Ferdinand and Friederike Meyer: Why Did She Stay Behind?

As noted in my earlier post, Regina Goldschmidt and Aaron Meyer’s four oldest children had varying experiences during the Holocaust. Alfred appears to have escaped to France, but I don’t know where he was thereafter. Jacob died in 1928, but his wife and children escaped to England and Argentina in the 1930s; Max had his family ended up in Argentina. And Siegfried was killed at the Nazi concentration camp Theresienstadt in 1943. Their youngest child Amalie escaped to England and then the US. Today I will tell the story of their son Ferdinand.

Ferdinand Meyer had married Friederike Jaenecke, a non-Jewish woman, in 1920, and they had two children, Eleanore and Erich.  Even though Friederike was not born Jewish and her children were only half-Jewish, it appears that they faced persecution as Jews.

Friederike herself is included on a document from the Arolsen Archives that lists the “Deutsche Juden,” German Jews, living in Frankfurt. For Friederike, it records that the “Daten d. Austellung d. Urkunden,” the date of exhibiting certificates, was in 1939. What I didn’t understand is why Friederike was listed here, but not her husband or children.

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

Also, she was still classified as Aryan (Arisch) on this document found in the Arolsen Archives:

Arolsen Archives, Digital Archive; Bad Arolsen, Germany; Lists of Persecutees 2.1.1.1
Ancestry.com. Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947.
Original data: Arolsen Archives. Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees by Public Institutions, Social Securities and Companies (1939-1947). Bad Arolsen, Germany. 2.1.1.1 American Zone; Bavaria Hesse; 2.1.1.2 American Zone: Bavaria, Wurttemberg-Baden, Bremen; 2.1.1.3 American Zone; Bavaria, Hesse (Children).

How do I reconcile this? And where was the rest of her family?

From several other documents I was able to piece together some of what happened. Ferdinand escaped to England some time before November 14, 1939, when he was initially exempted from being interned as an enemy alien. His record, however, indicates that he was interned as an enemy alien from June 21, 1940, until September 16, 1940.

Name: Ferdinand Meyer, Gender: Male, Nationality: German, Internment Age: 54, Birth Date: 27 Apr 1886, Birth Place: Germany, Internment Date: 21 Jun 1940, Discharge Date: 16 Sep 1940
The National Archives; Kew, London, England; HO 396 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards 1939-1947; Reference Number: HO 396/187, Ancestry.com. UK, WWII Alien Internees, 1939-1945

On October 31, 1940, Ferdinand left England and immigrated permanently to the US, arriving in Boston on November 16, 1940. The ship manifest recorded that his daughter E. Meyer was the person he left behind in England and that he was going to his son, E. Meyer, who resided at 627 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, Massachusetts. Thus, Erich was already in the US.

Ferdinand Meyer, ship manifest, The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Boston, Massachusetts, 1891-1943; NAI Number: 4319742; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: T843; NARA Roll Number: 451 Description Month or Roll: 451  Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1820-1963

Erich had arrived on March 9, 1940, from England, so he also had escaped from Germany to England, presumably with his father and sister. He was only sixteen when they then put him on a ship for the US. Interestingly, the ship manifest indicates that he was heading to Niagara Falls, New York, as his permanent destination after landing in New York. Handwritten on the manifest it names August Kuhlman of Niagara Falls, New York as the person at his destination, but it also says that he was headed to an aunt, Lotto Karlmuller, who was living at 627 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston.1 That is the same address his father gave eight months later as Erich’s residence, so it appears that Erich did not end up going to Niagara Falls.

