfgang was a letter written by Walter Oppenheimer, Moritz’s son.

Letter by Walter Oppenheimer 1941

Cathy translated the typed section, written by Walter, as follows:

In an immediate polite reply to your letter of the 15th of this month that I received only today, I inform you that my father died on May 4th, 1941. Who the legal heirs are now I am not able to tell you as the two children, my sister and I, refused the inheritance in a publicly certified declaration before the local court.

Heil Hitler!

Walter Georg Oppenheimer

I was very disturbed to see that Walter had used “Heil Hitler” in this letter, but Cathy explained that that was to be expected in a letter to officials during Hitler’s reign. Nevertheless, it made the hair on my arms stand to see a relative of mine use that expression.

I wondered why Walter and his sister Paula would have refused the inheritance, and Cathy suggested that it was a means of avoiding taking on their father’s debts since there were apparently no assets to inherit.

The handwritten notes on the bottom of the letter appear to have been made by some official commenting on the status of Moritz’s inheritance, as transcribed and translated by Cathy:

Anfrage beim Amtsgericht Frankfurt am Main

wer Nachlassverwalter ist, und

wer die gesetzlichen Erben sind,

nachdem die Kinder ausgeschlagen

haben.

Translation:

Inquiry to the district court Frankfurt am Main

who is administrator, and who are the legal heirs, after the children refused inheritance.

 

An das Amtsgericht ffm (Frankfurt am Main)

Der fruher dort wohnhaft gewesene Moritz Israel Oppenheimer

geb. am 10.6.1879 ist hier am 4.5.41 verstorben.

Der Sohn des selbend Dr. Walter Georg Oppenheimer ffm. Schumannstr. 47 wohnhaft, hat mitgeteilt daß seine Schwester und er ? haben.

Ich bitte nur ____ von 2 zu 4 Wochen.

Translation

To the district court Frankfurt am Main

Moritz Israel Oppenheimer, who previously lived there, born on June 10, 1879 died here on May 4, 1941. The son of the same, Dr. Walter Georg Oppenheimer, a resident of Frankfurt am Main, Schumannstrasse 47, announced that his sister and he (symbols? probably mean disclaimed inheritance). I only ask ____ from 2 to 4 weeks.

Finally, the third document Wolfgang found in the Wiesbaden archives about Moritz is this handwritten page of notes about Moritz’s “income” for the first few months of 1941 before his death:

Oppenheimer ist am 4.5.41 gestorben.

Eink. 41 wurde geschätzt und wie folgt errechnet: freiwillige zuwandungen seines Sohnes 1940 = 4060 Rm : 12 = 338

von 1.1 – 30.4.41 je 338 Rm = 1352 Rm

                                       4x

./. Sondereingaben 4 x 15   =       60                                                1292

                                                   -60         1432 Rm

angaben des Nachlasspflegers Spring:  Bl. 22

__                                    

Translation

Oppenheimer died on 4.5.41. Income for 1941 was estimated and calculated as follows: voluntary contributions of his son 1940 = 4060 Rm : 12 = 338 per monthfrom 1.1 – 30.4.41 338 Rm = 1352 Rm

                                    4x

./. Special income 4 x 15           – 60

                                                 1292

                                                    -60      1432 Rm 

information from the estate administrator Spring: Bl. 22

I’m not really sure what to make of all the numbers or the value in today’s money. I also have no idea what were the practical consequences of these calculations. Did Moritz (or his estate) owe taxes based on the money he was getting from his son?

What I think I can safely infer from these last two documents is that even after seizing all of the assets of Moritz Oppenheimer and driving him into bankruptcy, poor health, and ultimately suicide, the German government was still looking for some way to collect more money from his family.

Thank you again to Cathy Meder-Dempsey for her hard work in transcribing and translating these difficult to read documents. They add insights into the awful suffering of my cousin Moritz Oppenheimer.

Moritz Oppenheimer

UPDATE: A few readers asked me what I know about Emma Neuhoff-Oppenheimer’s life after Moritz died in 1941. I asked Angelika, Emma’s granddaughter, and she sent me this article:

Emma Neuhoff article-page-001

Most of it is about her life as a horseback rider, but the last part of the article addresses her life during and after the Nazi era. I will translate just that section:

“Ms. Emma never lost her dignity and discipline. Even in the bitter years of the ghost, when the beloved man fell victim to the Nazi regime, when her life became dark, often lonely. A courage deeply rooted in her and the quiet cheerfulness accompanied her to the age that she now enjoys with good reading with the two children and children-in-law, the two grandchildren, and many loyal friends.”

Emma Neuhoff-Oppenheimer died on February 2, 1968, at the age of 86, three years after this article was written. Angelika also told me that her grandmother owned a shop in Frankfurt and played the piano.