Escaping from Germany, Part I: Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher’s Family

As discussed in an earlier post, by the late 19th century, the city of Frankfurt had the second largest Jewish population in Germany. During the early decades of the 20th century, that community continued to grow and prosper, as described in this source, the February 2005 issue of Hadassah Magazine:

As the 20th century got under way Frankfurt’s Jews were at the peak of their influence. They were bankers, brokers, manufacturers, retailers, lawyers and doctors. They fought in World War I under the Kaiser and Frankfurt became a center of learning in the Weimar Republic. Jewish Frankfurters were active in politics, and in 1925 Ludwig Landmann became the city’s first Jewish mayor.

And this source added to this picture of the thriving Jewish community in Frankfurt during the first three decades of the 20th century:

Before 1933, Frankfurt am Main had the largest percentage of Jewish citizens in Germany, and its Jewish community was the second largest in Germany following Berlin. In finance, education, science, and through numerous associations and foundations, Jewish citizens influenced the city of Frankfurt in a distinct way.

It is quite evident that Frankfurt was a comfortable place for Jews to live and do business in those early decades of the 20th century.

All that changed, of course, in 1933 when Hitler came to power. And certainly by 1935 with the enactment of the Nuremberg Laws, life became miserable for Jews all over Germany. Thus, it is not surprising that Sarah Goldschmidt’s descendants began to leave Germany, some for the United States, some for England, and some for what was then Palestine, today’s Israel.

The next series of posts will tell the story of what happened to the descendants of Sarah Goldschmidt and Abraham Stern during and after the Holocaust. This post will tell the story of Kiele Stern Loewenthal’s oldest child, Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher, and her children, Alice, Julius, and Gerhard, and their children.

Selma’s three children all went to the United States after Hitler’s rise to power, as did her grandchildren. Selma’s youngest child Gerhard Schwabacher had in fact left for the United States before Hitler came to power. According to his naturalization papers, he arrived in the United States on February 9, 1927, and by September 6, 1927, had declared his intention to become a United States citizen.

Gerhard Schwabacher, Petition for US Citizenship, National Archives at Boston; Waltham, Massachusetts; ARC Title: Naturalization Record Books, 12/1893 – 9/1906; NAI Number: 2838938; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21, Petition for naturalization, v 67-69, petition no 17330-17847
Ancestry.com. Connecticut, Federal Naturalization Records, 1790-1996

Gerhard married Alice Ferron, a Connecticut native, on September 4, 1931.1 Alice was born on April 18, 1905 to Charles J. and Alice Ferron.2 Gerhard and Alice were living in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1933 when he filed his petition for citizenship, and Gerhard was working as an electrical engineer for General Electric.3

On September 8, 1934, his mother Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher (who was a widow) arrived in New York to stay with Gerhard in Bridgeport. The manifest listed Berlin as her place of residence  and indicated that she only planned to stay in the US for six months.4  It appears that Selma did not stay in the US;  the research done by my cousins Roger Cibella and David Baron indicates that she died in Berlin on February 20, 1937.

Julius Schwabacher arrived in the US on September 30, 1935. Like his mother, he indicated that Berlin was his place of residence in Germany and that he was going to see his brother Gerhard in Bridgeport. The manifest reports that Julius was a reporter and that he was going to stay only 30 days,5 and it appears he also returned to Germany. But on November 14, 1937, Julius sailed from Havana, Cuba, to Florida, ultimately heading to Bridgeport where his brother lived. This time Julius indicated he intended to stay in the US permanently and that his occupation was a journalist.

And on September 20, 1938, he filed his Declaration of Intention to become a US citizen.

Julius Schwabacher, 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 541) Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1842-1959 (No 419501-420500)
Ancestry.com. New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1943

Julius’ daughter Eva Lore Schwabacher arrived two years later on July 29, 1940, heading to New York where her father, now using the surname Wenton, was living. Eva Lore had been residing in London before immigrating to the US.6  Julius and Eva Lore’s mother Margarete had divorced in 1928, as Julius’s declaration indicates, and tragically, Margarete did not leave Germany and was murdered at Auschwitz.7

Selma’s daughter Alice Schwabacher Weinstein and her husband David and son Wolfgang also left Germany in time. Wolfgang left first; he arrived in the US on December 7, 1935, heading to his uncle Gerhard in Bridgeport.8 He filed his Declaration of Intent the following year and by that time had changed his surname to Wenten.

