Seligmann Updates: Martha Oppenheimer Florsheimer

Turning for a bit from the Goldschmidt family, I need to discuss some updates involving the Seligmann family. Some of this information came from my cousin Wolfgang, some from Aaron Knappstein.  In this post I will look at some documents that Wolfgang located about Martha Oppenheimer Florsheimer, and then in the next post some relating to her brother Moritz Oppenheimer.

Martha and Moritz were the children of Pauline Seligmann and Maier Oppenheimer. Pauline was the sister of my great-great-grandfather Bernard Seligman and Wolfgang’s great-grandfather August Seligmann. So Martha and Moritz were my first cousins, three times removed, or the first cousins of my great-grandmother Eva Seligman Cohen. I’ve written about them both before.

Martha married Heinrich Florsheimer on September 18, 1902, in Butzbach, Germany. They had two children, Gertrud and Paul. Martha and Heinrich were divorced on April 12, 1913. Martha was sent to the concentration camp at Theriesenstadt on September 2, 1942, and was released from there on July 8, 1945. She returned to Wiesbaden, where she’d been living before the Holocaust, only to learn that both of her children had been murdered by the Nazis, Gertrud at Sobibor and Paul at Majdanek.

The earliest of the new documents that Wolfgang located at the archives in Wiesbaden about Martha was dated March 7, 1940, and appears to be a form Martha submitted to report her assets and expenses. She appears to have reported no assets, and under expenses she reported 78.50 Reich Marks a month (I’m not sure what the 65 refers to) for rent, heat, gas, electricity, and water.

On page 2 of this document, Martha wrote the following note:

Ich werde unterstützt von meiner bis jetzt beschäftigte Tochter und meinem beschäftigt gewesenen Sohn.

Matthias Steinke of the German Genealogy group kindly translated this for me as, “I am supported by my still working daughter and my formerly employed son.”


On December 6, 1940, Martha wrote this note in Wiesbaden:

Thank you to the members of the German Genealogy group who worked to decipher this difficult handwriting. This was the translation done by Matthias Steinke:

Wiesbaden, 6th December 40

Kaiser Friedrich Ring 20

I am at the 1st march 1876 in Offenbach/Main born and the wife of the at the 7th January 1921 in Cologne deceased merchant Heinrich Flörsheimer.

My daughter Gertrude Sara Flörsheimer was born at the 24th january 1904 in Gross Gerau. Her at the 12th May 1927 in Wiesbaden happened matrimony with the administrator Fr. Heitmann was at the 10th January 1930 in Wiesbaden divorced. My daughter took her maiden-name back later.

Martha Sara Flörsheimer

I am not sure who this note was written to or for what purpose, except perhaps to register their names and marital status with the officials in Wiesbaden. Or perhaps it was a follow-up to the earlier document seen above.

This typewritten letter is dated March 23, 1943, three years later:

We hereby indicate that the aforementioned Jewish woman has been restricted due to your security order from 9 14 40 to 25 8 42, because she expected the receipt of a larger payment, coming from furniture sales. On 4 9 42, the only entry received the amount of RM 594. Due to the disposition of the Governmental Practitioner Wiesbaden from 27 8 42 I 9-337 / 42, the fortune of this Jewish woman has been confiscated in favor of the Reich. We have therefore transferred the above amount to Finanzkasse Wiesbaden under file number O. 5205/494. Heil Hitler.

I am not sure what all of this means, but I got the gist of this—that all of Martha’s assets had been confiscated by the Nazis.

Aaron Knappstein located Martha’s death record:

One thing of note on these forms is that Martha is identified as a widow, not as a divorcee, even though her marriage record records the divorce:

Martha Oppenheimer marriage and divorce record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 924; Laufende Nummer: 323
Source Information Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

And interestingly she did not hide her daughter’s status as a divorcee, as seen above. So why hide hers?

Finally, Aaron also sent me a photograph of Heinrich Florsheimer’s headstone, which confirms the date of death reported by his ex-wife Martha in 1940:

These extra documents fill in some of the gaps in Martha’s life. The documents from the Nazi era are particularly poignant. Martha lost so much. Of course, losing her children was the most horrific loss, but she also lost all her property to the Nazis.



30 thoughts on “Seligmann Updates: Martha Oppenheimer Florsheimer

    • Hi, I don’t have anyone in my Seligmann tree with that name. My Seligmann family was based in the area near Bingen. Where was yours from? I’m afraid Seligmann was a fairly common name.


  1. I discovered one curious thing in Matha’s death certificate. Her race was indicated as ‘israelitisch’ (Israelite), not ‘jüdisch’ (Jewish). Perhaps the guilt-ridden postwar Germany was trying to avoid any terminology reminding of the Nazi era.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is how I’ve generally seen it written on German vital records—I don’t think it had any specific significance regarding the Nazis as it was used long before the Nazi era to identify the religion of a person on birth, marriage, and death records.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Perhaps there is a misunderstanding of what I was trying to say in my comment. I spent the first 23 years of my life in Germany, received my high school diploma at the Wesel Staatliches Gymnasium. In 1967, I lived in Canada and became part of the fabric of a different culture and language. The word ‘Jewish’ was part of my vocabulary when I left Germany in 1965. I did not say that the word was only used during the Nazi era. But what I was trying to say was that the term ‘israelisch’ to describe a member of the Jewish race in the document of 1967 was entirely new to me. I wonder if you can make sense out of my somewhat convoluted statement, Amy.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think so, Peter. And I was simply saying that all the German records I’ve seen dating from before and after the Nazi era identify Jews as Israelitisch, not Judisch. I asked on the Jewish genealogy page on Facebook about the usage, and several people said that at least today, the terms are considered synonymous and neither carries any particular political or pejorative meaning. I have no idea why israelitisch was the preferred term on formal documents or whether that is still true in 2020 in Germany, but the people who responded to my question seemed to say both terms are used widely by Jews and by non-Jews in Germany.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for the clarifying comment, Amy! In the mean time, I found out from current German sources that ‘israelisch’ refers to one’s religion and ‘jüdisch’ refers to one’s race. So it more likely to find the israelisch on birth certificates. We sure did a lot of exploring on this topic, Amy. Have a great Wednesday!

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s fascinating, Peter, and that’s what my hunch was. It seemed odd to me that all those records used israelitisch, but clearly the Nazis used Juden. That made me think one was just religion, the other a broader ethnic/racial category. Interesting that even though I suggested that in the Facebook group, no one agreed with me. Thanks!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Whenever I have a relative I find whose children all perished, I am stunned that they could even continue living. I met one of my grandfather’s relatives in Israel who had that fate. And he never forgot and I think never really moved on. I still can hear him telling me that he lost his wife, his children, and that the Nazis did terrible things to him as he cried. I was 19 and I still can see him in my mind. May he be in peace now.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amy, it’s horrendous to think of Martha outliving her children, I don’t know how she could have contemplated carrying on with life.
    My ancestor’s records from the beginning of the 19th century have “isralitisch” on them as opposed to judisch too, they were recorded this way.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Amy, imagine getting out amazed to have survived only to learn her children did not. Just the worst blow. And I imagine it was actually to blow because she must’ve found out at different times. Is that right?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I can imagine drawing strength to survive Terezenstadt in the hope of being reunited with her children, but to learn they’d been murdered and to carry on for so many years. She must have been a very strong woman.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: How The Nazis Destroyed My Cousin Moritz Oppenheimer | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

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