Erich Meyer, ship manifest, Year: 1940; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6452; Line: 1; Page Number: 78, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957

Ferdinand filed a declaration of intention to become a US citizen on March 15, 1941. On that declaration he indicated that his daughter Eleanor was in England and his son Eric was in Boston. Friederike must have still been outside of the US because the line indicating when she entered the country is crossed out. The 1941 Boston directory lists his address as 348 Beacon Street and his occupation as “atndt,” attendant, I assume. (He had listed no occupation on his declaration of intention.)2

Ferdinand Meyer, National Archives at Boston; Waltham, Massachusetts; ARC Title: Petitions and Records of Naturalization , 8/1845 – 12/1911; NAI Number: 3000057; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21
Description: Declaration of Intention, V 501 No 295271, 2 Dec 1940 Breedy – V 503 No 297720, 17 Mar 1941 Oberg, Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1798-1950

Friederike finally arrived in the US on August 9, 1941. Her declaration of intention to become a US citizen was filed on December 9, 1941, two days after Pearl Harbor. She indicated that her prior residence had been Frankfurt, Germany, so it appears she had not left when her husband and children did, and that explains why only she was listed on the Nazi record that appears above.  Her declaration also states that Eleanora (spelled with the A here) was still in England.

Friederike Meyer, declaration of intention, National Archives at Boston; Waltham, Massachusetts; ARC Title: Petitions and Records of Naturalization , 8/1845 – 12/1911; NAI Number: 3000057; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009; Record Group Number: RG 21, Description: Declaration of Intention, V 512 No 305021, Oct 1941 Rydar – V 514 No 307480, Jan 1942 Patturelli, Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1798-1950

Ferdinand and his son Eric both registered for the draft in the US. Ferdinand listed his address as 99 Norway Street in Boston and also reported that he was self-employed at 152 Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington, Massachusetts. That caught my eye because for six years from 1975 to 1981 we lived in Arlington less than a mile from that address. I was very curious as to what Ferdinand might have been doing there since he lived in Boston, not Arlington, but I had no luck figuring that out.

Ferdinand Meyer, 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 Massachusetts; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147; Series Number: M2090, Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942

Erich registered for the draft, changing his name from Erich Adalbert Meyer to Eric Albert Meyer. He was living at the same address as his father Ferdinand, 99 Norway Street in Boston, and was working for Universal Tire and Auto Supply Company in Boston.

Eric Meyer, World War II draft registration, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; Draft Registration Cards for Massachusetts, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 662, Ancestry.com. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947

He enlisted in the US Army on June 23, 1944, for the duration of the war.3 While he was in the service and stationed in Jacksonville, Florida, he petitioned for naturalization.

Eric Meyer, petition for naturalizaiton, The National Archives at Atlanta, Georgia; Atlanta, Georgia; ARC Title: Petitions for Naturalization, compiled 1880 – 1975; NAI Number: 2111793; Record Group Title: Records of District Courts of the United States; Record Group Number: 21
Description: Jacksonville Petitions 1895-1975 (Box 09), Ancestry.com. Florida, Naturalization Records, 1847-1995

Ferdinand Meyer did not live long after his immigration to the United States. He died in 1946 in Arlington, Massachusetts.4 He was only sixty years old. His wife Friederike survived him by close to thirty years. She died in September, 1974; her last residence was Yonkers, New York.5

Eric A. Meyer survived his parents. He graduated from Northeastern University in 1950 with a degree in mechanical engineering and married Carol Zimmerman in 1953.5 In 1960 they were living in Cortlandt, New York, where Eric was working as a project engineer for Trinity Equipment Company.6 Eric died in February 1987 in Alabama at 63, only three years older than his father had been at his death;7 his wife Carol died in 2010.8 They were survived by eight children and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012”; School Name: Northeastern University; Year: 1950b
Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999

I’ve been able to connect with one of Ferdinand and Friederike’s grandchildren, and she told me that Eleanore Meyer remained in England. She married a man named Francis Alban Cowper in 1948 in Chaddesley Corbett, Worcestershire, England, and they had five children.9 Thanks to my newly found cousin, I now have an obituary for Eleanore; she died on December 23, 2013, in Chaddesley Corbett, and was survived by her children and grandchildren. She was 94 years old.10

Unfortunately, my newly found cousin was unable to answer some of the questions that remain unanswered. For example, she didn’t know why Friederike did not leave Germany when her husband and children left. Did Friederike think that she  would be safe because she was not born Jewish? Had Friederike stayed behind for health reasons or to protect the family’s property? We don’t know, and we don’t know what her life was like between the time Ferdinand and her children left and her own departure from Germany.

