The last two children of Mina Katzenstein and Wolf Katzenstein were Rebekka and Regina, and because their fates are intertwined in several ways, I will discuss both in this post.
Rebekka was born on August 28, 1865, in Frankenau. Regina was born two years later on September 24, 1867.
Rebekka married her cousin Salomon Schalom Kneibel Katz (apparently known as Kneibel) on April 30, 1889, as discussed previously.
Two and a half years later, on November 25, 1891, Regina Katzenstein married Selig(mann) Alexander in Frankenau. He was born on September 20, 1861, in Momberg, the son of Joseph Alexander and Fradchen Frank.
Rebekka and Salomon Kneibel Katz had four children, three sons and one daughter. Their first child was Berthold; he was born on May 15, 1890, in Jesberg.
Then came Rebekka and Salomon’s only daughter, Therese. She was born November 11, 1891, in Jesberg.
Two sons followed Therese. Julius was born May 30, 1893, in Jesberg.
And Jakob Katz was born April 14, 1895, in Jesberg.
Meanwhile, Regina and her husband Selig Alexander were also having children in the 1890s. Regina gave birth to seven children, but only four survived infancy. The first child, a girl, was stillborn on January 9, 1893.
Less than a year later, Regina gave birth to Bertha on December 28, 1893, in Momberg.
Regina and Selig’s third child was Rosa. She was born in Momberg on January 18, 1896.
Almost two years after Rosa’s birth, on December 22, 1897, Regina gave birth to her fourth child, Mina, named for Regina’s mother Mina Katzenstein, who had died on September 5, 1896.
After giving birth to Mina, Regina and Selig lost two sons in infancy. Little Joseph Alexander lived only thirteen days, dying on January 24, 1902. His brother Manus lived for two months, dying on March 23, 1903.
The seventh and last child I have for Regina Katzenstein and Selig Alexander was a son named Samuel, born January 1, 1906, according to a source provided by Barbara Greve, Barbara Haendler-Lachmann’s Schicksale der Juden im alten Landkreis Marburg 1933-1945, Hitzeroth, Marburg 1992, p. 125. Without Barbara Greve’s help, I never would have known about this seventh child as there was no available birth record for him online.
Thus, of the seven children born to Regina and Selig Alexander, only Bertha, Rosa, Mina, and Samuel lived to adulthood.
In many ways the two Katzenstein sisters were following similar paths at the same time, Rebekka in Jesberg, Regina in Momberg, fifteen miles apart. Their lives became even more intertwined on August 21, 1923, when Rebekka’s son Jakob married Regina’s daughter Rosa.
That is, Rosa Alexander married her first cousin, Jakob Katz. They had three daughters who were not only sisters but also second cousins to each other. Rebekka and Regina shared granddaughters who were also their great-nieces. Remember also that Rebekka and her husband Salomon Kneibel were also cousins to each other, so Salomon Kneibel was not only his children’s father but also their cousin and the same for Rebekka.
As for Rebekka and Regina’s other children, they made my life easier by marrying outside of the family.
The first to marry was Rebekka’s daughter Therese. On June 16, 1919, she married Hermann Blum, who was born in Kuelsheim on July 7, 1883, son of Abraham and Sophie Blum. I have not been able to identify any children born to Therese and Hermann.
Rebekka’s oldest son Berthold married Ida Blumenstiel on January 20, 1920. Ida was the daughter of Hugo Blumenstiel and Bertha Weinberg of Mansbach, Germany. She was born July 9, 1893.
Berthold and Ida would have two children born in the 1920s, Senta (1921) and Ludwig (1924).
I have not found any marriage record for Rebekka’s son Julius, and, as discussed above, her son Jakob married his cousin Rosa on August 21, 1923, and they had three daughters.
As for Regina’s children, Bertha Alexander married Julius Simon on June 26, 1922, in Momberg. He was the son of Moses Simon and Fanni Katz and was born in Pohl-Goens on May 29, 1891.
I have not been able to locate any record of children born to Bertha and Julius, nor do I have any records for them after their marriage, but I am still looking. Thank you to Aaron Knappstein for finding this photograph of Julius Simon on the Vor dem Holocaust – Fotos zum jüdischen Alltagsleben in Hessen website. According to the website, this was taken in 1916 when Julius was a soldier in the Germany army during World War I.
I am still hoping to locate some records that will reveal what happened to Julius Simon and Bertha Alexander.
Bertha’s younger sister Rosa Alexander married Jakob Katz, as discussed above. The third sister Mina Alexander married Leo Wachenheimer in Momberg on December 25, 1927. Leo was the son of Meier Wachenheimer and Klara Rothschild; he was born on March 23, 1897, in Biebesheim, Germany. Mina and Leo would have two children.
According to Barbara Greve, Regina and Seligmann’s only surviving son, Samuel, married Lottie Weiler in July 1933; Lottie was born in Marburg on January 10, 1913, according to the JOWBR. I do not have names for her parents. Samuel and Lottie had one son, Hans-Joseph Alexander, according to Barbara Greve.
Rebekka Katzenstein Katz died in Jesberg on March 2, 1927; she was only 61 years old. Her husband Salomon Scholum Kneibel Katz died two years later on May 2, 1929. He was 69.