Wolfgang Weinstein (Wenten), Declaration of Intent, National Archives at Boston; Waltham, Massachusetts; ARC Title: Naturalization Record Books, 12/1893 – 9/1906; NAI Number: 2838938; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21, Petition for naturalization, v 100-103, petition no 25563-26184, Ancestry.com. Connecticut, Federal Naturalization Records, 1790-1996

Wolfgang’s parents Alice and David arrived on March 28, 1939,9 and like their son Wolfgang and Gerhard, settled in Bridgeport. David would also change his surname to Wenten and filed a Declaration of Intent for them to become US citizens in 1940.

David Wenten, Declaration of Intent, National Archives at Boston; Waltham, Massachusetts; ARC Title: Naturalization Record Books, 12/1893 – 9/1906; NAI Number: 2838938; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21
Declaration of intention, no 38436-40677, 1938-1940, Ancestry.com. Connecticut, Federal Naturalization Records, 1790-1996

Thus, in 1940, all of Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher’s children and grandchildren were safely settled in the US. The 1940 US census shows Gerhard living with his wife and two American-born young sons in Bridgeport, working as an electrical engineer.10 His sister Alice and her husband David were also living in Bridgeport where David was in the real estate business. Their son Wolfgang was living with them and working as a shipping clerk for a novelty store.11

I could not locate Julius or his daughter Eva Lore on the 1940 US census, but in 1942 when he registered for the World War II draft, Julius was also living in Bridgeport, working for the Surgical Shears Company.

Julius Wenteo, World War II draft registration, The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II Draft Cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of Connecticut; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147; Series Number: M1962, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942

Unfortunately, the story of the Selma’s children’s transition to the United States ends on a sad note. David Weinstein aka Wenten died on September 25, 1941, at the age of 55.12 One must wonder whether the stress of leaving his homeland and adjusting to life in a new country contributed to his death.

As for the other members of the family, they safely survived the war in the United States. Gerhard Schwabacher remained in Bridgeport for the rest of his life, working as an engineer for General Electric. He died on July 26, 1971, at the age of 69.13 His wife Alice died the following year.14 They were survived by their two sons.

Julius Schwabacher Wenton died a year after his brother on September 29, 1972, in Laguna Hills, California; he was 79.15 He was survived by his second wife, Elsie Simon, whom he had married in Fairfield, Connecticut on March 13, 1943,16 and his daughter Eva Lore. Eva Lore had married twice, first to Jack Stern in 1943, and then, after divorcing Jack Stern in 1946, to Henry Corton, in April, 1951.17 As far as I’ve been able to determine, she did not have children with either man. Eva Lore Corton passed away on March 3, 2003.18

Alice Schwabacher outlived both of her younger brothers. After losing her first husband David Weinstein/Wenten in 1941, she married Arthur Kingsley (originally Koenigsberger) on August 1, 1951.19 She outlived him as well; he died in January 1972.20 Alice lived to the age of 93; she died on her 93rd birthday on December 29, 1984.21 She was survived by her son Wolfgang Wenten, who was in the construction estimating business in Bridgeport. Sadly, Wolfgang did not inherit the same longevity as his mother. He died less than six years after she did on March 20, 1990; he was 76 and was survived by his wife Ruth and their two children.22

Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher still has numerous descendants living in the United States—her great-grandchildren and their children and grandchildren. She and her family were among the fortunate ones who left Germany in time.

 

 