So many questions left to answer, as there always are.


  1. There is an August Kuhlman in Niagara Falls on the 1930 and 1940 census who was born in about 1900 in Kansas; his mother Clara and his wife Irma were born in Germany. I don’t know how they were connected to Erich Meyer. I could not find anyone named Lotto Karlmuller or even with just the surname Karlmuller in Boston or anywhere else. 
  2.  Boston, Massachusetts, City Directory, 1941, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  3.  Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946. Original data: National Archives and Records Administration. Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, 1938-1946 [Archival Database]; ARC: 1263923. World War II Army Enlistment Records; Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 64; National Archives at College Park. College Park, Maryland, U.S.A. 
  4. Ferdinand Meyer, Death Date: 1946, Death Place: Arlington, Massachusetts, USA
    Volume Number: 2, Page Number: 231, Index Volume Number: 109, Reference Number: F63.M363 v.109, Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Death Index, 1901-1980 
  5.  Eric A Meyer, Marriage Date: 26 Dec 1953, Marriage Place: Manlius, New York, USA, Spouse: Carol M Zimmerman, Certificate Number: 53763, New York State Department of Health; Albany, NY, USA; New York State Marriage Index, Ancestry.com. New York State, Marriage Index, 1881-1967 
  6. Cortland, New York, City Directory, 1960, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 
  7.  Eric Meyer, Social Security Number: 028-16-9998, Birth Date: 30 Jan 1924,
    Issue State: Massachusetts, Last Residence: 35226, Birmingham, Jefferson, Alabama, USA, Death Date: Feb 1987, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  8. Carol Z. Meyer, Social Security Number: 278-22-7901, Birth Date: 2 May 1927
    Issue State: Ohio, Last Residence: 35048, Clay, Jefferson, Alabama, Death Date: 24 Aug 2010, Social Security Administration; Washington D.C., USA; Social Security Death Index, Master File, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 
  9. Eleanore Meyer, Registration Date: Jan 1948, [Feb 1948], [Mar 1948],
    Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar, Registration district: Kidderminster, Inferred County: Worcestershire, Spouse: Frances A Cowper, Volume Number: 9d, Page Number: 315
    General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 9d; Page: 315, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  10. https://www.worcesternews.co.uk/announcements/deaths/deaths/10702391.Eleonore_Cowper/ 

15 thoughts on “Ferdinand and Friederike Meyer: Why Did She Stay Behind?

  1. Friederike died at the age of 94 in 2013. It is almost conceivable that you could have interviewed her and asked all the remaining questions and solved the mystery as to why she stayed behind when her husband Erich left with the children. I can answer the first question. As a non-Jewish woman, she was safe in Nazi Germany. Perhaps your assumption is correct that they had property that she did not want to give up. Even in troubled times, we tend to cling to our possessions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that’s a distinct possibility, Peter. And if only I had started doing this research ten years earlier, I’d have answers to many more of my questions. Thank you, and have a good weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Totally enjoyed this posting. So interesting and so close to home in so many ways. Even without all the questions answered, so wonderful to have connected with one of the grandchildren, maybe she will share some pictures 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. After seeing an exhibit on people coming to the USA during the war, I found out that many people wrote to people they had met or had same,ast name to ask for help. And sometimes those people did help. Perhaps August !uhlman was such a person. Or your family knew his wife or mother. So they helped?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Isn’t it so frustrating to know we could have had answers if only we’d started asking a bit sooner? I think it make sense that she was trying to protect (or sell) their property before leaving.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m so glad you were able to connect with a new cousin. It is so frustrating to answer one question only to have even more staring you in the face.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So when did you start this blog? If only you had known about her while she was still alive. I am guessing that they had to come up with ways to be able to leave and to be able to enter countries and that they took what they could get. They might have thought Friederike was safest and could go last.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to Luanne Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.