Here is the photograph I took in the Jesberg cemetery of Rebekka’s grave long before I knew the whole story of their family; sadly, I do not have a photograph of her husband’s gravestone:
The rest of the families of Rebekka and Regina Katzenstein survived into the Nazi era, and it appears that every single one of them left Germany in time—all of Rebekka and Salomon Kneibel’s children and spouses and grandchildren as well as Regina Katzenstein and Selig Alexander and at least three of their four children and spouses and grandchildren. The only couple I’ve been unable to find in any later record or index are Regina’s daughter Bertha and her husband Julius Simon.
Almost all the rest of the families of Rebekka Katzenstein and her sister Regina Katzenstein ended up in Johannesburg, South Africa. Unfortunately, I don’t have any actual records or documents that reveal when the family arrived there or any other information aside from their deaths and burials.
But I was fortunate to connect with John Leach, a relative by marriage of Leo Wachenheimer, husband of Mina Alexander. From John I learned that Leo had been a cattle dealer in Germany and had also worked in his father’s kosher butcher business. Leo was arrested by the Nazis in 1935 for doing business with a non-Jew; when he was released, he escaped from Germany to South Africa, where he opened a kosher butcher shop. Soon many family members followed him, including his wife Mina and their children, his in-laws Regina and Selig Alexander, his sister-in-law Rosa Alexander Katz and her husband Jakob Katz and their three children, and Jakob Katz’s sister Therese Katz and her husband Hermann Blum and Jakob’s brother Julius Katz. They all appear to have spent the rest of their lives in Johannesburg.
The only descendants of Rebekka or Regina who did not go to South Africa were Rebekka’s son Berthold and his wife Ida and their children, Senta and Ludwig. Instead, they went to the United States. Their daughter Senta arrived first on October 8, 1938, and Berthold, Ida, Ludwig, and Ida’s mother Bertha Blumenstiel arrived on November 25, 1938; they were all going to a cousin, Leo Katzmann in the Bronx:
By 1940, they had settled in Philadelphia where Berthold was working as a salesman for a paper bag company and Senta was working as a packer for a children’s dress company. Bertha’s mother-in-law Bertha Blumenstiel was also living with them.
That same year Senta married Julius Idstein, who was also a refugee from Germany. (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index, 1885-1951) Julius was born on August 6, 1906, in Bad Homburg, and came to the United States on October 20, 1938. On his World War II draft registration, he reported that he was a partner in business with Berthold Katz, his father-in-law. On Berthold’s registration, he reported that he owned a paper products business. So between his arrival in 1938 and 1942, Berthold had become a business owner in partnership with his son-in-law Julius.
Sadly, Berthold’s wife Ida died at age 48 of liver cancer on December 29, 1941.
Their son Ludwig was in college at Temple College (now Temple University) in Philadelphia in 1942:
In 1943, Berthold remarried; his second wife was Betty Nussbaum, and she also was a German native, born in Mansbach on February 4, 1893. She had come to the US in 1925 on her own; her parents stayed behind where her mother died in 1939 and her father died in the Theriesenstadt concentration camp in 1942. (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index, 1885-1951)
Berthold died from stomach cancer on March 5, 1959; he was 68 years old; his second wife Betty died in 1977:
Meanwhile, Berthold’s siblings and first cousins and aunt and uncle were all living in South Africa. His aunt Regina Katzenstein Alexander died on October 14, 1942, and her husband Selig Alexander died on May 5, 1949; they are buried at West Park Cemetery in Johannesburg. (JewishGen Online World Burial Registry (JOWBR)). Charmaine Rosenberg of the Johannesburg Chevra Kadisha kindly sent me the following photograph of Regina’s headstone:
Berthold’s daughter Senta and her husband Julius Idstein had five children. Julius died in 1981, and Senta lived until 2003. She was 82 when she died.
Berthold’s son Ludwig became a nuclear physicist and was a senior scientist for Visidyne, Inc. in Burlington, Massachusetts, when he was killed in a car accident on March 18, 1981. He was 57 years old and was survived by his wife and two children. “Ludwig Katz, Swampscott,” Boston Herald (March 25, 1981), p. 40.
As for the family in South Africa, I have no information other than their dates of death and burial place. All those named below are, like Regina Katzenstein and Selig Alexander, buried at the West Park Cemetery in Johannesburg, and all this information comes from the JOWBR on Jewishgen.org and from Charmaine Rosenberg of the Chevra Kadisha in Johannesburg. I am very grateful to Charmaine for providing me with these photographs of the headstones.
Julius Katz died on November 11, 1958, when he was 65. As far as I know, he never married or had children.
Therese Katz died on September 28, 1964, eight years after her husband Hermann Blum, who died on December 23, 1956. She was 73, he was also 73 when he died. As far as I have been able to determine, they did not have children.
Jakob Katz died on August 24, 1974; he was 79. His wife and first cousin Rosa Alexander Katz outlived him by 23 years. She was almost 101 when she died on June 14, 1997.
Rosa’s sister Mina Alexander Wachenheimer also outlived her husband by many years. Leo Wachenheimer died on January 23, 1969, when he was 72. Mina survived him by over twenty years, dying on December 23, 1989, when she was 92.
Samuel Alexander died on June 21, 1989; he was 83. He had outlived his wife Lotte by seventeen years; she died on January 11, 1972, when she was 59.
Overall, the children of both Rebekka and Regina Katzenstein, daughters of Mina Katzenstein and Wolf Katzenstein, were fortunate to escape from Nazi Germany when they did. Perhaps Leo Wachenheimer’s arrest in 1935 was the key that opened the door to the survival of all of them.