  1.  Connecticut State Department of Health; Hartford, CT; Connecticut Vital Records — Index of Marriages, 1897-1968; Ancestry.com. WEB: Connecticut Marriage Records, 1897-1968 
  2. Charles Farron (sic) and family, 1920 US census, Census Place: Bridgeport Ward 5, Fairfield, Connecticut; Roll: T625_175; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 26, Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census 
  3. “Gerhard P. Schwabacher,” The Bridgeport Post, Bridgeport, Connecticut
    27 Jul 1971, Tue • Page 45 
  4. Selma Schwabacher, ship manifest, Year: 1934; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5554; Line: 1; Page Number: 112, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  5. Julius Schwabacher, ship manifest, Year: 1935; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5713; Line: 1; Page Number: 128, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  6. Eva Lore Schwabacher, ship manifest, Year: 1940; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6485; Line: 15; Page Number: 126, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  7. Entries for Margarete Schwabacher at Yad Vashem https://tinyurl.com/wlm399u 
  8. Wolfgang Weinstein, ship manifest, Year: 1935; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 5739; Line: 18; Page Number: 21, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  9. David and Alice Weinstein, ship manifest, Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6303; Line: 18; Page Number: 104, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 
  10. Family of Gerhard Schwabacher, 1940 US census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Bridgeport, Fairfield, Connecticut; Roll: m-t0627-00531; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 9-69, Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  11. Family of David Wenten, 1940 US census, ear: 1940; Census Place: Bridgeport, Fairfield, Connecticut; Roll: m-t0627-00533; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 9-125,
    Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census 
  12.  State Vital Records Office; Hartford, Connecticut; Connecticut Vital Records — Index of Deaths, 1897-1968, Ancestry.com. WEB: Connecticut Death Records, 1897-1968 
  13. “Gerhard P. Schwabacher,” The Bridgeport Post, Bridgeport, Connecticut
    27 Jul 1971, Tue • Page 45. Social Security Number: 041-09-0962, Birth Date: 27 Jun 1902, Last Residence: 06492, Wallingford, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, Death Date: Jul 1971, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  14. State File #: 02273, Connecticut Department of Health. Connecticut Death Index, 1949-2012 
  15.  Social Security Number: 104-10-6866, Birth Date: 17 May 1893, Last Residence: 92653, Laguna Hills, Orange, California, USA, Death Date: Sep 1972, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File,
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  16.  Connecticut State Department of Health; Hartford, CT; Connecticut Vital Records — Index of Marriages, 1897-1968, Ancestry.com. WEB: Connecticut Marriage Records, 1897-1968 
  17. Marriage of Eva Lore Schwabacher to Jack Stern, Marriage certificates 1943 vol 57A, Ancestry.com. Washington, County Marriages, 1855-2008. Divorce of Eva Lore Schwabacher and Jack Stern, Ancestry.com. Florida, Divorce Index, 1927-2001,
    Original data: Florida Department of Health. Florida Divorce Index, 1927-2001. Jacksonville, FL, USA: Florida Department of Health. Marriage of Eva Lore Schwabacher Stern to Henry Corton, License Number: 9785, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan; Volume Number: 14,
    Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  18. SSN: 045121672, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 
  19.  License Number: 20152, New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: Manhattan, Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018 
  20.  Social Security Number: 112-26-6899, Death Date: Jan 1972, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File,
    Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  21.  Social Security Number: 044-12-5712, Birth Date: 29 Dec 1891,
    Last Residence: 10040, New York, New York, New York, USA, Death Date: Dec 1984
    Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. JewishGen, comp. JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR), 
  22. “Wenten Named to Head County School,” The Bridgeport Post, Bridgeport, Connecticut, 28 Jul 1968, Sun • Page 66. SSN: 041105870, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 

22 thoughts on “Escaping from Germany, Part I: Selma Loewenthal Schwabacher’s Family

    • Yes, indeed. One advantage that some German Jews had was that they saw what was happening earlier than Jews outside of Germany. Those with the resources to leave were able to do so before the war started. But obviously many could not or did not.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Gerhard sounds like he really was a rock for this family once he arrived here and thankfully too. The sadness of the early deaths is tempered by the fact that they escaped the ravages of Hitlers reign with the exception of Margarete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am sure the family was very grateful to have Gerhard arleady in the US when the Nazis came to power. I wonder how they had felt when he first left in 1927, however. I am sure that was a hard separation.

      Like

      • I can’t even begin to imagine being the first one to leave back during those years. The desperation for a better life motivated so so many – saying goodbye when my children come to visit or vice versa is unbearable at times. The trip to see them again is so minimal in comparison 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I know exactly what you mean. I honestly don’t know how people had the courage to leave their homes or how parents and siblings were able to bear seeing someone leave and travel across the world.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. It is comforting to know that quite a large number of Jews were able to escape before it was too late. But the Jews, as well as the German population, did not know the horrible ‘final solution’ that had been planned by the Nazis.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, not at that point. But they were already encountering the severe discrimination and violence brought on by the Nuremberg Laws in 1935, and with Kristallnacht, many finally realized it was time to go. That’s why so many left in 1939.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Amy, apart from Margarete the family made their escape in time which was a relief and a blessing. I had Weinstein ancestors, they anglicized their name to Winston.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Amy,
        Please contact us. We have pictures of Selma (our great grandmother), and all of our family mentioned in this blog. You are incredibly accurate. We can help you fill in the details.
        Carrie & Evelyn Schwabacher

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Escaping from Germany, Part II: Julius Loewenthal’s Family | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

  5. Pingback: Escaping from Germany, Part IV: Helene and Martha Loewenthal, An Unfinished Research Project | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

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